House Democrats Call GOP Bluff On Gun Reprimands: ‘Bring it on’
GOP leaders are threatening to reprimand Democrats over last June’s marathon gun-violence sit-in led by an all-American icon, John Lewis. Democrats delivered an unexpected response Thursday: Bring it on!
The Democrats are openly daring the Republicans to punish the protest amid a volatile election season in which GOP leaders are scrambling to appeal to the same minority voters their presidential nominee, Donald Trump, has driven away.
The June 22 floor sit-in was designed to highlight the refusal of GOP leaders to consider any gun reform legislation following the June 12 shooting massacre at a gay nightclub in Orlando, where 49 people were killed by a lone gunman claiming allegiance to the Islamic State. Aside from Lewis, the organizers included Reps. Katherine Clark (D-Mass.), David Cicilline (D-R.I.) and John Larson (D-Conn.).
Polls show overwhelming support for the gun reforms Democrats are pushing, and they hold a political wildcard in the form of Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.), a Black Caucus member and civil rights hero who led the day-long floor protest.
Lewis is a historic figure, having been beaten nearly to death by police during a 1965 rights march in Selma, Ala., that paved the way for passage of the Voting Rights Act. He’s widely considered Capitol Hill’s moral compass –– one essentially beyond reproach –– when it comes to issues of human rights and civil disobedience.
“If they want to come in and say that we’re going to punish you for having a demonstration for gun violence prevention, bring it on,” House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said Thursday.
The Democrats’ message is clear and gaining volume: “By going after any of us, you’re going after John Lewis,” Rep. Joe Crowley (N.Y.), vice chairman of the Democratic Caucus, said this week.
“And if John Lewis is going to be attacked in terms of a focus of this, I’m John Lewis. … We’re all John Lewis,” Crowley added. “And that’s what the Republicans need to understand.”
Republican leaders haven’t said what form the punishment will take or when the resolution will appear, feeding the sense that while they are being pressured from conservatives to maintain a tough-fisted approach to House rules, they are also less than enthusiastic about the optics of formally condemning a Lewis-led protest.
The Democrats wanted to force votes on two common-sense bills: one to prohibit the sale of firearms to those on the FBI’s terrorist watch lists; the other to expand background checks on prospective gun buyers. Both reforms have overwhelming public support, according to numerous national polls.