House Embraces Bipartisan Plan to Improve Congressional Efficiency

March 11, 2020 by Dan McCue
Rep. Derek Kilmer, D-Wash., and Rep. Tom Graves, R-Ga., at a recent meeting of the Select Committee on the Modernization of Congress. (Photo by Dan McCue)

WASHINGTON – The House passed bipartisan legislation Tuesday aimed at making Congress more effective, efficient and transparent.

H. Res. 756, is the brainchild of the Select Committee on the Modernization of Congress, and the product of 16 formal hearings and scores of member- and staff-level briefings and listening sessions.

Also known as the “Moving Our Democracy and Congressional Operations Towards Modernization” Resolution — MODCOM, for short, the measure includes nearly 30 of the Select Committee’s recommendations.

According to a news release from the panel, Tuesday’s vote on the resolution marks the first time in recent memory that a select committee has effectively turned recommendations into legislative action.

“These recommendations are the product of bipartisan collaboration and a commitment to making Congress work better for the American people,” said Rep. Derek Kilmer, D-Wash., chair of the Select Committee.

“These recommendations, though wide-ranging, share a common goal of making Congress more responsive, transparent and accessible for every American,” Kilmer continued. “Today marks the first time in recent history that a committee like ours has turned recommendations into legislative text, and it’s thanks to the collaboration and partnership of Democratic and Republican members.

“I am grateful for their time and commitment to improving the people’s House and I’m hopeful there will be more to come,” he added.

The Select Committee does not have legislative authority, but each committee member co-sponsored the text, led by Kilmer and Rep. Tom Graves, R-Ga., the body’s vice chair, to signal their strong support for delivering real reform in the U.S. House of Representatives. 

The recommendations, listed below, will now be implemented by the House:

TITLE I—STREAMLINING AND REORGANIZING HUMAN RESOURCES

Sec. 101. Centralized human resources program.

Sec. 102. Reports on operation of Office of Diversity and Inclusion.

Sec. 103. Examining feasibility of updating staff payroll system.

Sec. 104. Examining feasibility of adjusting the statutory limitation on number of employees of Member offices.

TITLE II—IMPROVING ORIENTATION FOR MEMBERS-ELECT AND PROVIDING IMPROVED CONTINUING EDUCATION OPPORTUNITIES FOR MEMBERS

Sec. 201. Plan for providing pay and benefits to staff of new Members-elect.

Sec. 202. Improving the orientation experience of new Members.

Sec. 203. Exploring the feasibility of establishing a Congressional Leadership Academy.

Sec. 204. Requiring annual cybersecurity training for Members and employees.

TITLE III—MODERNIZING AND REVITALIZING TECHNOLOGY

Sec. 301. Reforming House Information Resources.

Sec. 302. Providing technologies to improve constituent engagement.

Sec. 303. Streamlined approval process for outside technology vendors.

Sec. 304. Enabling Member offices to beta test new technologies.

Sec. 305. Creating a single point of contact between House offices and HIR.

Sec. 306. Improving Member feedback regarding outside vendors and HIR services.

Sec. 307. Leveraging bulk purchasing power of the House.

Sec. 308. Requiring Congressional Research Service to provide rapid response, short fact sheets.

Sec. 309. Establishing nonpartisan constituent engagement and services page on HouseNet.

TITLE IV—MAKING THE HOUSE ACCESSIBLE TO ALL

Sec. 401. Ensuring accessibility of House websites.

Sec. 402. Closed captioning of proceedings; captioning service for videos created by House offices.

Sec. 403. Comprehensive review of accessibility of United States Capitol Buildings and Grounds.

TITLE V—IMPROVING ACCESS TO DOCUMENTS AND PUBLICATIONS

Sec. 501. Adopting standardized format for legislative documents.

Sec. 502. Legislation comparison project.

Sec. 503. Database of information on expiration of authorizations of programs.

Sec. 504. Database of votes taken in committees.

Created by an overwhelming bipartisan vote at the beginning of the 116th Congress, the Select Committee was tasked with producing recommendations on rules to promote a more modern and efficient Congress by looking at, and formulating improvement for, its processes and policies.

Since then, the Select Committee has issued bipartisan recommendations and shared ideas for reform on a rolling basis throughout the year

The rule that created the Select Committee was originally set to expire on Feb. 1, 2020.

Last fall, after widespread bipartisan support throughout Capitol Hill, the Select Committee and its work was extended through the end of the 116th Congress. 

Congress

Rep. Himes Says ‘The Threat is Real’
Political News
Rep. Himes Says ‘The Threat is Real’
February 26, 2021
by Tom Ramstack

WASHINGTON -- A congressional panel wants to cut off funding for the kind of White supremacists who raided the U.S. Capitol building Jan. 6. They described the attack as the first of many against government targets unless they act promptly to stop them. “This threat is... Read More

Mandates Needed to Keep Big Tech in Check
Antitrust
Mandates Needed to Keep Big Tech in Check
February 26, 2021
by Victoria Turner

Congress needs to create mandates to curb the abusive power exerted by a handful of online platforms, according to all six witnesses at a Capitol Hill hearing on Thursday. During the hearing, members of a House Judiciary subcommittee grappled with solutions to address the ability of... Read More

Filibuster, Cloture to Play Out in Biden Agenda
Congress
Filibuster, Cloture to Play Out in Biden Agenda
February 26, 2021
by Reece Nations

WASHINGTON — The Senate cloture rule might be the biggest Legislative obstacle in front of President Joe Biden’s policy agenda.  Simply put, the cloture rule is a debate-limiting procedure that requires 60 Senators to agree before moving on to a vote. This rule is the only... Read More

House to Vote on Virus Bill; Arbiter Says Wage Hike a No-Go
U.S. Senate
House to Vote on Virus Bill; Arbiter Says Wage Hike a No-Go

WASHINGTON (AP) — Democrats are ready to shove a $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief package through the House on Friday, despite a setback that means a minimum wage boost is unlikely to be in the final version that reaches President Joe Biden.A near party-line vote seemed certain... Read More

House Votes to Expand Legal Safeguards for LGBTQ People
Civil Rights
House Votes to Expand Legal Safeguards for LGBTQ People

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Democratic-led House passed a bill Thursday that would enshrine LGBTQ protections in the nation's labor and civil rights laws, a top priority of President Joe Biden, though the legislation faces an uphill battle in the Senate.The bill passed by a vote of... Read More

GOP Rallies Solidly Against Democrats' Virus Relief Package
Congress
GOP Rallies Solidly Against Democrats' Virus Relief Package

WASHINGTON (AP) — Republicans rallied solidly against Democrats' proposed $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief bill as lawmakers awaited a decision by the Senate's parliamentarian that could bolster or potentially kill a pivotal provision hiking the federal minimum wage.  Despite their paper-thin congressional majorities, Democratic leaders were poised to push... Read More

News From The Well
scroll top