CNN: A new session of Congress begins . . . on YouTube

By Martina Stewart

WASHINGTON (CNN) – President-elect Barack Obama is not the Washington pol capable of a little tech savvy. In a sign of the increasing influence of the Internet on politics, Congress has officially established a presence on YouTube.

“Hello, YouTube,” Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nevada, says in a nearly two-minute YouTube clip announcing the new online video bulkheads for the legislative branch of the federal government. Reid is joined in the announcement video by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-California; Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Tennessee; and House Minority Leader John Boehner, R-Ohio.

“While we may not see eye to eye on everything, one thing we can agree on is the importance of utilizing technology to communicate with our constituents,” Pelosi says in the video.

“Some of us have been posting original video content [on YouTube] for years now,” Boehner says. “YouTube and other new media tools have let us provide you with a level of access and transparency that has never been seen before in government,” added the House GOP leader.

Online congressional video is now available on the site at two destinations: (1) for video from House members and (2) for Senate video.

The new online video initiative includes an invitation for voters to do more than just watch videos posted by their representatives.

“I hope you’ll also take some time to share videos and comments with us,” Boehner tells viewers.

A new rule by the Congressional Franking Commission last fall cleared the way for the establishment of the new congressional video hubs rolled out this week.

Congress has yet to develop rules governing the use of other social networking technologies like Twitter, a situation that stirred a controversy largely along partisan lines in the summer of 2008.

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