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USSR News 1. Putin orders new security measures as Russia marks Soviet victory in WWII 2. Putin: US exit from INF Treaty puts Europe at risk of new arms race 3. Russia and Ukraine reach historic deal to restore trade ties 4. Putin: Russia will respond to US withdrawal from nuclear arms treaty 5. Putin: Russia will not deploy intermediate-range nuclear missiles in Europe 6. Putin: Russia will cooperate with US on arms control and non-proliferation 7. Putin: Russia and US must cooperate on nuclear security 8. Putin: Russia to help implement START III arms reduction treaty 9. Putin: Russia, US must work together to resolve nuclear arms crisis 10. Putin: Russia will not deploy intermediate-range nuclear missiles in Europe Articles 1. The Soviet Union’s Lasting Legacy: How the USSR Influenced Today’s World 2. How the Soviet Union Changed History 3. The Impact of the Soviet Union on the World 4. The Role of the Soviet Union in the Cold War 5. The Soviet Union’s Role in the End of the Cold War 6

Remote Possibilities: The Early History of Videoconferencing Technology in the House | US House of Representatives: History, Art & Archives

On the morning of October 9, 1991—long before the COVID-19 pandemic ushered in an era of Zoom calls and online meetings—George E. Brown of California, chairman of the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology, gaveled his committee to order in what appeared to be a science fiction theater. A large screen, powered by a rear projector, towered at the center of the committee room. A camera, perched atop the screen, focused on the chairman, while two additional cameras on tripods recorded the rest of the dais. Behind the projector stood two black towers, each filled with state-of-the-art computer equipment and outfitted with a television monitor.The purpose of the committee meeting was to hear testimony from scientists at the Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico and the Sandia National Laboratory in California—both major hubs of nuclear weapons research sponsored by the Department of Energy (DOE)—as Congress began re-examining the role of DOE labs in the post-Cold War era. But it was the format, rather than the subject, of that day’s hearing that drew the attention of onlookers. For the first time, a House committee used videoconferencing technology in a formal hearing to speak with witnesses remotely. Through a combination of landline and satellite connections, the closed-circuit television screens opened a portal to the West Coast through which committee members could speak face-to-face with laboratory personnel as if they were seated at the witness table.But before Brown could begin the hearing, the satellite connection fizzled out, freezing the chairman’s image onscreen. “That looks good,” Brown said, glancing at his likeness. The audience in the room laughed. After a few minutes, the feed reconnected, and the image of Dr. Siegfried Hecker, director of the Los Alamos National Laboratory, appeared on the numerous screens. “I do very much appreciate the fact that I don't need to travel across the country,” Hecker said. That day, several witnesses gave their insight into the future of America’s science policy from thousands of miles away.Brown launched his videoconferencing demonstration project in the fall of 1991 with the goal of making the technology a permanent tool for the House of Representatives. In a series of hearings from 1991 to 1992, Science Committee members heard from witnesses around the world, from Seattle to Paris to Moscow, without ever leaving the Rayburn House Office Building. “I have long been a fan of this technology,” Brown noted. “I have followed it from its infancy and have wondered when it would truly come of age. That day has now arrived.”Technological AdvancementsAlthough many committee members marveled at the video feed, similar technology had been used on Capitol Hill before. In the 1980s, ABC News and a handful of Members of Congress had won an Emmy for the show Capital to Capital, in which lawmakers conversed with Soviet officials via satellite on live television. Earlier still, a Senate committee held a formal hearing in 1977 with witnesses who participated through a two-way satellite video. But no congressional committee had repeated the experiment since the Senate did 14 years earlier, a gap so long that Representative Norman Y. Mineta of California mistakenly congratulated Chairman Brown in 1991 for having “the first teleconferencing hearing in the history of the Congress.”The slow adoption of videoconferencing technology in the final decades of the twentieth century was largely a matter of cost. In the 1980s, one major carrier charged $2,000 an hour to host a multi-user video call. The price of equipping an entire room with videoconferencing gear could reach six figures.By the 1990s, however, technological advances made data transmission cheaper. Computer programs called CODECS (a portmanteau of “code” and “decode”) could compress audio and video data to reduce the amount of information that needed to be transmitted through telephone lines. The cost of a five-way video call dropped to $1,200 an hour, and a simple two-way connection could cost as little as $30 an hour.As a result, videoconferencing technology became more widespread. Public school districts and universities began to establish “distance learning” programs. Businesses increasingly substituted in-person meetings for video calls. Additionally, an economic recession and terrorism concerns stoked by the Gulf War both led to a drop in air travel, boosting videoconferencing’s appeal as an alternative to in-person meetings.As the technology grew increasingly mainstream, Representative Brown envisioned many potential applications for Congress. Members could have easier access to their constituents through virtual town hall meetings. Capitol Hill staff could hold meetings with district staff. Committees could conduct regular oversight of out-of-town federal agencies. And unlike the Senate’s one-off experiment in 1977, Brown’s efforts resulted in lasting institutional change.