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YouTube launches platforms for Congress

Company's new Senate and House hubs make congressional YouTube videos easy to search for.

President-elect Barack Obama embraced YouTube when he started broadcasting his weekly address in both audio and video form, so it may have only been a matter of time before the Congress followed suit.

YouTube in conjunction with Congress on Monday launched two new platforms, the Senate Hub and the House Hub, that provide easy access to congressional YouTube channels.

Visitors can find their senators' YouTube pages by clicking on a map or using a drop down menu. While Washington, D.C. has no members to boast in either chamber, clicking the capital city on the map will take visitors to channels dedicated to congressional committees. While the hubs are maintained by YouTube, each individual congressperson's channel is maintained by his or her office.

The pages feature playlists like "Got a Question?" and "Behind the Scenes." Videos featured allow visitors to watch clips of floor speeches, committee hearings, and other activities on the Hill.

While some members of Congress may enjoy futzing around on the Internet as much as the next guy (in this video, Rep. Tim Ryan of Ohio proves his Internet savvy on Facebook), the 111th Congress marks the first full session in which senators and representatives can officially use third-party sites like YouTube. Both chambers voted for the rule change in the fall of 2008.

"While we may not see eye-to-eye on everything," House Majority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) says in a welcome video, shown below, "one thing we can agree on is the importance of utilizing technology to communicate with constituents."