Rep. Swalwell Defends Uploading Vote Video to Vine

Congressman films and posts his veto of harsh abortion bill

June 20, 2013 -- Some 190 Democratic representatives voted against a strict abortion proposal on Tuesday, but only one of them Vined it.

"I don't highlight most of my votes. We vote dozens of times each week, but I thought this one deserved particular attention," Rep. Eric Swalwell, D-Calif., told ABC News on Thursday.

Rep. Swalwell posted a six-second video to Vine, the "mobile service that lets you create and share short looping videos," that showed him repeatedly pushing the "Nay" button to oppose the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act.

The bill would ban abortions after 20 weeks, four weeks earlier than the viability cut-off established by Roe v. Wade in 1973. Supporters of the bill, including its lead sponsor Rep. Trent Franks, argued that fetuses can begin to feel pain at 20 weeks and that the cut-off should be changed accordingly to protect "both mothers and their pain-capable unborn babies."

The House passed the bill Tuesday with a vote of 228-196.

Swalwell chose to emphasize his opposition to this "unconstitutional attack on a woman's right to make her own health decisions" with a Vine video and the caption, "When House @GOP try to roll back health protections for women, this is how I vote. #WaronWomen."

The video was posted to Vine and Twitter on Wednesday afternoon, giving both Swalwell's followers and his congressional staff a chance to see it for the first time. "He did not give us a heads-up, and we saw it as soon as all of his almost 2,000 followers did," said Allison Bormel, Swalwell's communications director.

Bormel believes that Swalwell is the first congressman to ever Vine a vote, but, in his six months in office, he has performed other technological firsts, including becoming the first House member to Skype into a city council meeting.

Swalwell hopes to continue modernizing Congress with his Mobile Congress initiative, a campaign promise that would aim to maintain "a full-time Congress" and "public schedule on a shared server that allows the public to see exactly what a member is up to on any given day."

"We operate under rules that were created in the eighteenth century, and I think it's time that the Congress start to act more like regular Americans do," Swalwell said.

One of those rules of Congress may conflict with the congressman's filmed veto. House rules prohibit "the use of mobile electronic devices that impair decorum" and states that, "No device may be used for still photography or for audio or video recording."

However, Swalwell stands by his Vine. "I interpret the rule to say that I can't use a device that would impair the decorum," Swalwell said. "I did not see this as impairing the decorum. I think what this did was highlight, for all to see, the democratic process."

"I would be surprised if anything [punitive] happened," Bormel said. "There are many instances of members taking photos on the House floor."

All the same, Swalwell may not press the issue again. "I don't know if there will be another vote [video]," he said. "I will make sure that we don't cross the Vine, so to speak."

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