Effort to Modernize Congress Given Vote of Confidence

Thursday, the U.S. House of Representatives voted to extend the Select Committee on the Modernization of Congress (“Modernization Committee”) through the end of the next calendar year to continue its work delivering bipartisan reforms to make Congress work better for the American people.

“I’m proud of the work of the Committee so far, unanimously approving 29 bipartisan recommendations to increase transparency, modernize Congress, and get it working for the American people again,” said Representative Kilmer (WA-06), Chairman of the Committee. “Congress is a fixer-upper, and I’ll be pushing for additional reforms to make sure it can better solve problems for the American people. I’m grateful to my colleagues, House leadership, civic groups and the American people for this vote of confidence in our work and for ensuring the progress continues over the next year.”

Speaker Nancy Pelosi issued this statement announcing the extension of the Select Committee on the Modernization of Congress:

“Our Democratic Majority came to Congress committed to restoring ethics, integrity and accountability to government, and guided by Chairman Derek Kilmer and the Select Committee on the Modernization of Congress, we have made great progress to ensure Washington works for the American people.  We are pleased to announce the extension of this vital Committee, so that it can continue to deliver results for the American people, today and into the future.  

“Under Chairman Kilmer’s bold, forward-looking leadership, the Select Committee has advanced innovative, bipartisan solutions to make the House of Representatives more transparent, diverse, efficient and responsive to the needs of all our Members, staff and constituents.  In the House and on the Committee, Chairman Kilmer has been a relentless advocate for smart, effective government, and his commitment to bipartisanship is ensuring that the voices of all Americans are heard in the halls of Congress.    

“In extending the Select Committee on the Modernization of Congress, the House reaffirms the importance of its vital work, and its essential role in House Democrats’ mission: fighting For The People.”

House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer released the following statement today on the extension of the House Select Committee on the Modernization of Congress:  

“Since Democrats took control of the House earlier this year, one of our highest priorities has been to make Congress more open, transparent, and accountable.  The Select Committee on the Modernization of Congress has been integral to this effort, and Chairman Derek Kilmer and Vice Chair Tom Graves have worked hard to ensure that the process has been bipartisan and innovative.  They have already passed two substantive packages of recommendations, both on unanimous, bipartisan votes. I look forward to them adding to their list of twenty-nine specific recommendations.  I’m pleased we will extend this Committee and continue working to ensure that Members and staff of the House reflect the diversity of this country, that they are able to do their jobs in the most effective way possible with the best tools and technology, and that we are maintaining the highest standards of ethics.

“As part of this modernization effort, I’ve been proud to introduce new tools for Members, staff, and the public to access the House and learn about its work, such as the DomeWatch app, House Democrats’ Resume Bank, and innovative hackathons. I look forward to continuing to work with Chairman Kilmer and my Democratic colleagues to make new strides in opening up the people’s House to the American people through modernization.”   

There has been widespread bipartisan support for the Modernization Committee’s extension. Last week, leaders of the Republican Study Committee and the New Democrat Coalition, representing 249 Members of Congress, sent a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi requesting the Modernization Committee be extended. Earlier this week, nearly 40 freshmen Members of Congress sent a letter to House leadership expressing their support for the committee’s work and extension through the 116th Congress. The Association of Former Members of Congress, and leaders from organizations nationwide committed to advancing bipartisanship and reform in Congress, also sent a letter to Speaker Pelosi in support of the Modernization Committee’s work earlier this month. 

In a Nov. 6 letter, a coalition of groups, including Bipartisan Policy Center Action, Congressional Management Foundation, Issue One, Demand Progress, Partnership for Public Service and others wrote, “These efforts to modernize Congress are an excellent start, but more work is needed to ensure a responsive, modern and accountable legislature.” 

Created by an overwhelming bipartisan vote at the beginning of the 116th Congress, the Modernization 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 Modernization Committee has held 12 hearings and numerous Member and staff-level briefings and listening sessions to solicit ideas and recommendations for reforming the legislative branch. Over the past six months, the Modernization Committee has issued 29 recommendations to increase transparency in Congress by making congressional operations and legislative updates more accessible and understandable for the American people; improve the way Members of Congress can communicate and connect with their constituents; improve the ability to recruit and retain capable staff; enhance accessibility in the House for Americans with disabilities, and; overhaul the current onboarding and education processes for new and current Members of Congress.