February 26, 2020

ICYMI: Chair Kilmer & Vice Chair Graves Speak on House Floor

Bipartisan committee leaders spoke about committee’s 45 recommendations

Washington, D.C. – In case you missed it, Select Committee on the Modernization of Congress Chair Derek Kilmer (D-WA) and Vice Chair Tom Graves (R-GA) participated in a Special Order on the House floor yesterday to highlight the work of the committee and detail the recommendations that have been unanimously passed thus far.

Key excerpts from each member’s speech as prepared can be seen below. The full clip can be viewed here.

Chair Kilmer:

“I rise today to speak about the work of the Select Committee on the Modernization of Congress. As Chair, I am extremely proud of what the Select Committee has accomplished in the past year. I’m also proud of how we’ve accomplished our work. In addition to unanimously passing 45 recommendations to improve the way Congress works, the Select Committee is establishing a new and meaningful precedent for bipartisan collaboration. We are proving that it’s possible for Members from both sides of the aisle to sit down together, engage in tough discussions, listen and learn from one another, and reach consensus.”

“We are the first Select Committee in several decades to propose and adopt recommendations on a rolling basis. Put simply: when we have consensus, we move. We are also the first Select Committee in recent history to introduce our recommendations as legislation to ensure that they actually get implemented further on down the road. We introduced legislation in December – H. Res. 756 – that incorporates the first two sets of recommendations passed by the Select Committee and we’re expecting a committee mark-up soon.”

“The Select Committee has accomplished a great deal in the past year, but there is still much more work to do. I believe I speak for all Members of the Committee when I say we are ready for the challenge. Our plan is to build on our success thus far and continue issuing recommendations over the next several months. Working to build a more efficient and effective Congress that will better serve the American people is a mission I am proud to lead.”

Vice Chair Graves:

“When the Select Committee first started, we chose to work together and combine our resources as one team, instead of separating the staff and office space by party line. As Mr. Kilmer often says, we decided not to put the committee in red jerseys or blue jerseys, but “fix Congress” jerseys instead. Thanks to him, this experiment has created a bipartisan bond of trust and collaboration unlike anything I’ve been a part of in Congress.”

“In September we held a hearing to discuss improving civility throughout the halls of Congress. At times it felt like we were going against the grain a bit to issue recommendations on civility and bipartisanship, but I think that’s why this committee’s work matters so much. Even during times of division, we have to find a path forward. We recommended creating a bipartisan Members-only space in the Capitol to encourage more collaboration across party lines and instituting biennial bipartisan retreats for Members and their families at the start of each Congress. I have often said that the breakdown in civility and bipartisanship here in Washington is because of the breakdown in relationships. It’s important that we talk to each other, and most importantly – listen to one another.”

“When it comes to communicating, we recognize the importance of good, robust communication with the American people, too. That’s why we recommended increasing opportunities for constituents to communicate with their Representatives and allowing for faster correspondence between Representatives and their constituents. We aren’t finished yet. We have more work to do before the year is over, and I can think of no better capstone to my legislative career than to leave Congress in better shape for future Representatives.”

116th Congress