Abort, Retry, Fail?

Last week Congress conducted one of its first-ever virtual bill markup sessions after members of Congress were recently authorized to fully conduct business and vote remotely

Despite some technical glitches, the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee marathon mark-up late last week marked a milestone for Congress and its ability to maintain continuous operations, even in the face of a pandemic.

The bill represents a nearly $500 billion dollar investment in U.S. infrastructure, including “fixing our crumbling roads and bridges, improving safety, reducing gridlock, and putting the U.S. on a path toward zero emissions.”

Some members attended in person, most without wearing masks. Another large group attended via WebEx, the House’s approved video conferencing system. 

The discussion had a contentious start, with partisan sparks flying. User error proliferated, with Chairman Peter DeFazio constantly reminding members to mute or unmute themselves. Many members made audible side comments, took phone calls off mute and missed their times to vote.

The mark-up also competed with the Judiciary Committee for Wi-Fi bandwidth, which may have caused some of the frequent technical interruptions and near hour of practically inaudible proceedings.  

Members introduced more than 300 amendments leading to a nearly 24-hour mark-up over two days. On Wednesday, the committee convened from 10AM to 10PM and picked up again on Thursday from 9:30AM to 10PM. 

The marked up bill has now moved to the House Rules Committee to be considered.