Matt Gaetz Wants To Bring C-SPAN Cameras Back On House Floor
Democrat Sheila Jackson Lee of Texas talks with Republican Matt Gaetz of Florida during a meeting of the 118th Congress, Friday, January 6, 2023, at the U.S. Capitol in Washington DC.
(Photo by Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty Images)

After offering the public unvarnished views of dramatic scenes during the House speaker vote last week, C-SPAN could regain control of cameras in the House chamber thanks to a new amendment being offered by a Republican lawmaker.

Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) is bringing forward an amendment that would require the House speaker to allow four cameras owned and operated by C-SPAN to broadcast and record proceedings on the chamber floor, according to Fox News.

“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 the news outlet. “And the pool view of the Congress is antiquated and a little boomer-fied.”

The Republican-led House elected Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) as speaker in the 15th ballot just after midnight Saturday. During that days-long process, C-SPAN garnered positive reviews for how its operators captured some of the most dynamic moments in the House chamber during negotiations and voting with its wide array of camera angles. In one particularly kinetic moment Friday night, cameras caught Rep. Mike Rogers (R-AL) being pulled away by a colleague to stop a confrontation with Gaetz.

There was some fun to be had too. Cameras that captured Rep. Paul Gosar (R-AZ) chatting with Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) and Gaetz exchanging words with McCarthy led to humorous mock interpretations by Bad Lip Reading, a popular Twitter account, that quickly went viral.

For decades, the House Recording Studio has usually maintained control of cameras in the House chamber, similar to how the Senate Recording Studio operates in the Senate, and C-SPAN is given permission to broadcast footage that is captured. Rare exceptions are made for special events, such as the State of the Union and the speaker vote, according to VICE.

C-SPAN announced on Monday, as the House began consideration of a rules package, that government-operated cameras were back and that it returned to broadcasting the feed from the chamber.

But since the speaker vote, members on both sides of the aisle have voiced support for changing how cameras are operated in the chamber.

Rep. Mark Pocan (D-WI) tweeted that C-SPAN’s coverage of the speaker vote “was worthy of an Oscar” and said he planned to introduce legislation to require “House cameras to continue to capture the full Chamber & not just what the Speaker wants.” Rep. Chip Roy (R-TX) told CNN over the weekend he thought it was a “good thing” to let C-SPAN cameras run free.

Gaetz touted how C-SPAN cameras caught him talking with Democrats in “humanizing” moments that stand in stark contrast to “high-octane moments” often seen during contentious hearings. He specifically cited conversations with Reps. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX) and Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL).

“There are there are moments of bipartisanship and collegiality that occur every day,” Gaetz said. “And the country doesn’t get to see those.”

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