News Wrap: House Democrats hold sit-in to demand gun vote; DOJ alleges Medicare fraud
JUDY WOODRUFF: Good evening. I'm Judy Woodruff.
GWEN IFILL: And I'm Gwen Ifill.
JUDY WOODRUFF: On the "NewsHour" tonight: Democrats in the House of Representatives literally take control of the floor, with a sit-in protest demanding votes on gun control.
GWEN IFILL: Also ahead this Wednesday: Britain remains divided ahead of tomorrow's historic referendum over whether to leave the European Union. Malcolm Brabant in London listens to the voters.
LINDA DUFFIN, Financial Journalist: I do think a lot of Brexiters have essentially got their fingers in their ears and they are going la, la, la, la, la, because if we leave Europe, on what terms do we then do business with Europe?
WOMAN: One hundred percent out. My dad, his dad, my grandparents all fought to keep this country British.
JUDY WOODRUFF: And the shrinking of America's middle class. I talk with IMF head Christine Lagarde about why the numbers are lagging and how the country can build itself back up.
CHRISTINE LAGARDE, Managing Director, International Monetary Fund: If you look at the size of the middle class in 1975, it was roughly 60 percent of total population. If you look at the middle class today, it is about 50 percent.
GWEN IFILL: All that and more on tonight's "PBS NewsHour."
JUDY WOODRUFF: The politics around guns in the U.S. took a dramatic turn today, with an almost unprecedented sit-in on the floor of the House of Representatives.
Nearly 100 Democrats are refusing to leave the chamber until they secure a vote on a gun control bill.
REP. JOHN LEWIS (D), Georgia: The time for silence is over.
JUDY WOODRUFF: The extraordinary protest came in the wake of the mass shooting in Orlando, the goal, to force a vote on legislation that would prevent anyone on the government's terrorist and no-fly lists from being allowed to buy a gun.
REP. JOHN LEWIS: We are calling on the leadership of the House to bring commonsense gun control legislation to the House floor.
Give us a vote. Let us vote.
MAN: This cannot stand. We will occupy this floor.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Democrats continued to chant and sit on the floor, as Republicans gaveled for order and called a recess, bringing legislative business to a halt.
MAN: The chair declares the House in recess the hour of 12 noon.
JUDY WOODRUFF: That meant the official House cameras went dark, so Democrats took to social media to share photos of the sit-in.
Representative Debbie Wasserman Schultz teared up reading a letter from former Representative Gabby Giffords, herself the victim of a shooting.
REP. DEBBIE WASSERMAN SCHULTZ (D), Florida: Speaking is difficult for me, but I haven't been silenced, and neither should the American people. And we will be here and sit in and stand strong until we can make sure there are no more guns, no more Orlando, no more Aurora, no more victims. Thank you so much.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
JUDY WOODRUFF: Outside the chamber, Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi rallied support in front of cameras and blamed the Republican leaders for not bring any gun legislation to the floor.
Later, she underlined the sit-in will continue until a vote is called, adding, "We are in for the long haul here."
President Obama voiced his support for the effort in a tweet.
For their part, Republican leaders have not commented, nor signaled plans for the House to reconvene.
GWEN IFILL: In the day's other news, the Justice Department has completed the largest-ever takedown of Medicare scammers. Today, the agency announced it has charged 300 people, including doctors and other health care professionals, with defrauding Medicare of $900 million.
The cases include money-laundering, billing for unnecessary treatments, and identity theft to obtain prescriptions. Donald Trump launched a full-frontal assault against his Democratic opponent, Hillary Clinton, today in yet another pre-general election campaign salvo.
John Yang has the story.
JOHN YANG: The gloves were off in the presidential campaign trail today, as Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton traded barbs from 500 miles apart.
DONALD TRUMP (R), Presumptive Presidential Nominee: Hillary Clinton may be the most corrupt person ever to seek the presidency of the United States.
HILLARY CLINTON (D), Presumptive Presidential Nominee: Look, I know Donald hates it when anyone points out how hollow his sales pitch really is.
HILLARY CLINTON: He's going after me personally because he has no answers on the substance.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
JOHN YANG: In New York this morning, Trump delivered a blistering attack on Clinton. He hit her on her character.
DONALD TRUMP: As you know, she — most people know she's a world-class liar.
