House Dems Vow To Fight Back Against GOP Response To Sit-In

Andrew Harnik

Senior House Democrats plan to push back against House Speaker Paul Ryan's (R-WI) proposal to fine members up to $2,500 for recording or streaming video from the chamber, according to a Thursday report.

Rep. John Lewis (D-GA) and Rep. John Larson (D-CT) compared the proposed rule to "Putin’s Russia" in a letter to Ryan, according to a report published Thursday by Politico, and senior Democrats on the House Judiciary and House Rules Committees will release a statement Friday morning calling the proposal unconstitutional.

"This kind of strong-arm tactic is what one might see in Putin’s Russia, but is incredibly disheartening to see proposed in the U.S. House of Representatives," Lewis and Larson wrote in their letter, as quoted by Politico.

Senior House Democrats described Ryan's proposal as an "unconstitutional gag rule to restrict the First Amendment rights of members" in their statement, according to a draft quoted by Politico.

They wrote that the measure "clearly is intended to undermine the rights of members in the minority to freely express their views on the House floor" and will have a "chilling effect" on members' freedom to express their views.

Politico reported that the statement is by Rep. John Conyers (D-MI), ranking member of the House Judiciary Committee, Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-NY), ranking member of the House Rules Committee, and Reps. Steve Cohen (D-TN) and Jerry Nadler (D-NY), both members of the House Judiciary Committee.

Ryan's proposal would reportedly hit members with a $500 fine for their first offense of taking electronic photos or recording video on the House floor and $2,500 for any additional offenses.

During a June sit-in by Democrats protesting Republican leadership's refusal to allow votes on gun control legislation, C-SPAN was unable to show its usual feed of the House Floor after Republicans decided to adjourn early. House Democrats subsequently used social media to stream video from the chamber, which is not allowed.

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