So how did Rep. John Lewis and House Democrats get away with their sit-in protest over forcing a vote on gun control legislation on the floor of the chamber yesterday, and why were House Republicans so utterly unprepared to deal with it? Two reasons: social media, which allowed the Democrats to broadcast even after the GOP pulled the plug on proceedings in the House, and Paul Ryan being the most inept House Speaker in decades.
A Democratic protest demanding votes on gun-control legislation led to pandemonium in the House chamber that did not end until early Thursday, when Speaker Paul D. Ryan and his fellow Republicans reclaimed control long enough to force through a major spending bill. They then abruptly adjourned and left the Capitol.
Furious Democrats remained on the House floor, where they huddled around their leader, Representative Nancy Pelosi of California, who praised their stand as a “discussion heard around the world.”
Ms. Pelosi expressed bewilderment at the Republican position. “What could they be thinking?” she asked. “Whatever it is, they don’t want to tell anybody about it. That’s why they left in the dead of night.”
The standoff, which began with a Democratic sit-in on the House floor just before noon on Wednesday, did not end until about 3 a.m. Thursday when Mr. Ryan — barreling over Democrats’ objections — took the rare and provocative step of calling a vote on a major appropriations bill in the wee hours and without any debate. He then adjourned the House, with no legislative votes scheduled until July 5.
The House approved the bill, which includes $1.1 billion in emergency financing to fight the mosquito-borne Zika virus — and more than $80 billion in other government spending — by a vote of 239 to 171 shortly after 3 a.m.
Republicans dashed from the chamber into the sticky heat gripping Washington and were met by protesters who jeered, with some shouting, “Do your job!”
All I have to say is that John Boehner, for all his incompetence in getting rolled by Nancy Pelosi and sometimes even his own party on a regular basis, never would have let John Lewis get this far in the first place. He would have known this was coming after Senate Democrats tried a similar move, moved the Zika vote up, and would have placated Lewis with a promise to vote before the Dems got hours of free publicity making the GOP look like a bunch of savage assholes.
But this was Paul Ryan's show, and he failed the tests from the get-go. Instead of taking control of the House immediately, Ryan went to CNN to talk to Wolf Blitzer, when Republicans had been avoiding the media for the month of June in order to dodge Donald Trump questions.
Speaker Paul Ryan to @wolfblitzer: House sit-in on guns is a "publicity stunt" https://t.co/44kEXII1KZ https://t.co/fJHSNpBcG2— The Situation Room (@CNNSitRoom) June 22, 2016
Amid Ryan's bluster about due process, which should come as a real surprise to the families of the victims of Orlando's massacre, was the fact that Ryan was pleading with media to call foul on the whole affair and side with him in order to help shut Lewis down.
No such luck. Meanwhile, the Senate is introducing bipartisan legislation that would block gun sales to people on the No Fly list.
Maine Republican Susan Collins and a bipartisan group of senators have introduced a compromise bill that would authorize the Justice Department to deny gun sales to individuals on two terror watch lists; while the proposal's chances of passage are still unknown, it's the first congressional response to the Orlando attack that has had the backing of figures from both parties. (Four other gun-control bills failed along party lines in the Senate earlier this week.)
The bill—technically an amendment to the Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act—would apply restrictions to individuals on the no-fly and "selectee" lists, a narrower group than would have been covered by a failed amendment proposed by Democratic California Sen. Dianne Feinstein. The proposal attempts to address concerns about Constitutional-rights issues related to the watch lists by including "a process for Americans and green card holders to appeal a denial in U.S. Court of Appeals and to recover their reasonable attorneys fees if they prevail."
So by shutting down the House, Ryan now gives the Democrats in the Senate the opportunity to move this bill forward and continue their narrative, with Republicans like Susan Collins of Maine already on board.
Ryan got rolled, plain and simple. For once, it's working in America's favor.