June 11, 2021

The Hill: Making Congress more effective for the American people

We have followed the work of the House Select Committee on the Modernization of Congress with great interest. Since serving together in the United States Senate, both of us have been focused on the kinds of reforms that the Select Committee is charged with considering. Each of us has written a book recommending institutional changes that would help Congress better serve the American people. The Select Committee has done outstanding work. Everyday Americans are also impressed. The National … Continue Reading

June 09, 2021

Roll Call: Lawmakers seek funds to improve the workings of Congress

The leaders of a bipartisan panel tasked with modernizing Congress on Wednesday urged the House Appropriations Committee to fund several changes they say would improve the lives of members and staff as well as how the institution itself functions. Washington Democrat Derek Kilmer and South Carolina Republican William R. Timmons IV asked appropriators to help the House Modernization of Congress Committee implement several of the 97 recommendations it made during the last Congress. Kilmer, … Continue Reading

June 05, 2021

Roll Call: Staff Training key to shifting attitudes on accessibility for disability community

Many staffers are heading back to Capitol Hill, and official visitors aren't far behind, but the return to offices is prompting questions about gaps in physical and digital accessibility in Congress for staff, lobbyists, constituents and lawmakers with disabilities. With historic buildings and slow adoption of technology, Congress still has a long way to go to make itself accessible not just in the physical space but also online, where so much business has been conducted in the past … Continue Reading

June 05, 2021

The Hill: Experienced staff promote effective lawmaking

Members of Congress are wrestling with the 97 bipartisan recommendations put forward last year by the newly reestablished Select Committee on the Modernization of Congress. Among them are proposals to increase legislative staff pay. Supporters argue that salary increases are needed to recruit and retain the best legislative aides. Yet, the public is skeptical about spending more on Congress, which they judge as not doing a very good job. At the Center for Effective Lawmaking, we know that … Continue Reading

May 13, 2021

The Hill: Head of House Office of Diversity and Inclusion urges more staff diversity

The House Select Committee on the Modernization of Congress on Thursday held a hearing on increasing calls for congressional staffers to be more representative of the country's population. "Our constituents are better served by staff who reflect the diversity in our districts and our country," committee chair Rep. Derek Kilmer (D-Wash.) said in his opening statement. "Members are better served by staff who bring a diversity of perspectives to the policymaking process. We do our jobs better … Continue Reading

May 13, 2021

RollCall: Capitol Staff Diversity ‘can’t just start at the

Narrow talent pipelines, pigeonholing of portfolio issues and casual microaggressions from colleagues and bosses are some of the issues hampering efforts to recruit and retain House staffers that represent the diversity of the nation and districts they represent, witnesses told the House Modernization of Congress Committee on Thursday. The House Office of Diversity and Inclusion, or ODI, is now a permanent resource for the chamber, and there is funding to pay interns. But those alone are not … Continue Reading

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

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