Coverage Rules

Overview

Congress requires that all members of the electronic media covering news events on Capitol Hill be accredited by the House and Senate Radio-Television Correspondents Galleries.

The Radio-TV Correspondents Galleries were created by the Congress to act on its behalf to facilitate members of the electronic media covering news events on Capitol Hill.

Gallery credentials are required for news coverage inside the Capitol or on Capitol grounds. Out of town reporters are not eligible for regular membership and should contact the House or Senate Gallery staffs for temporary credentials. The Senate Gallery number is (202) 224-6421. The House Gallery number is (202) 225-5214

Rules of Congress prohibit Gallery members from engaging in lobbying, advertising, publicity or promotion work for any individual, corporation, organization or government.

Current Members of Congress and the Vice President may be invited to speak in the Senate and House studios. Only Members of Congress may be interviewed in the House and Senate Gallery studios, booths and in the Capitol Visitors Center.

News coverage is regulated by the rules listed below.  

Gallery members must follow the directions of the Gallery staff at all times and are expected to conduct themselves in a professional manner when working in the Senate Gallery workspaces and studios.

General Coverage Rules

  • Videotaping and stakeouts in the Capitol and the Congressional complex require permission and are prohibited outright in some areas.
  • Gallery members should keep safety in mind when walking in front of or walking behind a subject while recording audio or shooting video anywhere inside the Congressional complex.
  • There are designated locations outside and inside which may be used at any time by members of the Gallery for standups or interviews.
  • Shooting video on the Capitol grounds with a tripod requires permission, except in designated locations.
  • Shooting video outside with portable equipment is generally unrestricted unless it impedes the flow of vehicular or pedestrian traffic.
  • Shooting video on the steps on the East Front and on the West Front of the Capitol is prohibited.
  • Coverage of House and Senate hearings must be arranged through the appropriate Gallery.
  • Pool coverage may be mandated in cases of heavily attended hearings.
  • Equipment must never be left unattended. Unattended items may be reported to the United States Capitol Police (USCP) for security reasons.
  • Gallery members may not list Gallery addresses or the main phone numbers of the Galleries on their business cards or stationery. Booth occupants must also have an office outside the Capitol.
  • House and Senate rules require appropriate and professional attire for access to the Speakers Lobby and the Senate Chamber. (For example, men are required to wear jacket and tie, and women may wear suits, skirts and slacks.)
  • Congressional Radio-TV Gallery credentials may be used only when covering news stories. They may not be used to gain access to Capitol grounds or buildings when working for non-news clients or for other purposes unrelated to news coverage.
  • Rules of Congress prohibit Gallery members from engaging in lobbying, advertising, publicity, or promotion work for any individual, corporation, organization or government.
  • Interviews with non-members and officials are permitted at authorized stakeout areas except for at the Senate policy luncheon stakeout – non members of Congress must be escorted by a Congressional member to the microphone.

You may not shoot live or recorded video images in the following areas:

  • In the House and Senate chambers.
  • Anywhere Congressional regulations prohibit video coverage such as House and Senate restaurants and cafeterias, some corridors on the second and third floors outside the House and Senate chambers, and areas closed to the public, etc.

Senate and House Gallery Studios

Only current Members of Congress and the Vice President may be interviewed or make statements in the House and Senate Gallery studios or in other parts of the Galleries.    The restriction does not apply to interviews given by credentialed members of the Congressional News Galleries.

Members of Congress (except the Speaker of the House, the House Majority and Minority Leaders, the Vice President, and Senate Majority and Minority Leaders) must be invited to appear in the House and Senate Gallery studios.  Appearances on the House side must be at the invitation of a member of the Radio-Television Galleries.  Appearances on the Senate side may be at the invitation of any member of any Congressional News Gallery.  Members of the Galleries who issue invitations for news conferences must be present in the Galleries during interviews.

News conferences with Senators and Representatives in their respective Galleries take precedence over other uses of the studios. 

The Senate and House Gallery studios are open to accredited reporters and technicians, Members of Congress, congressional press secretaries, and gallery staff. Additional congressional staff may accompany their Members in the House and Senate Gallery Studios at the discretion of the Gallery staff if space allows.

Interviews given by credentialed members of the Congressional News Galleries are permitted in the House and Senate studios and the Rayburn studio with prior clearance with Gallery staff. 

