WASHINGTON -- The House has no intention of voting on proposed gun-control measures from the Democrats, Speaker Paul Ryan said Tuesday. Democrats discussed their demands for votes with Ryan and said they told him, "We're not going away."
In an interview early Tuesday, Ryan, R-Wis., said Democrats' plans to broaden required background checks for gun buyers and to bar firearm sales to terror suspects were unconstitutional. And though he did not directly say he would block votes on the Democrats' bills, he said Republicans would not reward Democrats for their lengthy House floor sit-in two weeks ago to demand gun-control votes.
"Win elections and get the majority, then you can set the agenda," Ryan said on the Midday with Charlie Sykes show on WTMU radio in Milwaukee.
Tuesday evening, he met privately with two leaders of that sit-in, Reps. John Lewis of Georgia and John Larson of Connecticut, in a session the two Democrats described as respectful.
"We wanted action, and we wanted action now," Lewis told reporters of their message to Ryan. "And I think the speaker heard us, he was listening. But he couldn't give us any assurance" that he'd allow votes on the Democratic proposals.
"We're not going away," Larson said. "And we're determined in that effort."
Ryan spokesman AshLee Strong said the two parties "have different views on how to achieve a shared goal of preventing gun deaths," especially over how to protect gun owners' rights. She said the next steps on anti-terror legislation "will be discussed and determined by the majority in the coming days."
Late Tuesday, Republicans were working to line up enough GOP support for their own measure, with some in the party having questions about the bill's grants, its procedural protections for gun owners and other concerns.
The House convened peacefully for its first session since Democrats seized control of the chamber last month with a sit-in that lasted more than 25 hours. Democrats delivered speeches demanding votes on gun curbs but took no disruptive actions.
The House plans to debate GOP legislation this week that would let federal authorities block gun sales to suspected terrorists, but only if they could prove in court within three days that the suspect was planning to engage in terrorism.
The language of the bill, which resembles legislation introduced by John Cornyn, R-Texas, that was rejected in the Senate last month, is considered ineffective by Democrats because, they say, the mechanism it sets would prove unworkably complicated.
The new proposals are in response to the shooting at a gay nightclub in Orlando, Fla., where gunman Omar Mateen killed 49 people. Mateen, a U.S. citizen who in a 911 call pledged support for leaders of the Islamic State extremist group, had been investigated by the FBI.
The Republican measure would also create a new office within the Department of Homeland Security to focus on battling what it calls "radical Islamist terrorism" in the U.S.
Drew Hammill, spokesman for House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said the GOP measure was "meaningless" and added, "The American people are demanding action and the least Speaker Ryan can do is get out of the way."
Ryan said the Democratic bills would violate the Constitution's rights for people to bear arms and to have legal processes to protect themselves.
Separately, Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy said he was looking into reports that Democrats treated the House's professional staff disrespectfully, including "intimidation," and may have even damaged House furniture while taking over the chamber. He said he and Ryan would meet with the sergeant at arms later Tuesday to discuss what happened.
"If that is true, what's gone on, action has to be taken," McCarthy said. "We expect members of Congress to adhere to the rules and decorum."
McCarthy suggested House leaders hoped to take action to prevent any recurrence and potentially punish some people involved, but said for now they were still collecting facts.
"You cannot continue that behavior on the floor of the House of Representatives. I'll leave it at that," McCarthy told reporters at the Capitol. "That will not be tolerated."
McCarthy said he and Ryan would meet with the House Sergeant-at-Arms, Paul Irving, the top law enforcement officer of the chamber, to review the situation and determine whether a formal investigation should occur.
"Get all the facts, and then decide accordingly what should be done," McCarthy said.
Information for this article was contributed by Alan Fram, Erica Werner and Matthew Daly of The Associated Press and by Paul Kane and Karoun Demirjian of The Washington Post.
A Section on 07/06/2016
Print Headline: Ryan sees no House vote on Democrats' gun bills