March 11, 2021

Roll Call: Planning for a post-pandemic Congress underway

When the Capitol closed to the public a year ago and congressional staffers were scrambling to acquire and set up laptops in anticipation of mandatory remote work, every announcement and "Dear Colleague" letter explaining the shutdown anticipated it lasting just a few weeks. Instead, the COVID-19 pandemic forced Congress to adapt and, in some cases, accelerated shifts in operations that had long been goals of staff and lawmakers but were stuck in the inertia of the institution's arcane and … Continue Reading

March 11, 2021

Roll Call: Will Congress continue using tech tools forced by COVID-19?

Congress, like corporate America and the rest of the world, was forced to adopt remote working technologies and other digital collaborative tools a year ago as the coronavirus shut down the global economy. Now, as the pace of vaccination across the country picks up and a return to pre-pandemic normal appears increasingly possible, lawmakers and reform advocates are debating whether Congress should keep using the new tech tools even after the pandemic ends. Some lawmakers say that remote … Continue Reading

December 11, 2020

Federal News Network: An update on modernizing Congress

It may not gain a lot of traction with constituents, but modernizing the Congress itself is a high priority for at least a few members. Among them, members of the Select Committee on the Modernization of Congress. Its recommendations cover a lot of territory. Rep. Derek Kilmer (D-Wash.) is the chairman of the committee. He spoke with Federal Drive with Tom Temin for a progress report and what we might expect in the 117th … Continue Reading

December 11, 2020

Wall Street Journal: Earmarks Get Makeover Before Possible Return

A BIPARTISAN GROUP of lawmakers makes a push to bring back a form of earmarks-lawmakers' ability to direct federal funding to specific projects -but with more transparency and accountability. The 12 members of the bipartisan House Select Committee on Modernization, a group responsible for updating how Congress operates, are pushing to start a program of "community-focused grants," which they hope would help restore Congress's role in making specific decisions about spending taxpayer … Continue Reading

December 09, 2020

NPR: Democrats Want To Bring Earmarks Back As Way To Break Gridlock In Congress

When earmarks were a regular feature of congressional business, Rep. Emanuel Cleaver, D-Mo., said Democrats and Republicans were able to cut more deals and pass more bills with bipartisan support. "This used to be time where everybody was 'Hallelujah,' I mean Republicans, Democrats, dancing, kissing. This is the time to be saved," he recalled at a congressional hearing this year in regard to legislation such as the highway bill. Cleaver served on the bipartisan Select Committee on the … Continue Reading

November 30, 2020

The Hill: Congress must reclaim its Article I powers in order to earn back public trust

Polling suggests that Congress is less popular than head lice and colonoscopies. For many Americans, Congress is viewed through the lens of numbing gridlock, government shutdowns, and snarky Twitter battles. Sadly, Congress - by choice or by default - has often ceded much of its constitutional authorities to the executive and judicial branches or simply fallen into the category of "the broken branch" of government. As the COVID-19 public health crisis and economic fallout continue to affect … Continue Reading

November 13, 2020

Episode 11: BPC Action's Under the Dome on Modernizing Congress featuring Reps. Derek Kilmer (D-WA) and William Timmons (R-SC)

On the podcast this month, BPC Action's Executive Director Michele Stockwell gives us the lay of the land for the 117th Congress and what to expect the first few months of a Biden or Trump Administration. Also on the show: Reps. Derek Kilmer (D-WA) and William Timmons (R-SC), who serve on the House Select Committee on the Modernization of Congress, share more about the committee's work to make Congress more efficient and effective-and what's next on the modernization … Continue Reading

November 12, 2020

Roll Call: New House member orientation features significant shifts

The freshly elected newcomers of the House descend Thursday on Washington for the start of the new member orientation. But this time, they face the challenge of meeting future colleagues from behind masks, one of many changes that makes the biennial event much different from previous years. Electoral winners from around the country will come together for lunches, tours and briefings, mixing and mingling for the first time. Orientation marks the first real taste of life as a member of Congress … Continue Reading

October 20, 2020

A Starting Point

Chair Kilmer on "A Starting Point" about the bipartisan work being carried out by the Modernization Committee Chair Derek Kilmer spoke about the bipartisan work being done on behalf of the American people by the Modernization Committee, such as fostering civility and tackling continuity operations during a pandemic. Vice Chair Graves on "A Starting Point" about the Modernization Committee's guiding principles Vice Chair Tom Graves spoke about the Modernization Committee's guiding … Continue Reading

September 28, 2020

MeriTalk: House Modernization Committee Approves Final Recommendations

The House Select Committee on the Modernization of Congress approved its fifth and final package of recommendations last week to "to make Congress work better for the American people." The final round of recommendations passed on Sept. 24 includes 40 new recommendations. Over the last 20 months, the committee has approved 97 recommendations in total. The latest recommendations cover a wide array of topics, including improving IT modernization efforts, expanding congressional technology staff, … Continue Reading

