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House Democrat planning legislation to allow C-SPAN cameras free range in chamber

A House Democrat is planning to introduce legislation that would allow cameras in the lower chamber to actively capture proceedings after coverage of the Speaker’s race last week made possible through rare unfettered access to the room gained widespread attention.

Praising C-SPAN’s coverage of the days-long Speaker debate as “worthy of an Oscar,” in a tweet this week, Rep. Mark Pocan (D-Wis.) said he plans to introduce legislation that would to ensure that the full chamber can continue to be broadcast to the American people.

“One feature of the new Congress that made this debate so compelling was the fact that cameras recording the U.S. House of Representatives were free to broadcast the full Chamber during votes and debate, and not merely the rostrum, well, and Members recognized to speak,” Pocan wrote in a dear colleague letter obtained by The Hill. “I hope you will agree that opening our deliberations to the full view of the American people is good for democracy, and that you will join me in this endeavor.”

C-SPAN confirmed its cameras were no longer in the House chamber as a new rules package was debated and passed on Monday night. Coverage of House proceedings has returned to being run through government feeds.

It is standard procedure for C-SPAN to air congressional proceedings and public affairs events from House-, Senate- and other government-operated cameras, which are controlled by the party in the majority.

C-SPAN’s cameras caught a number of dramatic scenes in real time last week during the Speaker’s race, with video clips from the channel’s coverage going viral on Twitter and sparking jokes about the unprecedented access given to the press with no House rules in place.

In a statement to The Hill on Monday, C-SPAN said the access it was given during the Speaker’s race “allowed Americans to get a better understanding of how Congress operates, learning from different, rarely-seen camera angles,” and said “certainly hope[s] to gain greater access to at least key legislative proceedings.”

On Tuesday afternoon, Rep. Matt Gaetz (Fla.), who was among the most hardline GOP holdouts blocking McCarthy from the Speakership, also voiced his support for the idea of letting C-SPAN continue to have free rein in the chamber. 

“I’ve received a lot of feedback from constituents about how interesting it was, and that you were able to see in real time how our government is functioning, what alliances are being created, what discussions are being had, what animated moments drive the action,” Gaetz told Fox News Digital. “And the pool view of the Congress is antiquated and a little boomer-fied.”

The Hill has reached out to McCarthy’s office and the House Rules Committee for comment.

—Updated at 3:45 p.m. Mychael Schnell contributed.

Tags Mark Pocan Matt Gaetz

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