South Carolina’s junior senator said he understands the concerns against having TV cameras in the U.S. Capitol’s halls, but said he ultimately believes the press should have access to senators and members of Congress.
The Hill reports U.S. Sen. Tim Scott’s, R-SC, comments came after Senate sergeant-at-arms staff informed reporters in the Senate galleries that new restrictions would ban them from holding interviews with senators in the hallways or without the permission of the Senate Rules Committee. Reports linked Rules Committee Chair Richard Shelby, R-AL, with the move. Shelby later said it was not a rules change, but a discussion on ways to ensure safety amid the growing number of reporters who cover the Capitol.
“There are a couple of examples where, number one, folks have been at ATM machines and folks who have been using cameras — I want to keep my PIN private,” Scott told reporters, according to The Hill. “Number two, if you’re tripping over cords if you’re walking out, that’s a problem.”
Scott did not endorse the restrictions, however and added, “But overall, you guys deserve the access necessary to do your job so that the American people are informed.”
The position may be moot, though, as Shelby announced there would not be a rules change and Capitol reporters were told they could continue to conduct their interviews as always. The announcement came after the story broke and journalists complained. Democrats on the Rules Committee said they had not been consulted at all and implied the interview restrictions were to help Republicans avoid answering media questions ahead of an expected debate on the Affordable Healthcare Act this summer.
South Carolina’s senior U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham said he had not heard about any restrictions when approached by Politico. “Of all the problems in America, y’all are pretty down the list,” he said, according to a tweet by Politico writer Burgess Everett.