The new Subcommittee on Modernization was established to advance solutions for a more efficient, effective, and responsive House of Representatives. For four years, the bipartisan Select Committee on the Modernization of Congress was tasked with identifying opportunities to improve the functionality of the House, taking on a wide array of issues from congressional scheduling to modernizing technology. One of the Select Committee’s leading recommendations was to institute a permanent body in the House to lead implementation initiatives in the 118th Congress and onward.
1. What is the Subcommittee on Modernization?
Announced at the beginning of the 118th Congress, the Subcommittee on Modernization — housed under the Committee on House Administration — is tasked with making the first branch more effective and efficient for the American people. The subcommittee deals with matters related to modernizing the House of Representatives and the legislative branch, as well as overseeing the implementation of reform and innovation initiatives, as described in the Rules of the Committee on House Administration for the 118th Congress.
2. What is the value of the Subcommittee?
Through public hearings, outreach to members and staff, discussions with institutional support offices, and in consultation with diverse internal and external congressional experts, the subcommittee will continue to advance a framework of action and implementation to strengthen Congress. Some of the priorities include improving staff retention, staff recruitment, fostering bipartisan collaboration, and improving constituent engagement and constituent services. The subcommittee is in charge of implementing the 202 recommendations identified by the sunsetted select committee. It is also charged with identifying new ideas to overcome dysfunction and continue to make the House a more efficient and effective institution.
3. Who are the members serving on the subcommittee?
The subcommittee is led by Chairwoman Stephanie Bice (R-OK) and Ranking Member Derek Kilmer (D-WA), who previously chaired the select committee. Also serving on the subcommittee are Representatives Mike Carey (R-OH) and Joe Morelle (D-NY).
In a departure from most congressional committees and subcommittees, seats on the subcommittee are evenly divided between Democrats and Republicans, continuing a tradition set by the select committee and emphasizing the bipartisan nature of congressional reform.
4. What has the subcommittee accomplished so far and what should we expect?
The foundation of the subcommittee are the 202 recommendations previously passed by the select committee — with 53 recommendations fully implemented or resolved, 36 partially implemented, and 51 in progress toward implementation. These partially implemented solutions are likely to be the subcommittee’s first point of focus. Some of the recommendations in motion are automating the process of obtaining cosponsors in legislation, facilitating constituent service events with nongovernmental organizations, and connecting constituents with community organizations and resources. As of this writing, the subcommittee has conducted two hearings focused on the Chief Administrative Office and the Congressional Research Service. In addition, the subcommittee continues to work with civil society groups — particularly the Fix Congress Cohort network — to receive feedback and learn from congressional experts and scholars.
5. Why does congressional reform matter?
An April report from the Pew Research Center found that roughly seven-in-ten Americans (72%) said they have an unfavorable view of Congress; just 26% said they have a favorable opinion. In light of this, the newly permanent subcommittee can help tackle the many issues that plague the institution. A more functional, transparent, representative, and effective Congress is in the best interest of every American and our democracy. Initiatives and projects to modernize the legislative branch better the lives of the American people — either by bolstering trust through faster communications and improved constituent services, empowering congressional oversight capacity to bring greater transparency and accountability, and improving accessibility and services to meet the everyday needs of our communities.