Derek Kilmer

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. 

These 103 House Democrats have a message for the presidential candidates
Moderate New Democrat Coalition wants to talk with hopefuls about issues important to their voters

Washington Rep. Derek Kilmer, the chairman of the New Democrat Coalition, is inviting all of the Democratic presidential candidates to sit down with the coalition’s 103 members. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

More than 100 House Democrats, including many of the freshmen who won in moderate districts, want to talk to the Democratic presidential candidates. 

The New Democrat Coalition, the largest ideological group in the House Democratic caucus, is sending a letter to all the Democratic presidential candidates on Thursday requesting individual meetings with them. 

Confused by Congress’ bills? Maybe AI can help
House clerk is working on an ‘artificial intelligence engine’ that will compare legislation

The Select Committee on the Modernization of Congress, led by Reps. Derek Kilmer and Tom Graves, got an AI preview on Friday. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

As lawmakers grapple with how to shape legislation dealing with artificial intelligence, the clerk of the House is developing an AI tool to automate the process of analyzing differences between bills, amendments and current laws.

That’s according to Robert F. Reeves, the deputy clerk of the House, who on Friday told the Select Committee on the Modernization of Congress that his office is working on an “artificial intelligence engine” that may be ready as soon as next year.

Lobbyists to Congress: Pay staffers better
Six ex-lawmakers offer recommendations on making Capitol Hill great again

The House Select Committee on the Modernization of Congress heard from lobbyists and former colleagues at a hearing Wednesday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

K Street denizens and former members of Congress offered tips on Wednesday for making Capitol Hill great again to the Select Committee on the Modernization of Congress, including recommendations to help Congress keep pace with lobbyists like themselves.

Six ex-lawmakers — including Virginia Republican Tom Davis — suggested that Congress pay its staffers more money to better hold their own with experts from K Street and the executive branch. They also called for more civility on Capitol Hill, less emphasis on fundraising, and to invest more in technology and technological savvy within the legislative branch.

‘No values?’ Democrats unlikely to advance a full budget, already facing GOP attacks
McCarthy riles Pelosi over oft-repeated remark that budgets are a ‘statement of values’

House Budget Chairman John Yarmuth, D-Ky., says it’s unlikely Democrats will advance a full budget resolution this year. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

House Democrats are unlikely to advance a full budget resolution this year, opening the new majority to the same attacks it previously launched at Republicans for failing to get their budget resolutions to the floor.

But Democrats are expected to go a step further and not even mark up a budget resolution in committee this year. Republicans were quick to pounce, even though a final decision has not yet been made.

‘Dead billionaires’ and a tech Peace Corps? Lawmakers float ideas to fix Congress
First hearing of new modernization committee turns into a brainstorming session

Reps. Ed Perlmutter, D-Colo., left, and John Sarbanes, D-Md., are seen in between testimony during a Select Committee on the Modernization of Congress business meeting in the Capitol on Tuesday. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer kicked off the first hearing of the new Select Committee on the Modernization of Congress with a plea for a return of something from the past: earmarks.

The Maryland Democrat was the first among 30 lawmakers who offered ideas Tuesday to the temporary and bipartisan panel, which has been charged with making recommendations about how to update Congress for the modern era.

Compromise or resist? Democrats still have a choice to make
The problem is that their voters are genuinely divided on whether to play nice with Trump

Massachusetts Sen. Edward J. Markey and New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez hold a press conference on the Green New Deal in February. The plan has little chance of going anywhere, which underscores the choice that Democrats face: Will they follow Republicans in splitting between a pragmatic wing and a strident one, or will they remain united in showing voters they are better suited to lead? (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

On the House side of the Capitol and on the presidential campaign trail, progressives are talking about “Medicare-for-all” and a Green New Deal. They want not only to save Social Security but to expand it, to guarantee a job to everyone and to abolish the Homeland Security Department’s Immigration and Customs Enforcement division.

This, they admit, is all about drawing contrasts with Republicans to set the terms of the 2020 campaign. The proposals won’t go anywhere with the GOP in control of the Senate and Donald Trump in the White House.

Outside influences seek to remake ‘This Old House’
Outside interests are mobilizing to influence the new House Select Committee on the Modernization of Congress

U.S. Capitol dome as seen from the west. (Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Congress’ “This Old House” committee, a brand-new panel tasked with helping to update the legislative branch for the modern era, is already sparking attention off of Capitol Hill.

Outside interests — from government overhaul groups and think tanks to tech industry players — are mobilizing to influence the new House Select Committee on the Modernization of Congress. The year-long, 12-lawmaker panel will offer recommendations for rehabilitating Congress in such areas as technology and cybersecurity, procedures and scheduling, staff retention and executive branch oversight.

New Democrats launch task forces to help craft the House majority’s policy agenda
Task forces focus on issue areas like health care, infrastructure, climate change, national security, trade and technology

Rep. Angie Craig, D-Minn., will co-chair the New Democrat Coalition’s health care task force, one of eight policy-focused work groups the centrist Democrats have launched this week. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The New Democrat Coalition is ready to help the House majority craft its policy agenda for the 116th Congress, launching eight issue-focused task forces to develop proposals on party priorities such as health care, infrastructure and climate change. 

The group of centrist Democrats has used task forces to develop policy proposals in past Congresses, but they’re particularly excited about the work the task forces will do this session now that their party is in the majority.

What’s in a position? This is how caucuses show their strength
Many congressional caucuses take official positions to demonstrate the amount of support for specific policy ideas

New Democrat Coalition Chairman Derek Kilmer, D-Wash., said the group changed its bylaws to make it easier to take official positions as a coalition. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The New Democrat Coalition has amended its bylaws to make it easier for the group of centrist Democrats to take official positions on policy ideas or legislation — a tool used by congressional caucuses to show their strength as they try to line up support behind specific policy ideas or legislation. 

Procedures for taking an official position vary by caucus. Most include a vote of their members, but thresholds for what level of a majority is needed to adopt the position differ among caucuses.