The House’s legislative week was thrown into a tailspin last week. On Wednesday, Democrats seized the House floor to put focus on gun control legislation. A group of House Democrats took the floor just before midday for a “sit in” and did not relinquish control until the next day. As soon as the group began the protest, the House quickly went into recess. Later in the day, House leadership attempted to take back control of the floor be scheduling an evening vote on overriding the President’s fiduciary rule, but during that Democrats were noisy and uncooperative as Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) tried to take control of the floor. As soon as that vote happened, the Speaker quickly put the chamber into recess again. House Republicans were not pleased about the protests; Ryan called the sit in a publicity stunt that was being used as a fundraising opportunity. Some House Republicans got into arguments on the floor with Democrats during the protest. It is unclear on how Democrats plan to move forward as the House was put into recess until July 5 and what precedent this may set for future standoffs when the minority can’t advance legislation.
Last week, the Senate also tackled gun control legislation, with a focus on Senator Susan Collins’ (R-ME) bipartisan amendment to keep suspected terrorists from buying guns. The bill was supported by a few Republicans and most of the Democratic caucus in the upper chamber, but unclear on how they would move forward. Late last week, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) set up a vote on the measure, but it was a vote to discard – rather than add – the amendment from the appropriations bill. The vote was 46-52 and allowed cover for vulnerable Republicans in the chamber. Supporters of the Collins amendment were dismayed that McConnell decided to use this maneuver because they believe if the vote was clean, they may have had the votes to move forward. It looks likely that the Senate will not move forward with any gun control legislation.