The Congress shall assemble at least once in every year, … –The Constitution
I am supportive of going in person and doing that legislative process. — Rep Tom Reed
Reed said that while he is supportive of returning to work at the Capitol, he understands his colleagues’ concerns, and feels virtual hearings and debate could potentially be a feasible alternative as the country continues to battle the health crisis. op. cit.
The authors of The Constitution clearly intended members to meet, debate, and vote. Could this be done without assembling? It would be a stretch to think this constitutional.
- Our founders expected responsible debate.
- Often speakers in the House today address an empty room.
- Members are rushing home as soon as possible rather than socializing with others in The Capitol.
So are virtual hearings, debate, and remote voting acceptable? Can the constitutional requirement that Congress assemble be stretched to include virtual assembly?
Congress needn’t assemble in the Capitol building, they could choose another venue more suited to the times, which would allow sufficient social distancing. However, reasoning together may require rubbing shoulders with one’s fellows–it is a dilemma.