clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

D.C. Lawmakers Unleashed -- In 140 Characters or Less

Washington may be the cradle of the careful media message, but Twitter has exploded that etiquette.


If you’ve ever watched a clip of California Republican Rep. Darrell Issa tearing into Democrats about Obamacare or former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s lost emails, just imagine what his Twitter feed is like.

Whatever you’re thinking, you’ve got it wrong.

Sure, Issa loves a good bombastic tweet about the issue of the day. But he also posts cuddly pooches on #FridayPuppies, and embarrassing photos of his polyester-clad 1970s self on #TBT.

Washington may be the cradle of the careful media message, but Twitter has exploded that etiquette and has allowed some politicians like Issa to just … be themselves. Enough of them have posted dumb things that their deleted tweets are even being saved for posterity by the Sunlight Foundation.

It’s hard to say how many members of Congress actually tweet, since many fob the task off on their aides. Those members are generally pretty easy to spot; they refer to themselves in the third person, they say nothing particularly interesting and they use a lot of hashtags or end statements with exclamation points (!!).

A few members, however, are legitimately using Twitter. Many of them are even worth following.

Here, Re/code presents some of the best (or at least most entertaining) Capitol Hill tweeters.

Sen. Cory Booker (@CoryBooker)

The New Jersey senator could legitimately be elected Senate Majority Leader of Twitter.

Booker joined the social media service in the summer of 2008, when he was mayor of Newark, and has posted almost 48,000 tweets since then. The Democrat has discussed his embrace of veganism, gotten into Twitter exchanges with Captain Kirk (a.k.a. @WilliamShatner) and — unlike most members — regularly responds to people on Twitter about various policy issues.

He also loves motivational posters.

Sen. Chuck Grassley (@ChuckGrassley)

Few 81-year-olds have embraced Twitter with as much earnest enthusiasm as Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa. His tweets are so riddled with dubious punctuation, misspellings and half-expressed thoughts that no social media manager would ever claim credit.

But Grassley has one of the most entertaining accounts on Twitter. It’s real. And you never know what he’s going to come up with next. If you can even understand what he’s trying to say, which isn’t a given.

Rep. Tammy Duckworth (@tammyduckworth)

Illinois congresswoman Tammy Duckworth has an official account (@RepDuckworth) and a campaign account (@TammyforIL) for her Senate race, but her personal account is so much more interesting. In it, the 47-year-old veteran (and new mom) offers a glimpse of how she balances life at home with a newborn with her duties in Washington.

Sen. Claire McCaskill (@claircmc)

Missouri Senator Claire McCaskill likes to stir things up on Twitter, even though she doesn’t appear to mean to. First, there was the infamous pig-roast tweet, which grossed out some of her vegetarian followers:

More recently, the Democrat shared some thoughts about the state of college basketball after Duke’s NCAA win:

Mostly, McCaskill mixes up political and policy tweets with more personal topics, like her kids’ accomplishments or pictures of grandkids.

Rep. Mark Pocan (@repmarkpocan)

Mark Pocan isn’t the guy you’re probably going to see on “Meet the Press” on Sunday morning. The Wisconsin Democrat only joined the House of Representatives three years ago, so he’s not just in the Democratic minority, he doesn’t have much seniority. What he does have, however, is a love for cheesy magic tricks, which he shares in an ongoing YouTube series called “Magic Mondays.”

Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (@DWStweets)

The Florida congresswoman uses her account to highlight political issues of the day — after all, she is chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee — along with the same sort of grip-and-grin photos with constituents as many other members. But there’s also generally a higher softball-to-politics ratio of tweets in her stream than most Washington politicos.

She’s a loyal participant in the annual Congressional Women’s Softball Game, in which female members of Congress square off against the Bad News Babes, a group of female Congressional reporters, to raise money for a group that helps young women with breast cancer.

Sen. Tim Scott (@SenatorTimScott)

Much of South Carolina Republican Scott’s Twitter feed recently has been about the need for body cameras on policemen amid a rash of police shootings of unarmed men, including a man in Scott’s home state.

Scott’s staff clearly helps run his Twitter account, but he also posts while he’s out and about in Washington and his home state.

Rep. Steve King (@SteveKingIA)

The Iowa conservative isn’t known for being particularly diplomatic, and his Twitter reflects that. King is probably best known lately for his hardline stance on immigration reform — he’s not in favor of a path to legalization — but he has plenty of thoughts on other topics, too.

Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (@RepJeffries)

Sometimes it feels as though congressional Twitter accounts are divorced from the real world, filled with C-SPAN clips and glorified press releases on bills no one’s ever heard of. Democrat Jeffries, who represents Brooklyn and parts of Queens, mostly tweets about his district (and how he’s voting), but he also likes to tweet about what’s going on outside of Washington. These days, that’s a lot of tweets about police shootings, unfortunately.

Rep. Mark Takano (@RepMarkTakano)

Former high school literature teacher Mark Takano, the Democratic representative from Riverside, Calif., still likes to get out his red pen. Now, it’s to mark up opponents’ letters, usually on his “There Will Be Charts” Tumblr page.

Takano, the first openly gay non-Caucasian member of Congress, doesn’t seem to take himself too seriously, and that’s reflected on his Twitter stream.

This article originally appeared on