When caught on camera doing something bad, most people stop doing the bad thing.
House Republicans try to get rid of the cameras.
On Monday, leadership in the GOP-controlled House proposed a rule that would punish representatives who film, take photos, record or broadcast anything from the House floor. Bloomberg, which first reported the rule change, says first-time offenders would face a $500 fine; repeat offenders would see $2,500 docked from their paychecks.
The rule is a clear response to Democratic lawmakers who, in a protest this June after the deadliest shooting in U.S. history, staged a sit-in on the House floor in an attempt to compel Republican leadership to vote on gun control legislation.
Republicans responded instead by gaveling the House into recess, thereby cutting off C-SPAN cameras that broadcast the protest. In the absence of cameras, Democrats began tweeting photos and live-streaming the event on their phones, which C-SPAN broadcast instead.
Republicans defended the proposal as a means to maintain order in the chamber and prevent disruption.
“These changes will help ensure that order and decorum are preserved in the House of Representatives so lawmakers can do the people’s work,” said AshLee Strong, a spokeswoman for House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), in a statement Monday.
U.S. News & World Reports notes current rules already prohibit taking photos or video on the floor. This proposal would punish those who break the rule ― all the way up to potential sanctions.
“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,” a spokesman for House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of California said in a statement to U.S. News on Tuesday. “Speaker Ryan can continue to shamefully ignore the calls for action from the American people, but House Democrats will never stop speaking out against the daily tragedy of gun violence in this country.”
The new rules will be considered when the House reconvenes Jan. 3.