PORTLAND, Maine — U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree said Friday that House Democrats will continue to push for new gun-control measures when Congress reconvenes after July 4.
Pingree, who represents Maine’s 1st District, was part of a group of Democrats that disrupted normal function of Congress on Wednesday in order to demand action following last week’s mass-shooting — the deadliest in American history — which left 49 people plus the shooter dead at a gay nightclub in Orlando.
Pingree was uncertain how she and fellow Democrats may pursue the issue when Congress reconvenes on July 5, but left open the possibility of “something similar” to this week’s sit-in.
“Maybe when we go back something similar to this [a sit-in] will happen, or maybe we’ll come up with another idea that’s out of the box but keeps the conversation going,” Pingree said.
— Chellie Pingree (@chelliepingree) June 22, 2016
With cries of “No bill no break!” representatives, led by Georgia congressman and civil rights leader Joe Lewis, took the floor demanding that their Republican counterparts allow for debates of and votes on new gun control measures. But the sit-in did break early Thursday after Congress adjourned around 3:15 a.m.
Pingree acknowledged the sit-in achieved little more than continuing the conversation on gun-control and signaling its importance for Democrats. But she rejected charges from Republicans that the action was political theater designed to raise campaign funds.
During the sit-in on Wednesday and Thursday, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, which raises funds for all House Democrats, sent out at at least six emails soliciting donations from party members. But Pingree said she did not personally fundraise on the sit-in and that is was begun spontaneously by a small group of Democrats — not party leadership — frustrated by their inability to bring measures such as a ban on firearm purchases for people on terrorist no-fly list to a vote in the Republican controlled house.
“It’s kind of nutty to think that members of the House of Representatives have to sit down on the floor of the House and say we’re not going away until you do something,” Pingree said. “It shouldn’t be a partisan issue.”