On Capitol Hill, ideas come cheap. Every member, staffer, lobbyist, and constituent has a policy proposal, many of them good. But two factors have distinguished the 97 recommendations put forward by the Select Committee on the Modernization of Congress. First, these recommendations were advanced by the bipartisan modernization committee with unanimous support. And now, instead of gathering dust like so many of Capitol Hill’s best ideas, the select committee is turning these recommendations into reality.
According to the latest progress report from the committee, 20 of its first suite of recommendations from the 116th Congress have been fully implemented. These include important developments like the creation of a human resources hub for staff (recommendation #6), the permanent establishment of the House Office of Diversity & Inclusion (#7), and decoupling staff pay from member pay (#70).
Issue One helped push for the creation of the modernization committee, and has since worked closely with its members and staff to inform and advance its recommendations. We are excited to see all the progress made by the committee towards a legislative branch that is effective, transparent, and representative.
Other recommendations have seen meaningful progress and are trending toward implementation. Language supporting a biennial bipartisan retreat for members (#97) was included in this year’s House Appropriations package. The adoption of the e-signature platform Quill has brought the House one step closer to using digital signatures for the majority of House business (#54). And the Congressional Staff Academy is moving ahead with a broad range of training and mentorship programs for staff, including certification programs (#63).
Thirty-four of the modernization committee’s recommendations have yet to see meaningful movement. Many of these focus on deeply entrenched procedures and institutions of Congress, including budget processes, appropriations reforms, and committee operations. Issue One intends to work with the committee to advance these recommendations, as well as the 20 new recommendations from the current legislative session.
We know the work is far from done. But the modernization committee is already making a meaningful difference in the way that Congress empowers members, supports staff, and serves constituents. It has done so while setting an increasingly rare example of productive bipartisanship. And this deserves celebration.