Image Courtesy of House.Gov
By Dean Robbins
Congress has over 250 committees and subcommittees focused on topics ranging from agriculture to veterans’ affairs. One of these committees is the US House Select Committee on the Modernization of Congress, abbreviated as ModCom, which is dedicated to improving congressional communication, efficiency, and transparency.
Any select committee in Congress exists solely to accomplish a certain task, and it must be renewed through a vote for every congressional session. Modern select committees usually do not have legislative power but are instead used to investigate certain pertinent issues. Some select committees, like the Senate Special Committee on Aging, can become permanent.
ModCom is composed of twelve members–six Democrats and six Republicans. The committee has a chair, who belongs to the majority party, and a vice-chair, who belongs to the minority party. Democratic Representative Derek Kilmer served as chair during the 116th Congress, ModCom’s first session, and continues to serve in that position during the current 117th Congress. Republican Representative Tom Graves served as vice-chair during the 116th Congress, while Republican Representative William Timmons is currently serving.
The ModCom website touts that the committee has introduced over 125 recommendations of which 29 have been implemented. During the 116th Congress, recommendations included making congressional websites more accessible to those with disabilities and expanding the ability to use e-signatures in House business. Several recommendations were implemented, such as improving accessibility on congressional websites and making the House Office of Diversity and Inclusion permanent.
In January of 2021, the House renewed ModCom for another session. So far, 44 recommendations have been issued across six topic categories. Of note for CUA students, one category deals with improving internships, including investigating the cost of living and the future use of remote internships. Many of the recommendations deal with staffing and training, including a proposal for a staff mentorship program.
ModCom usually holds hearings and releases new recommendations every four to six weeks. All of their past hearings, discussions, and business meetings are available on YouTube, and their recommendations can be found on ModCom’s website. Individuals interested in the work of this committee can keep up-to-date with the committee’s activities and attend their occasional public discussions.