Posted: 9:29 am Thursday, December 23rd, 2010
By Jamie Dupree
Most lawmakers probably have no idea that the rules of the House of Representatives allow for certain reporters to have a seat on the House floor. Republicans want to expand that access even more.
No one is quite sure the last time a member of the press was actually allowed to go on the floor while the House is in session, but for years, the House rules have contained the following:
“The Speaker may assign one seat on the floor to Associated Press reporters and one to United Press International reporters, and may regulate their occupation. The Speaker may admit to the floor, under such regulations as the Speaker may prescribe, one additional representative of each press association.”
That is for newspaper reporters in what is called the regular Press Gallery, or the “Print Gallery.”
There is also a rule dealing with Radio-TV reporters:
“The Speaker may admit to the floor, under such regulations as the Speaker may prescribe, one representative of the National Broadcasting Company, one of the Columbia Broadcasting System, and one of the American Broadcasting Company.”
Now the GOP is proposing to strike out the specific references to AP, UPI, NBC, CBS and ABC and allow in accredited reporters from the various press galleries.
(3) UPDATING RULES GOVERNING THE MEDIA.–
(A) In clause 2 of rule VI, strike the penultimate sentence, and amend the last sentence to read as follows: ”The Speaker may admit to the floor, under such regulations as the Speaker may prescribe, not more than one representative of each press association.”
(B) In clause 3 of rule VI, strike the last sentence and insert ”The Speaker may admit to the floor, under such regulations as the Speaker may prescribe, not more than one representative of each media outlet.”
While lots of us in the press would love to be able to roam the floor of the House, a number of scribes might also quietly observe that this may not exactly be what lawmakers want, since the floor is seen as a refuge from those pesky reporters in the hallway.
Many state legislatures allow reporters on the floor, but not the Congress.
This rules change is part of a package of rules proposals released today by House Republicans.
Unlike most other reporters, I have actually been on the floor when the House is in session. The last time was in 1981, when I was a Page in the House.
It would be neat to be down there again, armed with a microphone and recorder.
But I will believe it when I see it.
You can read the entire GOP rules proposal (it’s somewhat technical) in a pdf file at http://is.gd/jiUYz
These rules changes still have to be approved by Republicans and then by the full House when the new Congress convenes in early January.