A “virtual” Congress – THIS is a great idea!

by Skip

telecommuteEmphasis mine, reformatted:

Rep. Steve Pearce proposes ‘virtual’ Congress

Rep. Steve Pearce, after more than a decade in the House, thinks he knows why people are so unhappy with Congress. Once elected, lawmakers become creatures of Washington and lose touch with the people who sent them there. To fix it, the New Mexico Republican has proposed a resolution that would let lawmakers work the way millions of others do: remotely. His resolution, H.Res. 298, encourages the House Administration Committee to explore ways to let members work in a “virtual setting.” That would include letting members debate, vote, and even attend hearings while they’re home.

I am one of those millions that telecommute every day.  In fact, except for the first 2 years, I’ve done it almost all my career.  Now, being a software engineer / consultant, my line of work lends itself to being able to do just that.  But this has a few GREAT ramifications for We the People:

“The biggest complaint that exists about Washington is that they seem to be out of touch with the voters,” Pearce told the Washington Examiner. “And so, the ultimate impact would be to put us extremely back in touch with our voters.”  Pearce believes this move would bring dramatic changes to Congress. To Pearce, working remotely isn’t about letting lawmakers skip their morning shower and letting them lounge around the basement all day.

“I wouldn’t visualize us sitting at home,” he said. Instead, he imagines moving around his huge district in New Mexico, and letting voters watch live as he debates and votes in committee or on the floor. Pearce wants to set up huge screens in local auditoriums to let people watch what Congress is doing up close, while their representative is in the room with them.

We know how to put in secure lines – our intelligence agencies and military do it all the time. I’m not so sure that the “huge screens in local auditoriums” is such a great pull – hey, if CongressCritters can be “anywhere”, why would we have to go to a physical location when we can get on our digital devices and watch it “where we are”?

“If you were facing your constituents rather than the lobbyists, there would be a great accountability that would change the pulse of this place within hours,” he said.

And he has the absolute right of it:

But convenience is just part of it. The biggest change, Pearce said, would be a stronger connection to real people, and a more distant relationship with lobbyists. “The lobbyists should have to work harder to see us, and our constituents should have to work easier,” he said. “We’ve got it upside down.”

Allowing them to “stay in district” is a great idea as well as being constantly on the move to be with constituents.  And then being able to go home and be with their families at night.  Which means that lobbyists will have far fewer chances to do the “back room” stuff that we all hate. After all, with all of the CongressCritters consolidated in one small area makes it easier for this class of con-artists to pick them off, one by one.

The question is, though, what about the “permanent” staff who actually do a lot of the work? Who is going to watch them?  This is a great idea to keep our CongressCritters OUT of DC, closer to us, and more accountable to us?

Sure there’s a huge stumbling block, but if you came up with a snappy title that means “Getting rid of the back room hijinks”, it would make it a bit harder for them to ignore:

Could his plan ever take off in the House? Pearce thinks House leaders of either party will resist it, since it makes their jobs harder. “It would make it more difficult for leadership to kind of direct traffic the way they do,” he said. “I don’t think that they’re very accommodating to it, or would like the idea much.”

…”With modern technology, Congress has the ability to be in our districts while we debate and carry out our congressional duties,” he wrote to them in a letter this month. “Keeping legislators closer to the people we represent would allow constituents to see and feel, first-hand, their government at work and have the potential to save millions in travel expenses.”

Trump has also mentioned another great idea that has been bandied about for years – moving the HQs of many of the departments (I would keep the Pentagon rather handy near the White House, though) throughout the nation – especially putting them into out of the way places.  This would add to the decentralization of what seems to be “The Capital from the Hunger Games” – a place in and of itself, that operates far differently in governing (rule?) that what We the People have in our home towns.  There is a great divide – that needs to close.

(H/T: Washington Examiner)

Leave a Comment

  • Bryan W

    It is an interesting idea – worth exploring. Staff should be where the congressmen are – in their districts. Committee staff – that’s a different issue. The ability to get answers from agencies- both constituent service and oversight, does require some presence.

    It is worth exploring.

  • sb

    It’s a great idea but I can’t imagine the majority of them would vote themselves out of DC.

  • Catherine

    ya know, I actually brought this idea up with a few people running a few years back and always got some kind of “thanks but no.” Thought the outright dismissal was strange.

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