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After Backlash, Lawmakers Abandon Rule Restricting Reporters From House Chamber

Austen Diamond

House lawmakers quickly dropped an idea to restrict journalists from the chamber floor this week — a proposal met with immediate backlash by most local news organizations.

A House committee had recommended the change to ban journalists from the floor of the House at least 5 minutes before the start of debate.

Rep. Jim Dunnigan, the sponsor of the rule, said the time was needed for lawmakers to prepare, but many media outlets pushed back. Some Capitol Hill reporters argued the ban appeared to be a way to let lawmakers more easily dodge questions on their way to a vote.

During a late-night session Tuesday, Rep. Dunnigan backed off and amended the rule to get rid of the time restriction. Instead, the rule now discourages reporters from loitering on the floor after an interview.

A separate rule approved Tuesday will now require Capitol journalists to complete sexual harassment training in addition to a background check to get a press credential.

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