With the U.S. Senate — or at least its Republican majority — rushing to push through a secret health care bill, news of further press restrictions isn’t exactly surprising.
Reporters have been told not to film interviews with senators in hallways. Some have said permission must be granted for interviews. So far, precise language of new rules and how they arose haven’t been released.
But critics are already calling senators about the rule and Common Cause issued a statement:
Reports that Capitol Police officers may have been directed to obstruct reporter access in Capitol are deeply disturbing. American democracy depends on a functional and unfettered press, but recently press freedom has been under attack as rarely before. The American people need to know whether the Capitol Police were ordered to curtail reporter access in the Senate, and if so, by whom. And most importantly full access to the Capitol must be restored for all reporters and photographers. Congress may prefer to operate behind closed doors but its business is the business of the American people who elected Members to represent them in Washington.
I’ve requested comments from Sens. Tom Cotton and John Boozman of Arkansas. But I’m not expecting much, particularly from Cotton, who tends to restrict his comments and those of staff to friendly reporters unlikely to press him on unpopular topics. Boozman also isn’t readily available to critics.
UPDATE: The Senate Rules Committee has issued a statement there have been no rules “changes,” but said it was working to ensure compliance with “existing rules.”