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The Brief: House Democrats Craft Showdown on Gun Control

In a move aimed at forcing action on gun control in the U.S. House, Congressional Democrats seized the floor for much of Wednesday in what was quickly dubbed a "sit-in."

A photo shot and tweeted from the floor of the House by U.S. House Rep. David Cicilline shows Democratic members
of the U.S. House of Representatives, including Rep. John Lewis (R) staging a sit-in on the House floor "to demand
action on common sense gun legislation" on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. on June 22, 2016.

The Big Conversation

The heated debate in Washington over gun control came to a head Wednesday as Democrats staged what they dubbed a “sit-in” of the U.S. House of Representatives, halting business in the chamber to demand a vote on gun regulations in the wake of the recent mass shooting in Orlando.

As the Tribune's Abby Livingston writes, “Democrats of almost every pocket of the caucus took part in the collective action brought regular business in the U.S. Congress to halt, and at least one round of votes lapsed over the course of the day. The unique tactic was something of a hybrid of the group filibuster — a floor procedural move that is exclusive to Senate rules — with the Civil Rights-era sit-ins of the 1960s.”

Most Texas Democrats in the House participated, including U.S. Reps. Sheila Jackson Lee of Houston, Marc Veasey of Fort Worth and Joaquin Castro of San Antonio.

The New York Times described the episode as a “ remarkable scene of pandemonium.” Democrats yelled over Speaker Paul Ryan and sang “We Shall Overcome” as he attempted to initiate an evening vote on a measure unrelated to gun control. Republicans largely dismissed the dispute as a “publicity stunt.”

Livingston writes that few on Capitol Hill would predict when — or how — this episode would end. Some Democrats said the caucus was prepared to maintain their demonstration all night Wednesday and into Thursday.

The House cannot operate without members following the rules of the institution, so the House has recessed, said Ashlee Strong, a Ryan spokeswoman. 

The drama showed no signs of letting up as the clock moved past midnight.

The Republican leadership began a push early Thursday morning to hold votes on Zika prevention efforts and on an unrelated military construction bill. News reports suggested that those votes could clear the way for the House to then adjourn until after the Fourth of July holiday.

Trib Must Reads

Source: Delayed Texas Abortion Data Finished Months Ago, by Alexa Ura — The process of compiling much-anticipated Texas abortion statistics for 2014 — expected to reflect the impact of House Bill 2 abortion restrictions — followed its normal course up until February of this year, a health agency insider says. Then things stalled.

Young Texans Make Up Most Diverse Generation, by Alexa Ura and Lindsay Carbonell — The youngest Texans appear destined to make the state dramatically more diverse as the white share of population drops. More than two-thirds of Texans under age 19 are non-white, according to new census figures. 

Prairie View A&M Hopes New Stadium Will Boost Enrollment, by Aneri Pattani — At Prairie View A&M, all eyes are on the new football stadium, which officials hope will not only boost the Panthers' stats but also ultimately raise enrollment for the small, historically black college's for the first time in years.

Royce West Sues Cowboys Star Over Trashed House, by Kirby Wilson — State Sen. Royce West is suing Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Dez Bryant for allegedly trashing — to the tune of more than $60,000 in repairs — a property he had leased to Bryant.

The One Matchup Texas Republicans Keep Losing, by Abby Livingston — Four Texas Republicans, including the manager, play on the GOP Congressional baseball team, which has lost to the Democrats in seven straight contests. On Thursday they meet again. 

The Day Ahead

•    The Sunset Advisory Committee meets at 9 a.m. in the Capitol Extension to hear presentations and testimony from river authorities and the Texas State Board of Pharmacy, among other topics.


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Quote to Note

This is about a lot more than a football stadium. The stadium acts as a megaphone to the world about the great things happening at this university.”

 — John SharpTexas A&M University System chancellor, on a new stadium built at Prairie View A&M

Today in TribTalk

For the Texas Supreme Court, the right ruling for the wrong law, by Derek Cohen — If the idea of the state running roughshod over the Constitution and taking property without proving any criminal mischief bothers you — and it should — your ire should not be directed toward the Texas Supreme Court. You should ask your elected officials what they are doing to fix the gaping loophole that provides such corrupting incentives.

News From Home

•    While several high-profile cases have fueled a national debate on police shootings, there is no comprehensive data on such shootings in Texas. With reader support, we hope to introduce a new layer of transparency here. And you can help. Click here for more information on how to assist in making this project a reality.

Trib Events for the Calendar

•    The Texas Tribune Festival on Sept. 23-25 at the University of Texas at Austin

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