Rep. Linda Sanchez (D-CA), who was among the Democrats leading a sit-in for gun control on the House floor this week, told Breitbart News Thursday that GOP congressmen had been hostile and disrespectful.
“It was very clear that there were Republicans in the chamber, who were heckling and taunting and trying to drown out voices or get people off their game, who were speaking in very heartfelt speeches,” said Rep. Linda Sanchez (D.-Calif.).
The sit-in and seizure of the House floor from Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) began at 11:21 p.m. on Wednesday and ended at or around 1 p.m., Thursday.
Sanchez said that she tried to ignore interjections, but allowed herself to be provoked by Republican critics.
“At one point, I became so disgusted that I turned around and I said: ‘I know it is hard, but please try to show class and respect for your colleagues and the victims,” she said.
Sanchez, who in her own remarks said Republicans had been complicit with the violent gun deaths of fellow Americans, told Breitbart News: “That’s when it got a little heated and Republican members came up.”
As Republicans came down from the benches into the well of the chamber in front of the Speaker’s rostrum, the Southern California representative said, she and other Democrats invited them to join in the debate.
“But they are cowards,” she said. “They won’t even debate, because they know on the merits they would lose and that a majority of Americans believe in sensible gun safety legislation.”
(Speaker Ryan told journalists Thursday that the proposals on which Democrats had wanted to vote had already failed to win a majority in the Senate, and failed to pass out of committee in the House.)
Sanchez said the exchange between the Democrats holding the floor and the Republicans confronting them then became heated.
“I was sitting in the well when the unpleasantness began,” she said.
“Their posture started to get a little more hostile,” she said. “Eventually, people were separated and nothing physical happened, but it is just a reminder that they don’t even want to talk about the issues. They just want to impose their will and they just want to shut down what we are trying to say and we are not going to let that happen.”
“Clearly, they were trying to intimidate, I don’t think that group got intimidated,” she said. “I think it only made us stronger.”
It is part of the larger struggle of the 2016 campaign, she said.
“It is all the Republican elected officials and the nominee, who are trying to keep our community from getting the relief that it deserves,” she said.
“There is much at stake in this election, this November,” she said. “Only by organizing and participating and turning out to vote will the Latino community make their displeasure about what is going on known.”
Another Golden State congressman, Rep. Mike Honda (D-CA), said he was on the House floor with Rep. Joseph Crowley (D-NY), who represents the Bronx. Honda said that Republicans were cowards, too afraid to debate, and too afraid to allow a vote on Democratic proposals that would block gun purchases for individuals on the government’s Terror Screening Database.
Crowley had responded to taunts from Republican congressmen still on the House floor after the chambered had been gaveled into recess.
“We eased over there to find out what was going on,” he said.
Honda said he was sure that there were Republicans looking to join the Democrats in their sit-in. “They have a lot of pressure on them and if they came forward with us at that moment that pressure would be doubled, I think.”
There is no way of finding out who is for and against the Democratic proposals until there is a vote, he said.
“That’s why we said to the speaker: ‘Give us a vote,'” he said. “They could make themselves know for that moment.”
Honda said he is sure there are some Republicans who wanted Ryan to have Capitol staff or police clear the House floor. “If Ryan had anything to do with it — keeping the cops from going in — I think he used good judgement.”