House Republicans have proposed new rules that would make it harder and costlier for members to live stream or post photos from the floor of the chamber.
The newly proposed policy backed by House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., is seen as a response to the “sit-in” protest that House Democrats mounted last June in an effort to force a vote on gun control legislation that had been blocked by Republicans. Democrats turned to live streaming via Facebook Live and Periscope to spread the word about their protest after Ryan ordered the House’s C-SPAN camera turned off. C-SPAN typically offers a live feed of House and Senate sessions.
The proposed rules would fine members $500 for live broadcasting or photos sent from the House floor. The fine would rise to $2,500 for subsequent offences. The fines would be deducted from each members’ salary, according to NBC News.
“These changes will help ensure that order and decorum are preserved in the House of Representatives so lawmakers can do the people’s work,” Ryan spokeswoman Ashlee Strong said in a statement.
House rules established in 2000 and clarified in 2009 already prohibit members from using “mobile electronic devices that impair decorum,” a list that includes “wireless telephones and personal computers.” The proposed rule change would add fines to help enforce those rules, a source said.
The Democrats’ gun control protest was seen as a milestone moment for Facebook Live, demonstrating the ease with which users can serve up live broadcasts. It also came on the heels of disturbing police shooting incidents that were also captured in part on Facebook Live.
The proposed rule will be voted on by the full House when it returns to session in early January. Some Democrats, not surprisingly, are vowing to fight it. Rep. Eric Swalwell, D-Calif., was among those who took to Twitter to blast Republicans for the proposed rule change.