House Republicans tout innovation agenda
House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) plans to send the Senate a number of technology innovation bills that have passed the House. The bills are all part of the Innovation Initiative that seeks to change lawmakers' attitude toward how they function in the digital era.
"This is changing the mindset of Congress," McCarthy said at an April 27 congressional forum on the initiative. "This is continually bringing more bills each time that fit that mode of innovation."
He told FCW, "You can take innovation and make government more accountable, more efficient and more effective."
"The innovation initiative is about a mindset," Rep. Patrick McHenry (R-N.C.) said. "It's not a Washington mindset. It's not a Capitol Hill mindset. It's where the people are."
The bills that will be incorporated into the package for the Senate include the Promoting Women in Entrepreneurship Act, Modernizing the Interstate Placement of Children in Foster Care Act, No Rate Regulation of Broadband Internet Access Act, Small Business Broadband Deployment Act, and Inspiring the Next Space Pioneers, Innovators, Researchers and Explorers (INSPIRE) Women Act.
McCarthy and Rep. Will Hurd (R-Texas) both voiced frustration with the Department of Veterans Affairs. Hurd said the time frame for making the VA's and the Defense Department's electronic health record systems interoperable has changed numerous times.
"When I look at the VA, so many times I get frustrated because I see an idea to change but I don't see a solution," McCarthy told FCW. "I want to see direct solutions. I think technology is a place that could really help us do that."
He stressed the importance of consolidating systems whenever possible and mentioned how useful it would be if veterans could rate their doctors via an app, have easier access to their health data and not have to go through a convoluted process just to get a doctor's appointment.
"We need to not be afraid of technology," Rep. Susan Brooks (R-Ind.) said at the forum. "We need to embrace it."
She gave her own example of how she finally started using Snapchat because it is one of the best ways to communicate with her younger constituents, and as a lawmaker, it's her job to do so.