A loud whistle. Lively conversations in the corridors of the hall. Sleeping children. Lawmakers are scrolling on their phones.
A typical live stream from the US House of Representatives focuses on the podium and the desks from which members of each party address the chamber. But this week brought an unusual amount of drama as the American public watched lawmakers difficulty in choosing a new speaker.
And that’s largely thanks to C-SPAN.
The House radio-television gallery told The Washington Post that C-SPAN received permission before the vote to have its cameras move visually around the chamber. But once a speaker is confirmed, C-SPAN will return to its normal routine.
His cameras caught the huddle between House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy and Jim Jordan (Ohio), a McCarthy ally who was nominated for speaker by conservative hardliners over his own objections.
Cameras also caught rare moments like New York Democrat Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez talking with Arizona Republican Paul A. Gosar. Ocasio-Cortez said later MSNBC that they are discussing the possibility of Republicans working out a deal with Democrats to secure the votes McCarthy will need for the presidency.
Their exchange was quite surprising. Gosar was censured by his colleagues last year after he shared an animated video on social media showing him killing Ocasio-Cortez.
During the series of votes, C-SPAN cameras captured the bored faces of children sitting in the hall watching the drama unfold. Lawmakers usually invite their families to the first day of Congress to witness the pomp and circumstance and attend the swearing-in.
On the first day of voting, he was seen sitting mostly alone as he voted for McCarthy. On the second day, he was seen listening to heated discussions between House Republicans.
Whether it’s lawmakers talking in the aisles or their reactions after voting, Ben O’Connell, C-SPAN’s director of editorial operations, says he hopes the network is allowed to show more of that to the American public.
“These visuals really speak to viewers,” he told The Post. “It helps to tell the story of this election for president. Now imagine if we were able to do that when there’s an important piece of legislation. I think it will be much more engaging for the American people and the voters will really be able to see who is talking to whom.
He continued: “Right now, with the status quo, they just can’t.”
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