Stake-Outs and Photo Ops

  • All stake-outs must be pre-approved by the appropriate Gallery. The only exceptions are stake-outs in the designated Free Press Areas. Some stake-outs and photo ops require Gallery escorts. Contact the appropriate Gallery for details.
  • Camera positions will generally be assigned on a first come, first served basis; however, the Gallery staff may give preferred positions to organizations providing live or pool coverage.
  • Mobile cutaway cameras are permitted at stake-outs as long as the camera does not interfere with other participants.
  • Stakeouts must allow for traffic flow in corridors and should not block doorways.
  • Reporters and producers are not required to remain inside the stakeout area.
  • Unattended tripods may not be used to reserve camera positions at stake-outs.
  • Food and drink are not permitted at stake-outs in the Capitol Building and Capitol Visitors Center. Gallery members must clean up after themselves in stake-out areas.
  • Interviews with non-members and officials are permitted at authorized stakeout areas except at the Senate policy luncheon stakeouts, held every Tuesday at approximately 2:15 pm. A Congressional member must escort non-members of Congress to the microphone.

Committee Hearing Coverage

  • You must notify the appropriate Gallery of your intentions to cover a hearing so that the Gallery staff may make the necessary arrangements.
  • All electronic equipment must be installed at least 15 minutes before the hearing is scheduled to begin. If you are late, you may not be allowed to set up.
  • Camera positions will be generally assigned on a first-come, first-served basis. However, the Gallery staff may give preferred tripod positions to organizations providing live, pool, or gavel-to-gavel coverage.
  • Each committee has its own coverage rules. In general, tripods and microphones may not be broken down or removed during a hearing except during a break or recess in the hearing. Cameras may be removed from tripods for cutaways in some hearing rooms.
  • Broadcast technicians must maintain decorum at all times and conduct themselves in a way that does not interfere with the hearing.
  • Unattended tripods may not be used to reserve camera positions inside a committee hearing room.
  • Many Congressional committees prohibit food and drink in their hearing rooms.
  • Rules for cutaway crews during hearings vary, depending on the committee. In crowded hearings, crews may be required to rotate into the room to shoot cutaways.

Television Coverage on Tripods

  • In the House and Senate Gallery Studios: Reserved for exclusive use through the Gallery staffs.
  • Designated free press areas on Capitol grounds: Gallery members may set up tripods in these locations for standups or interviews without prior approval.
  • Areas of the Capitol grounds other than free press areas: For use of tripods, a Capitol Police tripod permit is required. Contact the appropriate Gallery for assistance.
  • Inside the Russell Rotunda area on the third floor and outside the Russell Rotunda balconies: Balcony positions must be reserved through the Senate Gallery staff.
  • Inside the Cannon Rotunda area on the third floor and outside the Cannon Rotunda balconies: Balcony positions must be reserved through the House Gallery staff.
  • In the Capitol Rotunda: Approval of Congressional officials through both the House and Senate Galleries required.
  • In Statuary Hall: Approval of the Speaker’s Office through the House Gallery is required.
  • In the Old Supreme Court Chamber and the Old Senate Chamber: Approval of the Senate Curator through the Senate Gallery is required.
  • In the Rayburn Room: Approval of the Speaker’s Office through the House Gallery is required.
  • In open Congressional Committee Hearings: Approval of the Committee through the appropriate Gallery is required.
  • In Members’ Offices: Approval from Member’s press office required. Tripod interviews with Members in House office building corridors need approval of the House Sergeant At Arms through the House Gallery. Tripod interviews with Members in Senate office building corridors need approval of the Senate Rules Committee through the Senate Gallery.
  • In Capitol Building Corridors: Approval of Congressional officials through the appropriate Gallery is required.
  • In the Senate Reception Room for interviews with Senators: Approval of the Senate Sergeant At Arms through the Senate Gallery is required. Tripod set up is allowed at stake-out locations that have been approved by the appropriate Gallery. Check with the appropriate Gallery for details.
  • In the Capitol subways: Restrictions vary according to location. Approval of Congressional Officials through the appropriate Gallery is required. 

