HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

GOP proposal would trigger fines for unapproved video in House chamber in wake of sit-in

Was gun control a factor?

 

House members could be fined and referred to the Ethics Committee if they break rules governing electronic video and pictures in the House chamber under a new rule proposed by House Republicans more than six months after the Democrats' guerrilla sit-in over gun control.

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Fox News has obtained a document spelling out the proposed penalties. House Republicans are proposing sanctioning members with a $500 fine for the first offense and $2,500 for additional offenses.

"Any subsequent offense will be assessed at the higher amount, regardless of whether it is connected to any other offense by time or proximity," part of the proposal reads.

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In addition, lawmakers cannot block the well of the House as Democrats did with their sit-in in June, when they called for votes on bills strengthening background checks and barring firearms sales to people on the government’s no-fly list. The sit-in, which lasted over 24 hours, unfolded less than two weeks after the massacre at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando.

"These changes will help ensure that order and decorum are preserved in the House of Representatives so lawmakers can do the people’s work," AshLee Strong, spokeswoman for House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., said Monday. 

Drew Hammill, spokesman for Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., blasted the proposal in a statement Tuesday.

“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,” 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.”

Rep. Eric Swalwell, D-Calif., vowed not to back down. He tweeted that House Republicans could fine him and other Democrats "all the way into bankruptcy... but we will always speak for victims."

The video issue is of particular interest. In-house cameras controlled by the body were switched off during much of the sit-in since the House was declared in recess. By rule, those cameras are switched off when the House is not meeting. But thanks to iPhones, Facebook and other social media services, Democrats bypassed those rules and telecast their sit-in live.

Apoplectic Republicans promised action and implored Ryan to penalize Democrats. But the Republican brass resisted, lest they "poke the bear" and spur another sit-in right before the election. 

It is believed such a maneuver would have played directly into the Democrats' hands. 

When asked over the summer about potential penalties, Pelosi, D-Calif., pulled no punches. 

"Bring it on," dared the California Democrat. 

The full House will have to approve the proposed rules changes when the new Congress begins in January.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.