New rule would block live-stream­ing

The Washington Times Daily - - POLITICS - BY TOM HOWELL JR.

House GOP lead­ers re­vealed this week they plan to pun­ish law­mak­ers who take pho­to­graphs or live-stream events from the cham­ber floor, a di­rect re­sponse to Democrats’ 1960s-style protest over gun con­trol that par­a­lyzed the cham­ber last sum­mer.

The pro­posed rules pack­age for the new Congress says any mem­ber who uses an elec­tronic de­vice to take pictures or record au­dio or video from the floor would be fined $500 for the first vi­o­la­tion and $2,500 for each sub­se­quent of­fense. The money would be de­ducted from the mem­ber’s pay­check.

The rules also say law­mak­ers may be re­ferred to the Com­mit­tee on Ethics for pre­vent­ing col­leagues from get­ting to the mi­cro­phones or pass­ing through the well of the cham­ber.

“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 Repub­li­can Speaker Paul D. Ryan.

For months House GOP lead­ers have plot­ted a re­sponse to Democrats who up­ended the cham­ber last June with a vo­cal sit-in in the wake of a night­club shoot­ing that killed 49 peo­ple in Or­lando, Florida.

Protest­ing law­mak­ers led by Rep. John Lewis, a Ge­or­gia Demo­crat and civil rights-era icon, and Rep. John B. Lar­son, Con­necti­cut Demo­crat, wanted GOP lead­er­ship to hold votes on bills that would ex­pand back­ground checks for gun­buy­ers and ban peo­ple on the “no fly” ter­ror list from buy­ing guns.

Af­ter the of­fi­cial House cam­eras were shut down, Democrats man­aged to broad­cast their protest through the Face­book Live or Periscope ap­pli­ca­tions on their smart­phones.

They also raised money off the 25-hour ef­fort that dis­rupted leg­isla­tive busi­ness and votes, with the Demo­cratic Con­gres­sional Cam­paign Com­mit­tee blast­ing out emails ask­ing sup­port­ers to pitch in their fi­nan­cial sup­port.

Ul­ti­mately, Democrats came away empty-handed. The speaker said the Democrats’ pro­pos­als flouted the Con­sti­tu­tion, and that he didn’t want to re­ward their “pub­lic­ity stunt” any­way.

Mr. Ryan said that if Democrats were se­ri­ous about pass­ing their leg­is­la­tion, they would have ral­lied ma­jor­ity sup­port for a dis­charge pe­ti­tion to force a floor vote on the is­sue. In­stead the speaker backed a more lim­ited pro­posal as part of a broader pack­age on ter­ror­ism.

The House will vote on the new rules pack­age af­ter it re­con­venes on Jan. 3, with Repub­li­cans again hold­ing a ma­jor­ity of more than 45 seats in the 435-seat cham­ber.

Law­mak­ers who par­tic­i­pated in last sum­mer’s protest would not be sub­ject to the pro­posed fines, which only ap­ply to fu­ture infractions.

Yet House Mi­nor­ity Leader Nancy Pelosi, Cal­i­for­nia Demo­crat, blasted the protest-re­lated pro­vi­sions Tues­day, say­ing Repub­li­cans had their pri­or­i­ties all wrong.

“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,” Pelosi spokesman Drew Ham­mill said.

“House Democrats will never stop speak­ing out against the daily tragedy of gun vi­o­lence in this coun­try,” he added.

The pro­posed rules pack­age would also re­vive the so-called “Holman rule,” a pro­vi­sion that seeks to rein in spend­ing within ap­pro­pri­a­tions bills by re­duc­ing the num­ber or salaries of fed­eral em­ploy­ees. The tool, which has largely been dor­mant since 1983, would be rein­tro­duced on a trial ba­sis for one year.

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