When Republican Speaker of the House Paul Ryan says to turn off cameras in the House chamber, he means ALL cameras.
And so, he has come up with a rules package that would fine Congressional lawmakers who live-stream from the chamber.
The move comes in response to Democratic lawmakers, who in June live-streamed a sit-in on the House floor over gun control legislation. Democrats organized the sit-in to protest Republican lawmakers’ decision not to bring to the floor a gun-control bill, which if passed would have broadened background checks and prevented people on no-fly lists from buying guns.
When the House turned off the cameras inside the chambers during the sit-in, the participating lawmakers turned to live-streaming services such as Periscope and Facebook Live to broadcast the sit-in, which spanned for 25 hours. The live-streams, which attracted considerable publicity and millions of views, were in turn broadcast live on C-SPAN and other TV networks, which had lost access to live video when the House cameras were shut down.
Ryan, who at the time called the protest a “publicity stunt,” faced criticism for not penalizing the lawmakers for using their mobile phones and for taking photographs during the protest. Through a spokesperson, Ryan said the proposed rules package “will help ensure that order and decorum are preserved in the House of Representatives so lawmakers can do the people’s work.”
The proposal, which was first reported by Bloomberg News, would fine House members for using a device to record audio or video from the House chamber floor. Lawmakers would be fined $500 for the first offense and $2,500 for each subsequent violation. The fines would be deducted from members’ paychecks.