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The Floor of the U.S. House in the Palm of Your Hand

BY Nick Judd | Tuesday, October 11 2011

The office of the clerk of the Republican-controlled House of Representatives has released the House's own tablet-friendly website for watching live, streaming video of floor proceedings.

Taking a page from other experiments in streaming video from Congress, the site mashes up the video feed with the floor summary, a play-by-play of proceedings on the House floor. That summary includes links to individual votes and bill text. Live video from the House floor was already available online; this application puts it in a mobile-friendly wrapper.

House Speaker John Boehner's digital communications director, Don Seymour, writes in a blog post that beta testing on this began last week.

House Republicans have been bringing modern technology to Congress in fits and starts since taking office, making hay most recently by allowing use of some videoconferencing services within the House network. Late last month, the House clerk's staff gave the floor activity page a tune-up in an effort to make the House easier to track. All of this goes back to commitments Boehner made going into his time as House Speaker, when he pledged to use technology to make the House more open and proposed House rules to that effect.

The House Republicans have their share of tech-savvy staffers who have brought their side of the Hill out of the Stone Age when it comes to things like what a member's website can do, for instance, encouraging lawmakers to adopt Drupal, a popular open-source content management system. They've also come up with new ways to interact with voters, such as YouCut and a project to solicit tales of regulatory woe from business owners. That said, in August, after Congress squeaked a debt-ceiling deal through both houses, Politifact reported that House Republicans have had trouble making good on another 21st-century promise: to post all legislation online 72 hours in advance of a vote.