House Democrats staged their sit-in protest over a gun control measure that has already failed a bipartisan committee vote, which is a fact they don't want to talk about, House Speaker Paul Ryan said Thursday, while slamming their protest as being nothing more than a public relations ploy aimed at raising money.
"There was a vote, it was in the committee, through regular order, and the vote failed," Ryan said during his weekly press briefing.
"That's a fact they didn't want to talk about. Here's another one. If Democrats want to vote for a bill on the floor, there's a way to get one. It just takes 218 signatures on a petition and then they can have a vote. It's that simple; that's how the House works. It's a well-known process but they're not doing that."
The Democrats on Wednesday,
beginning at about noon, refused to allow House business to continue until Ryan allowed a vote on gun control, with members of the party taking turns speaking about gun violence. The protest ended at about 1 p.m. Thursday.
"They are not trying to actually get this done through regular order instead, they are staging protests," said Ryan on Thursday. "They're trying to get on TV. They are sending out fundraising solicitations like this one: 'House Democrats on the house floor, your contribution will go to the D-Triple-C (Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee), $15.' This one says 'try giving us $25 but if you want you can send us $50, $100, $250, $500, $1000 because look at what we are doing on the House floor.'"
And if the protest was not a political stunt, Ryan said, "then why are we trying to raise money off of this? Off of a tragedy. What they're calling for failed in a committee in the House. The reason I call this a stunt is because they know this isn't going anywhere. It already failed in the Senate."
The bill failed in the Senate and didn't get 50 votes, he continued, and has failed in a bipartisan basis on the House committee level, because it violates Americans' Constitutional rights to due process.
"This is not just Republicans saying this, it's groups like the ACLU (American Civil Liberties Union) who are saying this," Ryan said. "But more to the point, our focus needs to be on confronting radical extremism. Terrorism is the issue. Let me say again, terrorism is the issue and defeating terrorism is our focus here in the House."
And, Ryan said, "we are not going to take away the Constitutional rights of law-abiding Americans and we're not going to allow publicity stunts to stop us from doing our job. That's why the House powered ahead last night to provide important resources in the fight against the Zika virus."
That bill meets an urgent need, said Ryan, and now that it's passed, "Democrats can talk all they want. I'm really not sure what their plan or endgame is here but the bottom line is, that despite these distractions, we did our job."
But Democrats weren't interested in debating the health issues surrounding the Zika virus legislation, said Ryan.
"You think we're going to have a civilized debate about the Zika virus?" he said. "You think they were interested in coming to the mic and debating Zika? Of course not. They were screaming and shouting over each other, so we were going to get a job done and our job was to make sure we were getting on the authorities, the CDC ... we're going into summer. People are going to be going out on the Fourth of July and mosquitoes are going to be biting people and that's why we did our job and passed this bill."
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