Senate suddenly bars reporters from filming senators in Capitol hallways

Senate bars journalists from filming senators in Capitol hallways

The Senate is blocking TV reporters from interviewing lawmakers in the Capitol

What happened next is a little unclear.

Members of the Capitol Hill press corps on Tuesday morning were verbally informed that reporters would no longer be granted access to film interviews with the United States senators, unless they obtain permission from the Senate rules committee as well as the senator whom reporters seek to interview.

U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D- Minn., said on Twitter that "This is no time for limiting press access in U.S. Senate".

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Left-wing sources have argued that the GOP instituted the change to prevent journalists from getting details on the health care bill lawmakers are now working on, as well as to generally further erode democracy and freedom of the press.

"The Rules Committee has made no changes to the existing rules governing press coverage on Senate side of the Capitol complex", Shelby said in a statement. She said Shelby hadn't notified her of any changes, but assured her over the phone on Tuesday that he wouldn't move forward on a major shift without first consulting her. And something that would have an immediate - and negative - effect on the way reporters interact with elected officials.

The new directive is a stark change from regular order in the Capitol, where credentialed reporters are traditionally given the same access to hallways and public spaces as Capitol Hill staff. Throughout all of it, hundreds of reporters have crammed into narrow hallways, or by the trams underneath the Capitol, or at the foot of staircases, staking out members of Congress on the move.

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Reporters are apparently facing yet another hurdle when trying to cover the politics of dysfunction.

Some reporters who spoke on the condition of anonymity also told CNNMoney that when they tried to schedule stakeouts, which would enable them to wait outside senators' offices to ask questions, on Tuesday, they were asked a series of questions to justify the request, including why they wanted permission and who they meant to speak with.

"GOP should respect the 1st Amendment and let reporters do their jobs", tweeted Virginia Senator and 2016 vice presidential nominee Tim Kaine. "We can protect ourselves".

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"This is a bad idea", tweeted Nebraska Sen. He told Politico's Burgess Everett, "of all the problems in America, [reporters] are pretty down the list". Tim Scott and Lindsey Graham came to the media's defense - with some exceptions. "These stakeout things need to be better regulated". Without a free and independent media, politicians aren't held accountable. Now, we can't know whether they have a comment or not; we are in the dark. People asking questions - and, yes, sometimes hard and annoying questions - is your bulwark against the erosion of democracy. "So some of my staff obviously talked to the press galleries about the rules and so what, and they thought we were going to".

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