Select Committee on the Modernization of Congress

The mountains between Congress and modernization

Chairman Derek Kilmer, D-Wash., right, and vice chairman Rep. Tom Graves, R-Ga., are seen during a Select Committee on the Modernization of Congress business meeting in the Capitol on Tuesday, March 12, 2019. Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call

Time is running out for the Select Committee on the Modernization of Congress to find bipartisan consensus on a variety of issues.

House modernization leaders seek consensus despite hurdles
Select committee is a long way from solving institutional problems

Reps. Derek Kilmer, right, and Tom Graves, leaders of the Select Committee on the Modernization of Congress, are seeking ways to improve congressional operations. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

With 2019 half done, so is the lifespan of the Select Committee on the Modernization of Congress. 

And the panel is still a long way from solving some of the big-scope institutional problems that House leaders asked it to. When it comes to some of the thornier political items — such as lawmaker pay raises and resurrecting earmarks — the panel is unlikely to agree.

Congressional compensation: Isn’t there a select committee for that?
Panel tasked with modernizing Congress will look at staff but not member issues

Chairman Derek Kilmer, D-Wash., right, and vice chairman Rep. Tom Graves, R-Ga., during a Select Committee on the Modernization of Congress meeting in March. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

As lawmakers engage in a contentious debate about whether to thaw a decadelong freeze on their pay, there’s a logical place where the underlying issues of member compensation and housing could be addressed — the Select Committee on the Modernization of Congress. 

But the panel currently has no plans to take up such matters, its chairman, Rep. Derek Kilmer, and vice chairman, Rep. Tom Graves, told CQ Roll Call. 

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First big bipartisan vote establishes House select committee on modernizing Congress
Washington Democrat Derek Kilmer will chair the select committee

Rep. Derek Kilmer, D-Wash., center, purple tie, will chair the new select committee on modernizing Congress. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Taking its first bipartisan vote of the 116th Congress, the House voted Friday to establish a select committee to come up with recommendations for modernizing the legislative branch. 

The 418-12 bipartisan vote was even more significant because it is part of the House Democrats’ rules package. House rules are crafted by the majority party, and they rarely draw votes from the minority.