November 01, 2019

Select Committee Holds Hearing on Improving Constituent Communications

Washington, D.C. – To discuss opportunities to improve constituent communications the Select Committee on the Modernization of Congress (“Select Committee”) held a hearing yesterday to examine the congressional frank and current mailing standards in the U.S. House of Representatives. “Congress and the Frank: Bringing Congressional Mailing Standards into the 21st Century” examined the history of the congressional frank, how it’s been regulated and reformed over the last few decades, and opportunities for continued reform in the U.S. House.

Since 1775 the franking privilege has allowed Members of Congress to send official mail to constituents, and the frank is highly regulated by law. But with constant changes to how people communicate with one another, there is often a need to reevaluate the rules and procedures governing congressional communication. 

“Today there are more ways than ever to talk with our constituents back home. Communication has never been easier but with rules, processes and regulations to follow in the House, it’s also never been more complicated. It’s important that we can get information efficiently and effectively to those we serve, and today’s witnesses helped us identify areas for real reform,” said Chair Derek Kilmer (D-WA) and Vice Chair Tom Graves (R-GA).

Chair of the Franking Commission Susan Davis and Ranking Member of the Committee on House Administration and Former Chair of the Franking Commission Rodney Davis testified in the first panel. The Members shared the current work of the Franking Commission, improvements to the franking approval process that are being made, and reforms that are still needed.

Matt Glassman, Ph.D., Senior Fellow at the Government Affairs Institute at Georgetown University; Joshua Tucker, Ph.D., Professor of Politics at New York University, and; Josh Billigmeier, Co-Founder and CEO of Fireside testified in the second panel about trends in communication, the difference between the mailing regulations in the U.S. Senate vs. the U.S. House, and updates that could be made to allow for ease of official social media usage.

Many of the Select Committee Members asked the hearing witnesses about the current rules that regulate social media outreach, usage and communication by Members in the U.S. House.

To watch the hearing livestream, click here.