For the second time in recent weeks, C-SPAN’s video on Friday morning cut away from high drama in the U.S. Congress as Democrats demanded to be heard, only to see their session immediately shut down by Republicans.
In another so-called “pro forma” session, or a session of Congress staged merely as formality in order to block presidential recess appointments, the House of Representatives was gaveled in on Friday and immediately gaveled out again, even as Democrats took to the floor demanding to know where their Republican colleagues were.
After the session was initiated, Rep. James Clyburn (D-SC) stood and asked Rep. Jeff Denham (R-CA), “Where are the Republicans?” He was joined by Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and a small assemblage of other Democrats who’ve been pushing to extend lower payroll tax rates to working Americans.
“The gentleman is out of order,” Denham replied. After citing a few House rules and the GOP’s resolution to not conduct business again until Tuesday, he then gaveled the session out and walked off the stage, even as Clyburn remained at the podium.
Seconds later, C-SPAN’s video was cut.
“The House will be back on Tuesday, next Tuesday, for another pro forma session,” a C-SPAN host explained as the shot faded to an exterior view of the capitol. “They’ve been holding these pro forma sessions every couple of days to keep the — an attempt to keep the president from making recess appointments.
“You saw there James Clyburn of South Carolina trying to be recognized by the speaker pro tem, and he refused to be recognized and gaveled the session closed. Just a reminder, too: those cameras at the House are under control of the House gallery, there.”
It’s not the first time C-SPAN has oddly cut away during a dramatic moment on Capitol Hill.
The same thing happened in December after another pro forma session was gaveled out, even as Rep. Stenny Hoyer (D-MD) called for a vote to extend a payroll tax cut to working Americans.
C-SPAN’s official Twitter account declared moments after their cameras cut away that they have “no control over the U.S. House TV cameras — the Speaker of the House does.”
It’s for reasons just like this, one might infer, that House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) told C-SPAN back in February that it would not be allowed control of House cameras.
The non-partisan political news network, produced by Congress and operated by the nation’s cable operators, had said it wanted to offer a more “journalistic product,” but was denied the opportunity.
This video is from C-SPAN, broadcast Friday, Jan. 6, 2011.
Stephen C. Webster is the senior editor of Raw Story, and is based out of Austin, Texas. He previously worked as the associate editor of The Lone Star Iconoclast in Crawford, Texas, where he covered state politics and the peace movement’s resurgence at the start of the Iraq war. Webster has also contributed to publications such as True/Slant, Austin Monthly, The Dallas Business Journal, The Dallas Morning News, Fort Worth Weekly, The News Connection and others. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenCWebster.
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