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House Republicans vote to fine lawmakers who live stream from the floor

House Republicans vote to fine lawmakers who live stream from the floor

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House Republican Leadership Speak To Media After Their Weekly Conference
Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images

In a vote along party lines, House Republicans approved new rules last night that impose fines for live-streaming from the floor of the House, after lawmakers used apps like Periscope as a form of protest earlier this year.

Offenders can be fined $2,500

Lawmakers can now be fined $500 for a first offense and as much as $2,500 for subsequent offenses under the new rules, which also include fines for still photography. Politico reports that the rules were slightly tweaked from an earlier form to include an appeal process.

Democrats staged a sit-in protest at the House in June after lawmakers failed to vote on gun control legislation. As the House left for recess, cameras were shut down, but Democrats — and C-SPAN — turned to live-streaming footage to broadcast the protest.

Democrats immediately blasted the new rules. Representative John Lewis, who was part of June’s protests, said the rules would have a “chilling effect on members who disagree with the proceeding of this body.”

“No congress, no body, no committee has the power to tell us that we can not stand up, speak up, and speak truth to power,” he said. “We have a right to dissent, we have a right to protest for what is right.”

The new rules followed an attempt by members of the House GOP to gut an independent ethics committee. Those rules were scrapped after widespread outrage.