The U.S. Congress could begin operating in more modern ways, if a just-created committee has the impact leaders hope.
House members voted this week on an overwhelmingly bipartisan basis to create a Select Committee on the Modernization of Congress — an idea similar to one proposed in 2016 by U.S. Rep. Darin LaHood, R-Peoria, and U.S. Rep. Dan Lipinski, D-Western Springs.
“During my tenure in Congress, I have seen the dysfunction of Washington first-hand. However, the facts show us that this dysfunction has stretched for decades — regardless of which party has been in control. When the governing process fails to function, reform is necessary," LaHood said in a statement about the proposal.
He noted that portions of his original proposal were included in the final version that passed the House on a vote of 418-12.
Lipinski, a former professor of American government, said in a statement that “Congressional dysfunction increasingly turns more power over to the president and to the courts, which takes power away from the people."
The legislation isn't identical to what LaHood and Lipinski wanted. They sought a joint committee, including Senate members in the deliberations, which could have smoothed the process of adopting any final proposals. A similar process was used in 1946, 1970 and 1995.
The one approved this week will instead feature six Democrats and six Republicans from the House only, who will be charged with investigating and studying options to modernize Congress and the legislative process, including rules, procedures and schedules.
It will also examine “policies to develop the next generation of leaders; staff recruitment, diversity, retention, and compensation and benefits; administrative efficiencies, including purchasing, travel, outside services, and shared administrative staff; technology and innovation," according to the text of the legislation.
Members have to approve any proposed changes on a two-thirds vote. The panel will be chaired by Washington state Democratic U.S. Rep. Derek Kilmer.