A Modern Congress Is Possible One Step At A Time
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
September 24, 2020
CONTACT: Daniel Schuman, policy director, Demand Progress, [email protected], 240-237-3930
Washington, DC — Today, the Select Committee on the Modernization of Congress (SCOMC) released 40 recommendations aimed at strengthening the House’s legislative operations and restoring its Article I authorities. This is the fifth and final package unanimously reported by the Select Committee, which brings the total count of bipartisan recommendations to 97.
The latest set of recommendations contains some of the committee’s biggest ideas, including:
- Reforming the Congressional calendar to maximize full working days and dedicated time for committee deliberations
- Addressing staff capacity by updating the Members Representational Allowance (MRA) formula, creating voluntary staff pay bands, and improving staff training
- Strengthening committee oversight by creating an office of legal counsel, addressing how the Court resolves inter-branch disputes, and providing greater policy support to staff by restoring the Office of Technology Assessment
- Strengthening member collaboration by restoring capacity to support legislative service organizations
- Studying the consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic and appropriately address staffing levels in the Office of the Clerk, address expenses related to floor operations (including e-processes); and provide additional systems and technology support for e-processes
- Creating a stronger budget and appropriations process and heightened enforcement for Congressional spending decisions
- Improving technology inside the House by creating a Congressional Digital Service Task Force + transforming the Bulk Data Task Force into the permanent Congressional Data Task Force
“The House Select Committee on the Modernization of Congress is a tremendous success and its final 40 bipartisan recommendations, should they be implemented, would in the aggregate make the House of Representatives more effective in conducting its legislative, oversight, and constituent service responsibilities,” said Daniel Schuman, policy director, at Demand Progress. “In particular, the Modernization Committee’s recommendations that address staff retention, technology modernization, and support for the deliberative process represent a big step forward and we hope the House will put them into effect.”
The Modernization Committee held 16 hearings, multiple virtual discussions, and numerous Member and staff-level briefing and listening sessions to foster ideas for reforming the legislative branch. The SCOMC was originally set to expire in February 2020, however, after releasing almost 30 unanimous recommendations in its first eight months, stakeholders on Capitol Hill saw the value of the committee’s work and agreed to extend its tenure to the end of the 116th Congress.
H.Res. 965, the resolution that incorporated the committee’s first 29 recommendations, overwhelmingly passed the House in March 2020. The committee’s continued bipartisan work on topics ranging from Article 1 powers, Congressional capacity and operations, budget and appropriations, and technology and continuity are strong indicators that this kind of model is worth continuing.
“We applaud the Committee’s consistent and strong work and hope that, while the committee is on the verge of sunsetting and this eighteen month long experiment in rehabilitating the House is coming to a close, lawmakers and leaders on Capitol Hill will create a permanent space for this work to continue,” said Daniel Schuman.
Demand Progress supports the Select Committee’s mission, and broader efforts to modernize Congress. This month we released a report containing 129 House Rules reform recommendations aimed at improving the Chamber’s ability to serve the American public, as well as an abridged report spotlighting the top 13 recommendations. Here is our testimony before the Select Committee.