Senate Republicans back off proposed restrictions on media
- Author: Zachary Reyes Jun 13, 2017,
Jun 13, 2017, 22:31
"The Committee has been working with the various galleries to ensure compliance with existing rules in an effort to help provide a safe environment for Members, the press corps, staff and constituents as they travel from Senate offices to the Capitol".
It also set off a firestorm of criticism from Capitol Hill reporters and Democrats.
Tensions between the media and reporters have ratcheted up at the Capitol since President Trump pulled off a major political upset by defeating Hillary ClintonHillary Rodham ClintonSenate Republicans back off proposed restrictions on media Trump friend clashes with White House over special counsel claims The Hill's 12:30 Report MORE in November.
Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, the top Democrat on the panel, told reporters she was not consulted by Shelby about any new restrictions on the press. She quickly added: "CONDITIONS for any interview: Previously granted permission from senator AND Rules Committee of Senate".
Meanwhile, Shelby insisted in a statement that there are "no changes to existing rules", and "no additional restrictions have been put in place".
"He seemed to imply they weren't going to change the policy, but I'm not going to put words in his mouth", Klobuchar told reporters.
Klobuchar later tweeted that she has spoken to Shelby and that no changes to press access would be made without her knowledge.
Chuck Schumer, the Senate minority leader, tweeted: "Press access should never be restricted unfairly, particularly not when one party is trying to sneak a major bill through Congress".
Sources indicated to the Guardian that the move was apparently a unilateral decision by Shelby, the 83-year-old chairman of the committee, made without any written documentation.
"Maybe not the right moment to lower the secrecy veil on Congress".
"I want you to have access to us, inform your readers, inform your viewers what we're trying to do", Sen.
"This is a bad idea", tweeted Nebraska Republican Sen.
"They're trying to keep senators from being held accountable with respect to health-care policy, and I think it runs contrary to the openness and transparency the American people deserve", Wyden told reporters. But "of all the problems in America, y'all are pretty down on the chain".
TV reporters regularly conduct live interviews with senators in the hallways.
Public interest in Congress and media coverage of lawmakers has skyrocketed since Trump's inauguration and crowds of reporters in the Capitol hallways have hit record sizes. The Senate and House are both conducting investigations into possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russian Federation, as is the FBI.