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'Secrecy veil': Reporters told no more Senate hallway interviews

Staff on Capitol Hill told reporters Tuesday that they had to "stop filming" and would not be able to record interviews with senators without prior permission. (Source: CNN) Staff on Capitol Hill told reporters Tuesday that they had to "stop filming" and would not be able to record interviews with senators without prior permission. (Source: CNN)

WASHINGTON, DC (RNN) - Reporters on Capitol Hill said Tuesday they were no longer allowed to record interviews with lawmakers in the Senate's hallways without prior permission.

Senate staff told reporters they must get permission from senators and the Senate Rules Committee for an interview, said Kasie Hunt with NBC News.

"Reporters were in hallways this morning per usual. Gallery staff were dispatched to issue verbal directive: Stop filming," Hunt tweeted. "Gallery staff told us the decision was from the Senate Rules Committee and to call them for future interview permission."

A short time later, Sen. Richard Shelby, R-AL and chair of the rules committee, released a statement that no changes had been made to existing rules on press coverage. He did say the committee was "working with various galleries to ensure compliance with existing rules."

Hunt said after Shelby's statement that they had still not been told if hallway interviews would resume. But at 4:27 p.m. ET Tuesday, ABC News correspondent Mary Bruce tweeted that things were back to normal. 

Manu Raju, a Capitol correspondent for CNN, voiced his displeasure on Twitter.

"Senate Rules Committee and (Senate Sergeant-at-Arms) trying to shut down press access in halls," he said. "No more staking out hearings without permission. Not OK."

The move would reverse years of precedent, and reporters would no longer be allowed to record video or audio.

"Maybe not the right moment to lower the secrecy veil on Congress," said Sen. Chris Murphy, D-CT, on Twitter. "To whoever is trying to protect senators - we can fend for ourselves."

Another Democrat, Sen. Kamala Harris of California, said "senators shouldn't have to hide."

"We serve the people and they have a right to know what we are doing," Harris tweeted.

.  

Republican Sen. Ben Sasse of Nebraska retweeted one of Hunt's tweet's, adding, "This is a bad idea."

Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-SC, responded to a question on the restrictions by saying, "Of all the problems in America, y'all are pretty down the list," per Politico's Burgess Everett.

The move comes as Senate Republicans are being criticized for not revealing any details of their work on a healthcare bill. There are no hearings scheduled for the proposal.

People can contact the Senate Rules Committee at 202-224-6352.

Copyright 2017 Raycom News Network. All rights reserved.

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