Modernizing Committee unanimously passes 16 new recommendations to increase bipartisanship, civility, and efficiency in Congress

Today, the Select Committee on the Modernization of Congress unanimously passed 16 new recommendations to increase bipartisanship and civility in the House, as well as make Congress more efficient. 

During the meeting, Chairman Rep. Derek Kilmer (D-WA) said, “Every member of this committee believes that Congress is stronger when members find ways to work together and solve problems.” 

“Even during times of division, we have to find a path forward. Today, we’re giving the House a roadmap for a brighter future,” added Vice Chair Rep. Tom Graves (R-GA) during his remarks. “Throughout the year, this committee has served as a safe-haven for bipartisanship. I’m grateful to be a part of this committee and a team that’s committed to fixing Congress. These days there can be no more important a committee to be operating. Even during times of division, we have to find a path forward.” 

“The modernizing committee is continuing to chip away at the ossification in Congress. Its recent extension into 2020 provides it an opportunity to dig deeper on critical issues like staff recruitment and retention, while also thinking broadly about why Congress remains dysfunctional and is viewed poorly by the American people,” said Issue One Executive Director Meredith McGehee. “It’s important that this committee continue its strong working relationship with the House Administration Committee, House Rules Committee, and others that are working to improve the legislative branch.

A functional legislature is a key element of American democracy. Many countries around the world have a government with executive and judicial branches. The differentiator for a true democratic republic is a functioning representative body that exercises power as the first branch of government. If the legislative branch does not work, we are one step away from being a banana republic.”

The list of recommendations from the committee includes

  1. Create a bipartisan Members-only space in the Capitol to encourage more collaboration across party lines.
  2. Institute biennial bipartisan retreats for Members and their families at the start of each Congress.
  3. Update committee policies to increase bipartisan learning opportunities for staff.
  4. Establish bipartisan committee staff briefings and agenda-setting retreats to encourage better policy making and collaboration among Members.
  5. Update House procedures to allow members to electronically add or remove their name as a bill cosponsor.
  6. Require Members to undergo emergency preparedness training to ensure our government is fully prepared in the event of a crisis.
  7. Identify ways the House and Senate can streamline purchases and save taxpayer dollars.
  8. Encourage House-wide bulk purchasing of goods and services to cut back on waste and inefficiency.
  9. Update travel expenditure policies to improve efficiencies, and boost accountability and transparency. 
  10. Consolidate the regulations governing Member office communications, including digital communications, into one easy to find place.
  11. Rename the House Commission on Mailing Standards, also known as the Franking Commission, the House Communications Standards Commission to reflect 21st Century communications.
  12. Increase opportunities for constituents to communicate with their Representatives.
  13. Increase accountability and tracking for all Member-sponsored mail.
  14. Allow for faster correspondence between Representatives and their constituents.
  15. Update House social media rules to allow for better communication online between Members of Congress and their followers.
  16. Allow the public to better access and view the types of communication sent by Members of Congress to their constituents.

Earlier this month, the committee’s first 29 unanimous, bipartisan recommendations were introduced as H. Res 756 — Moving Our Democracy and Congressional Operations Toward Modernizing Resolution. It is sponsored by every member of the Select Committee. Issue One sent a letter to all House offices urging them to vote in support of the resolution.