U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz, who was at risk of being punched out during the contentious debate over electing the speaker of the House, thinks Americans ought to see more such scenes on television.
The Florida Republican told Fox News on Tuesday that he thinks Americans should see how Congress works in “real-time.” Thus, he wants C-SPAN’s cameras back on the House floor.
He’s filing a bill that, if passed, would allow new GOP Speaker Kevin McCarthy to do just that.
“I’ve received a lot of feedback from constituents about how interesting it was and that you were able to see in real-time how our government is functioning, what alliances are being created, what discussions are being had, what animated moments drive the action,” Gaetz told Fox News in an interview.
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“And the [press] pool view of the Congress is antiquated and a little boomer-fied.”
Gaetz himself was the star of one of those “animated moments” on Friday.
After he refused to support McCarthy late Friday, forcing lawmakers to vote a 15th time on the issue, fellow GOP Rep. Mike Rogers of Alabama, a McCarthy backer, lunged at Gaetz and had to be forcibly restrained.
Rogers has since apologized, and Gaetz has forgiven him, as each man pledged to resume the good working relationship they had before the voting controversy.
C-SPAN also captured a moment when Gaetz spoke privately with left-wing Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. Pundits wondered what drew the natural rivals together. It was reported later that Gaetz asked AOC about confirming whether McCarthy was lining up Democrats to vote for him to overcome Gaetz and the other 19 lawmakers who gummed up his road to the gavel.
Fox News reported that Gaetz’s bill would require the speaker to maintain at least four C-SPAN-operated cameras on the House floor. They would be mobile like TV news camera operators, and not fixed on tripods with feeds going to a central control room.
“Support has been mounting for C-SPAN to permanently adopt the approach it took last week to Speaker Kevin McCarthy’s contentious speaker election, in which it freely roamed the House floor and captured dramatic moments that don’t often see air time,” Fox News noted.
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“I have talked to a handful of colleagues, and I have yet to encounter one who didn’t view the broader transparency as a net positive,” Gaetz told Fox News.
“It’s interesting to see how our leaders communicate with one another, and it’s humanizing,” he added.
“I had constituents reach out to me about a friendly chat that the country observed me having with [Democratic Rep.] Sheila Jackson Lee. And while Sheila and I certainly have had very high-octane moments in the House Judiciary Committee, and while neither one of us like to give an inch when it comes to effective argumentation, I’ve also found her to be a warm person interpersonally.”
“So, there are moments of bipartisanship and collegiality that occur every day. And the country doesn’t get to see those,” he concluded.