JOHN YANG: And on her immigration proposals.
DONALD TRUMP: Under her plan, we would admit hundreds of thousands of refugees from the most dangerous countries on Earth, with no way to screen who they are, what they are, what they believe, where they come from.
JOHN YANG: That last claim about screening refugees isn't new, but PolitiFact has rated it false, citing the current federal system, a process that typically takes between one and two years.
In a sign of what the four months until Election Day may be like, the Clinton campaign quickly issued a list of what they say are the top 15 inaccurate statements in Trump's speech.
Speaking in Raleigh, North Carolina, Clinton responded personally.
HILLARY CLINTON: He has no real strategy for creating jobs, just a string of empty promises.
And maybe we shouldn't expect better from someone whose most famous words are, "You're fired."
Well, here's what I want you to know. I do have a jobs program, and, as president, I'm going to make sure that you hear, you're hired.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
JOHN YANG: Clinton also got some bipartisan signs of support, an endorsement from Republican national security expert Brent Scowcroft, and a rousing welcome from House Democrats in a meeting on Capitol Hill.
For the "PBS NewsHour," I'm John Yang.
GWEN IFILL: And dropping out of the presidential race and into a Senate race, Marco Rubio announced he's now changed his mind and will run for reelection to the Senate from Florida. Rubio said it is important to run again because control of the Senate could come down to the Florida race. And he pledged to stand up to the next president, even if it is Donald Trump.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Former U.S. House Speaker Dennis Hastert reported to a Minnesota prison today to begin a 15-month sentence. The 74-year-old pleaded guilty in a hush money case that revealed he sexually abused high school boys decades ago.
Hastert, who has numerous health issues, arrived at the Rochester Federal Medical Center this afternoon in a wheelchair. The facility specializes in care for ailing inmates.
GWEN IFILL: Colombia's government and the leftist FARC rebel group have agreed on a cease-fire deal that would end more than a half-century of fighting. Under the agreement roughly 7,000 FARC rebels will surrender their weapons and step away from the fight.
The conflict has claimed the lives of over 220,000 people, and displaced millions more. The deal is expected to be signed tomorrow.
JUDY WOODRUFF: There's new concern North Korea's latest back-to-back missile tests mean it's closer to being able to hit U.S. bases in Asia and the Pacific. The North appears to have successfully launched one of its mid-range ballistic missiles for the first time this morning, hours after a similar test failed. The test was the sixth in just the last two months. It traveled more than halfway to Japan, before plunging into the sea.
GWEN IFILL: India's monsoon season is off to a deadly start. Lightning strikes killed at least 74 people within the last 24 hours. Storms are raging throughout the country's eastern and northern regions. Most of the deaths occurred in the eastern state of Bihar; 2,000 people are fatally struck by lightning in India each year. But the recent spate of deaths, mostly farm workers in open fields, is higher than usual.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Two sick workers at a remote U.S. research station at the South Pole have been evacuated after a risky operation in extremely frigid, pitch-black conditions. They were rescued by a small Canadian plane and flown to a British research station in Antarctica. Photos from the National Science Foundation show the crew preparing to leave with the evacuees. They are now being flown to Chile for medical treatment.
GWEN IFILL: Golf star Rory McIlroy has pulled out of August's Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, citing fears over the Zika virus. In a statement, the 27-year-old Irishman said: "My health and my family's health comes before anything else." McIlroy becomes one of the highest-profile athletes to drop out of the Olympics over explicitly stated Zika concerns.
JUDY WOODRUFF: On Wall Street today, stocks fell in anticipation of tomorrow's British referendum on whether to remain in the European Union. The Dow Jones industrial average lost nearly 49 points to close at 17780. The Nasdaq fell 10 points, and the S&P 500 dropped three.
GWEN IFILL: And the city of Cleveland celebrated its basketball team's national championship today. The team beat the Golden State Warriors Sunday, to end the city's 52-year winning sports drought. Members of the team, including the NBA final's most valuable player, LeBron James, paraded through the streets of Cleveland. Hundreds of thousands of fans were on hand.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Still to come on the "NewsHour": what residents in Britain are saying on the eve of the Brexit vote; IMF chief Christine Lagarde on the diminishing American middle class; President Obama signs a major overhaul for chemical safety rules; and much more.