GOP letter calls for live Rules broadcasts

Rules Committee Republicans are calling on Chairwoman Louise Slaughter (D-N.Y.) to install a camera in the panel's hearing room so that their meetings may be broadcast live, according to a letter obtained by The Hill.

Most of the committee rooms have cameras that feed live webcasts of hearings, but the Rules Committee does not have a camera installed.

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Republicans write in the letter that the reason cameras have not been installed is that, because the committee's business "is often messy, tradition dictates that it is best shielded from public view."

Rules Committee ranking member David Dreier (R-Calif.) and Reps. Lincoln Diaz-Balart (R-Fla.), Virginia Foxx (R-N.C.) and Pete Sessions (R-Texas) note in their letter however, that the room has the capability to broadcast proceedings.

“Much of the architectural work required for the installation of cameras was completed about 4 years ago during the last renovation of the hearing room and we understand that the costs associated with installing the cameras do not come from the Committee's regular budget,” they state in the letter.

Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) introduced a bill that would require the Rules Committee to meet on the House floor so that C-SPAN cameras would have to broadcast the proceedings.

Over the past few months, Republicans have launched many floor protests over what they consider to be heavy-handed, unprecedented restrictions on appropriations bills that prevent them from offering amendments.

Traditionally, appropriations bills have been open so that all members may offer amendments on the floor.

After Republicans proposed to offer dozens of often controversial amendments to the first funding bill, Appropriations Committee Chairman David Obey (D-Wis.) shut down business on the floor to get the Rules Committee to pick which amendments would be considered.

“Whether it is a 300-page amendment dropped in Members' laps at 3 o'clock in the morning, a conference report authorizing large payouts to AIG executives, or the Rules Committee's new-found role as the arbiter of every amendment considered on the floor of the House, the public deserves to see what we're up to in the Rules Committee,” they write.