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Skype Capability May Be Part of House Tech Upgrades

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Rep. Jason Chaffetz, head of the House Technology Operations Team, said his first priority is to expand the WiFi network in the chamber to allow for wider connectivity.

But Boehner has been a proponent of the social media program since before he took over the House. In April when he was still Minority Leader, Boehner co-signed a letter to then-Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) asking her to allow offices to use Skype, which he called an “increasingly relevant communication tool for Americans already widely used in the private sector.”

While GOP leaders have not revoked the ban on file-sharing software, Boehner’s spokesman indicated something might be in the works.

“Not yet,” Michael Steel said of permitting Skype, “but we’re trying to encourage the use of popular, low-cost video conferencing solutions like Skype and working on a solution for the House that is safe and effective for our Members and their constituents.”

A GOP aide said the group is looking into allowing Members and staff to use Skype on laptops connected only to the wireless Internet network that the House provides to the public, rather than the chamber’s wired connection.

Besides Chaffetz and Latta, the team will include House Administration Chairman Dan Lungren (R-Calif.), GOP Conference Vice Chairwoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers (Wash.), and Reps. Sean Duffy (R-Wis.) and Michael McCaul (R-Texas).

Chaffetz said he also wants to enlist the help of Rep. Jared Polis (D-Colo.), who before joining Congress made his fortune founding several Web-based businesses, including a Web-hosting company. But all Members are being encouraged to pitch in, Chaffetz said.

The team has been meeting privately since January, but it will hold a bipartisan forum today at 2 p.m. in 1310 Longworth House Office Building, where Members can offer suggestions about how to modernize house.gov.

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