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House GOP wants to fine members who live-stream from chamber

House GOP leadership wants to punish lawmakers who photograph or live-stream events from the chamber floor, a response to the Democrats’ 1960s-style protest over gun control last June that disrupted legislative business and votes.

Under a proposed rules package for the new Congress, 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 warn lawmakers not to impede others from moving through the chamber, or to use exhibits that might disrupt House business.

“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 Speaker Paul D. Ryan.

For months, Republicans leaders have plotted a response to Democrats who upended the chamber with a vocal sit-in in the wake of a nightclub shooting that killed 49 people in Orlando, Florida, on June 12.

Democrats wanted GOP leadership to hold votes on bills that would expand background checks and ban people on the “no-fly” terror list from buying guns.

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

They also raised money off the effort, with 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 gun legislation, they would have rallied majority support for a discharge petition to force a floor vote on the issue.

The House will vote on the new rules package, first reported by Bloomberg News, when it reconvenes on Jan. 3.

Lawmakers who participated in last summer’s protest would not be affected by the 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.

“Sadly, the first action of the new Congress will be the passage of rules changes targeting Democratic members who participated in the 25-hour sit-in following the horrific Pulse shooting in Orlando that killed 49 and wounded more than 50,” Pelosi spokesman Drew Hammill said. “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.”

“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,” he added.

Source: www.washingtontimes.com stories: Politics

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