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Dem lawmaker pushes proposal to let Congress vote from home

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Jan. 3, 2013: Speaker of the House John Boehner addresses the 113th Congress in the Capitol in Washington. (Reuters)

A Democratic California lawmaker is behind a proposal that would allow members of Congress to vote remotely on pieces of legislation from their home districts in a virtual setting.

Rep. Eric Swalwell introduced the resolution with Republican Reps. Steve Pearce of New Mexico and Cynthia Lummis of Wyoming to amend House rules so lawmakers can vote remotely through a secure communications system, The Hill reported.

The resolution would allow lawmakers to vote on bills that require a two-thirds majority in the House to pass, meaning they are being considered under a suspension of regular rules and are typically noncontroversial, according to the report.

"Companies and families across the country are using technology to communicate remotely. There is no reason that the legislative branch of the world's oldest democracy cannot do the same," Swalwell said in a statement to The Hill. "Our bill will allow Members of Congress to work more efficiently and stay better connected to our constituents. It’s time to upgrade Congress to the 21st century."

Under the proposed resolution, lawmakers and witnesses would be allowed to participate in committee hearings held in Washington via secure videoconferencing technology, the newspaper reported.

Pearce introduced a similar resolution in March aimed at creating a "Virtual Congress," which he says would increase transparency and accountability by allowing representatives to conduct business from their home districts.

"Members of Congress can debate, vote, and carry out their constitutional duties without having to leave the accountability and personal contact of their congressional districts," Pearce said in a statement in March. "Keeping legislators closer to the people we represent would pull back Washington's curtain and allow constituents to see and feel, firsthand, their government at work."

Click here for more from The Hill.