Should Congress Go Virtual? One Lawmaker Thinks So

Posted: May 15, 2017 4:00 PM

Rep. Steve Pearce (R-NM) has proposed lawmakers do their work remotely in an effort to make members of Congress more accountable and more in touch with the issues affecting their constituents.

"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."

And to do that, he says Congress should work in a “virtual setting.”

Pearce’s resolution, H.R. 298, encourages the House Administration Committee to examine how members could work in a “virtual setting,” which would allow lawmakers to do everything from debating to voting to ‘attending’ hearings while at home.

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.

He thinks the pressure of having real people watch the process live would give members a new perspective.

"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.

The private sector is doing it through technological innovations, so Pearce believes Congress should be no different.

"All kinds of corporate boards meet like this already, and it saves time, saves energy," said Pearce.

But that wouldn’t be the only benefit.

"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."