By Deirdre Shesgreen, USATODAY
House Republicans want to slap penalties on lawmakers who broadcast live video or audio from the chamber floor — an effort to thwart a replay of the chaotic sit-in Democrats staged last summer to protest the GOP’s inaction on gun control.
In its proposed rules for the 115th Congress, GOP leaders are pushing for fines — $500 for the first offense and $2,500 for subsequent transgressions—on any lawmaker who takes photos, audio, or video from the House floor. The proposed rules also say a lawmaker who engages in “disorderly or disruptive” conduct could be subject to an ethics committee investigation for such actions.
The new proposal, which must be approved by the full House in January, comes six months after a dramatic protest by House Democrats in June after gunman killed 49 people and injured 53 others in an Orlando nightclub in the nation’s deadliest mass shooting.
More than a dozen members of the minority party took over the House floor to protest the GOP’s refusal to allow votes on gun-control legislation. Republicans, who control the chamber, declared the House in recess, which meant the C-SPAN cameras were turned off. So the rebels used their cell phones to broadcast live video of their sit-in. C_SPAN then broadcast the feed from their social media accounts. Broadcasting from the floor was already against the rules, but it proved impossible for the House to enforce.
On Tuesday, a spokesman Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi of California slammed the proposed changes and said the new rules would not deter Democrats from speaking out on gun violence.
“Sadly, the first action of the new Congress will be the passage of rules changes targeting Democratic Members who participated in the 25-hour sit-in following the horrific Pulse shooting in Orlando that killed 49 and wounded more than 50,” said Drew Hammill, Pelosi’s spokesman. “House Republicans continue to act as the handmaidens of the gun lobby refusing to pass sensible, bipartisan legislation to expand background checks and keep guns out of the hands of terrorists.”