Emergency Electronic Communications in Congress: Proposals and Issues [Updated August 12, 2003] [open pdf - 38KB]
"The events of September 11, 2001, and the subsequent anthrax incidents have prompted some observers to suggest creating an emergency electronic communications system for Congress to ensure continuity of its operations. On July 25, 2003, Representative James R. Langevin introduced H.R. 2948. The bill would direct the Comptroller General of the United States to enter into arrangements with the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) and the Librarian of Congress for conducting a study on the feasibility and costs of implementing such a system for Congress to use during an emergency. In addition to this legislative proposal, broad suggestions have been offered involving the establishment of a Web-based application that Members of Congress could access from any location inside or outside the Capitol complex. It has been suggested that such an application could enable the establishment of an electronic Congress (e- Congress) through which Members of Congress could carry out activities normally done on the chambers' floors or in committees. These suggestions generally highlight the use of information technology (IT) to enable Congress to carry out its responsibilities remotely, as a substitute for traditional congressional functions performed in Washington. These proposals tend to focus on floor activity while not addressing other areas of congressional activities, such as committee business and Member office operations. In addition to these matters, the possibility of convening an e-Congress raises a number of procedural, technical, and resource questions that may require further study. This report provides an overview of the issues and relevant legislation and will be updated as events warrant."
CRS Report for Congress, RS21140