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Constituent demands rise, but funds for congressional offices stay the same

Michael Macagnone, CQ-Roll Call on

Published in Political News

Ryan said the pandemic has really “pulled the veil back” on problems facing government services after years of disinvestment.

“If you can sit on your back porch to order a book from Amazon and get it in 36 hours, but if you lose your job in the middle of a pandemic you can’t get your unemployment check for two or three months? It reveals the inadequacies of the system and that the system needs to be modernized,” Ryan said.

Fitch said some pandemic-driven changes may stick around, such as widespread use of video meetings, which increased Congress’ accessibility to the public. He pointed out that meeting remotely represents a fraction of the cost of flying to the capital.

Fitch conducts a hundred or more training sessions each year on how to interact with Congress, “and frankly, it’s not a diverse bunch of people that are coming to Washington, D.C., on these flights.”

“Yeah, of course, an in-person interaction is going to be better than a Zoom interaction, but still, a Zoom interaction is better than nothing,” Fitch said.

 

Despite the deluge accompanying the pandemic, Burgess said there have been bright spots.

A few weeks ago, he presided over a packed orientation session for prospective nominees to the United States military’s service academies, days after Afghanistan fell to the Taliban and U.S. troops withdrew.

“I was really so encouraged because as bad as things had looked to me as a member of Congress, a lot of people were coming up and our leadership for the future was intact,” Burgess said.

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