Portable Television Coverage

  • The Capitol Grounds: Use of portable equipment is not restricted except when it impedes the flow of vehicular or pedestrian traffic, or creates a safety concern, or in heightened security situations when press may be restricted to certain areas.
  • East Front: Portable coverage for interviews is allowed at the base of the House, Senate and Center steps. Approval of the Member is required. News organizations must notify the Senate and House Galleries of coverage plans.
  • West Front – portable coverage is allowed at the base of the steps and in the grassy areas.  News organizations must notify the Galleries of coverage plans
  • Arrival Shots: Portable arrival shots are allowed. There are two pre-designated locations on the East Front near both Carriage Entrances which require approval of the appropriate Sergeant At Arms and the Galleries .
  • Portable Interviews: In the House and Senate office building corridors. Approval of specific Member’s office is required. Equipment is not restricted as long as it does not impede the flow of pedestrian traffic.

Radio Coverage

Radio coverage is allowed throughout the Capitol complex and the Capitol Visitor Center subject to the following rules:

  • On the second floor of the Senate wing: Extending from the President’s Room, around the corner through the Ohio Clock Corridor, past the East Grand Staircase, including the bank of elevators and the Senate Reception Room.
  • On the second floor of the House wing: All hallways surrounding the House Chamber.
  • In the Speaker’s Lobby: At either end of the lobby around the reporters’ tables.
  • In the Rayburn Room: Only when the House is not in session.
  • In the Old Supreme Court: Approval is through the Senate Curator. Contact the Senate Radio-TV Gallery to request approval. 
  • In the Old Senate Chamber: Approval is through the Senate Curator. Contact the Senate Radio-TV Gallery to request approval.
  • In Members’ offices: Approval from Member’s press office is required.
  • On Capitol grounds: Interviews must not interfere with pedestrian or vehicular traffic. 

Free Press Areas

Shooting video on the Capitol grounds with a tripod requires permission via the Gallery, except in designated locations. These locations, also known as “Free Press Areas,” can be used at any time by members of the Gallery for standups or interviews (see map).  Tripods are to be set up only on grassy areas (except near the fountain).

Videotaping or filming with a tripod in any other area requires a tripod permit. Approval through the appropriate Gallery is needed. 

Map of Capitol Hill and designated standup areas

Memo By U.S. Capitol Police

Memo by U.S. Capitol Police Chief Kim Dine to members of the U.S. Capitol Police Force, February 2014

Members of the press who cover Congress play a unique role in our democratic system of government. The First Amendment rights of the media allow them to report on the workings of Congress. The image and perception of the USCP is continuously developed through mass media coverage and our first-hand interactions with members of the media and the public during routine and high profile events.

In the course of carrying out the responsibilities of the USCP, employees of the Department and members of the press frequently interact. The Department cooperates fully and impartially, in a transparent manner with the media, to disseminate factual information. It is our responsibility to fully understand their First Amendment rights and facilitate their ability to obtain information considered to be in the public domain in a manner consistent with the procedures established by the Department.

The Public Information Officer (PIO) serves as the designated point of coordination for the dissemination of information and ensures proper continuity, liaison, and cooperation between the Department and the media. The PIO may be requested through Communications. The following guidelines should routinely be applied in a courteous manner by all employees of the Department when interacting with the media:

  • Provide basic information about an event, such as the type of event, date, location (i.e., traffic accident at 10:00 am at the Rayburn Horseshoe).
  • Media has at least the same rights as the public to take photos or record video in or from public areas with handheld cameras.
  • The media is permitted in an area closer than the general public (inside the outer perimeter) and the established press area should safely afford a view of the scene without interfering with law enforcement operations.
  • Media may move freely outside of the established press area, and can go anywhere the general public is permitted to go without blocking hallways, streets, sidewalks, etc. and comply with applicable law, rule, or regulation.
  • Members of the media may be directed to move if they are in an area of immediate danger, in a crime scene, or in an area where their presence would hinder law enforcement operations.
  • Under no circumstances should an employee of the USCP place their hand over a camera lens or attempt to obstruct the media’s view of a scene.

Designated free press areas on U.S. Capitol Grounds can be found on the accompanying map and are listed below:

  1. Delaware & Constitution Avenues, NE (Upper Senate Park)
  2. Reflecting Pool North at D Street, NE
  3. Reflecting Pool South between New Jersey & Delaware Avenues, NE
  4. West Front grassy area (near Northwest Drive)
  5. West Front grassy area (near Southwest Drive)
  6. Swamp Site
  7. Elm Tree Site