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Democrats wind down gun control sit-in after nearly 26 hours

Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga., center, flanked by House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer of Md., left, and Rep. Paul Tonko, D-N.Y., participate in a news conference on gun legislation on Wednesday on Capitol Hill. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

WASHINGTON -- Democrats on Thursday wound down their sit-in of the House chamber nearly 26 hours after they overtook proceedings as part of a push for action on a pair of firearms-related bills.

Members of the Democratic caucus began assembling in the House chamber shortly before 1 p.m. to wrap things up despite not securing a pledge from Republican leaders for votes on background check and terror watch list-related legislation before departing for the week-long July Fourth recess.

Atlanta Democratic Rep. John Lewis received a standing ovation from his colleagues as he stepped to the podium for a final speech. He was quickly surrounded by party leaders and the whole caucus, many taking pictures and live video of his remarks.

"We got in the way. We got into trouble. Good trouble, necessary trouble," Lewis said, prompting cheers from his colleagues. "We must keep the faith and come back here on June 5 more determined than ever before."

The scene was far calmer than the extraordinary turn of events last night, when Democrats drowned out Speaker Paul Ryan on the floor when he called a vote on unrelated legislation.

Indeed, some of the only evidence of the events of the last day were papers with the names of gun violence victims scattered on surrounding tables and the occasional blanket tucked into chairs. Earlier in the day, junior lawmakers continued to revel in their speeches that they were participating in a sit-in with Lewis, an icon from the civil rights era.

Meanwhile, Ryan, R-Wis., on Thursday morning called the effort a "political stunt," pointing to a fundraising notice the party sent out yesterday.

"The reason I call this a stunt is because they know this isn’t going anywhere," Ryan continued. "It already failed in the Senate. They may not like this fact but this bill couldn’t even get 50 votes in the United States Senate, let alone 60.”

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About the Author

Tamar Hallerman is The Atlanta Journal-Constitution's Washington correspondent, covering Congress, federal agencies and other government activities that impact Georgia.