A strange thing happened Wednesday morning on Capitol Hill.
As Rep. Stenny Hoyer (D-MD) attempted to call for a vote to extend a payroll tax cut to middle class and working Americans, his Republican colleagues adjourned the House and walked out of the chamber. And if that weren’t odd enough, it got even stranger: As Hoyer railed against them for failing to help working Americans, footage from C-SPAN went silent, then cut away.
Moments later, C-SPAN took to the Internet to explain that it wasn’t their doing, but someone working for House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH).
The incident occurred mere moments after the House went into session. Hoyer made a motion for a vote on the Senate’s payroll tax cut extension, which would extend the lower rates for another two months, but the Republican presiding over the House did not acknowledge the motion. He instead adjourned the House, then got up and walked out.
“As you walk off the floor, Mr. Speaker, you’re walking away, just as so many Republicans have walked away from taxpayers, the unemployed, and very frankly, as well, from those who will be seeking medical assistance from their doctors, 48 million senior citizens,” Hoyer can be heard saying.
“We regret, Mr. Speaker, that you have walked off the platform without addressing the issue of critical importance to this country, and that is the continuation of the middle class tax cut, the continuation of unemployment benefits for those at risk of losing them, and a continuation of the access to doctors for all those 48 million seniors who rely on them daily for help.”
And that’s when the audio cut out. Seconds later, footage faded to a shot of the capitol from outside.
Moments later, someone at C-SPAN took to Twitter and explained: “C-SPAN has 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 Boehner told C-SPAN back in February it would not be allowed control its own cameras.
The non-partisan political network, produced as a courtesy by the nation’s cable operators, had said it wanted to offer a more “journalistic product,” but the speaker denied their request to place and operate more cameras.
This video is from C-SPAN, broadcast Dec. 21, 2011.