House Democrats Stand Down After Chaotic Sit-In

“We will be back,” the Democratic minority whip vowed.

ByABC News
June 23, 2016, 1:18 PM

— -- Democratic representatives this afternoon ended their takeover of the House floor after more than 24 hours.

“We must never, ever give up or give in,” announced Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga., who led the charge for a vote on gun violence. “We must keep the faith, and we must come back here on July 5 more determined than ever before.”

The sit-in ended at 1:04 p.m., with Lewis saying, “By sitting in, we are really standing up.”

Flanked by Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Minority Whip Steny Hoyer, Lewis praised his colleagues for their efforts. “It’s a struggle, but we are going to win this struggle,” he said, adding that “social media told the story.”

As the sun rose this morning over the U.S. Capitol, a few dozen haggard Democrats remained on the House floor as part of their sit-in to urge votes on stalled gun legislation.

But the leaders faced a decision on sharpening their endgame as the protest entered its 22nd hour.

Hoyer, D-Md., said he would lead a meeting with his colleagues that morning to discuss their plans on gun legislation, although he had acknowledged the political reality that the party can’t force any action on the House floor until Republican Speaker Paul Ryan reconvenes the chamber next month.

“We will be back,” Hoyer said during a middle-of-the-night news conference. “We will come back into session July 5. The Republicans have left in the dead of night with business unfinished.”

Democrats said repeatedly during the sit-in that they want votes on two measures: one to prohibit people on terrorist watch lists from buying guns and one to expand mandatory background checks to purchases at gun shows and online.

But both measures in the Senate failed earlier this week, meaning their political fate is already sealed.

“The Senate has already defeated the measure they’re calling for,” Ryan press secretary AshLee Strong said in a statement. “The House is focused on eliminating terrorists, not constitutional rights of law-abiding citizens. And no stunts on the floor will change that.”

The House officially adjourned for recess at 3:19 a.m. today, but Democrats kept speaking on the floor, taking pillows and blankets to their seats, snapping selfies and eating snacks sent by their Senate Democratic colleagues.