Ridiculous Congressional Proposal Would Fine Reps Who Live Stream From The Floor
from the congress-excels-at-petty-actions dept
It would be nice if we weren’t remind daily just how petty politicians can be (on all sides of the aisle… so don’t go making this about one party or the other). Over the summer, we wrote about a situations in which House Democrats tried to stage a protest on the House floor — and House Republicans responded by gavelling the House out of session and turning off the live feed on C-SPAN so that the protest could not be easily seen (again, this isn’t partisan: the House Dems did the same to House Repubs eight years ago). In response, some of those participating in the protest started using Periscope and Facebook Live to livestream online from the floor.
And, now, just to turn up the level of petty vindictiveness, some House Representatives have proposed fining Congressional Reps who live stream (or post photos) from the House floor.
… the new policy would fine representatives $500 for the first offense of broadcasting video, audio, or photos, and rise to $2,500 thereafter. In order to take effect, the proposal would need to be approved by the House when its next session starts in January.
And, of course, supporters of the proposal change are doing their best to give totally bullshit reasons for this petty action, claiming that it’s about “ensuring” that “order and decorum are preserved in the House.” That’s a load of hogwash. This is just politicians acting like elementary school children yet again.
The push for this is being led by Speaker Paul Ryan, who apparently doesn’t much care for the Constitution. You see, people who actually have read the Constitution are noting that this proposal is likely unconstitutional:
But experts say Ryan?s proposal may run afoul of Article 1 of the Constitution, which says ?each House may ? punish its Members for disorderly behavior.? For more than 200 years that has been interpreted to mean any contested sanctions against lawmakers must be approved by the full House with a floor vote, attorneys steeped in congressional legal matters say.
?The Constitution gives the House the authority to discipline members; I have never heard of anything where an officer of the House was given that authority,? said Mike Stern, a former lawyer for the nonpartisan House counsel?s office and the Senate Homeland Security Committee?s GOP staff.
Meanwhile, one of the members who took part in the streaming, Rep. Eric Swawell, is coming out fighting against this proposal:
— Rep. Eric Swalwell (@RepSwalwell) December 26, 2016
Back in June, Swalwell responded to the shutdown of the C-SPAN cameras by pushing a proposal that would have given control of C-SPAN’s camera stream to C-SPAN, rather than petty politicians in the House who can shut down the stream whenever they want to.
And, honestly, as I’m writing this entire post, I’m sitting here wondering why the hell this is an issue. Of all the things that Congress should be doing right now, is this really a major priority? To try to punish Congressional representatives for actually wanting to provide a more transparent look into what happens on the floor?