Democratic senators are strongly condemning news that reporters are no longer allowed to interview and film senators in the Capitol without prior permission from senators, the Senate Rules Committee, the Senate sergeant-at-arms or the Senate Radio and TV Gallery, depending on location, before conducting an on-camera interview with a senator anywhere in the Capitol or in the Senate office buildings, a Senate official told the Hill.
NBC News reporter Kasie Hunt was first to report that members of the print, television and radio media had been told they can no longer film interviews with senators without prior approval, a move which breaks years of precedent.
Many Democratic senators tweeted about the crackdown on press access on Tuesday:
Press access should never be restricted unfairly, particularly not when one party is trying to sneak a major bill through Congress.
— Chuck Schumer (@SenSchumer) June 13, 2017
As ranking member of the Senate Rules Committee I call on the majority to allow reporting in the Capitol to proceed as usual.
— Amy Klobuchar (@amyklobuchar) June 13, 2017
Huh? Maybe worried you will catch the group of guys writing health care bill in back room somewhere. https://t.co/tp5u2dFldh
— Claire McCaskill (@clairecmc) June 13, 2017
This is Senate GOP trying to hide from their terrible health care bill. America – demand answers https://t.co/gh9NsTSxoI
— Ron Wyden (@RonWyden) June 13, 2017
Maybe not the right moment to lower the secrecy veil on Congress. To whoever is trying to protect Senators – we can fend for ourselves. https://t.co/YSbTuaIZKV
— Chris Murphy (@ChrisMurphyCT) June 13, 2017
To be clear, this rule change on reporter access was a unilateral decision by the Republican members of the Senate Rules Committee. https://t.co/pVYM9g3u2f
— Senator Bob Casey (@SenBobCasey) June 13, 2017
The Hill adds:
A Senate Democratic aide said the decision to substantially curtail the access of television reporters was made unilaterally by Senate Rules Committee Chairman Richard Shelby (R-Ala.).
The new rules come as Senate Republicans rush to finish an ObamaCare repeal bill, which Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) brought up in a tweet criticizing the rules.
Reporters took to Twitter to condemn the new rule:
I was just told I cannot stand outside of the Budget Committee hearing room to interview lawmakers. https://t.co/gBdkztGLfO
— Kevin Cirilli (@kevcirilli) June 13, 2017
NEW: The Sen Rules Cmte now wants us to request approval from them for EVERY on-cam interview of a Senator in the hallway we want to conduct
— Frank Thorp V (@frankthorp) June 13, 2017
Senate Rules Committee and @SenateSAA trying to SHUT DOWN press access in halls. No more staking out hearings without permission. Not OK.
— Manu Raju (@mkraju) June 13, 2017
Can't help but notice this comes as Congress is crafting major legislation behind closed doors without the usual public process there either https://t.co/XutcMJPLj4
— Benjy Sarlin (@BenjySarlin) June 13, 2017
This is how Republicans govern when they don't want to be asked questions about their secret healthcare bill, or about the president. https://t.co/l4aw4TcE1k
— Christina Wilkie (@christinawilkie) June 13, 2017
Have these people read the Constitution? https://t.co/ojpVPeY5hn
— Judd Legum (@JuddLegum) June 13, 2017
We live in a time when technology could make government more transparent, thus trusted. But we're led by the terminally opaque. https://t.co/xYG6mdsNU2
— Ron Fournier (@ron_fournier) June 13, 2017
This is a stunning change of precedent. https://t.co/AJ04NOUmjb
— Kyle Griffin (@kylegriffin1) June 13, 2017