The progressive grassroots policy advocacy organization Demand Progress and the right-leaning technology nonprofit Lincoln Network have joined forces to urge the House of Representatives to adopt modern rules that improve congressional transparency, oversight, technology, and more. The bipartisan recommendations issued today by the two groups emphasize changes to House Rules that give more power to the rank-and-file members to shape legislation.
The recommendations are timely, as the House Rules Committee hears today from members concerning the Rules they want adopted at the start of the 118th Congress in January.
“There’s too much concentrated power in congressional leadership, which distorts the legislative process and stifles collaboration by members who share common interests,” said Daniel Schuman, policy director at Demand Progress. “These common-sense recommendations restore balance in the House so that all members can meaningfully engage in policymaking.”
“The Rules the House enacts will shape how Congress will function and who will have power,” said Zach Graves, executive director of Lincoln Network. “It’s important to democratize the House so more rank-and-file members have a say in the legislation that gets considered and so that committees don’t have their roles usurped by leadership. All members are elected to Congress and each one has a duty and obligation to represent their constituents.”
The package of bipartisan Rules recommendations identifies improvements the House should adopt to improve transparency of legislative information, internal operations and scheduling, congressional efficiency and oversight, congressional security, congressional capacity and staff, and ethics, as well as which Rules to retain from the previous two Congresses.
Among the dozens of recommendations, Demand Progress and the Lincoln Network identified ten priority recommendations the House should adopt, including to:
- Establish a new subcommittee focused on congressional modernization efforts, to be housed within the Committee on House Administration;
- Create a Chief Data Officer of the House of Representatives focused on improving the transparency of legislative branch information;
- Create a commission to improve the security and continuity of Congress;
- Keep the Office of the Whistleblower Ombuds created in the 116th Congress;
- Improve the House Calendar’s regularity of proceedings by adopting a three weeks on, two weeks off schedule, which maximizes work time and minimizes travel time;
- Allocate every House member one personal office staffer who is eligible to apply for a TS/SCI clearance to support the member on relevant matters (just as the Senate now does);
- Publish online House Inspectors General reports, which provide important oversight of congressional activities;
- Publish online in a central location all Congressional Budget Justifications, so we can understand how the legislative branch spends taxpayer funds;
- Create modern Legislative Service Organizations as a platform for members of Congress to collaborate on issues of interest; and
- Implement pending Office of Workplace Rights regulations, some of which have languished for a decade.
Other recommendations to note include:
- Updating guidance concerning securities trading for members, working with stakeholders to improve transparency and address conflicts of interest;
- Granting the Office of Congressional Ethics with subpoena authority over non-congressional entities and individuals;
- Adjusting congressional staff pay for inflation;
- Dedicating resources for oversight of the US Capitol Police by providing the Committee on House Administration Majority and Minority with funds for a staffer with security expertise to focus on USCP oversight;
- Improving cybersecurity by providing training and resources to members and staff to protect official and non-official accounts from hacking;
- Prohibiting permanent fencing around the Capitol complex;
- Creating an online database for public access to all “Dear Colleague” letters sent to all member offices;
- Expanding the successful comparative print project — which uses technology to show how an amendment would modify a bill, or a bill would modify the law — to identify when several bills contain virtually the same language; to show when a bill is incorporated into a larger bill; and to identify antecedent legislation for a current bill from prior Congresses;
Demand Progress and Lincoln Network are releasing these recommendations today as the House Rules Committee meets at 2 PM ET for a Member Day hearing on the House Rules.
Demand Progress is a 501(c)4 social welfare organization that works to secure progressive policy changes for everyday people by organizing broad grassroots campaigns, leading smart lobbying initiatives, and leveraging our staff’s policy expertise. Its mission is to protect the democratic character of the internet — and wield it to contest concentrated corporate power and hold the government accountable.
Lincoln Network was founded in 2014 with a mission to help bridge the gap between Silicon Valley and DC, advancing a more perfect union between technology and the American republic. We believe in a world of free people and competitive markets, and that fostering a robust innovation ecosystem is crucial to creating a better, freer, and more abundant future.