For the past two years, the Modernization Committee pursued its work diligently. It held 16 congressional hearings and six virtual discussions, and listened to the complaints and advice from legislators, experts, and the private sector. Last month, the panel issued a report with 97 recommendations. Among other improvements, these reforms would improve communications between the public and legislators, upgrade the clunky technology that legislators and staff use, repair the broken budget process, and better train legislators and staff to govern.
Perhaps most impressively, the Modernization Committee ran in a manner that serves as a model to other committees. It was the rare place where the public could watch legislators work in a bipartisan fashion free from gaslighting and political drama. The panel leaders, Representative Derek Kilmer and recently retired Representative Tom Graves, operated as equals. The six Democrats and six Republicans on the committee collaboratively selected the topics of hearings, and worked to achieve unanimity in every recommendation issued.
Congress is not yet fixed. The Modernization Committee recommendations are just that. They are recommendations and the work of translating them into action remains to be done. There are also an enormous number of anachronisms and inefficiencies that the panel has not had the opportunity to study. This is why the Modernization Committee should be authorized to continue its work throughout the new Congress. Or, better yet, the Democrats could propose making it permanent.