“Mr. Science”George Brown first won election to the House in 1962, representing portions of Los Angeles, Riverside, and San Bernadino Counties. He had studied physics in college and worked as an engineer before entering politics. An activist in his early years, Brown helped desegregate university housing as a student at the University of California, Los Angeles, in the 1930s. Brown was also a pacifist and strongly opposed the Vietnam War, once accusing President Lyndon B. Johnson of believing that “the peace of mankind can be won by the slaughter of peasants in Vietnam.” Brown was often the only lawmaker to vote against military spending. “No other Member of Congress, I think, cast more unsafe votes,” his colleague Sam Farr of California observed.Brown, who wore rumpled suits and often puffed on a cigar, was known to prioritize policy over polish. Constance A. Morella of Maryland once recalled an episode where Brown struggled to record a short commemorative video, requiring numerous retakes. “George Brown had difficulty being scripted—in his life, in his political career, and in the way he operated on the Science Committee,” she wrote.Brown served on the Science Committee for all but one term in the House, where he emerged as an advocate for space exploration, environmental protection, and the development of computer technology. Known to his colleagues as “Mr. Science,” Brown held some of the first congressional hearings on climate change in the 1970s, played a key role in the establishment of the Environmental Protection Agency, and supported funding for the International Space Station.He became Science Committee chair in 1991, the same year the Soviet Union collapsed. With the end of the Cold War, Brown sought to redirect federal funding from nuclear testing to scientific research for energy efficiency, education, public health, and manufacturing. But Brown frequently ran into hurdles, and criticized what he called the government’s “lack of coherent, broad-based, long-range planning” when it came to science and technology policy. “To build the funding of science for the next generation on the basis of the cold war was not well advised,” he later observed. “That implied that science wasn’t important enough to survive without a cold war.”The United States had once been the top producer of consumer electronics and semiconductor chips until Japanese computer companies dethroned American manufacturers in the 1980s and 1990s. Hoping to reverse the country’s shrinking market share in technology manufacturing, Brown used his chairmanship to create a new subcommittee called Technology and Competitiveness. In one of his most ambitious bills, Brown sought to establish a new cabinet agency—the Department of Science and Technology—to ensure permanent federal support for scientific research and technological development.An Ambitious ExperimentAs chairman, Brown spotlighted videoconferencing technology, in part, because the equipment it required was still largely manufactured in the United States. After his first videoconferencing hearing in October 1991, Brown held a second hearing on the use of videoconferencing in the corporate world in November that was more technologically ambitious. Instead of using a two-way video to hear from one witness at a time, the committee sought to hear from multiple participants at once. Executives from Boeing and General Electric explained how the new technology improved their companies’ efficiency, while an employee from Sprint walked committee members through the history of telecommunications software. The setup allowed everyone to freely converse with one another as if they were in the same room.Brown’s videoconferencing project went international in March 1992, when the committee held two hearings with a delegation of Russian politicians and scientists. As Cold War tensions thawed, Brown sought to promote videoconferencing as a foreign policy tool that could allow for more frequent engagement with leaders overseas without the need for international travel.Brown’s hearing with the Russians was not without its complications, and the transatlantic video call required extensive preparation. The Russians’ CODEC software was found to be incompatible with the committee’s equipment, so the signals between Moscow and Washington were routed through two telecommunications facilities in New Jersey and Atlanta, where the data could be reconfigured. To overcome the language barrier, the State Department arranged for interpreters and installed soundproof interpretation booths in the hearing room. The day before the first hearing, committee staff attempted a test call, but it failed to connect. It took two hours of troubleshooting before technicians