At this point, the Internet is practically everything to everybody — research tool, room-mate finder, clearinghouse for ex-flames from high school. It’s also increasingly the place where people go to be entertained, whether by so-lame-it’s-funny videos or amazing new music.
Listening to my constituents is one of my chief priorities as a lawmaker. And I'm excited now to harness the fast-changing power of technology that's making it easier to stay in touch with my constituents in order to gauge their views and concerns.
I can hardly describe how excited I am about these favorable developments in the use of cutting-edge communications technology. It's not just about politics. Reversing a negative trend that many people feared had dangerous implications for the future is a boon to our community and our country.
Last week, the Veterans Administration announced that it was starting a pilot program to test its new paperless claims processing system. This project is long overdue but encouraging as the VA continues to improve its service to our veterans and become an organization for the digital age. While serving in my first term, I introduced and Congress passed legislation (PL 110-389) which required the VA Secretary to implement comprehensive information technology reform. This pilot project is the result of that requirement.
Congress and the White House are on a collision course in what may be the last Great Engine Battle. But the stakes are far greater than deciding which engines will power the new F-35 Joint Strike Fighter (JSF), America’s all-in-one fighter jet. At stake is the environment of innovation that will be created or destroyed by this decision and the effect it will have on the brain trust that equips America’s war fighters with the best capabilities possible.
On the heels of the 20th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act, it leads us to think about how far we have come, but also how far we have to go in terms of equal access and opportunity for Americans living with disabilities, most notably in technology advancement. The Internet revolutionized what was possible for many Americans living with disabilities, and broadband, wireless technologies and innovative online applications and services continue to enrich American lives at an astonishing rate. Such technology has the potential to offer life-changing opportunities to the 54 million Americans with disabilities. However, there is much left to accomplish and the future holds boundless possibilities.
The Internet is an incredible tool, capable of connecting billions of people throughout the world. For the most part, this has been a wonderful thing. But the increasing ubiquity of the Internet has also opened it up to abuse by stalkers, who use technology to harass, intimidate and threaten their victims.
In a rare victory for bipartisanship and the legislative branch, Congress has rallied behind an important compromise plan to ensure continued American leadership in space. Six months after the release of the president’s budget — which effectively mothballed NASA’s exploration program — the Senate and House have sent a clear signal to the White House that such cuts are unacceptable.
Last month, I joined Reps. Dutch Ruppersberger (D-Md.), John Culberson (R-Texas), Gene Green (D-Texas) and 58 other bipartisan members representing 18 states on a letter to President Obama detailing a compromise plan centering on the immediate development of a “heavy lift rocket” and crew capsule capable of exploring beyond low Earth orbit, something the U.S. has not done since the Apollo era.
In 2010, members of Congress are communicating with their constituents by text message, Twitter, YouTube and Facebook. However, one modern medium is missing — video conferencing through the popular Skype program.
On May 5, 1961, Alan Shepard became the first American in space. Since then, there has been no turning back for the U.S. space program and we have led the world in space exploration ever since. Throughout the next 50 years, NASA would land astronauts on the moon, launch the Hubble space telescope and help build the International Space Station (ISS).
However, the President now wants to severely downgrade the one task which makes NASA unique — human exploratory space flight. On February 1, 2010, the Administration announced a budget which proposes to eliminate the NASA Constellation program. Since that time, NASA has canceled the awarding of contracts or put on hold parts of numerous contracts which were a part of the regular fiscal year 2010 work for the Constellation program, despite the fact that Congress must first approve its termination before it becomes final policy.