March 10, 2020

Legislation to Reform Congress Passes House

Marks first time in recent history a select committee has turned recommendations into legislative action

Text was introduced and championed by the committee's twelve bipartisan Members of Congress 

Washington, D.C. – Today the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Select Committee on the Modernization of Congress’ (“Select Committee”) bipartisan legislation to make Congress more effective, efficient and transparent. H.Res.756, the Moving our Democracy and Congressional Operations Towards Modernization Resolution (“ModCom”), includes nearly 30 of the recommendations made by the Select Committee, all crafted to make Congress work better for the American people. Today marks the first time in recent history that a select committee has effectively turned recommendations into legislative action.

“These recommendations are the product of bipartisan collaboration and a commitment to making Congress work better for the American people. These recommendations, though wide-ranging, share a common goal of making Congress more responsive, transparent and accessible for every American. Today marks the first time in recent history that a committee like ours has turned recommendations into legislative text, and it’s thanks to the collaboration and partnership of Democratic and Republican members. I am grateful for their time and commitment to improving the People’s House and I’m hopeful there will be more to come,” said Chair Derek Kilmer (D-WA).

The Select Committee does not have legislative authority, but each committee member co-sponsored this legislative text, led by Chair Derek Kilmer (D-WA) and Vice Chair Tom Graves (R-GA), to signal their strong support for delivering real reform in the U.S. House of Representatives. The recommendations, listed below, will be implemented by the House.  

 

TITLE I—STREAMLINING AND REORGANIZING HUMAN RESOURCES

Sec. 101. Centralized human resources program.

Sec. 102. Reports on operation of Office of Diversity and Inclusion.

Sec. 103. Examining feasibility of updating staff payroll system.

Sec. 104. Examining feasibility of adjusting the statutory limitation on number of employees of Member offices.

 

TITLE II—IMPROVING ORIENTATION FOR MEMBERS-ELECT AND PROVIDING IMPROVED CONTINUING EDUCATION OPPORTUNITIES FOR MEMBERS

Sec. 201. Plan for providing pay and benefits to staff of new Members-elect.

Sec. 202. Improving the orientation experience of new Members.

Sec. 203. Exploring the feasibility of establishing a Congressional Leadership Academy.

Sec. 204. Requiring annual cybersecurity training for Members and employees.

 

TITLE III—MODERNIZING AND REVITALIZING TECHNOLOGY

Sec. 301. Reforming House Information Resources.

Sec. 302. Providing technologies to improve constituent engagement.

Sec. 303. Streamlined approval process for outside technology vendors.

Sec. 304. Enabling Member offices to beta test new technologies.

Sec. 305. Creating single point of contact between House offices and HIR.

Sec. 306. Improving Member feedback regarding outside vendors and HIR services.

Sec. 307. Leveraging bulk purchasing power of the House.

Sec. 308. Requiring Congressional Research Service to provide rapid response short fact sheets.

Sec. 309. Establishing nonpartisan constituent engagement and services page on HouseNet.

 

TITLE IV—MAKING THE HOUSE ACCESSIBLE TO ALL

Sec. 401. Ensuring accessibility of House websites.

Sec. 402. Close captioning of proceedings; captioning service for videos created by House offices.

Sec. 403. Comprehensive review of accessibility of United States Capitol Buildings and Grounds.

 

TITLE V—IMPROVING ACCESS TO DOCUMENTS AND PUBLICATIONS

Sec. 501. Adopting standardized format for legislative documents.

Sec. 502. Legislation comparison project.

Sec. 503. Database of information on expiration of authorizations of programs.

Sec. 504. Database of votes taken in committees.

 

Created by an overwhelming bipartisan vote at the beginning of the 116th Congress, the Select Committee was tasked to produce recommendations on rules to promote a more modern and efficient Congress; procedures, including the schedule and calendar; policies to develop the next generation of leaders; staff recruitment, diversity, retention, and compensation and benefits; administrative efficiencies, including purchasing, travel, outside services, and shared administrative staff; technology and innovation; and the work of the House Commission on Congressional Mailing Standards.

Since March 2019 the Select Committee has held 16 hearings and numerous Member and staff-level briefings and listening sessions to solicit ideas and recommendations for reforming the legislative branch. On a rolling basis throughout the year, the Select Committee issued recommendations and shared ideas for reform on a bipartisan basis. Last fall, after widespread bipartisan support throughout Capitol Hill, the Select Committee and its work was extended through the end of the 116th Congress. The rule that created the Select Committee originally had it set to expire on February 1, 2020. The extension allows the Select Committee to continue its work proposing bipartisan reforms to make Congress work better for the American people.

116th Congress