Select Committee Holds Hearing to Examine Congressional Debate and Deliberation

Feb 5, 2020
Press Release

Washington, D.C. – Today the Select Committee on the Modernization of Congress (“Select Committee”) held a hearing to explore the impact of increased political polarization and partisanship on Congress’ ability to execute the Article One principle of debate and deliberation. “Article One: Fostering a More Deliberative Process in Congress” was the second hearing this year aimed at exploring ways Congress is not satisfying its constitutional obligations, and how that effects legislating.

“We know there’s a lot of work to do to get Congress working more efficiently and effectively on behalf of the American people. To do that, we have to get to the root of the biggest issues facing the legislative branch. The breakdown we often see in Congress can be traced back to how we listen, learn and communicate with each other. It’s up to us to advocate for bipartisan solutions and the conversation today helped identify more areas for reform,” said Chair Derek Kilmer (D-WA) and Vice Chair Tom Graves (R-GA). 

Dr. Norman Ornstein, resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, discussed various ways to reform committee and subcommittee rules that would allow for varying formats of hearings and debate. This could include conducting committee hearings in a roundtable format, creating more collaboration and face-to-face interaction, or host weekly Oxford-style debates between Members on important issues.

Dr. Carolyn Lukensmeyer, Executive Director Emerita of the National Institute for Civil Discourse, highlighted a number of practices that would incentivize Members to work together across the aisle. Many of these practices have been practiced and encouraged by the Select Committee, including scattered seating by party and reestablishing bipartisan retreats, which the Select Committee recommended unanimously last summer.

Dr. James Curry, associate professor and Director of Graduate Studies in the Department of Political Science at the University of Utah, focused on procedural trends and their overall effect on legislative productiveness.

 

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116th Congress