Paul Ryan: I won't tolerate another sit-in from Democrats

After Democrats held what the Speaker of the House has called a fundraising stunt last week, some Republicans have recommended he file ethics charges against anyone who violated House rules. Ryan doesn’t seem ready to go there quite yet but he did tell WISN news that if Democrats try it again his response will be different:

Ryan also said House Democrats’ nearly 26-hour sit-in on the House floor last week, in which they called for a vote on gun control legislation, was “a low moment for the people’s house.”

Democrats have talked of more action when Congress returns from recess early next month, but Ryan said “we are not going to handle it the same way.”

He did not reveal specifics about how it would be handled differently.

“We will not take this,” he said. “We will not tolerate this.”

The Hill reports that Ryan chose not to have Democrats removed from the House floor last week because he had heard that was exactly what Democrats were hoping would happen:

In a separate radio interview that aired Monday, Ryan said Democrats had hoped to get arrested during last week’s protest. But Republicans, cognizant of the bad optics of putting civil rights icon Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.) and other senior Democrats in handcuffs, decided to avoid a physical altercation and never called on the sergeant-at-arms to intervene.

“We got maybe an hour heads up. [Democrats] said they were hoping to get arrested and hauled off the floor. They told a number of my staff that,” Ryan told WGTD radio in Wisconsin.

Ryan added, “I’m disappointed that my colleagues believed that they could do this to our institution that we all care about.”

Speaker Ryan was put in an impossible situation by Democrats who were clearly hoping he would walk into a trap set for him. Had he cleared the House, Democrats would have turned an argument over a failed gun control bill into an argument over race and civil rights.

Tough talk aside, it’s hard to see how anything about the underlying dynamic has changed. So long as Rep. John Lewis is willing to behave as if this is a continuation of his march across the Edmund Pettus bridge, it’s to Democrats’ benefit to break the rules again, as many times as necessary. Any reaction by Ryan will be portrayed as a racially-charged overreach against a civil rights icon. So it’s hard to see how can Ryan ever win this showdown because whatever he does the media will ensure that he loses.

The same media that has been consistently dismayed by every government shutdown driven by Republicans was giddy over Democrats turning the House floor into an Occupy camp. Despite the clear breaking of the rules and Ryan’s restrained response, the media gave Democrats’ glowing reviews. Based on those reviews, collected in this clip by the Washington Free Beacon, you can pretty much count on there being a sequel:

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