Since late Wednesday morning, about 40 Democratic representatives have been staging a sit-in on the floor of the House to pressure Congress to remain in session during the usual July 4 recess in order to debate and vote on gun legislation. How long will the sit-in last? It is led by Rep. John Lewis and took place one day after House Republicans refused to recognize Rep. James Clyburn as he tried to introduce proposals for expanding background checks and preventing people on the No Fly list from buying guns.
And according to some of the passionate sitters, it'll last until they get what they want. Rep. Steny Hoyer commented, according to USA Today, "we will be sitting in until the House is allowed an opportunity to vote. This is an issue that ought to transcend party — it's about saving lives and keeping our communities safe." Rep. Maxine Waters stated, "I am prepared to stay here until hell freezes over."
If House Speaker Paul Ryan refuses to allow a vote on the measures Clyburn wanted to introduce, the sit-in could well last until Friday, at which time the House will adjourn for recess until July 5. That is, if the Democrats (literally) on the floor maintain their resolve. Of course, if Ryan agrees to the protesters' demand to allow a vote, the sit-in would end at that time.
On Wednesday evening, Ryan told CNN: "This is nothing more than a publicity stunt ... This is not about a solution to a problem. This is about trying to get attention." He said the House would not be voting on similar gun measures as were rejected by the Senate on Monday. If he doesn't change his mind, the sit-in may last for days.
If Ryan refuses to allow a vote on gun legislation and decides to respond forcefully to the Democrats' protest strategy, he could technically have the sitting members removed from the chamber, Yahoo! Finance reported. The rules of the House of Representatives state that the speaker, "in case of disturbance or disorderly conduct in the galleries or in the lobby, may cause the same to be cleared." House Sergeant at Arms Paul Irving would be responsible for carrying out the order to remove the protesting Democrats.
The representatives are holding strong entering their ninth hour, fueled both by righteous indignation and the snacks provided by Sen. Mazie Hirono and other supportive Senate Democrats. How long the sit-in lasts will depend largely on whether or not Democrats think their continued efforts will change Ryan's mind.