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Congress Doesn’t Need to Meet in Person

Josephine Wolff argues against the findings in Congress' “Examining Voting Options During the Covid-19 Pandemic" report, in an op-ed for The New York Times.

This month, in a long overdue change, the Senate finally started holding hybrid hearings, allowing both senators and health experts to appear via videoconferencing as well as in the Senate chamber. This occurred months after other public and private organizations all over the world had already made the transition to remote work. Just this week, the House majority leader introduced rule changesthat, if passed, would allow the House to follow suit by permitting both remote hearings and remote voting.

While it’s heartening to see Congress finally making these changes, it’s also discouraging how long it has taken and how much resistance there has been to moving the legislative process online when lawmakers could — and should — have been meeting via videoconferencing for months. One month after the British cabinet’s first meeting via Zoom, the U.S. Congress still had no platform or plan in place to enable remote debates or voting. Even now, with remote options slowly becoming available, many lawmakers still meet in person.

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