House pauses for 17 seconds to honor dead in Parkland school massacre

The House of Representatives paused for 17 seconds in a “moment of silence” Monday evening to honor the dead from nearly two weeks ago at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.

Rep. Ted Deutch, D-Fla., who represents Parkland, was joined in the well of the House by members of the Florida delegation. Deutch began reading the names of the dead, using only their first names. Members of the House then spontaneously rose to their feet to hear the calling of the names.

A small contingent of students from Parkland was on hand in the public viewing gallery.

Alleged gunman, 19-year-old Nikolas Cruz, is in custody for the mass shooting on Valentine’s Day that left 17 people dead.

For the first time in recent memory, a House speaker did not preside over a moment of silence of this magnitude. Rep. Mike Simpson, R-Idaho, presided. House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., was in the chamber, but engaged in a lengthy conversation with Rep. Brad Wenstrup, R-Ohio. However, they paused for the moment of silence and the reading of the names.

At the end of the moment of silence, Rep. Mike Thompson, D-Calif., who heads the Democrats’ task force on gun violence, rose to introduce a special resolution — “a question of the privileges of the House” on guns.

The chair did not rule whether it was in order. But, such a resolution indicates that a member believes the dignity of the House is in jeopardy, and is not operating properly.

Thompson is arguing that the dignity of the House is in trouble because the House is not considering any legislation so far on guns.

As Thompson began reading his resolution, someone on the Republican side of the aisle booed.

Simpson did not rule immediately as to whether the resolution was in order. That decision has to come in the next couple of days.

If it’s ruled to be out of order, Democrats can appeal the ruling of the chair. It’s likely Republicans then would move to table the appeal of the ruling of the chair, killing the effort.

That would require a vote on the floor.

If Thompson’s resolution is ruled to be in order, the House must then vote on it. That could create an awkward moment for some Republicans.

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