Senate Republicans appeared to make a major move to limit media access to senators Tuesday. CNN reports staff with the Senate Radio and Television Correspondents Gallery told reporters they could no longer film or record interviews with senators in the hallways of the Capitol or Senate office building without prior permission. For years, media had been allowed to film video and record audio in the public areas of the House and Senate office buildings. A Democratic aide tells the Hill the new rule was solely the decision of Republican Sen. Richard Shelby, chairman of the Senate Rules Committee. Shelby says no new rule has been enacted; they're simply enforcing existing rules.
Regardless, the change met with an immediate outcry from reporters and lawmakers—both Democrat and Republican. Sen. Amy Klobuchar, ranking Democrat on the Senate Rules Committee, says Republicans must "allow reporting in the Capitol to proceed as usual," reports Bloomberg, a journalist for which was told he couldn't interview senators outside the Senate Budget Committee hearing room. While Shelby cites safety concerns for lawmakers and journalists as the reason behind the change, Democrats note it comes while Republicans are trying to pass a healthcare bill in secret. "Press access should never be restricted unfairly, particularly not when one party is trying to sneak a major bill through Congress," Sen. Chuck Schumer tweets.