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John Lewis' meeting with Paul Ryan yields no deal on gun votes


WASHINGTON -- House Democrats will decide how to forge ahead on gun control this morning after a 30-minute meeting between Speaker Paul Ryan and sit-in leaders John Lewis of Atlanta and John Larson of Connecticut failed to yield a breakthrough late Tuesday.

Meanwhile, top Republicans disclosed that they are mulling potential punishments for the lawmakers who broke the chamber's rules last month while participating in a 26-hour sit-in that protested House inaction following following the Orlando massacre.

House Democrats will meet this morning to discuss their next move. Here's a snippet from Politico's postmortem:

The two Democrats said afterward that although Ryan was respectful and courteous, the Wisconsin Republican would not agree to allow votes on their gun proposals. Democrats had invited Ryan to speak to their full caucus on the issue, but Ryan decided to meet with Lewis and Larson instead.

"I think the speaker heard us. He's listening," said Lewis, a highly respected veteran of the civil rights movement. "But he couldn't give us any assurances or guarantee that the bills that we've been asking to be placed on the agenda, that they would be brought up."

Democrats have not let on about their specific plans moving forward, but they have  promised to keep the heat on Republicans to schedule votes on two gun control bills in the wake of the Orlando shootings -- o ne that would bar people on the terror watch list from purchasing guns and another that would expand background checks for firearms. 

Ryan so far has held the line. He's scheduled a vote on an NRA-backed measure this week that would give federal law enforcement agencies 72 hours to go to court to try and stop a gun sale if they have probable cause of ties to terrorism. Democrats say the legislation, which the Senate rejected last month, is inadequate.

The Wisconsin Republican has also cleared the way for a vote on a package of other terrorism-related bills and a long-awaited mental health proposal that has been years in the making. Ryan lambasted Democrats' tactics earlier on Tuesday:

"The last thing I want to do is to (incentivize) a minority to turn Congress into a college campus and allow that kind of activity to be rewarded," Ryan said in an interview with WTMJ.

California Republican Kevin McCarthy, Ryan's top deputy, said yesterday that the pair would meet with the House sergeant-at-arms to discuss investigating the sit-in and potential violations of House rules. An outside group filed ethics complaints against many House Democrats last week.


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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.