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GOP moves to block 'disorderly conduct' in House chamber

The rule includes fines for pictures and video taken from the chamber floor, which is seen as a direct reaction to House Democrats sit-in last summer that was streamed live online.

By Stephen Feller
GOP moves to block 'disorderly conduct' in House chamber
Speaker of the House Paul Ryan plans to introduce rules for the Congressional chamber that would fine members who broadcast from the House floor, as happened during a protest there last summer. Pictured: House Democrats, including Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga., at left, hold a sit-in in an attempt to force a gun-control vote on the floor of the House chambers of the U.S. Capitol Building in Washington, D.C., on June 22. Photo by Rep. Donna Edwards/Twitter | License Photo

WASHINGTON, Dec. 27 (UPI) -- In a delayed response to Democrat's sit-in last summer to protest a lack of Congressional action on gun control, House Republicans are proposing rules to punish members of Congress who record or broadcast from the chamber floor.

The House of Representatives will vote on new rules in January that include fines for members of Congress who take pictures or broadcast audio or video from the floor of the House chamber, in addition to other rules clarifying conduct seen as disorderly during Congressional sessions.

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In addition to fines, the legislation includes penalties for breaking new rules that include referrals to the House Committee on Ethics and other sanctions.

"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, a spokeswoman for House Speaker Paul Ryan, told NBC News on Monday.

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Although the protest last summer demanding gun control legislation was not during a session of Congress, and so was not broadcast on television, Rep. John Lewis and other House Democrats could be seen protesting on the smartphone app Periscope.

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Republicans criticized the move bitterly, including some calling for sanctions against those participating in the protest -- especially Rep. Scott Peters, who used his smartphone to put the protest on Periscope, which C-SPAN eventually broadcast on television.

House rules already prohibit most uses of electronic media in the chamber, including cell phones, but the new rule would add fines -- $500 for a first offense and $2,500 for each subsequent offense, to be taken out of members' federal paycheck.

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At least one Democrat suggested the rules change would not prevent future protests if they are thought necessary, with Rep. Eric Swalwell brazenly suggesting on Twitter that he'll film another protest on the House floor if he deems it the right thing to do.

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