Kilmer Named Chair of Select Committee on the Modernization of Congress
Washington, D.C. – Today, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi named Representative Derek Kilmer (D-WA) Chairman of the new Select Committee on the Modernization of Congress.
After the announcement, Kilmer made the following statement:
“It has been clear for a long time that the House is a fixer-upper. Every time bills are written behind closed doors or passed without debate, every time Americans feel like they don’t have a say and too little is getting done, people lose faith. Congress needs to do better,” Rep. Derek Kilmer said. “This committee represents an important step forward in renovating the House. Americans deserve a Congress where they have a say and things get done. They deserve a Congress that uses cutting-edge technology and that is as diverse as our nation. Americans deserve a Congress that approaches its work in innovative new ways. I’m honored to have been chosen to lead the committee tasked with coming up with the ways to modernize Congress and get it working for the people again.”
In a release announcing Kilmer’s appointment, Speaker Pelosi said:
“It gives me great pride to appoint Congressman Derek Kilmer as the Chair of our new Select Committee on the Modernization of Congress. Congressman Kilmer is an innovator and a pioneer, who has worked relentlessly to make the House more transparent and more responsive to the voices of Members and the American people. His commitment to bipartisanship in the Congress will be vital to this Committee’s work to modernize our institution.
“This November, the American people called for a Congress that would be ethical, transparent, unifying and responsive to their needs and aspirations. The Select Committee on the Modernization of Congress will deliver this promise, and advance a House of Representatives that is diverse, dynamic and oriented toward the future. This Committee will strengthen our institution, recognizing the legislative branch is Article I, the first branch of government, and will help our transformative new class achieve results for the American people.
“With Congressman Kilmer at the helm of this important Select Committee, Democrats will reinvigorate the Congress and return the People’s House to the American 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:
- 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.
- 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.
- CREATE A SELECT COMMITTEE TO MODERNIZE CONGRESS
- Establish a bipartisan select committee to study ways to improve and modernize the operation of Congress.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.