Swalwell Leads Call for New Policy Regarding Cameras on House Floor

July 12, 2016
Press Release

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Fifty House Democrats led by Rep. Eric Swalwell (CA-15) asked Speaker Paul Ryan on Tuesday to create a more transparent U.S. Congress by revising the policy that prohibits Members from using cameras on the House Floor.

The letter to Ryan also asks that C-SPAN be allowed to control its own camera feed, rather than having the cameras remain subject to House control.

Swalwell took part in last month’s House Floor sit-in to demand that Speaker Ryan and House Republican leadership allow a vote on bipartisan legislation to address gun violence. Republican leadership refused to allow such votes, and – because the House was not formally in session – turned off the chamber’s cameras during the sit-in.

Swalwell and other Democrats responded by using Periscope, Facebook Live, Snapchat, Twitter and other platforms to honor Americans’ right to see their Congress in action. Millions of Americans followed those feeds.

“Allowing audio/video recordings and still photographs on the House Floor when the House is in or out of session would be a tremendous way of connecting more people, particularly millennials who so often use this technology, with our democracy,” wrote Swalwell, who founded and chairs Future Forum, a group of 18 young House Democrats that has engaged with thousands of millennials across the nation on the issues most important to them.

The letter specified that such recordings and images should only be allowed with the consent of those being covered, so that Members still will feel free to meet and talk on the Floor confidentially.

“I understand and respect your obligation to enforce House Rules which require order and decorum,” Swalwell wrote. “However, what amounts to a violation of order and decorum can and should change with the times. Using smart phones to record and take photographs simply is not in every instance the breach of decorum it once may have been.”

Click here to read the letter in its entirety.