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'Capitol Tweet' widget follows Congress on Twitter

The nonprofit Sunlight Foundation is offering a widget to follow the latest tweets from Capitol Hill.

Now that the House and Senate have adopted rules allowing congressmen to join the Web 2.0 world, they can tweet to their hearts' content. Accordingly, a new widget released by a government transparency group allows people to follow their favorite politicians' latest micro-blogs.

The Sunlight Foundation's "Capitol Tweet" widget provides updates every 10 minutes from the latest tweets from members of Congress.

Before both chambers of Congress adjusted their respective Franking rules, which govern how Congressmen can communicate with their constituents, members of Congress were not allowed to use third-party sites, such as Twitter or YouTube, to convey official political messages. Many congressmen, however, simply ignored the rules. Congresspedia counts 7 senators and 31 House representatives who currently have Twitter accounts.

The Sunlight Foundation advocated for the rules regarding the use of third-party sites to be changed as part of its Open House Project, which examined how the House uses the Internet. The foundation started a "Let our Congress Tweet" campaign, which featured a Twitter-based congressional petition.

"The revisions (to the rules) should cause a renaissance in official political Web use, with eager new media staff and savvy members now able to confidently engage with their constituents," John Wonderlich, a Sunlight program director, wrote in a blog post.