By Kim Hart - 04/20/10 06:24 PM EDT
House Republican leaders are asking to be allowed to use Skype and other video conferencing applications to communicate with constituents.
Top Republicans sent a letter to Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and House Administration Committee Chairman Robert Brady (D-Penn.) requesting permission to use the software as long as members follow cyber-security procedures.
Currently, members of Congress are not allowed to use certain video-conferencing software applications. Skype is considered an "unauthorized" site and is blocked on all House computers. Democrats on the House Administration Committee would have to initiate an amendment process to officially change the rule.
"Current House rules allow Members of Congress to use taxpayer funds to conduct traditional, often expensive, video teleconferencing activities with their constituents, but forbid them from using Skype -- which is practically free -- for such activities," said the letter.
"We are certain that Skype, an increasingly relevant communication tool for Americans already widely used in the private sector, could be easily implemented in Congress in a manner that would not reduce the security of the House IT infrastructure."
The letter was signed by Republican Leader John Boehner, Republican Whip Eric Cantor, Republican Conference Chairman Mike Pence and vice-chair Cathy McMorris Rogers, Chief Deputy Whip Kevin McCarthy and House Administration Committee Dan Lungren.
The House Republican Caucus is also kicking off its "new media challenge" this week to encourage GOPers to become more active on social sites including Twitter, Facebook and YouTube.