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When the next Congress convenes, lawmakers will vote on a rules package proposed by Speaker Paul Ryan that would impose steep fines on members breaking with decorum. Soon snapping a photo, recording audio, or recording a video on the House floor could cost a cool $2,500.

It’s a belated response to the 25-hour sit-in Democrats livestreamed last summer to protest gun violence and Democrats find it inexcusable. Unsurprisingly, Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi accused Ryan of making a power grab. In a letter to colleagues, she described the reform as “an egregious attack on the sacred freedom of expression.”

But the California Democrat took a notably less generous view of minority rights while she wielded the speaker’s gavel. As Congress prepares to rewrite the rulebook, that incident is worth revisiting.

Back in 2008, before iPhones could even record video, Republicans refused to leave the chamber after Pelosi adjourned the House without considering an energy bill. Led by Minority Leader John Boehner, GOP members mounted a talkathon, bashing Democrats for taking a month-long recess while gas prices skyrocketed around the country.

Evidently, Pelosi didn’t care much for Republicans’ sacred freedom of expression at the time. She ordered the lights flipped off, microphones cut, and C-Span cameras killed. At one point, Capitol Police even tried kicking reporters out of the press gallery.

Unruffled by the darkness, a cast of now famous characters rallied the Republican minority. A certain Rep. Mike Pence of Indiana pledged not to leave “until we call this Congress back into session and vote for energy independence.” Before that, Rep. Tom Price of Georgia led the protesting congressmen in a round of “God Bless America.”

There are only two differences between Democrat’s 2016 protest and the 2008 Republican rebellion. First, Ryan never shut the lights off on Pelosi’s party. Second, and more importantly, without the benefit of streaming services like Periscope and Facebook Live, the GOP stunt never gained national attention. It petered out after about five hours.

Remembered together, the two episodes unveil the partisan nature of the current debate. Before handing out fines, Republicans should remember that eight years ago they were guilty of the same crime they now condemn. And for their part, Democrats would do well to bring their talking points in line with their past conduct.

Philip Wegmann is a commentary writer for the Washington Examiner.

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