Tuesday morning, the Senate Sergeant at Arms staff announced tough new restrictions on media interviews to the members of the Senate press gallery.
The announced ban including prohibiting on-camera interviews in hallways, outside Senate offices or committee rooms without permission from the Senate Rules Committee, the Sergeant at Arms or Senate Radio and TV Gallery, depending on the location of the interview. Also, reporters were told that a special press pen would be created in the Capitol basement, a popular location for the media to ask questions of Senators on their way to the Senate floor or lunch cafeteria.
Bloomberg TV chief Washington correspondent Kevin Cirilli confirmed these new restrictions, tweeting he was told he could not stand outside the Budget Committee office to interview lawmakers.
I was just told I cannot stand outside of the Budget Committee hearing room to interview lawmakers. https://t.co/gBdkztGLfO
— Kevin Cirilli (@kevcirilli) June 13, 2017
These new rules were quickly rescinded later in the day.
A Senate official said the Rules Committee had never ordered the Sergeant at Arms office to enforce tougher media restrictions and suggested the announcement was a miscommunication. “Everything you did before, you can still do,” said an official familiar with the discussion.
Senator Richard Shelby, Chairman of the Rules Committee, released a statement Tuesday saying they made “no changes to the existing rules governing press coverage on the Senate side of the Capitol complex.”