Today at noon when the U.S. House of Representatives convenes, you don't need to be in front of a television to watch what's happening. For the first time ever, Americans can see the proceedings on Facebook -- and use the popular social network's interactive features to discuss and debate.
It's happening on the GOP's Pledge to America Facebook page. The action begins at noon ET and includes the swearing-in ceremony and remarks by Speaker-designate John Boehner (R-Ohio).
With an increased emphasis on digital media, Boehner is setting the tone for the 112th Congress. New rules emphasize transparency and employ technology to make the House more open and accessible to the American people.
Among the other things you'll see change today, according to Don Seymour, Boehner’s deputy communications director:
• On Twitter: @SpeakerBoehner – Of course Boehner isn’t the only Republican in Congress to have a new Twitter handle. Majority Leader-elect Eric Cantor (R-VA) will take over the @GOPLeader account and his press team will Tweet from @CantorPress. Majority Whip-elect Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) will use @GOPWhip. You can find and follow more Republicans on Twitter via TweetCongress.org. • On the Web: Speaker.gov – Please excuse our dust – and broken links – as we transition to this new URL. And remember that if you live in Boehner’s Ohio district, you can visit JohnBoehner.House.gov for constituent services and other helpful information. • On Facebook: Facebook.com/OfficeofSpeaker Boehner – This is a new addition to Boehner’s government office and will serve as a landing page for the Speaker and staff to connect with Facebook users. But while this page is new, Boehner’s use of Facebook is not. For example, tomorrow at 12:00 p.m. ET the opening session of Congress will be live streamed on the Pledge to America Facebook Page. • On Flickr: Flickr.com/SpeakerBoehner – The best way to get an inside look at Congress is to see it for yourself, and the Speaker’s Flickr page will be updated regularly with shots of the goings-on inside the Capitol on a daily basis. • On YouTube: YouTube.com/SpeakerBoehner – Whether it’s video of Ellie Mae – the job-sniffing GOP bloodhound – Boehner’s family reunion, responses to questions from constituents, or one of the Speaker’s speeches or interviews, you’ll find it all here.
For those who want an inside look at what's happening on Capitol Hill, you can follow a handful of Boehner's aides for updates via their personal Twitter accounts. They include: Dave Schnittger (@OhSchnitt), Kevin Smith (@KG_Smith), Michael Steel (@michael_steel), Brendan Buck (@Brendan_Buck), Nick Schaper (@NickSchaper), Mike Ricci (@riccimike), Katie Boyd (@KEBoyd), Cory Fritz (@corymfritz), and Don Seymour (@DonSeymour).
Boehner assumes the gavel today with a Republican majority far more knowledgeable and eager to employ digital media as a way to improve communication. It's refreshing to see him encourage its use by setting a positive example himself.