While the rest of us are working from home or being laid off, Congress is doing neither. Turns out the problem is not so simple to solve.
The average age of members of the House was 58 years; the average age of the Senate was 63 years at the beginning of the session last year.
The dominant professions are business, law or professional politician, according to the Congressional Research Service.
This demographic is not one that is terribly tech savvy.
Reports indicate that some members of the House and Senate had trouble recently either muting their phones or unmuting their phones during conference calls.
Some members would not be able to navigate two factor authentication for a video call without help from their staff according to other reports.
Then their is the legal question as to whether a “remote vote” would be Constitutionally sound. There is no easy way to answer that question until the men and women in black decide that. This could potentially take years.
Mitch McConnell point blank said the Senate was not going to do anything like that (remote voting). I am not sure what his thinking is, but I appreciate this is not a simple problem.
That being said, Congress does lots of things that don’t involve votes such as hearings and meetings. It seems like that some of that could be done remotely, but not under current rules.
Effectively, for the last month, the House and Senate have done no work other than spending a few minutes voting on the CARES bill.
Some Congress people say that their remote work might be a high value target. Possibly, but most hearings, other than a few classified ones, are open to the public.
So while the White House has been practicing business as usual because the Constitution doesn’t say much about how the White House operates (while it says a lot about how the House and Senate works), the legislative branch has been at a dead stop.
It is unlikely that the House and Senate could implement something that is secure enough and pass legal muster in next few weeks, but you could start with the easy stuff like public hearings.
I do agree that remote voting is problematic because if they pass laws that are later overturned, that could create chaos.
However, doing things the same way we passed laws 225 years ago is also a problem. Credit: Washington Post