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Smartphones And iPads To Be Allowed On House Floor

The incoming 112th Congress looks like it’s going to be a little more high-tech:

So, it looks like, yep, iPads are indeed coming to the floor of the House of Representatives, at least as long as the rules changes proposed by the incoming Republican leadership are adopted as they stand.

In this last Congress, the 111th, the House operated  under a rule [pdf] that dictated that no one shall “smoke or use a wireless telephone or personal computer on the floor of the House.” But, according to copy of the proposed rules just posted to the website of the Committee on Rules, that section has been tweaked for the 112th congress to give the Speaker of the House wide discretion in dictating what sort of mobile technologies members and staffers can bring to and use on the floor of the House.

“A person on the floor of the House,” read the new proposed rules, “may not smoke or use a mobile or electronic device that impairs decorum,” italics added. (Raising the possibility, of course, that a good game of Angry Birds might help folks in the House ignore their nicotine cravings.)

Of course, it all hinges on what a decorum-impairing device constitutes. But a spokesperson for the GOP transition team confirms that the rules are intended to allow members of Congress and others in the House to use devices like iPads and BlackBerrys, as long as they use them in the House in the same way they’d use them in an Amtrak quiet car.

Depending on how this is enforced, it could have a significant impact on floor debates. And, of course, it probably won’t be long before someone is Twittering live from the floor of the House of Representatives.

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About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May, 2010 and also writes at Below The Beltway. Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. [...] access to our representatives on a more regular basis. Good on House Republicans for at least loosening the rules. In this last Congress, the 111th, the House operated under a rule [pdf] that dictated that no one [...]

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  2. john personna says:

    Next great moment: open mike + angry birds

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