Select Committee Examining Ways to Help New Members Succeed
The Select Committee on the Modernization of Congress (“Select Committee”) today held a hearing to explore best practices and ways to foster leadership training and development for new Members of Congress. “Fostering the Next Generation of Leaders: Setting Members up for Success,” examined key resources, tools and ideas to enhance professional development and support within Capitol Hill. When new Members are elected, they attend a whirlwind orientation process, are required to find and lease district offices, while also figuring out living arrangements in Washington, D.C. This is done without paid support staff and before they are sworn-in to office in January. By examining the current process, identifying ways to best support Members during this transition and creating more opportunities for bipartisan collaboration, Members can have more time to focus on delivering for their constituents once they are sworn-in.
The Select Committee’s two freshmen Members, Reps. Mary Gay Scanlon (D-PA) and William Timmons (R-SC) stepped in as Acting Chair and Vice Chair, a rarely-seen practice on Capitol Hill. Since joining the Select Committee in February, the two freshmen Members have brought new ideas and a fresh perspective to the discussion around reforming and improving the legislative branch. During the Select Committee’s Member Day hearing in March, many of the Members who testified and shared ideas were freshmen. A number of those ideas continue to be discussed and highlighted during the Select Committee’s hearings, meetings, and briefings.
“We were thrilled to hand the reins over to our freshmen colleagues today. Historic in their numbers and diversity, Reps. Scanlon and Timmons bring the collective vibrancy and fresh perspective of the freshman class to our Committee. This hearing provided a lot of ideas on how to better prepare new members of the House to hit the ground running as we take on the biggest challenges facing our country,” said Chair Kilmer and Vice Chair Graves.
“We came to Congress with different backgrounds but with a similar goal, and that’s to solve problems for the American people. By improving the support, resources, and tools available to new Members of Congress, we can help the next generation of leaders get to work as soon as they set foot in our nation’s capital. We thank Chair Kilmer and Vice Chair Graves for their leadership and for giving us this platform to think big and deliver for our constituents and colleagues,” Reps. Scanlon and Timmons said.
Philip Kiko, Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) for the U.S. House of Representatives, Stacy Householder, Director of Leaders’ Services and Legislative Training for the National Conference of State Legislatures, and Richard Shapiro, Former Executive Director of Congressional Management Foundation testified during the committee hearing.
In his role as the CAO for the U.S. House, Mr. Kiko has focused on improving the efficiency and accuracy of U.S. House services for both Members and staff. “Therefore, we, including the CAO, must do everything within our means to support Members and their staff and equip them with the tools and resources they need to succeed in representing an average of 750,000 constituents in each district. We can and must do better to prepare our next generation of leadership,” he said in prepared testimony today.
In addition to procedural training and better Human Resources support, Ms. Householder and Mr. Shapiro highlighted the importance of relationship building and providing bipartisan opportunities for new representatives. “I would argue that the absence of such forums sends an implicit message to new Members and sets a tone that is worth changing,” Mr. Shapiro said in prepared testimony.