One-click access to see how Members of Congress vote in committees.
The Legislative Reorganization Act of 1970 ushered in electronic voting on the House floor, making the process more efficient and transparent. Today, it’s easy to find out how specific Members voted on roll call legislation. But this accessibility is limited to legislation in the chamber—not committee votes or activity. Understanding how legislation and issues are voted on in committees is sometimes more important than the final floor vote. Committees and subcommittees are where legislation is developed, issues are debated in-depth, and witnesses provide expertise. By the time legislation arrives to the House floor, it often has been refined and amended several times through.
Despite the importance of committee and subcommittee activity, it is difficult to see how Members vote on legislation and issues in committee. While the information is public, it’s not easily accessible for most Americans, or even Members and their staff. Because each committee sets its own procedures for recording votes and choosing when and how to make this information publicly available, there is no centralized source for committee votes. With 20 permanent committees and well over 100 subcommittees (plus four select committees, including this Committee), following how Members vote and respond to issues is difficult and time-consuming to collect. While some subscriber services collect and provide this information to paying subscribers, for the average person this information is inaccessible.
This lack of transparency advantages those who have time and resources to attend and monitor congressional hearings—often lobbyists and interest groups. While these groups often communicate votes to citizens or other Members, they are selective in their attention. As Mr. Schuman noted in testimony to the Committee, “some of the issue here is not about transparency yea or nay. It is about managing the consequences that some people have access to things in advance and some people don't.”
This lack of accessibility not only impacts citizens, but Members of Congress and their staff as well. To make committee and subcommittee activity more transparent and accessible for citizens, Members of Congress, and their staff, the Committee suggests publishing committee votes online in a centralized location. The Committee envisions a centralized, electronic hub of committee votes, accessible via House.gov and in machine-readable format. Each standing and select committee should provide the House Clerk with detailed information on recorded votes within 72 hours.