GOP Faces Swift Backlash Over 'Disturbing' Press Crackdown in Senate

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GOP Faces Swift Backlash Over 'Disturbing' Press Crackdown in Senate

Critics warn move to limit press access could be related to the Republicans' secrecy on Trumpcare

"This is Senate GOP trying to hide from their terrible health care bill. America—demand answers," wrote Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) (Photo: J. Scott Applewhite/AP)

Senate Republicans sparked immediate outrage from members of the media, civil libertarians, and lawmakers on Tuesday by announcing what are being called "strict new rules" barring reporters from interviewing senators in the hallways of the Capitol.

This news comes shortly after it was revealed on Monday that the GOP will keep its Trumpcare deliberations in the dark for as long as possible before the bill goes to a vote.

"Television reporters will now need permission from senators, the Senate Rules Committee, the Senate Sergeant-at-Arms or the Senate Radio and TV Gallery, depending on location, before conducting an on-camera interview with a senator anywhere in the Capitol or in the Senate office buildings, according to a Senate official familiar with the matter," The Hill summarized.

Mike Mastrian announced the new rules to reporters early Tuesday, Politico noted, and backlash was quick to follow.

In a statement, ACLU Political Director Faiz Shakir said the rules violate "the core values of our democracy."

"Closing the shutters now, while Congress is secretly considering a bill that would cause over 20 million people to lose health insurance, is utterly unreasonable and flies in the face of the First Amendment," he concluded.

Reporters responded to the "crackdown" with a mixture of incredulity and anger.

Democratic lawmakers weighed in, as well.

Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) connected the reported rules to the GOP's healthcare secrecy, tweeting, "Huh? Maybe worried you will catch the group of guys writing health care bill in back room somewhere."

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