September 28, 2020

Federal News Network: House Modernization Committee issues last round of recommendations

The House Select Committee on Modernization of Congress has passed its final round of recommendations before its term expires at the end of this session of Congress. Those recommendations include standing up a Congressional Data Task Force and identifying continuity of operations best practices the House made during the coronavirus pandemic. Members of the committee have recommended creating a Congressional Digital Services Task Force that would overhaul the House's internal and … Continue Reading

September 24, 2020

Fulcrum: Fixing the House means more staff pay and member budget sway, panel concludes

ts nickname has been the Fix Congress Committee, an unusually bipartisan effort by House members to make their workplace a bit more functional. On Thursday it wrapped up work by endorsing 40 more ideas - including on such politically dicey topics as Capitol Hill's spending on itself and lawmakers steering federal spending toward home. The panel has been something of a pet project for good-government groups inside the Beltway, who engineered its creation two years ago, pelted it with ideas and … Continue Reading

September 24, 2020

Washington Post: ‘Fix Congress Committee’ launches framework for earmark revival

An 18-month effort to make Congress work smarter has yielded 97 official recommendations from the House Modernization of Congress Committee and aims to stem the brain drain among staffers, boost congressional capacity, and overhaul the budget and appropriations process. "It's not 100, but 97 is still an A," said Washington Democrat Derek Kilmer, the panel's chairman. Committee members advanced their final slate of 40 proposals Thursday in the last meeting of the select committee, which was … Continue Reading

September 24, 2020

Bloomberg: Bipartisan Panel Approves Plans to Improve Congress

A framework for replacing earmarks and moving to biennial budget resolutions were among the 40 recommendations approved Thursday by a bipartisan House panel tasked with finding ways to improve the functioning of Congress. The Select Committee on the Modernization of Congress, which has six Republicans and six Democrats, capped off two years of working to find a way to improve congressional efficiency that would be accepted by a polarized Capitol Hill. The package included prioritizing … Continue Reading

July 31, 2020

Federal News Network: House Modernization Committee approves continuity of operations recommendations

Agencies that laid the groundwork for modernization before the coronavirus pandemic have seen those efforts pay off, especially with mandatory telework still in effect for much of the federal workforce. The same goes for the House Modernization Committee, which more than a year ago held a hearing on increasing videoconference capabilities for members. Today, those capabilities have proved invaluable for the House's continuity of operations. Now nearly five months into the pandemic, the House … Continue Reading

July 31, 2020

Bloomberg: House Modernization Panel Approves Emergency Preparation Ideas

A House panel unanimously approved a series of recommendations to allow legislative work to continue safely during the coronavirus and any future emergency. Most of the dozen proposals from the bipartisan Select Committee on the Modernization, which has six Republicans and six Democrats, focused on technology, such as making the option to electronically submit committee reports permanent and expanding the use of digital signatures for a majority of House business. The panel also proposed a … Continue Reading

July 31, 2020

House Committee Approves Congressional Continuity of Operation Recs

The House Select Committee on the Modernization of Congress approved a dozen recommendations to improve the continuity of operations in Congress in the event of a crisis. The Select Committee, which had 29 recommendations adopted by the House on March 10 just days before much of the Federal government transitioned to remote work, produced new recommendations based on the experience of the pandemic. "These recommendations bring more certainty to our operations and will help the legislative … Continue Reading

July 29, 2020

Roll Call: Congress still playing catch-up on accessibility, despite progress, 30 years after ADA

Thirty years after the signing of the Americans with Disabilities Act and 25 years after Congress decided to apply those standards to itself, significant advancements have been made in accessibility in and around the historic buildings. But challenges remain for people navigating Capitol Hill in person and in the digital space. Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows that 26 percent of adults in the United States have some type of disability, but representation in … Continue Reading

June 18, 2020

Federal News Network: Will the coronavirus be the push Congress needs to modernize long-standing inefficiencies?

It's doubtful that finding ways to conduct business during a global pandemic was high on the list of reasons for forming the Select Committee on the Modernization of Congress in 2019. But now, the timing could scarcely be more appropriate. Proxy voting with or without quorum, video hearings, limiting member travel and maintaining social distancing at the Capitol have required lawmakers to reconsider the long-term viability of some well-established practices. For committee Chairman Rep. Derek … Continue Reading

June 11, 2020

Federal News Network: Federal Drive: Modernization committee leaders weigh in on continuity of operations, reopening

Congress has been no less challenged by the pandemic than federal agencies. Proxy voting, online hearings, difficulties in dealing with constituents. The chair and vice chair of the select committee on the modernization of Congress have been on the case, exploring best practices. Washington Democrat Derek Kilmer and Georgia Republican Tom Graves joined Federal Drive with Tom Temin to discuss. Interview transcript: Tom Temin: Joining me now, Washington Democrat Derek Kilmer. Mr. Kilmer Good … Continue Reading

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