December 21, 2020

Modernization Committee Extended Through 117th Congress

Washington, D.C. – Today, U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced that the Select Committee on the Modernization of Congress (“Select Committee”) will be extended through the 117th Congress. Created by an overwhelming bipartisan vote at the beginning of the 116th Congress, the Select Committee was tasked with crafting recommendations to make Congress work better. Over the last two years, under the leadership of Chair Derek Kilmer (D-WA) and Vice Chair Tom Graves (R-GA), Democrats and Republicans on the Select Committee have worked together to pass 97 recommendations to make Congress more effective, efficient, accessible, and transparent for the American people. Speaker Pelosi’s announcement today ensures the committee’s bipartisan work can continue.

“As Speaker of the House, it is a privilege to once again appoint Congressman Derek Kilmer as Chairman of the Select Committee on the Modernization of Congress where he will continue his respected, effective work For The People,” said Speaker Nancy Pelosi.  “Chairman Kilmer is a leader and innovator, whose integrity and vision have guided the Select Committee in its efforts to advance bipartisan solutions to make the House more transparent, efficient and responsive to the needs of our communities.  Strengthened by the historic diversity and dynamism of the 117th Congress, Chairman Kilmer and Members of the Select Committee will continue to champion the best ideas that ensure that the People’s House can carry on its vital work now and for years to come.”

“Through bipartisan collaboration and a commitment to reform, I’m proud that this Committee has approved nearly 100 recommendations over the course of the last year and a half to make Congress work better for the American people.  But our work is only getting started,” said Chair Kilmer. “I’m grateful for the Speaker’s support and the extension of the Select Committee through the 117th Congress.  Together, Democrats and Republicans can continue to work together and make government function better for the folks we serve.”

The 97 recommendations passed by the Select Committee aim to make Congress work better for the American people; streamlining and reorganizing House Human Resources, overhauling the onboarding process and providing continuing education for Members; modernizing and revitalizing House technology; making the House accessible to all Americans; encouraging civility and bipartisanship in Congress; streamlining processes and saving taxpayer dollars; increasing the quality of constituent communications; improving continuity of operations; improving the congressional schedule and calendar; boosting congressional capacity; reclaiming Congress’ Article One responsibilities, and; reforming the budget and appropriations process.

In March, the House passed H. Res. 756, the Select Committee’s resolution to implement nearly 30 of these recommendations. In total, the House has implemented 38 of the Select Committee’s recommendations, including the most recent during New Member Orientation to allow for a paid transition staffer.

Many outside experts, congressional scholars and groups committed to congressional reform have shared their support for the committee’s extension. A few highlights can be seen below:

Letter to House leadership signed by more than 50 groups and individuals committed to congressional reform: “We write to encourage the House of Representatives to re-establish the House Select Committee on the Modernization of Congress in the 117th Congress. The Select Committee made great strides during the 116th Congress toward improving the House of Representatives, as demonstrated by its in-depth hearings and nearly 100 recommendations, many of which were enacted by the House. The Select Committee demonstrated it is an effective model to further reform in the House and we believe it should be afforded the opportunity to build upon its successes and tackle additional issues.”

Meredith McGehee, Executive Director, Issue One: “The Select Committee on the Modernization of Congress, which was created almost two years ago, was tasked with investigating and improving legislative operations. Despite gridlock in Congress, this bipartisan panel, with six Democrats and six Republicans, issued nearly 100 unanimous recommendations to make the branch more functional, accessible, transparent, representative, and technological. These recommendations were an excellent start toward helping Congress better fulfill its constitutional role. But much more has to be done. Given its limited time, the panel focused on solutions that had strong consensus among members. There is a greater task at hand with how to tackle more controversial, but just as necessary, systemic issues in Congress.”

Mark Strand and Timothy Lang, President and Research Director, Congressional Institute: “Despite the various factors arrayed against the Select Committee, it produced results. The House gave the Select Committee an incredibly wide jurisdiction, allowing it to make recommendations on virtually every aspect of the legislative process. That’s a daunting job description. The Select Committee took this task and succeeded in issuing 97 recommendations. These recommendations touched on areas like how Congress can discharge its constitutional duties more effectively, how it can make better use of technology, how it can create a more meaningful budget process, and how the Legislative Branch can be more transparent with the public. The Select Committee deserves special recognition for being the first congressional reform committee to see any of its recommendations adopted while the committee was still meeting.”

Michele Stockwell, Senior Vice President, Bipartisan Policy Center: “The Modernization Committee and its members have rightly earned accolades, and their work could not be more important in a time when faith in government institutions is low. We should trust the committee and its members’ judgment that there are significant areas which still require attention, allow them to continue their work, and extend the committee with robust resources in the 117th Congress.”

Grant Tudor, Policy Advocate, Protect Democracy: The Modernization Committee, under celebrated leadership, has made strenuous efforts to involve members across the institution in its work. It has demonstrably committed to careful study and deliberation of ideas — and worked collaboratively with the committees responsible for implementing its 97 proposals. To cut its lifespan short now would be to terminate a worthwhile experiment that seems to be on a different path than its predecessors. The politics of change never suggest good odds, especially at the Capitol. And the congressional history of select committees that push through big changes don't enjoy rosy histories. Reauthorizing the Modernization Committee would signal support for a different, smarter approach.”

Brad Fitch, President & CEO, Congressional Management Foundation: “In our four decades of working with Congress, the CMF has rarely seen a group of legislators work so closely together to astutely assess a public policy need, analyze the implications, and chart a course that benefits both the institution and the constituents it serves. CMF urges you to extend or make permanent the mandate of the House Select Committee on the Modernization of 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. On October 14, 2020, the Select Committee released its final report for the 116th Congress, which details all 97 recommendations and the committee’s research, conversations with experts, staff and Members throughout its two year lifespan. You can read the full report here.

You can learn more about the Select Committee here.

You can follow updates from the Select Committee on Twitter here.