One issue is that to go fully virtual, Congress likely couldn’t just adapt an off-the-shelf meeting platform, and the government’s track record of building massive one-off tech systems is uneven, to say the least. Some ideas that have been floated over the years would take a long time to roll out, like a dedicated secure communications network through while members and staff could connect, along the lines of the biometrics-secured system proposed by Rhode Island Democrat Jim Langevin back in 2002. “September 11th and the subsequent anthrax attack on our congressional offices exposed just how vulnerable we are, particularly because we are centrally located,” Langevin said at the time.
A system like that could also carry lasting side benefits, like making it so members of Congress, who largely don’t know one each other, especially across the aisle — Democratic and Republican members are kept separate from the first day of congressional orientation — could communicate safely and, if need be, in private.
Still, there are considerable technical challenges and open questions. What if Russian forces that were so eager to interfere in the 2016 U.S. presidential election turn their attention to congressional hearings?