In yet another bid to end transparency, the House Republicans are now proposing to fine live-streaming and photos from the House Floor.
House Speaker Paul Ryan recently proposed penalties against the acts, a move that seemingly came in response to a 25-hour sit-in staged by the Democrats in an attempt to force a vote against looser gun control in June.
During the protest, led by civil rights group Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga), nearly 170 of the 188 members of the Democratic caucus spoke for 25 hours and occupied the front of the House chamber. However, after the members crowded the hall, the Republican presiding over the session called for recess and stopped the C-SPAN live feed.
In response, many people started using video streaming app, Periscope, to share recordings of the protest.
At the time, Republicans called for the Democrats to be punished for breaching the House’s strict guidelines. Taking photos and videos from the House floor is already not allowed, however members are almost never cited for the offense if they are caught doing otherwise.
But this time, if this new proposed rule is passed, members will not get off so leniently.
If approved, the first violation will be met with a fine of $500 cut from the member’s paycheck. If he does not desist, other subsequent violations will result in $2,500 in fines each time. Apart from these, any conduct deemed disorderly could be referred to the Committee on Ethics, which could result in sanctions for the members.
"These changes will help ensure that order and decorum are preserved in the House of Representatives so lawmakers can do the people's work," AshLee Strong, a spokeswoman for Ryan, R-Wisc., said in a statement.
Anybody who wants to watch the proceedings of the House and Senate session, can do so simply by logging on to the internet and accessing the C-SPAN live feed. However, when the Republicans stopped the live feed in July during the protest, claiming they were witnessing a breakdown in the democratic process, it was very obviously an effort to reduce accountability.
In response to the news, Eric Swalwell, the U.S. Representative from California's 15th congressional district, promised he would not let the new law stop him from ensuring transparency.
A spokesperson for Nancy Pelosi, the House Minority leader, called the House Republicans “handmaidens of the gun lobby” and alleged they were not interested in serving the interests of the people, but of the National Rifles Association.
The new proposal will be debated when Congress resume on January 3.
Banner/Thumbnail credit: Reuters