Against all Odds

“We’re an 18th-century institution using 20th-century technology to solve 21st-century problems,” Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.), who is in her eighth term.

Against that background, the House Select Committee on the Modernization of Congress is working  in temporary office space with only 2 fulltime staff positions and a long history of establishing select committees to tackle tough issues that lawmakers are unwilling to deal with through regular order, only for these temporary panels to end their work in gridlock or see their recommendations buried in dustbins.

Maybe not this time.

“I think the American people certainly see a lot of what happens here and think, ‘Dear God, why is it this broken?’ ” said Rep. Derek Kilmer (D-Wash.), the chairman of the 12-member panel, on which Democrats and Republicans have an equal number of seats.

“People want that purpose and fulfillment in doing their job. There is a longing to do it,” Rep. Tom Graves (Ga.), the top Republican on the committee, said during the first joint interview the two have done.

Paul Kane of The Washington Post thinks this time is different.

One lesson was to roll out recommendations once there is unity, rather than waiting to release one final report. So, the modernization panel unanimously approved and released five transparency suggestions last Thursday. One proposal calls for a unified software program to ease the process of tracking changes that have been made to legislative text, from committee rooms to the House floor.

“People really want to work together,” Graves said. “There is a strong yearning and desire for bipartisan outcomes and results.”

We’ll see.

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1 year ago

Good link Pat although I share your skepticism. Scheduling changes to help member’s actually do their jobs are simple enough that you wonder why it hasn’t been done before.

One thing I notice is how Tom Graves continues to do some of the dirty work within the House and party structure. His politics are moss-backed and I still wouldn’t loan him any money but he’s earning my respect for how he’s gone about the nuts and bolts of his job.

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