Following a week in which C-SPAN operated cameras throughout the House chamber, the network and some members of Congress are pushing to grant the news organization permanent coverage.
Under Capitol rules, the majority party operates congressional cameras, and the feeds are distributed to television networks that wish to broadcast the proceedings. Since the lower chamber took until early Saturday to elect Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy, the House did not have a rules package, and C-SPAN filmed throughout the chamber. Now, C-SPAN, Democratic Wisconsin Rep. Mark Pocan and Republican Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz want to give the non-profit media outlet permanent control over the cameras.
“C-SPAN, a private not-for-profit public affairs network, commits to covering House debates in the same manner we have televised Congressional hearings — fully, accurately and with the unbiased production style on which we have built our reputation since 1979,” network co-CEO Susan Swain wrote Tuesday in a letter to McCarthy.
“We do not propose replacing the existing House Recording System or its output. Instead, we request to install a few additional cameras in the House chamber. When mixed with the existing House production, shots from our cameras would allow us to create a second, journalistic product, just as we did last week,” Swain added, referring to the network’s coverage of the speaker votes. (RELATED: Here’s What Ocasio-Cortez Told Matt Gaetz During Speaker Vote)
C-SPAN cameras frequently panned across the House chamber during the speaker votes, catching members in conversation. The network filmed Democratic New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez speaking with Gaetz and Republican Arizona Rep. Paul Gosar, both of whom initially opposed McCarthy’s speakership. Ocasio-Cortez later revealed she had been talking strategy with the two representatives and pushing back on claims from GOP leadership.
Most notably, C-SPAN cameras filmed Republican Alabama Rep. Mike Rogers charging at Gaetz between the 14th and 15th speaker ballots Friday night. Republican North Carolina Rep. Richard Hudson had to restrain Rogers, the footage shows. (RELATED: Dem Strategist Agrees With Rep. Gaetz’s Amendment That Would Allow C-SPAN Cameras To Cover House Floor Proceedings)
Gaetz is hoping to add an amendment to the House rules package that would give C-SPAN cameras more access to the House chambers. Lawmakers have not yet voted on his proposal.
“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 on Tuesday. “And the pool view of the Congress is antiquated and a little boomer-fied.”
Last week’s @CSPAN coverage was worthy of an Oscar. That’s why I’m introducing legislation requiring House cameras to continue to capture the full Chamber & not just what the Speaker wants.
Thx to @RepMaxwellFrost, @RepMarkTakano, @NydiaVelazquez, & @RepDonaldPayne for joining!
— Rep. Mark Pocan (@RepMarkPocan) January 9, 2023
Pocan announced Monday he would propose legislation giving C-SPAN more access to the House chamber, saying the network’s cameras should “capture the full Chamber & not just what the Speaker wants.”