Langevin Testifies in Favor of His Bill to Ensure Continuity of Congressional Business in Event of Terrorism or Natural Disaster

May 1, 2002
(Washington, D.C.)–As the President and his administration press forward with a Continuity of Operations Plan, a measure to ensure the continuity of government should a disaster occur in our nation’s capital, Congressman Jim Langevin (D-RI) today testified before the House Administration Committee in support of his own plan for continuity of congressional business.  

 Langevin has introduced legislation. HR 3481, “The Ensuring Congressional Security and Continuity Act,” which calls for the investigation of alternatives to conducting Congressional business in and around the United States Capitol.

 “September 11th and the subsequent anthrax attack on our congressional offices exposed just how vulnerable we are, particularly because we are centrally located,” Langevin stated before the committee.  “In fact, had the Pennsylvania flight taken off on time and headed straight for the Capitol, we would have been casting our journal vote at the very same time.”

 Specifically, Langevin's legislation would authorize a comprehensive study on the feasibility of implementing a secure off-site voting and communication system for Members of Congress if events force the legislative branch of government to meet without being at a single location.  The Ensuring Congressional Security and Continuity Act also requires an assessment of how Congress can ensure business continuity in circumstances where members and their staffs cannot access their offices in Washington, D.C.

 Langevin envisions that in the event a quorum of Congress could not be present in a single location to conduct Congressional business, members could instead utilize an Internet- and satellite-based communications system.  A member could log on with secure, biometrics technology from anywhere in the world to acknowledge that he or she is not incapacitated and provide his or her physical location.  This system would also provide members with critical information on pending government business and response to the attack or disaster.

 Langevin believes a viable emergency plan must also establish alternate meeting locations, a means of deliberating and a way for the general public to follow congressional businesses, and ensure that Congress follows the democratic process.

 “The most important thing is for this plan to establish a two-way backup communications system that is both reliable and secure,” Langevin added in his testimony.  “Moreover, this plan would only be executed in an emergency.  The traditional personal, face-to-face interactions that we all enjoy would not be jeopardized.  The E-Congress idea is simply a means to facilitate an organized system for congressional continuity if, and only if, an attack or disaster strikes again.”