01.29.19

Chairman Kilmer Statement on Speaker Pelosi’s Appointments to the Select Committee on the Modernization of Congress

Washington, D.C.—Today, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi appointed the following Members of Congress to the Select Committee on the Modernization of Congress, which is chaired by Rep. Derek Kilmer (D-WA). The Members are:

  • Congressman Emanuel Cleaver of Missouri
  • Congresswoman Suzan DelBene of Washington
  • Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren of California
  • Congressman Mark Pocan of Wisconsin
  • Congresswoman Mary Gay Scanlon of Pennsylvania

Following the announcement, Rep. Kilmer said:

 “It’s clear now, more than ever, that the House is a fixer-upper.  Americans deserve a government that works. I am excited to get to work with my Democratic colleagues who got appointed to the Select Committee on the Modernization of Congress and look forward to the appointment of Republicans in the coming days.  My colleagues bring diverse backgrounds and perspectives to the Committee, and they have a proven track record of increasing transparency in government.  Soon the Committee will work across the aisle to create bipartisan, lasting change to modernize Congress and get it working for the people again.”

 In a press release announcing the appointments, Speaker Pelosi said:

“It is a great privilege to name these outstanding Members of Congress to the House’s new Select Committee on the Modernization of Congress. Our new Members are pioneers and innovators with proven track records of achievement in making our institution more transparent, unifying and responsive to the needs and aspirations of the American people.  With Congressman Kilmer at the head of the table, this Select Committee will strengthen and reinvigorate our institution, advancing a House of Representatives that is diverse, dynamic, oriented toward the future and committed to delivering results For The People.”

 The Select Committee was created in a package of House rules changes that was spearheaded by Rep. Jim McGovern. Kilmer and members of the New Democrat Coalition, a group Kilmer chairs, worked closely with McGovern to give input on the final House rules package that created the Select Committee.

 The House rules package includes the following changes for which Rep. Derek Kilmer and the New Democrat Coalition advocated:

  1. RETURN TO REGULAR ORDER
    • Require bills that go through the Rules Committee to have a hearing and a markup before they go to the floor. 
  1. PROVIDE EVERY MEMBER WITH A VOICE
  • Require committees to hold a Member Day hearing, where all Members—regardless of their tenure or position—are provided the opportunity to publicly present their legislative ideas and proposals in an open hearing.
  1. CREATE A SELECT COMMITTEE TO MODERNIZE CONGRESS
    • Establish a bipartisan select committee to study ways to improve and modernize the operation of Congress.
  1. TIME TO READ THE BILL
    • Require bill text to be available for 72 hours before the bill can proceed to the House Floor for a vote. This will ensure Members have adequate time to read and understand legislation before casting their votes.
    • The current House rule only requires slightly more than 24 hours of availability.
  1. REFORM THE MOTION TO VACATE THE CHAIR
    • Reform the motion to vacate the chair to a more thoughtful process in order to prevent the Speaker from being held hostage by a single Member.
  1. MODERNIZE THE DISCHARGE PETITION
    • Allow discharge petitions to be considered under a 3-day notice process similar to privileged resolutions, in order to facilitate their use and effectiveness, while still requiring 218 signatures.‘

 Earlier this year, New Democrat Coalition Members sent a letter urging the House Rules Committee to adopt rules that will promote more bipartisanship and consensus building. This letter, led by Kilmer, outlined principles to restore the democratic process to give constituents a voice in the nation’s capital again.

 Kilmer also outlined some of his process reform ideas in an op-ed for Time early last year.