Problem Solvers Caucus to Hold ‘Virtual Congress’ Thursday

May 7, 2020 by Dan McCue

WASHINGTON – Members of the bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus will hold what it is billing as its first “Virtual Congress” to debate the inclusion of state and local government funding in the next coronavirus relief package.

The caucus says 24 lawmakers, half Republican/half Democrat, will participate in the floor debate via a video conference that will be streamed on Facebook Live.

For the last several weeks, the caucus members have been working to advance the interests and needs of their constituents from districts across the country, while also looking to enable opportunities to legislate remotely.

Last month, the members sent a letter to House leadership urging them to begin planning and approving ways for Congress to function during the present COVID-19 emergency.

In an interview with The Well News at the time, Rep. Josh Gottheimer, D-N.J., a co-chair of the caucus, noted that “modern technology offers us a host of options to govern from afar, safely and securely.”

“Governments around the world, including England and Japan, have deployed these options, and are voting from home. Similarly, we believe Congress must be responsive to the changing operational requirements created by the pandemic crisis,” he said.

The caucus is hoping Thursday’s “Virtual Congress,” will advance that argument.

“Everyone else has adapted, and, for the sake of transparency and oversight, so should Congress,” the caucus said in a written statement.

On Wednesday evening, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., also addressed the subject of a virtual Congress in a read-out of his weekly meeting with House committee chairs, a meeting conducted via videoconference technology.

“Remote work continues to be a vital tool that committees and the full House can use to carry out our responsibilities without endangering public health,” Hoyer said.

“I appreciated hearing from our chairs about the virtual forums they have led; those events and today’s chairs meeting over video conference are further examples that remote work can be done successfully and securely. I am continuing to advocate for the adoption of rules that allow for remote committee work and for remote voting,” he said.

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