Incoming House Republicans Propose Use of iPads in Chamber

Photo: Glenn Fleishman

It was a long time coming, but a change might come to the House of Representatives.

No, not the historic change in power initiated by the November midterm elections.

The incoming Republican leadership of the House has proposed rules that would allow iPads and other mobile computing devices to be used on the House floor, ending a longstanding ban, according to a report on techpresident.

Along with smoking, current rules forbid the “use a wireless telephone or personal computer on the floor of the House.”

But, proposed changes to the House rules would prohibit only electronic devices that “impair decorum.”

“The definition of what is ‘disruptive of decorum’ will likely evolve over time,” Republican leadership spokesman Brendan Buck told techpresident. “But, of course, devices are not to make sound and members are not to be speaking on their phones while on the floor.”

While cynics might see the proposed change as one more way for legislators to simply goof off on the job, according to techpresident, “there’s a chance that having digital access to the outside world might meaningful change the practice of democracy on the floor of the House of Representatives.”

Daniel Schuman, with the open government advocacy group the Sunlight Foundation, agreed.

“It could . . . become much easier, for representatives to see in real time how bills are being amended,” he told techpresident. “This will put more information at the hands of representatives at the crucial moment.”

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