We have followed the work of the House Select Committee on the Modernization of Congress with great interest. Since serving together in the United States Senate, both of us have been focused on the kinds of reforms that the Select Committee is charged with considering. Each of us has written a book recommending institutional changes that would help Congress better serve the American people.
The Select Committee has done outstanding work. Everyday Americans are also impressed. The National Institute for Civil Discourse (NICD) recently released a poll on the Select Committee’s work. The survey was unique in a few ways. First, in this era of partisan polarization, we found overwhelming consensus. Each of the 97 Select Committee recommendations that we asked about were supported by at least 65 percent of the respondents. The vast majority of the recommendations received more than three-quarters support.
Several Select Committee recommendations garnered nearly unanimous support, including several reforms for which we have long advocated. For example, 97 percent of respondents support creating more full working days by reducing travel time in the congressional calendar. Today, most weeks in session begin on Tuesday morning and end on Thursday afternoon when most members travel back to their district or state. Poll respondents were particularly supportive of a schedule with two full work weeks in session, followed by a full work week back in members’ districts.
Creating more time for members of Congress to form constructive relationships across the aisle is one of several advantages to changing the congressional calendar. Modifying the schedule is one of 13 recommendations the Select Committee has made to foster greater bipartisanship and civility. Considered together, 98 percent of survey participants support these 13 reforms.