managed to establish a link.When George Brown gaveled the hearing in at 9:00 a.m. the next morning on March 25 (5:00 p.m. Moscow time), everything proceeded smoothly. Committee members spoke with Russian scientists to address the impact of the Soviet Union’s collapse on the scientific community there and to strengthen scientific cooperation between the two countries.The following day, the Science Committee facilitated a discussion with a group of six Russian legislators and federal ministers. The lawmakers discussed Russia’s new economic challenges, the need for humanitarian aid, the future of space research, and nuclear weapons policy. As the panel moved from topic to topic, the discussion took on a lighthearted and conversational tone. At one point, Brown warned about transmission delays, and advised his colleagues that “when you tell a joke, always wait three seconds” for laughter. Lee Herbert Hamilton of Indiana marveled at the meeting. He noted how much things had changed between the two superpowers over his career, pointing out that “20–25 years ago when the meetings between us were very stiff, very formal, speeches which were read back and forth to one another; every country defended its position vigorously, and the discussions just were not very enlightening or helpful,” he remarked. “What a contrast it has been this morning. The discussions have been relaxed, they have been informal, they have been informative, and constructive. I just want to say, Mr. Chairman, how remarkable this marvelous technology is to bring us together as it has.”A Lasting ChangeIn September 1992, Brown proudly announced that House leaders agreed to permanently equip at least six committee rooms with videoconferencing technology. Under his direction, the Science Committee continued to hold hearings with remote participants in the 103rd Congress (1993–1995), including a conference with officials of the European Community (a predecessor to the European Union), and a meeting with members of the Japanese Parliament.Brown died in 1999, but by then he had started a revolution on the Hill. By 2005, half of House committees and dozens of Member offices had purchased videoconferencing systems for hearings, constituent outreach, and staff meetings—realizing Brown’s 1992 prediction that “videoconferencing soon will become a standard feature of the day-to-day business of this institution.”Sources: Congressional Record, House, 89th Cong., 1st sess. (5 May 1965): 9533; Congressional Record, House, 89th Cong, 2nd sess. (20 July 1966): 16302; Congressional Record, House, 89th Cong, 2nd sess. (25 August 1966): 20660–20661; Congressional Record, House, 90th Cong, 1st sess. (13 June 1967): 15587–15588; Congressional Record, Extensions of Remarks, 100th Cong., 1st sess. (23 April 1987): 9693; Congressional Record, Extensions of Remarks, 106th Cong., 1st sess. (5 August 1999): 20716; Hearings before the House Committee on Science and Technology, Subcommittee on the Environment and the Atmosphere, The National Climate Program Act, 94th Cong., 2nd sess. (1976); Hearings before Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, Subcommittee on Science, Technology, and Space, National Climate Program Act, 95th Cong., 1st sess. (1977); Hearing before the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology, The Future of the Department of Energy Laboratories, 102nd Cong., 1st sess. (1991); Hearing before the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology, Science and Technology Cooperation with the Russian Federation—Video Conference with Moscow, 102nd Cong., 2nd sess. (1992); Hearing before the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology, Videoteleconference: Exploring the U.S./Russian Relationship in the Post Cold War Era, 102nd Cong., 2nd sess. (1992); Hearing before the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology, Videoconference—Reaching Out to Improve U.S. Competitiveness—Manufacturing Assistance and Industrial Extension, 102nd Cong., 2nd sess. (1992); Hearing before the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology, United States/European Community Videoconference, 103rd Cong., 1st sess. (1993); Hearing before the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology, Video Conference with Members of the Parliament Of Japan, 103rd Cong., 1st sess. (1993); House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology, Video Teleconferencing Congressional Demonstration Project, 103rd Cong., Serial G, 1st sess. (1993); House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology, Summary of Activities, 103rd Cong., 2nd sess., H. Rept. 888 (1995); Department of Science and Technology Act, H.R. 2164, 100th Cong. (1987); Congressional Directory, 93rd Cong., 1st sess. (Washington, DC: Government Printing Office, 1973); Congressional Directory, 102nd Cong. (Washington, DC: Government Printing Office, 1991); Associated Press, 8 February 1992; Chicago Tribune, 8 December 1986; Los Angeles Times, 28 August 1990, 25 October 1991, 8 September 1992; 17 July 1999; New York Times, 27 January 1991, 9 March 1999; Press Enterprise (Riverside, CA), 17 July 1999; Roll Call, 9 August 1999, 6 June 2005; San Diego Union-Tribune, 26 November 1989; San Francisco Chronicle, 3 May 1991; Washington Post, 24 January 1991, 7 November 1991; Garrison Nelson, Committees in the U.S. Congress, 1947–1992, vol. 2 (Washington, DC: Congressional Quarterly Press, 1994).

