“We’re going to keep the pressure up,” said Rep. Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.), one of six Democrats who attended Tuesday’s session. “We’re not going to lay back at all. The American people demand reforms and so do we.”
So-called “pro forma” sessions, which are done to block recess actions by the president, are rarely attended by more than the single House member who gavels in the body and gavels it out after a prayer, the Pledge of Allegiance, and perhaps a piece of administrative housekeeping or two.
On Tuesday, Engel and Democratic members Gerry Connolly (Va.), Al Green (Texas), Steve Israel (N.Y.), Doris Matsui (Calif.) and Dutch Ruppersberger (Md.) stood in the well of the House and shouted for recognition as Rep. Andy Harris (R-Md.) presided.
Gavel to gavel, the session lasted two-and-a-half minutes. The shouting lasted less than a minute, and Democrats then headed to a bank of cameras just outside the House chamber.
House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) last week sharply criticized Democrats for flouting the rules of the House and for fund-raising off the floor protest. In a Sunday interview on WISN-TV in Milwaukee, Ryan said, “We are not going to handle it the same way” should Democrats continue to occupy the floor after the House returns to work on July 5: “We will not tolerate this.”
Israel would not say that Democrats would again seek to occupy the floor but pledged further maneuvers to force a vote on a measure that would prevent those included on federal terrorist watch lists from purchasing guns.
“The minority has lots of tools in a toolbox,” Israel said. “If Speaker Ryan insists on denying the American people a vote on ‘no fly, no buy,’ then we will reach into that toolbox and we will continue to avail ourselves of the tools. Some will be blunt. Some will be sharp. … We’re here to put the Republicans on notice — we’re not going quietly into the night.”