Guest blog post by Congressman Peter Roskam
This summer, House Republicans have made groundbreaking steps with AmericaSpeakingOut.com and YouCut that harness social media tools in ways that allow Americans to directly influence policy in Washington D.C. While House Republicans are making strides to use technology to get more Americans involved in their government, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, most well known for adding 800 page amendments at 3 AM, continues to find innovative ways of shutting Americans out of the political process.
For instance, while 560 million people worldwide use Skype, a peer-to-peer networking tool to conduct business and keep in touch with friends and family, Speaker Pelosi is currently blocking what could be a transformative and simple cost-cutting tool for House members of both parties to engage their constituents and increase transparency in government.
Last week President Obama’s Federal Communications Committee (FCC) encouraged Americans to use Skype... presumably to communicate with everyone but their member of Congress.
After listening to Democratic rhetoric on transparency in government during the 2006 and 2008 campaigns, Speaker Pelosi’s reasoning for blocking Skype is difficult to understand. It is precisely this kind of obtuse and hypocritical reasoning that earns Congress a 20% approval rating.
The accessibility Skype provides could lead to greater clarity and dialogue between citizens and their government. I am in full support of making Congress and its proceedings more transparent, which is why I am a co-sponsor of House Resolution 554, which requires legislation to be posted on the internet 72 hours before the House votes on it. Such a law would prevent the absurdity of a situation like this from rising again.
House Republicans aren’t done yet, however. Last week, House Republican Leader John Boehner, Rep. Aaron Schock and I webcast on UStream our meeting with organizations like the National Association of Manufacturers, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the National Federation of Independent Businesses—groups that represent over 4.5 million employers. While listening to people seems a novel idea in Washington today, House Republicans heard suggestions from businesses large and small on what policies would enable them to hire more workers and expand operations.
You can make your voice heard on the effort to allow Skype in the House and enhance the national conversation we’re having on so many issues today: go to Americaspeakingout.com to vote and comment on the issue. Republicans are trying to make the political process more transparent by using proven and affordable technology. It’s my hope that Speaker Pelosi will heed the Administration’s advice and allow House Members to connect with their constituents in an affordable and convenient manner.