Fox News reported Wednesday that House Republicans have passed a bill that prohibits Democrats from filming debate sessions occurring in the House chamber. Proposed sanctions for violations are a $500 fine for the first violation and $2,500 for each additional violation. Democrats are also forbidden to engage in “blocking the well” activities like the sit-in of June 2016.
The sit-in was organized after the Pulse nightclub shooting in Florida left 50 people dead. Democrats attempted to force Republicans to pass several gun reform laws in the wake of the tragedy, and when Republicans turned off C-SPAN cameras to hide the sit-in, Democrats resorted to using their personal phones to live broadcast the debates and vote. The gun measures did not pass.
Democrats are alarmed at being forbidden to record debates, especially with a Republican-controlled Congress that wants to gut core programs like Planned Parenthood, Medicare, Social Security and Obamacare. They plan to challenge the bill because it violates the First Amendment, and America has a right to know what is going on in the House.
The bill was part of a large-scale transition of power to the Trump administration. Donald Trump will take the oath of office on January 20, 2017.