Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) introduced an amendment to the House rules on Tuesday to allow C-SPAN to independently operate cameras on the House floor during regular proceedings. A handful of Democrats plan to introduce a similar proposal this week.
The amendment Gaetz is sponsoring would require the speaker of the House to allow C-SPAN to broadcast the floor proceedings in a similar fashion to what we saw in last week’s speaker elections. That means instead of static wide angles, C-SPAN cameramen would be able to zoom in on certain members, show conversations between representatives and give viewers a better sense of what is going on on the House floor.
Gaetz is all for the close-ups, especially after C-SPAN cameras broadcasted Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) having a very intense conversation with him when he voted “present” following round 14 of the speakership votes Friday night. Another incident involving Gaetz that night got a lot of attention too: C-SPAN cameras captured Rep. Mike Rogers (R-AL) being physically restrained as he aggressively confronted Gaetz during the speaker election.
“I’ve received a lot of feedback from constituents about how interesting it was and that you were able to see in real time how our government is functioning, what alliances are being created, what discussions are being had, what animated moments drive the action,” Gaetz told Fox News Digital. “And the pool view of the Congress is antiquated and a little boomer-fied.”
The amendment requires a minimum of four C-SPAN cameras to broadcast and record floor proceedings.
On Tuesday, C-SPAN also formally requested that Speaker McCarthy allow their cameras to cover Congress “on behalf of our network and all Congressionally-accredited news organizations.”
“If ongoing coverage of sessions by C-SPAN is not acceptable to the Congress, we request that you at least revisit the rules that permit C-SPAN and other independent journalists to cover key legislative sessions,” C-SPAN co-CEO Susan Swain’s said in her letter.
For years, C-SPAN has been making requests to record floor proceedings in a similar fashion to what we saw during the speaker election, but year after year they’re requests have been denied by the Speaker in charge. So typically cameras are fixed and are controlled by the House Recording Studio instead of C-SPAN.
But with no rules on the House floor last week, C-SPAN seized the moment to show us what we’ve been missing. And since last week’s entertaining approach, the support for C-SPAN having operational control of the cameras on the floor has been mounting.
“I have talked to a handful of colleagues and I have yet to encounter one who didn’t view the broader transparency as a net positive,” Gaetz added. “”It’s interesting to see how our leaders communicate with one another, and it’s humanizing.”
Several other members have also voiced their support for the idea, including Reps. Mark Pocan (D-WI) and Chip Roy (R-TX).
“Last week’s @CSPAN coverage was worthy of an Oscar,” Pocan tweeted on Monday. “That’s why I’m introducing legislation requiring House cameras to continue to capture the full Chamber & not just what the Speaker wants.”
Pocan is also expected to introduce a resolution to “require continued broadcasting of the full House chamber during legislative business consistent with the broadcasts that occurred on January 3-6, 2023,” according to Roll Call. But it wouldn’t give C-SPAN exclusive access, an aide told the news outlet.
Democrats Rep. Maxwell Frost (D-FL), Rep. Mark Takano (D-CA) Rep. Nydia Velazquez (D-NY) and Rep. Donald Payne (D-NJ) are co-sponsoring the resolution.