The floors of the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives are rich in tradition and tightly governed by strict rules of decorum. That’s important to both institutions, but occasionally it is a major obstruction to progress.
One shocking example is that lawmakers are prohibited from using laptops on the floors of either body. Oh, to be sure, quill pens, snuff boxes and spittoons are allowed, but modern technology is banned.
With the mind-numbing complexity of legislative packages that are debated in Congress, ready access to computers would be a valuable aid. But only the House has revised its rules to allow the use of iPads, tablets, and iPhones on the floor of its chamber.
The Congressional laptop ban has been challenged in the past. As early as 1997, then newly-elected Senator Mike Enzi (dubbed “Cyber Senator” because of his proud geek status) petitioned for permission to use his laptop computer on the Senate floor so that he could study the issues at hand or communicate with his staff during lengthy debates.