Yesterday the Democrats in the House of Representatives started a sit-in in the chamber. Led by Rep. Lewis, a civil rights icon, they literally sat on the floor of the chamber in the area known as the “well” and refused to move or obey “decorum” procedures. They are demanding that the House vote on two pieces of legislation over gun control. Their slogan is “No Bill, No Break”!
The House went into recess for about 13 hours during the sit-in. Then Paul Ryan gaveled the House back into session to vote on a veto override. This override was designed to let Investment Managers basically cheat their customers. See, the Department of Labor passed a ruling that basically says that investment managers have a fiduciary responsibility to their investors.
This seems like something that doesn’t need a ruling, it should be common business practice. But, that isn’t the case. Investment managers have bought stocks from “favored” lists and made huge profits for themselves but cost their customers money. In some cases, they lost money for their investors. They didn’t even have to tell their customers about the huge commissions they made on the transaction that cost the customer money. The only people who were against this ruling were the big banks and of course, Republicans.
The Democrats did participate in the vote and the override failed. There was another bill at around 2:30 am about funding for the Zika virus research. Again, the Democrats participated in the vote, and the funding was approved. Speaker Ryan then decided to put the House in recess until July 5 in order to shut down the sit-in.
Although the Democrats did participate in the votes, they continued their protest shouting down speakers and the Speaker himself. Shouting “shame” and “no bill, no break”. It was a somewhat surreal sight to see on the floor of the House of Representatives. Several Senators joined their colleagues in protest. Some even set up catering for the protestors so they could eat.
If you are not familiar with procedures in the House, you may be wondering why this protest took place. Well, the answer is very simple. Unlike the Senate, the House of Representatives does not have a mechanism where the minority can voice their concerns or fight against or for bills they like or don’t like. In the Senate, each Senator has a right to speak even invoking the filibuster if necessary to force the other side to at least listen and do something.
In the House of Representatives, there is no such thing as a filibuster. As a matter of fact, the majority can simply ignore the minority and not even allow them to speak or give them a whole minute of floor time. The Speaker of the House controls all bills that are introduced on the floor. If the minority wishes to introduce a bill, they are simply ignored and the bill never reaches the floor.
Even bills that are approved in committees can be blocked by the Speaker of the House from reaching the floor for a vote. And, there is nothing the minority can do about it. This isn’t the first time such an event occurred either. In 2008, the Republicans used similar tactics to get their message about “drill baby, drill” out. They held the floor and gave speech after speech, even when Nancy Polosi recessed the chamber. Eventually the speeches ended and the House got back to usual business.
The two bills that the Democrats want a vote on are all about gun control. One would eliminate the gun show loophole in the universal background check law. If it were to pass, no one would be able to go into a gun show, or on the internet to purchase a gun and avoid the background check requirement if you purchased it at a federally licensed gun shop. The other bill would ban people on the “no fly” list from purchasing a gun.
The weird part about the Republican response to these two bills is that they seem to be ignoring the universal background check law. They are focusing on the “no fly no buy” law. Their reason is that if it were passed, citizens would lose their right to due process. In other words, if you want to purchase a gun, you should be allowed due process before being denied the right to buy a gun.
Their argument works like this. Too many people are accidentally put on the “no fly” list. Therefore, if you deny a person on that list from purchasing a gun, you are denying that person his due process. According to them, the government must “show reasonable cause” that the person should be on the list before you deny them the “right” to buy a gun.
Okay, that makes a little sense. I have always thought that anyone who was about to be put on the no fly list should be notified ahead of time and have a right to fight their inclusion on the list. That makes perfect sense to me. However, people are not notified and they cannot fight the list until they are denied the right to fly on an airplane because it is now discovered they are on the list. Then, they can fight their inclusion.
That is where the Republican’s argument falls apart. According to them, if you are on the no fly list, they can keep you from getting on a plane because you have been deemed “too dangerous” to fly, yet they want you to be able to go across the street and get a gun. It is another classic example of “pick-and-choose” list of “rights” that Republicans want the country to follow. The point is you cannot have it both ways. If you cannot fly because you are on the list, why should you be able to buy a gun? It is totally illogical.
Additionally, this is the same party that wants to pass legislation to give the FBI “warrantless” authority to check up on your emails, phone records, and other data without you even knowing they are doing so. The bill they want to make law for the FBI to use anytime they want includes a “censor” clause where the company handing over your records cannot tell you they have done so. What about “due process” in this bill?
