June 17, 2021

Select Committee Examines Ways to Build A More Civil and Cooperative Congress

The first hearing, in a two-part series, examined the sources of political polarization and methods to improve collaboration throughout Congress

Chair Derek Kilmer (D-WA) and Vice Chair William Timmons (R-SC) of the Select Committee on the Modernization of Congress (“Select Committee”) held a hearing to examine efforts to improve collaboration and civility in Congress and to understand better the various factors and societal trends that have contributed to the high levels of polarization in Congress.

“This is the first organization in which I’ve worked in that does not have a widely embraced mission or set of goals. Congress often feels like 435 independent contractors that appear to be in a high stakes competition for market share. The incentives are often not to build and fix the institution but rather to bash it,” said Chair Kilmer. “Much of what vexes the institution is not failures in rules and procedures but the breakdown of norms and a rather toxic corporate culture.”

“Making Congress more civil and more collaborative is one of the most important things that this Committee can do to ensure we are better serving the American people,” said Vice Chair Timmons. “Finding opportunities to spend more time with our colleagues and engage in substantial, policy-based conversations will play an essential role in improving this institution.”

During the hearing titled “Building a More Civil and Collaborative Culture in Congress” the members heard from Yuval Levin, the Director of Social, Cultural, and Constitutional Studies at the American Enterprise Institute and Molly Reynolds, a Senior Fellow in Governance Studies at the Brookings Institute and discussed methods to foster civility and bipartisanship.

The Committee also employed newly adopted rules and conducted the hearing in a roundtable format. The members all sat around a conference table with the witnesses to encourage thoughtful discussion and engagement.

“Instead of generating interesting debate and good ideas, hearings too often promote political posturing and sound bites for social media,” said Chair Kilmer. “So, the Select Committee is trying something different today with how we structure this hearing. Our goal is to encourage thoughtful discussion and the civil exchange of ideas and opinions. The ability to look right at each other when speaking and when listening matters.”


You can watch the full hearing HERE.

Read the full hearing transcript at the link below: