Our nation is in the midst of a hyper-partisan era, which makes it difficult for lawmakers to legislate and meet the needs of the American people, but the incoming 116th Congress provides a unique opportunity to make the institution more efficient and effective. BPC Action is advocating for a set of reforms, including the creation of a new Committee on the Organization of Congress, to revitalize the governing process.
These recommendations, which are ripe for bipartisan action, will improve the political process, particularly in a polarized atmosphere.
BPC’s Commission on Political Reform, which includes former Senate Majority Leaders Tom Daschle and Trent Lott, former Representative and Secretary Dan Glickman, and former Senator Olympia Snowe, championed specific reforms that will make Congress work in today’s polarized political atmosphere.
Implement a New Legislative Schedule:
Revitalize the Committee Process:
Give Members a Say:
Adopt a Biennial Budget:
Revive Ethics in Campaign Spending:
Congressionally directed spending has understandably been the target of derision due to past abuses. At the same time, when done with transparency and accountability, earmarks reflect a core aspect of our democracy: the Constitution delegates power over spending to the legislative branch, which allows federal lawmakers to direct resources toward constituent priorities.
In his testimony before the House Rules Committee earlier this year, BPC President Jason Grumet describes how earmarks can actually strengthen our representative democracy, dispels the common misconceptions around earmarks, and offers approaches for reform. In a Roll Call op-ed, he wrote on how earmarks can help tackle the national debt, which is now over $20 trillion.
Congress should immediately reform and reclaim this important constitutional prerogative so that elected officials, who are directly accountable to voters and have firsthand understanding of the needs of their district, are making critical spending decisions, and to ensure public trust in the earmarking process.
With Americans increasingly frustrated with Washington, the time is ripe for a new Committee on the Organization of Congress to help rebuild public trust and restore individual members’ roles in the legislative-making process. Congress has the opportunity to make holistic reforms now.
The momentum for this committee is growing: legislation supported by nearly 70 members of Congress has been introduced. This crucial committee would:
The Committee on the Organization of Congress is not a new concept: in fact, there have been three since 1945 with the last one in 1993 (find out more from R Street Institute here). Composed of an equal number from each party and chamber, it would examine Congress’s rules and procedures and propose comprehensive reforms to make the institution more efficient, effective, and accountable to the American people.