Legislation & policy analysis

Modernization committee approves bold, bipartisan recommendations to improve Congress

Issue One Executive Director Meredith McGehee issued the following statement in the wake of the news that the Select Committee on the Modernization of Congress unanimously approved 40 new recommendations today to improve Congress for the American people:

“With this strong package of recommendations, the modernization committee has built upon its earlier momentum to dig deep into innovative solutions to fix the dysfunction in Congress. 

“Amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, protests for racial justice, the approaching election, and now a Supreme Court vacancy, the Select Committee on the Modernization of Congress has accomplished a rare feat. It has cut through an extremely partisan atmosphere and put forth bold, bipartisan proposals to shape Congress into the 21st century institution that Americans deserve. 

“I am especially pleased to see reforms that will improve staff retention and diversity in the House of Representatives. Creating guidelines for staff pay and re-evaluating the Members Representational Allowance will help Congress build much-needed policy capacity and expertise. 

“The recommendations to boost the House’s committee work are equally exciting. By establishing committee-only meeting times, House members may no longer need to be in three places at once. This change will maximize the time spent on thoughtful policymaking. By experimenting with different hearing formats, House members may hear from bipartisan witnesses across the country, instead of the same politico-types inside the Washington, D.C., bubble. 

“The modernization committee’s recommendation on congressionally directed spending reflects the strong interest among rank-and-file members in reclaiming Congress’ Article One power of the purse. It may be time for Congress to convene a bipartisan working group to closely examine this issue. Should Congress go down this path, it must ensure robust transparency and disclosure, and the modernization committee has laid out a promising framework to consider. 

“While the Select Committee on the Modernization of Congress will adjourn at the end of this year, its groundbreaking successes must be carried forward. There should be bipartisan commitments to implement these recommendations in the 117th Congress. A strong democracy needs a functional legislative body. Ultimately, the Select Committee on the Modernization of Congress’ recommendations will strengthen Congress so it can hold its own against the power of the executive branch and better promote the will of the American people.”

Read the full package of recommendations here.