Shortly after 1 p.m. today, Democrats ended their takeover of the House floor. Their protest, which emulated the tactics of civil rights activists and leftists, began just over 24 hours ago, effectively thwartting business. However, they have pledged to continue their protest once they return from their July 4 recess.
Rep. John Lewis (D-GA), who had staged sit-ins while in the thick of protests during the civil rights era, led the protest which he began with an impassioned speech in favor of gun control. Today, Lewis vowed, "We must come back here on July 5 more determined than ever before."
Lewis and fellow Democrats occupied the House floor throughout legislative business on June 22 even though House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) had declared a recess. Democrats remained in the chamber throughout the night and into today to demand that the Republicans allow a vote on two gun control bills. Despite the gridlock caused by Democrats, lawmakers managed to squeeze out a series of votes in the early morning hours today.
House GOP leaders turned off the House cameras and microphones but did not turn out the lights and air conditioning. The latter was a tactic used by the Democrats back in 2008 when the Republicans, who were in the minority at the time, conducted their own sit-in.
"The American people are with us and the people around the world are with us," Lewis said.
Democrats left the chamber this afternoon and headed to the east front of the Capitol, where dozens of sit-in supporters are standing. Supporters visited the House Democrats yesterday, while some of them brought food and drinks. Among those paying a visit to the Democrats were Hillary Clinton and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA).