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An All-Hands-On-Deck Approach to Modernizing Congress

Current and former members of Congress and congressional staffers put party labels aside last week during a panel discussion on the need to build institutional capacity in Congress. 

During a  virtual event, Serving the People: Investing in Congressional Capacity, hosted by the Alliance for Congress, panelists offered comments on the current modernization efforts underway in the House and emphasized that strengthening the functionality of the institution will require members of both political parties to work together collaboratively in a nonpartisan way. 

“Bipartisanship can pay dividends for the productivity of Congress,” said panelist Jamie Fleet, staff director for the Committee on House Administration. “We need to think of bipartisanship and cooling the temperature around the institution, and anything that can help facilitate that is helpful.” 

The Partnership for Public Service’s Alliance for Congress is driven by the mission to help Congress increase its capacity to tackle big issues and serve the public good through collaboration with a variety  of organizations and individuals.   

The House Select Committee on the Modernization of Congress spearheads much of this work, proposing recommendations for their congressional counterparts to implement. 

“For many of us on the outside, the modernization committee has provided a door opening that we have never seen before,” said panel moderator Marci Harris, CEO and co-founder of PopVox. “Because it is their focus, ModCom has been able to listen and to work with the broader community of people thinking about congressional capacity and modernization.” 

In her remarks, House Deputy Chief Administrative Officer Lisa Sherman made it clear that there are people on both sides of the aisle who are dedicated to working together on behalf of the American people and making Congress more effective. 

“Despite the unprecedented challenges that the House has faced lately, it’s an exciting time for progress and modernization,” she said. “We are seeing a lot of bipartisanship. We are very hopeful in the HR space and the training space that there is a lot we can do.”  

Rep. Mark Amodei (R-Nev.), a member of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on the Legislative Branch, also expressed admiration for the work underway to modernize Congress. He said he is fully behind the mission to increase the health and effectiveness of the institution.  

“Whether you are a Republican, a Democrat or independent, it does my heart good to hear people talking about things like oversight and taking some of that responsibility back to where it belongs,” Amodei said. “Oversight seems to be a threatened, endangered species and getting back to that is something that strengthens the institution and focuses things on what the real issues are.” 

Through research, testimony, programming and advocacy, dozens of individuals and organizations that comprise the Alliance for Congress continue to support the effort to strengthen Congress and enable the institution to better serve the American people.  

“The Alliance for Congress is proud to work alongside our dedicated allies to support this essential work and we commend the strides made in modernizing and improving the institution’s capacity,” said Jeff McNichols, director of the Alliance for Congress. “This is a historic opportunity to strengthen the institution, and as today’s discussions demonstrated, there are many inside Congress poised to seize it.”  

For those who missed it, the Serving the People: Investing in Congressional Capacity event is available on the Partnership for Public Services’ YouTube Channel. Watch or rewatch the event and share the recording with friends and colleagues.