A day after the terror attack in Orlando, Democrats staged a walkout of the House when a moment of silence was requested to remember the victims of the mass shooting. The protest was meant to press Republican lawmakers to take stronger action on gun control legislation.
The party's lawmakers chanted "Where's the bill, Where's the bill" and criticised House Speaker Paul Ryan for continuing to ignore the burning issue of stricter gun laws.
Speaking during the House session, South Carolina Rep Jim Clyburn attempted to ask Ryan when bills curbing gun use would be considered. However, before he could finish his question, Ryan ruled it out of order and directed the House to move to the next vote.
"I think people are frustrated that all we do in response to these terrible atrocities is take 10 seconds to have a moment of silence," said Rep Jim McGovern, D-Massachusetts.
Connecticut Rep Jim Himes, one of the Democrats to walk out of the chamber during the moment of silence, said earlier that he was fed up with the moments typically held on the House floor after mass shootings, calling them "obnoxious expressions of smug incompetence".
Clyburn has been trying to get the House to vote on three gun control issues in particular – the removal of the "Charleston loophole" that allows the purchase of weapons if a background check is not completed within three days; preventing individuals on the FBI's terrorist watch list from buying guns; and banning the sale of weapons to people convicted of a hate crimes.
"We just think having moments of silence every time something like this happens rather than fashioning some response to what maybe the causes of it (is a problem)," Clyburn told reporters.
Ryan refused to answer questions after leaving the chamber but his spokeswoman AshLee Strong posted a message on Twitter accusing the Democrats of politicising the moment of silence, and called it "disheartening".