The House returns Tuesday after a nearly two-week break with some Democrats planning to resume their disruptive tactics to force votes on gun-control legislation.
Before the GOP-controlled chamber’s break in late-June, Democrats staged an unprecedented sit-in on the House floor to demand a vote on legislation that would prevent people on the federal government’s so-called airplane “no-fly” list from legally buying a gun.
Over the weekend, Fox obtained a memo from Congressional Black Caucus leaders asking group members to be on the House floor for gun-related issues “to be as disruptive … as possible” to House Speaker Rep. Paul Ryan, who runs the GOP-controlled chamber.
Ryan, Wisconsin, insists he won't "tolerate" more disruptions and has talked with the House Sergeant at Arms Office and the Office of the Parliamentarian about ways to stop such efforts.
The CBC memo suggested initial tactics Tuesday will follow traditional forms of House protest -- starting with group members giving five-minute speeches on guns when the House first meets at noon, followed by one-minute speeches when the chamber resumes work a couple of hours later.
The group is also asking members during evening votes on non-gun-related issues to hold "a printed piece of paper with an image of a constituent killed by a firearm," followed by more post-vote speeches.
Democrats think they hold the advantage on the issue of more gun-control legislation and intend to focus on “everyday killings” in many CBC members’ districts, not just terrorism and mass shootings, according to the memo.
In late June, the Senate failed to sideline a bipartisan plan drafted by Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, to grant the U.S. attorney general power to halt gun sales to persons on the no-fly list. Her amendment survived a test vote. But the Senate never held a final vote on it, then stopped considering the underlying bill.
The House bill includes a provision written by Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn that the GOP-controlled chamber fail to kill. The Texas Republican’s plan would give the attorney general the power to delay a gun sale for three days so the buyer can be vetted by law enforcement.
Democrats say they'll stand down in their gun protests if Republicans permit votes on "no-fly, no buy" and an effort to expand background checks. Still, the GOP-authored measures don’t impress Democrats.
"House Republicans are once again putting the (National Rifle Association) ahead of their responsibility to keep the American people safe," said House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif. "This bill is just the latest evidence that House Republicans have become a wholly-owned subsidiary of the NRA."
Their CDC’s biggest gambit Tuesday might a plan to attend the House Rules Committee meeting in which members will prepare a bill to address the so-called “radicalization” of Muslims that has been linked to numerous terror attacks and keep suspected terrorists from obtaining guns.
The committee decides whether to allow vote on amendments, and Democrats indeed want votes on those regarding the "no fly, no buy" and background checks.
Democrats, to be sure, want the amendments adopted and made into law but would still score a political victory by at least having the votes and Republicans voting “nay” on what they consider an effort to curb widespread gun violence across the country.
Such votes, Democrats hope, could be used against GOP incumbents in November in the effort to retake control to the chamber.
Republicans, in turn, could lock down the debate and not permit the House to consider the Democrats' amendments.
The current breakdown in the House is 247 Republicans to 187 Democrats with one vacancy. Democrats need to flip 30 seats to reclaim control, and they sense an opportunity in Donald Trump topping the Republican ticket.
Democrats haven't translated the gun issue into additional House and Senate seats in years. Voters sent former Rep. Carolyn McCarthy, D-N.Y., to Congress in 1996 on a gun-control platform. A gunman murdered McCarthy's husband and seriously wounded her son during a 1993 mass shooting on the Long Island Rail Road.