National History Day 2024: “Turning Points” | US House of Representatives: History, Art & Archives

The History, Art & Archives team has gathered resources based on this year’s National History Day (NHD) theme to inspire and assist student researchers with choosing their project. The material highlights turning points in American history with a focus on the U.S. House of Representatives.This year’s page organizes resources on the “History, Art & Archives of the U.S. House” website by historical eras—loosely corresponding with the National Archives’ DocsTeach—from the nation’s founding to the contemporary era. It also highlights lawmakers whose elections marked a turning point in representation. Students are encouraged to pull from a variety of primary and secondary resources from across the website.Turning Points in RepresentationAs the country grew and changed, the U.S. House of Representatives expanded beyond its original Membership and came to better represent the nation’s diverse citizenry. From the first Black-American legislator elected to the House in 1870 to the first Hispanic-American woman to join the chamber in 1989, lawmakers from every era brought their unique legislative interests and insights to Capitol Hill.Turning Points by EraNew Nation: 1774–1862 During this formative period, America achieved and defended its independence, established a new government, expanded geographically, and created economic opportunities. But the growth and development which defined this era came at an overwhelming human cost: by 1860, four million enslaved men, women, and children lived in southern states and western territories.Civil War & Reconstruction: 1860–1889 The Civil War era was a significant turning point in American history. Explore the secession of southern states, the legislative actions that shaped Reconstruction, the impeachment of President Andrew Johnson, the admission of western states to the Union, or the military service of Harriet Tubman, Sarah Seelye, Clara Barton, or future Representative Robert Smalls of South Carolina.Emergence of Modern America: 1890–1930 At the end of the nineteenth century, the United States fought a war with Spain and acquired territories in the Pacific and the Caribbean. Constitutional amendments related to women’s suffrage and prohibition marked key moments in the early twentieth century.Great Depression & World War II: 1929–1945 The onset of the Great Depression in 1929 caused financial ruin across America. In 1938, the Fair Labor Standards Act gave rights to workers and outlawed child labor. Then, after the December 7, 1941, attack on Pearl Harbor, the United States declared war against Japan. During World War II, the United States incarcerated Japanese Americans in internment camps.Postwar: 1945–1967After World War II, the United States engaged in a Cold War with the Soviet Union, a great power struggle animated by the competing political ideologies of liberal capitalism and communism. At home, everyday Americans advocated and won expanded civil rights. Hawaii achieved statehood in 1959. The 1963 assassination of President John F. Kennedy stunned the nation. In in 1964 and 1965, Congress passed landmark legislation to protect the rights of Black Americans.Contemporary: 1970–2001 In the early 1970s, President Richard Nixon’s involvement covering up a break-in at the Democratic National Committee precipitated the Watergate Scandal, leading to an impeachment inquiry and Nixon’s resignation. Following Watergate and the end of the Vietnam War, many Americans called for greater accountability and for reforms across the government. Meanwhile, policymakers looked for ways to lower spending and reduce taxes. As the Cold War receded with the collapse of the Soviet Union in the early 1990s, the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on U.S. soil shook the nation and forced it to confront new international threats.Students and teachers are encouraged to use the additional resources listed on our NHD page as a launching point for further primary source research.We hope this year’s NHD inspires students to learn more about the role the U.S. House of Representatives plays in American history. Got questions? Email us at history@mail.house.gov.