Congress working remotely leads to skepticism

Washington-DC

WASHINGTON (NEXSTAR) — With Congress doing most of its work remotely, some experts fear its harder for the public to know exactly what their elected officials are up to.

Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown says now that Congress is doing its committee work on Zoom and Skype, it’s even harder to keep up.

“This is less than ideal,” he said. “It wont be as good as it should be.”

Since late March, Congress has been in Washington D.C. only a handful of days.

As lawmakers work from home, meetings are sometimes streamed live while others are recorded and shared after the fact.

R Street Institute senior fellow James Wallner says Congress wasn’t built for telework.

“When that activity takes place virtually, it changes the nature of that activity,” Wallner said. “It changes the nature of how people relate to it and how they can hold their officials accountable.”

Wallner says it’s especially worrisome in times like these.

“In moments of crises, when you have large bills that go through very quickly, they’re drafted poorly, it creates an opportunity for corruption,” he said.

But Ohio Senator Rob Portman thinks working virtually might actually give the public more access.

“Being online or being virtual doesn’t mean that you’re doing it in secret,” Portman said. “I think transparency is something that ought to be part of any process going forward.”

Transparency advocates say congressional leadership should think twice before allowing actual votes to happen remotely, something the House of Representatives has been seriously considering during the pandemic.

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