Does your Congresswoman/man tweet?

BlogHer Original Post

Since we're talking about Twitter and politics, let's talk about how you can keep up with members of Congress who tweet. Yes, that's right--more and more lawmakers are tweeting even as they debate bills on the floor of the House and the Senate and go about their business, providing a new view of just what it is they do all day.

At the Sunlight Foundation, our Labs has developed Capitol Tweets, a widget that displays the latest tweets from members of Congress. You can get the code here. Paste it into your blog, and voila-the latest from the blackberries and iphones of members of Congress on the House and Senate floors straight to your readers.

So let's say in several weeks' time, Congress is debating the new Obama health care proposal. You are blogging about it. Paste the widget on your site and your readers will see just what House and Senate members are tweeting about health care in real time.

Want to get more members of Congress signed up on twitter? Go to Congresspedia, and see its running list. Check out tweetcongress.org, a newish site powered partly by Sunlight Labs api from Capitol Tweets. These folks list all the members of Congress who tweet. It also tells you who tweets most often, who has the most followers, and lets you look up members by party, state, and so on. Say the tweetcongress folks:

We built this site to scratch our own itch. While searching for our local congressmen on Twitter we were amazed at how many folks on the Hill aren't tweeting.

 

This site is a grass-roots effort to get our men and women in Congress to open up and have a real conversation with us.

Keep in mind, tweeting is a new thing to members of Congress, just as it is for many of us. Indeed it was only last October that Congress finally updated its antiquated franking rules to clarify that members of Congress were even permitted to tweet. The new rules allow members of Congress not just to tweet, but also to use YouTube, Flickr, and other social networking sites without recrimination. The Sunlight Foundation advocated for these rules changes through its bipartisan collaborative effort, the Open House Project, and through its popular Let Our Congress Tweet campaign, the first Twitter-based petition to Congress.

And to illustrate all I'm talking about here, check it out yourself. I'm putting Capitol Tweets into this very blog post, below.

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