After a 15-hour filibuster from Democrats last week over gun control, and then the subsequent failure of no less than four bills on the issue, House Democrats today tried a simpler tactic. Georgia Rep. John Lewis seems to be leading it, and it’s a good, old-fashioned sit-in. So far it has gone on for most of the day, with the House in recess.
That is fitting, because Lewis has experience with much more dangerous civil disobedience. He marched on Washington with Martin Luther King, Jr., was a Freedom Rider who rode segregated interstate busses and was beaten by an angry mob. Later, he was Chairman of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, a seminal 1960s group.
In his actions today, Lewis is joined by around 40 of his fellow House members. The trending topic #nobillnobreak is full of support and derision over the actions of these Congress members.
One question the springs to mind is, is this permitted? Congress has plenty of rules, and officially, House Speaker Paul Ryan could have the floor cleared over this. Whether that would be politically prudent is another matter. He does, however, have say over the House cameras and has had them turned off for some time. (Again, because officially, this is not official House business.) C-Span was so unhappy about it – or the fact that this is news was so obvious to them – that they and Congress members livestreamed via Periscope.
This is basically C-SPAN’s equivalent to a shame bell pic.twitter.com/8kqa9dQR9n— Jason Emory Parker (@jaspar) June 22, 2016
Tweets, video and photos from the floor are also being shared, which isn’t really kosher under the rules either. But then, civil disobedience is civil disobedience.