House Adjourns Amid Chaos as Dems' Sit-in Over Guns Halts Business

PHOTO: In this image from video provided by House Television, House Speaker Paul Ryan stands at the podium as he brings the House into session Wednesday night, June 22, 2016, in Washington.PlayHouse Television via AP Photo
WATCH Democrats Stage Gun Control Sit-In on House Floor

The U.S. House of Representatives finally adjourned until July 5 after sit-in protests by Democrats halted business in the chamber for more than 17 hours.

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Despite the decision to end the legislative session, more than a dozen Democratic members, including Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., were still protesting on the House floor as of this morning. It's unclear exactly how Democrats will proceed with their efforts to bring up a vote on gun control.

The unprecedented demonstration, which was broadcast live through C-SPAN and social media across the country, started Wednesday morning and ended early this morning.

PHOTO: Democrats shut down the Houses legislative work on Wednesday, June 22, 2016, staging a sit-in on the House floor and refusing to leave until they secured a vote on gun control measures before lawmakers weeklong break. AP
Democrats shut down the House's legislative work on Wednesday, June 22, 2016, staging a sit-in on the House floor and refusing to leave until they secured a vote on gun control measures before lawmakers' weeklong break.

Democrats seized the floor and demanded a vote, ripping Republicans for being "silent for too long" about the "epidemic" of shootings, while the GOP blasted the demonstrations as a "stunt" and "disgrace."

Democrats and Republicans clashed throughout the night in the House chamber. Several Republicans heckled Democrats, and tensions flared when Rep. Louie Gohmert, R-Texas, confronted Democrats speaking on the floor about radical Islam, prompting at least one plainclothes Capitol security officer to walk onto the floor, as members separated the representatives.

Around 10 p.m., House Speaker Paul Ryan briefly called the chamber back into order amid shouts of "No Bill, No Break" from the protesting members of Congress. The roar was so loud in the chamber, with chants of "Shame," that the speaker's voice could not be heard. Democrats also were heard singing, "We Shall Overcome."

The House finally adjourned this morning at 3:19 a.m., after passing a $1.1 billion Zika funding proposal, with no votes on gun control.

"Democrats can continue to talk, but the reality is that they have no end-game strategy," Ryan spokeswoman AshLee Strong said in a statement. "The Senate has already defeated the measure they’re calling for. The House is focused on eliminating terrorists, not constitutional rights of law-abiding citizens. No stunts on the floor will change that."

Led by Rep. John Lewis of Georgia, the members had planned to stay on the floor until they get a vote on proposals to strengthen background checks and block individuals on the “terror watch list” and “no-fly” list from buying guns.

But in a 3:30 a.m. news conference amid #NoBillNoBreak marathon, Democrats declared victory after more than 17 hours of turmoil on the House floor, despite not getting the votes on gun control they had sought.

"It is late, the House is adjourned. The House did not adjourn without a message being delivered –- a very powerful message to the American people," Representative Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) said. "There has been too much carnage; we need to pass legislation to make America and Americans safer."

Rep. Lewis said early this morning that the sit-in marked much progress, but vowed to start all over again when the House is back in session after the holiday.

"Today we've come a distance. We've made some progress. We've crossed a bridge today, but we have other bridges to cross," Lewis said. "The fight is an ongoing fight. We will not be happy, we will not be satisfied, we will not be pleased until we do something in a major way."

PHOTO: Civil rights icon Rep. John Lewis (D-GA) speaks to supporters of House Democrats taking part in a sit-in on the House Chamber outside the U.S. Capitol on June 22, 2016 in Washington, DC. Pete Marovich/Getty Images
Civil rights icon Rep. John Lewis (D-GA) speaks to supporters of House Democrats taking part in a sit-in on the House Chamber outside the U.S. Capitol on June 22, 2016 in Washington, DC.

The push to institute greater gun control has picked up steam in the wake of the Orlando nightclub massacre, which left 50 dead, including gunman Omar Mateen. Both of the guns Mateen used in the killings -- an AR-15-style rifle and Glock handgun -- were purchased legally.

The event had some pageantry, with Rep. Emanuel Cleaver, dressed in a pink suit, bringing in a pink pillow. And Rep. Scott Peters got a back rub.

There were also snacks delivered to the chamber and the promise of pizza, according to Rep. John Yarmuth.

Democratic members of the Committee speaking in support of the amendment used their time to discuss individual victims of attacks in San Bernardino and Orlando, in order to put human faces on the issue of gun violence.

House Speaker Ryan's office office had recessed the House -- cutting off the chamber video feed -- but had not shut off the lights in the chamber or directed the House Sergeant at Arms to remove House Democrats.

Rep. Mark Walker, R-N.C., said Republicans "want to take the high road in this" and blasted the Democrats move.

House Republican leadership had told their members in a closed-door meeting that they planned to vote on other measures before the chamber but not on gun control legislation, ignoring the protest.

Unlike senators, representatives are not permitted to filibuster.

Lewis, a veteran civil rights leader revered by Democrats, said action on gun violence is long overdue.

"The end goal of this sit in is to get the leadership of the Republican Party, the Speaker of the House, to bring forth a bill, a piece of legislation that would do something about the proliferation of guns in our society," Lewis said in an interview with ABC News. "We have waited. We've been patient. But we waited too long. We've been silent too long, and we will continue to engage in peaceful nonviolent action until something happens."

Recently, the Senate voted down four gun control measures and a compromise plan from Sen. Susan Collins was in the works. Some Democratic House lawmakers protested a moment of silence being held for the victims of the Orlando shooting because they said action needed to be taken instead.

About 30 minutes after the sit-in began, Rep. Ted Poe (R-Texas), tried to start the House's work at noon. The customary prayer and Pledge of Allegiance went ahead, but he was forced to recess the House when dozens of Democrats refused to leave the well, The Associated Press reported.

Among those protesting on the House floor was Rep. Tammy Duckworth, D-Ill., an Iraq War veteran who lost both her legs in combat. She got out of a wheelchair and sat on the House floor with other lawmakers.

Many senators -- including Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nevada, and Sens. Bernie Sanders, I-VT, and Elizabeth Warren, D-MA -- visited the House floor, and even brought care packages to House Democrats, who are taking turns speaking.

We're tired Congress's silence as Americans are killed by guns #DisarmHate #NoFlyNoBuy #NoBillNoBreak #goodtrouble @fox5dc

A photo posted by Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (@repjacksonlee) on Jun 22, 2016 at 11:02am PDT

Democrats have begun fundraising off of the protest. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, House Democrats' campaign arm, sent supporters a fundraising email Wednesday night featuring Rep. Lewis, a civil rights icon.

ABC News’ Alex Mallin contributed to this story.

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