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Websites Highlight Party Lines

Cooper also said he's "shocked" that senior issues, such as Social Security or retirement, are absent from the Republican side, given that most GOP Member sites have a section on it.

Also conspicuously absent from either list are social issues, such as gun laws, abortion and gay marriage.

That might have something to do with the difficulty of how to name those issues, said Tim Hysom, director of technology and communications services for the Congressional Management Foundation. Do you call it gay marriage or preserving the family? Abortion rights or right to life?

"Different offices are going to call it different things," he said. "That's where you can really get into the weeds a little more than the CAO wants to on day one, or even more than the parties want to presume for their Members."

Still, the political implications of the lists might be much ado about nothing, he said, especially since Members can change the issue list as soon as they take control of the sites.

"Until the Members take office, there's not a lot [the CAO] can determine about what their policy priorities are going to be," he said. "It's probably an attempt to simplify what the offerings are for day one and let each Member tailor it to their own choosing later on."

In the past, the CMF has advocated for uniformity in how subject matter is grouped on Congressional websites to make it easier for visitors to find specific issues, Hysom said.

The idea didn't get traction because Congress isn't monolithic, he said. The idiosyncrasies of how the Members present issues have to do with the specific interests represented in their districts.

But for new Members, those will have to wait until day two.

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