New fines just might be imposed by House Republican leaders in order to crack down on members of Congress who violated rules governing floor debate. The move is a response to Democrats’ sit-in in June protesting the refusal of the GOP to schedule votes on gun control measures. This was a protest that brought legislative business to a standstill and forced GOP leaders to cut short the week’s planned votes.
The GOP leadership, which controls the cameras in the chamber, recessed the House and shut down official coverage, but Democrats turned to live streaming tools like Periscope and Facebook Live to broadcast dozens of members making speeches from the House floor, gaining national attention.
While the move did gain the attention of the nation, it didn’t result in any action on gun bills. Rank and file Republicans were annoyed at the deliberate disrespect for decorum rules and pressured leaders to reprimand the rule breakers, saying letting it go would only encourage future disruptions.
The rules package for the 115th Congress doesn’t penalize any of those Democrats who participated in the summer protest, but it includes a provision imposing a $500 fine for any House member who uses electronic photography or audio recording that broadcasts any proceedings from the House floor in the future. For any additional violation, the fine would be increase to $2,500 per offense and the money would be taken out of a member’s salary.
House Democrats refuse to apologize for their actions and boast of the success that effectively allowed them to take over the House floor. They disregarded those presiding over the chamber who cut off the session and instead remained in an empty chamber filming their protest on social media, which news outlets used in reports, even after being warned repeatedly they were out of order.