Over the summer, civil rights pioneer Rep. John Lewis (R-Georgia) and dozens of his fellow House Democrats staged a sit-in following failed attempts to pass new gun control legislation in both chambers of the U.S. Congress. The C-SPAN network and other 24-hour cable news channels often cover boisterous events like these, but thanks to efforts by Speaker Paul Ryan and the House Republicans, legal-but-dubious maneuvers were employed to cut off the broadcasts. So the House Democrats used social media to live-stream their sit-in.
If Ryan and his fellow House Republicans get their way, however, no photography or video documentation of any kind will be allowed from the chamber floor in future congressional sessions. According to NBC News, several proposed rule changes would effectively render such live-streams illegal by punishing those who ignore the new bans with fines of up to $2,500 per incident.
The newly proposed policy, which would have to be approved by the full House when they return in January, would fine a member $500 for the first offense and $2,500 for any subsequent offenses. The funds would be taken out of the member’s net salary.
In a statement regarding the proposed rule changes, Ryan spokesperson Ashlee Strong said, “These changes will help ensure that order and decorum are preserved in the House of Representatives so lawmakers can do the people’s work.” For while the main thrust of the new measures seem tied directly to Lewis and his associates’ summer sit-on, they would also determine what actions were actually “disorderly or disruptive” — including “blocking access to legislative instruments such as microphones and blocking access [sic] the well of the House.”
Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-California), who live-streamed the gun violence sit-in in August, responded to the proposed rule changes on Twitter. “I’ll always stand [with] victims,” he wrote, adding: “You can fine me [and the House Democrats] all the way into bankruptcy.”
(Via NBC News)