Improving the House’s rules is the focus of a new letter and white paper released today. It’s no secret that Congress is struggling; these reforms are aimed at making it easier for Members to legislate, conduct oversight, and address constituent concerns.
The letter sets out 10 principles for reforming the House rules, endorsed by 20 organizations and 8 experts on Congress. The white paper contains scores of specific reforms: from addressing staff retention to improving the committee process, from giving Congress access to first class technology to rethinking the ethics process. It reflects more than a year of soliciting and synthesizing ideas from members of congress, staff, and experts on Congress.
On Thursday the Rules Committee will hear Members testify on what rules reforms they would like to see adopted, and in a few short months the House will vote. Process determines policy, and this is a once-in-a-decade opportunity to level the playing field.
The white paper is here: https://s3.amazonaws.com/demandprogress/reports/House_Rules_Reform_Recommendation_2018-09-12.pdf
The letter is here (and reproduced below): https://s3.amazonaws.com/demandprogress/letters/Rules_Reform_Letter_2018-09-12.pdf
TEN PRINCIPLES FOR REFORMING THE RULES OF THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
- The House must reimagine the chamber floor as a forum for open, informed debate on competing visions for America.
- The House must reimagine committees as a place where open, informed debate on legislative proposals and government activities takes place, and where committee members are fully empowered and encouraged to participate on an equal footing in service of the best interests of the entire chamber.
- Members of the House must be supported in their efforts to self-organize around shared interests and be able to access information that belongs to the House and relates to their interests.
- The House must recruit, hire, promote, empower, protect, and retain expert staff who have a diversity of skills, backgrounds, and expertise.
- House ethics enforcement and oversight must focus on preventing the emergence of ethical conflicts and promptly addressing conflicts before they become problems for the institution.
- House support offices and agencies, and data concerning House activities, must be transparent, support the work of the full House, and be responsive to the will of the House.
- House technology must be modernized to support the oversight, legislative, and constituent service responsibilities of members, committees, support offices, and leadership.
- Electronic information touching members and staff in whatever capacity, as well as committees, leadership, and support offices and agencies, must be secure from unwanted access.
- Transitions in membership of the House must not adversely impact constituent services.
- The House must continuously renew itself and study new approaches to its operations.
— Written by Daniel Schuman