Coronavirus isn't the only reason Congress should spend less time in DC
© Greg Nash

On Wednesday, the Members Operating to Be Innovative and Link Everyone (MOBILE) Resolution was introduced to allow members to vote remotely on non-controversial suspension bills that require a two-thirds vote to pass.

With the growing global health threat posed by the coronavirus, it is just the latest reason to allow members of Congress to vote from their home office or even their homes.

For example, Sen. Steve DainesSteven (Steve) David DainesHouse punts on FISA, votes to begin negotiations with Senate House cancels planned Thursday vote on FISA Pelosi pulls vote on FISA bill after Trump veto threat MORE (R-Mont.) should be able to vote from Montana on the day of his daughter’s wedding. Likewise, Sen. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzGOP deeply divided over Trump's social media crackdown Hillicon Valley: Twitter flags Trump tweet for 'glorifying violence' | Cruz calls for criminal investigation into Twitter over alleged sanctions violations | Senators urge FTC to investigate TikTok child privacy issues Cruz calls for criminal investigation into Twitter over alleged Iranian sanction violations MORE (R-Texas) should be able to vote from his home while he is currently self-quarantining from the coronavirus.

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In a year of zoom meetings, and only partially filled rooms for impeachment hearings, and C-SPAN footage of members speaking to an empty chamber, the real purpose members are forced to huddle in the capitol away from their constituents is to let party leaders, lobbyists, huge donors, and dark money groups surround them to force “discipline” on votes. Instead, they would serve their own constituents better by voting with them from their home states.

The Founders wanted elected officials to live among the people they represent. In the year 2020, we now have the technology to enable that to happen.

The added short-term benefit to voting from home is avoiding the potential to have 535 members of Congress potentially be exposed to coronavirus from any of the 5 million people who visit Congress each year, and once exposed spread out to every corner of the country and possibly infect others.

Another problem with members of Congress spending all their time in Washington is having to face protesters constantly criticizing them for not doing what D.C. activists want. A perfect example is when two women confronted then-Sen. Jeff FlakeJeffrey (Jeff) Lane Flake'Never Trump' Republicans: Fringe, or force to be reckoned with? The Memo: Can the Never Trumpers succeed? Former GOP Sen. Jeff Flake says he will not vote for Trump MORE (R-Ariz.) in an elevator at the capitol to demand he vote no in Brett KavanaughBrett Michael KavanaughSupreme Court denies California church's challenge to state restrictions Supreme Court denies Illinois churches' request for action after state eases restrictions Federal judges should be allowed to be Federalist Society members MORE’s confirmation hearing because the women were sure that Christine Blasey Ford’s testimony of Kavanaugh sexually assaulting her in high school was ironclad. Flake agreed in the elevator after looking at the floor the entire time the women screamed at him, but then hours later in the hearing, he said his yes vote was conditional until the FBI had finished their investigation into Ford’s claim. Six months later in April of 2019, a video circulated on social media of Ford's attorney Debra Katz telling the crowd at a conference that Ford’s testimony was a politically motivated move to protect Roe v. Wade.

If someone in Arizona confronted Flake outside his home office and impacted his vote that would be much closer to a republican democracy in which constituents rather than paid political protestors influence their elected officials.

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Wouldn't it be nice if lobbyists had to pay for flights and hotels to visit elected officials in their district instead of constituents needing to fly to D.C. to see their representative?

It is absolutely a constitutional right for Americans to petition government for redress of grievances. It is the right to make a complaint to, or seek the assistance of, one's government, without fear of punishment or reprisals. The concern is when organizations hold events or rallies at the capitol too often in order to just get media attention for their own fundraising purposes. Government is lucrative on both sides. It pays for the public advocate’s membership drives, but also for the Congress members who spend two-thirds of their time in the office sitting on the phone asking for money to fund their reelections.

Coronavirus is a huge concern. Situations like this can really magnify our broken political system is a core problem that will never be addressed until we fundamentally change our campaign finance laws.

John Pudner is executive director of www.takeback.org and ran faith-based coalition efforts for Bush 2000.