Rep. Mike Capuano, chair of the Committee on House Administration, who has come under steady assault from Rep. John Culberson and a growing number of Republican activists for his recent letter (PDF) on modifications to House rules concerning standards for official communications, fires back at his critics.
First, the ONLY item we seek to address is LOOSENING existing rules to allow Members to post videos as a first step toward making the rules meet our constituents' expectations regarding how they communicate with us in the 21st century. This was completely ignored during the years that Republicans controlled Congress while the internet grew exponentially. It is currently against House rules to post video on any site with commercial or political advertising or to use taxpayer-funded resources to post outside of the House.gov domain.
We are not currently seeking to address anything other than video - not blog postings, online chats or any other written form of communication anywhere on the internet. Any assertion to the contrary is a lie. Perhaps the people spreading those lies should take some time to actually read the letter I wrote, which is attached below.
Our only concern is commercialization - not imposing limits on free speech. It is amazing to me that Republicans think they can obscure the issue with this completely false assertion.
NO ONE is suggesting changes to the rules regarding content of messages or what Members can post and any assertion to the contrary is inaccurate. My letter specifically and clearly states that in the fourth paragraph.
It should be noted that the Franking Commission began reviewing this specific issue when a Republican Member requested the rules be updated so that videos could be posted on outside sites. This Member originally applauded our efforts as "a step in the right direction". I believe it is a step in the right direction; the first in what I hope will be an ongoing process to make the House rules meet the communications needs of the 21st century while balancing our responsibility for the appropriate use of government resources.
I hope this clarifies the issue for anyone following this temper tantrum by some of my colleagues. Thank you for reading this and for caring about the House of Representatives and how every American can be best engaged in our deliberations.