Mariel Saez 202-225-3130
WASHINGTON, DC - House Democratic Whip Steny H. Hoyer (MD) spoke on the Floor of the House of Representatives today during a sit-in staged by House Democrats to demand Republicans hold a vote on legislation to address gun violence. As soon as the House of Representatives was brought to order this afternoon, House Republicans gaveled out the proceedings. Below is a transcript of his remarks, which were not broadcast because House Republicans recessed the House:
“Our chaplain began today's proceedings with thanks to God for this day.
“We stand for those who do not see this day. Their days were taken from us in an instant by weapons of violence designed to kill, in many instances, a lot of people very quickly. They will not see another day.
“So far, there have been 6,354 souls taken from us by gun violence, 49 just a week ago. And frankly, had we taken a moment of silence, which would have been justified, for those 6,354 this would be but a short time to call America’s attention to the violence that confronts them, their families, and children.
“Mr. Speaker, on October 29, 2015, as you were about to take the gavel as the Speaker of the People's House, you said this: ‘we need to return to regular order... We will not duck [the] tough issues; we will take them head on...We should not hide,' you said, 'our disagreements. We should embrace them. We have nothing to fear from honest disagreements honestly stated.’ Eighty-five percent of Americans believe we ought to address this issue and address it now.
“Mr. Speaker, we are in this Well to say redeem your promise to the people's House that we will take issues of consequence to America head on.
“Mr. Speaker, you have been faced with issues of moral weight, just this past month. This is such an issue - this is an issue the American people are asking us to say where we stand. That's what a vote will do.
“Mr. Speaker, let it not be said that you did not want your Members to let the public know where they stand on an issue supported by eighty-five percent of Americans. That is why we say: no bill no break.
"We believe this is an issue, as Rep. John Lewis said so impressively and powerfully - John Lewis walked across a bridge. He walked across a bridge knowing full well that he could face perhaps death. All he asked for is the right to vote. We ask you for the right to vote on an issue of life and death confronting the American people.
“Six thousand, three-hundred and fifty-four of our fellow citizens did not get to see another day. They are silent. Let not the people's House be silent.”