House Skips Moment Of Silence For Florida Victims

The House postponed a moment of silence on Thursday for the victims of the shooting at a Florida high school, due in part to protests in the chamber for unrelated legislation.

Moments of silence have become a familiar routine for members of Congress following mass shootings, The Hill reported.

Often, the lawmaker representing the district where the tragedy occurred delivers a speech mourning the victims; a brief moment of silence ensues; and then Congress carries on with its previously scheduled business.

Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) initially announced on Thursday at the start of his weekly press conference that the House would soon conduct a moment of silence for the victims of the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla. He added that flags at the Capitol had been lowered to half-staff.

“There are a lot of worries that come with being a parent of teenagers. We’ve got three of them. But this is, this is the nightmare. This is pure evil,” Ryan said.

But the moment of silence was ultimately scrapped on Thursday after protesters tried to disrupt a vote on legislation to make it harder for people to file lawsuits alleging violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

In addition, Rep. Ted Deutch (D-Fla.), who represents the district, was not present at votes on Thursday because he was in Parkland.

The Florida lawmaker said in an earlier tweet that the House would conduct a moment of silence without him present before asking for “an open-minded willingness to work” on gun violence issues when he returns to Washington.

A GOP aide said that the moment of silence is now expected after the Presidents Day recess when Deutch is back at the Capitol.

That means the moment of silence won’t occur until Monday, Feb. 26 at the earliest, which is when the House will return from a President’s Day holiday recess.

The Senate, meanwhile, did conduct a moment of silence for the shooting victims early Thursday afternoon.

At least 17 people died in the massacre on Wednesday, making it one of the deadliest mass shootings in modern U.S. history.

Democrats revived their calls for gun control reforms, which Republicans continue to resist.

Rep. Mike Thompson (D-Calif.) tried to raise a “point of parliamentary inquiry” during House floor proceedings, asking the presiding officer to fellow Democrats’ applause: “Can you tell us when the House may muster the courage to take up the issue of gun violence?”

Rep. Randy Hultgren (R-Ill.), who was presiding over the chamber, replied that “the gentleman is not stating a proper parliamentary inquiry” and continued the ongoing vote series.

When asked at his press conference if law enforcement should be able to confiscate weapons from people exhibiting signs of mental illness, Ryan replied: “This is not the time to jump to some conclusion not knowing the full facts.”

But Ryan added that “if there are gaps there, then we need to look at those gaps.”

The House passed legislation in December that paired boosting the background check system with allowing people to use permits for carrying concealed handguns across state lines.

A measure to ensure authorities report criminal history records to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) and penalize agencies that don’t report records to the FBI has bipartisan support, but the package has stalled in the Senate since the House vote, due to Democratic opposition to the concealed-carry proposal.

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