Fresh off a seven-week summer recess, House Republicans returned to Congress on Tuesday ready to pounce on their Democratic colleagues for the political stunt they had pulled off months before.
In a surprise move following the Orlando terror attack in June, House Democrats had occupied the House floor in a 25-hour-long sit-in to demand a vote on a host of gun-curbing efforts.
My colleagues & I have had enough. We are sitting-in on the House Floor until we get a vote to address gun violence. https://t.co/rTqrPifuUz
— John Lewis (@repjohnlewis) June 22, 2016
House Speaker Paul Ryan dismissed the protest as “nothing more than a publicity stunt” before rushing the House into recess a day early. The Democrats continued to occupy the House floor for a while longer.
"We're reviewing everything right now as to what happened and how to make sure we can bring order to this chaos," Ryan said at the time. "This is the people's House. This is Congress, the House of Representatives, oldest democracy in the world, and they're descending it into chaos. I don't think this should be a very proud moment for democracy or for the people who staged these stunts."
Even while on recess, the House GOP leadership continued to signal their intent to hold Democrats accountable for their unprecedented show of opposition. According to Politico, the GOP leaders were eager to make clear that such actions were “not acceptable” and won't be tolerated.
Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy told reporters in July that he had received complaints from House staff members who claimed that Democrats were bullying floor employees who attempted to break up the protest. McCarthy said members of his staff had talked to multiple witnesses and were seeking video footage to verify the account.
On Tuesday, Congress' first day back from the recess, McCarthy verified to reporters that GOP leaders were indeed seeking to punish the Democrats who participated in the sit-in.
"You will see appropriate measures taken in the very near future," McCarthy said.