It’s a politically convenient thing to imply — and House Democrats sitting on the floor of the House since 11:30 a.m. aren’t shy about implying it — that House Republicans shut off the normally unblinking eyes of the C-SPAN cameras to try to hide the Democrats’ sit-in demanding a vote on gun control.
Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) even accused House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) of doing it himself.
But that’s actually not the whole story. In fact, the cameras are turned off as a matter of procedure when the House isn’t in session — and the Democrats are essentially forcing the House out of session with their sit-in. It also seems worth noting that, when the tables were turned eight years ago and Republicans were doing a sit-in, both the cameras and the lights were also off.
So let’s put partisan politics aside and explain the real reason the C-SPAN cameras — the only cameras allowed in Congress — are off.
When the new Congress got together in January of last year, like every new Congress before it, it voted on the rules that would govern it.