December 19, 2019

Select Committee Unanimously Approves Third Round of Recommendations

Washington, D.C. – Today the Select Committee on the Modernization of Congress (“Select Committee”) passed its third round of bipartisan recommendations aimed to make Congress work better for the American people. The recommendations were crafted to boost civility and bipartisanship in the House, save taxpayer dollars and increase the quality of constituent communication. The recommendations, 16 in total, passed unanimously.

“Since this committee was created, our mission has been to craft bipartisan solutions to make Congress work better for the people we serve. After today, we have a total of 45 bipartisan ideas that would improve the functions of the House, help Members better communicate with their constituents, encourage civility and bipartisanship throughout the House, and save taxpayer dollars, among other critical improvements that could be made to the People’s House,” said Chair Derek Kilmer (D-WA) and Vice Chair Tom Graves (R-GA). “We are grateful for the continued support this committee has received throughout the year and are ready to hit the ground running in 2020 to turn our recommendations into results.”

The approved recommendations can be seen below:

Encouraging Civility and Bipartisanship in Congress

  1. Create a bipartisan Members-only space in the Capitol to encourage more collaboration across party lines.
  2. Institute biennial bipartisan retreats for Members and their families at the start of each Congress.
  3. Update committee policies to increase bipartisan learning opportunities for staff.
  4. Establish bipartisan committee staff briefings and agenda-setting retreats to encourage better policy making and collaboration among Members.

Streamlining Processes and Saving Taxpayer Dollars

  1. Update House procedures to allow members to electronically add or remove their name as a bill cosponsor.
  2. Require Members to undergo emergency preparedness training to ensure our government is fully prepared in the event of a crisis.
  3. Identify ways the House and Senate can streamline purchases and save taxpayer dollars.
  4. Encourage House-wide bulk purchasing of goods and services to cut back on waste and inefficiency.
  5. Update travel expenditure policies to improve efficiencies, and boost accountability and transparency.

Increasing the quality of constituent communication

  1. Consolidate the regulations governing Member office communications, including digital communications, into one easy to find place.
  2. Rename the House Commission on Mailing Standards, also known as the Franking Commission, the House Communications Standards Commission to reflect 21st Century communications.
  3. Increase opportunities for constituents to communicate with their Representatives.
  4. Increase accountability and tracking for all Member-sponsored communications mail.
  5. Allow for faster correspondence between Representatives and their constituents.
  6. Update House social media rules to allow for better communication online between Members of Congress and their followers.
  7. Allow the public to better access and view the types of communication sent by Members of Congress to their constituents. 

Last week, the Select Committee introduced legislation (H.Res. 756) to implement the 29 bipartisan recommendations that passed out of the Select Committee earlier this year. The text specifically addresses five sections of reform which include: Streamlining And Reorganizing Human Resources, Improving Orientation for Members-Elect and Providing Improved Continuing Education Opportunities For Members, Modernizing and Revitalizing Technology, Making the House Accessible to All, and Improving Access to Documents and Publications. 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 Select Committee will work with the Committee on House Administration and other relevant committees of jurisdiction to see these recommendations implemented once the legislation passes the House. 

About the Select Committee

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 the Select Committee has held 14 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 month, 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.