According to this “due process” argument brought up by Republicans, only purchasing a gun affords you the right to “due process”. If you are on the no fly list you cannot fly. Your “due process” be damned. If they FBI decides to check out your activities on the internet, cell phone, or other data device, your “due process” be damned. As a result, their “due process” argument is just another lame NRA excuse to keep selling guns to “bad guys” so the manufacturers keep making their money.
Paul Ryan said he won’t bring the bills up for a vote because “they already failed in the Senate”. My question is so what? If the House were to vote on the two bills and they pass, then the Senate must take them up again. Besides, where does it say that just because one chamber fails to listen to the people, the other chamber must follow suit?
The polls show clearly that 90 percent of the American people favor universal background checks. That means nine out of ten Americans, nine out of ten Democrats, nine out of ten Republicans, and nine out of ten Independents FAVOR universal background checks. If Paul Ryan and his Republican Party only want to do what the American people want, why haven’t they passed universal background legislation? That is what the American People WANT!
The polls also clearly show that over 70 percent of the American people favor the “no fly, no buy” law. That means seven out of ten Americans, seven out of ten Democrats, seven out of ten Republicans, and seven out of ten Independents FAVOR the “no fly, no buy” law. Again why isn’t it even being talked about on the House Floor if Ryan only wants to do what the American People want? That is what they WANT!
I don’t necessarily blame Ryan for not “caving” into the sit-in. I understand he doesn’t want to set up a situation where the minority can “take over” the house anytime they don’t get what they want. That could lead to chaos in the coming years. However, I do blame Ryan for causing the sit-in in the first place.
By ignoring the minority the way House rules do, it leads to this type of action by the minority. They simply have no choice. I didn’t even have a problem when Republicans did a similar thing back in 2008. The real answer is to change the House rules. You cannot have a government function properly if you ignore the minority in a chamber.
Not only is the minority ignored, but since the Hastert Rule was put into place by Republicans, the majority can be ignored too. Under their stupid rule, no bill can come to the floor of the House unless the majority of the majority caucus approves it.
I don’t know of any case when the Democrats have invoked this rule, but the Republicans have used it everytime they gain control of the House. That is also stupid. I know it ensures that the bill has a good chance to pass, but it is still stupid and it curtails honest discussion about legislation and the needs of the country.
So, at least as of this writing, the sit-in continues on the House floor even though they are in recess until July 5. Republicans are making the rounds calling Democrats a lot of names and babbling on about “Radical Islamist Terrorism” being the cause of every problem we face in our country.
The one thing that has so far gone “unreported” is that the NRA on the NRA Radio, which I didn’t even know existed, called the Democrats holding the sit-in “equal to criminals and terrorists”. That should tell you all you need to know who the real power in the House of Representatives is. That along with the fact that not one Republican has denounced this “comparison” by the NRA of the sit-in to criminals and terrorists.
The NRA scares the holy shit out of Republicans. If a Republican dares to take on the NRA, they can be sure to have a primary fight the next election. And, since Republican’s only goal is to maintain “power” they cannot dare go against the NRA.
On one hand, I almost find the whole “sit-in” thing amusing. The party that has perfected “obstructionism” is now the party that is complaining the other side is “obstructing” their “agenda”. The simple fact is that Democrats want a vote on these two bills. They want to show the American people just who is against these two pieces of legislation.
The fact is that Republicans do not want a vote on these two bills because they don’t want to have to make excuses to their constituents as to why they voted against them. They don’t want to have to say “because the NRA ordered me to.” They don’t want their face shown in a 30 second ad claiming they are in favor of terrorists with guns.
So, in that vein, you could argue that the “sit-in” is a political stunt. It has definitely brought chaos to the House floor. And, even if they don’t get their vote, Democrats can still use those 30 second ads because they can claim that the whole Republican Party favors terrorists with guns over the American people. In that light, you could argue that the “sit-in” is a smart move.
I don’t know when or how this is going to end. I do know that it has brought attention to the issue of gun control legislation. And, it also proves that there is NO LAW being considered to “TAKE AWAY OUR GUNS” as Republicans and the NRA has been shooting their mouths off about.
These two pieces of legislation are nothing more than common sense laws. Will they stop all terrorists from getting guns? Of course not. But, just because they aren’t the “magic pill” to cure gun violence once and for all is no reason to denounce them and not vote on them. If we only voted on legislation that was some kind of “magic pill” to cure all that is wrong, we would never pass a single piece of legislation. These bills are a beginning. The are common sense. And, they should be the law of the land!
It is time for Republicans to “do their job” and pass these bills if for no other reason because 70 to 90 percent the American people WANT them passed! They can simply tell the NRA “we only did what the American people wanted”. Problem is they will be throwing snowballs in hell before Republicans have the courage to do that!