Republicans returned to the U.S. House floor briefly overnight to pass a bill funding efforts to fight the Zika virus, amid an ongoing sit-in by Democrats calling for a vote on gun control legislation.
Despite shouts of “No bill, no break” from the minority, the measure was passed and the chamber adjourned until after the Fourth of July holiday. Democrats proceeded to carry on with their sit-in until early this afternoon, ending it at about the 24 hour mark.
Speaking with reporters Thursday morning, House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) defended the decision not to let Democrats speak on the Zika measure. “You think we were going to have a civilized debate about the Zika virus…of course not, they were screaming and shouting over each other,” the Janesville Republican said.
Ryan noted that one of the bills being pushed by Democrats, which would bar anyone on the terrorist no-fly list from purchasing a gun, already failed in the Senate and has had concerns about it raised by the FBI. He said the agency has warned Congress that taking the wrong action could “screw up” investigations targeting potential terrorists. “We want to get it right, while protecting people’s constitutionally protected rights.”
Ryan described the sit-in staged by Democrats as a nothing more than “publicity stunt” and “fundraising scheme.” GOP leadership shut down C-SPAN’s cameras in the chamber as Democrats continued to speak, using social media streaming services to get their message out. C-SPAN carried on its live coverage of the sit-in using that video.