tv U.S. House of Representatives House Debate on New Rules for Congress CSPAN January 5, 2019 12:51am-1:26am EST
day. lodge c-span cities tour of santa monica, california saturday at noon eastern on c-span two's book tv and send it at 2 p.m. on american history tv -- and sunday at 2 p.m. on american history tv. house debating new rules for the 116th congress. members approved the second section of the bill that creates the new committee on congressional marketization -- modernization. this is 30 minutes. >> thank you, madam speaker. i rise today in support of h.res.6, title 2, the select committee on the modernization of congress. title 2 establishes a bipartisan select committee on the modernization of congress to investigate, study, make findings, hold public hearings, and develop recommendations to
modernize and improve the way congress operates. this institution has a responsibility to the people, to our constituents, and to this country. to build a congress that works for everyone, not just those at the top. this is not something that will happen on its own. it's going to take hard work, but it is worthwhile work. this is not the first time congress as an institution has wrestled with how to be more effective and efficient. three times in the 20th century, in 1945, in 1965, and again in 1992 when ms. lofgren and i came to congress, we established a joint committee to examine various aspects of the
legislative process in an effort to improve efficiency and promote transparency. madame speaker, today we're at a similar crossroads. last congress, we witnessed the republicans lead the most closed congress in the history of our country. republicans blocked everything from immigration reform and infrastructure to gun safety and lowering prescription drug costs. last november, many of the american people demanded a new direction. part of that new direction includes making the house of representatives an institution that debates big ideas. we're at a moment where the challenges we face as a country are so great, everything from the opioid epidemic that is devastating communities across the country, to the immense
economic and human costs the world will incur as a result of climate change, that we must come together as a body in a deliberate and transparent way. the select committee will have consult outside experts, academics and this institution's own members in an effort to analyze, debate, and adopt those ideas that will help us improve how we do the people's business. this select committee, along with the bipartisan rules package that passed on the house floor yesterday, is proof that we stand ready, willing and able to protect, not only this institution's prerogative, but the interests of the american people. with public trust in congress at historic lows, house democrats are taking transformational
steps that will modernize congress, restore regular order, and bring integrity back to this institution. this comprehensive and deliberative approach will undoubtedly improve the overall function of this great institution that we all have the privilege and honor to serve in. madam speaker, i reserve the balance of my time. >> the gentleman reserves. the gentleman from oklahoma is recognized. >> thank you, madam speaker. madam speaker, i rise as the designee of the republican leader. i want to thank the gentleman from florida, my good friend, mr. hastings, for yielding me 30 minutes, and i yield myself such time as i may consume. >> the gentleman is recognized. >> for the third time in two days, madam speaker, my good friends from the democratic side
of the aisle and i are here to debate part of the democratic rules package for the house of representatives. and, unlike the first two times, i find myself in agreement with what the democrats are proposing today. we're here today on title 2 of the rules package which establishes a select committee on the modernization of moderni congress, and while i think improvements could be made to what my friends are proposing, i'm pleased to say i think that this proposal is an excellent idea. now, i know my good friend also mentioned the last congress, and i want to take just a second to defend that congress. frankly, it was the last congress that gave us the first tax modernization overhaul and tax reduction in 31 years. it was the last congress that began the opioid initiative that we've worked in a very bipartisan way on. it was the last congress that had more deregulation than any
congress in american history. it was the last congress, working with my friends on the other side, that did work on human trafficking. last congress that did historic work, again, in a very bipartisan way with my friends, on the veterans' issues. finally, it was the last congress that began rebuilding the american military after eight years of neglect. so we'll see if this congress has a record that matches that in the next two years. but having said that, as my friend laid out, the proposed select committee would be charged with investigating, studying and making recommendations for modernizing congress, including improvements to rules, to procedures, including the schedule and calendar, improving staff, recruitment, diversity, and retention, and improving technology. i'm especially pleased that this select committee will be equally divided between democrats and republicans and that the makeup of the committee will include two members of each part from the rules committee, the house
administration committee, and two freshmen. and most importantly, the select committee's required to produce a report by 2/3 supermajority with their recommendations by the end of congress. those are all excellent proposals by my friends, and i heartedly endorse them. madam speaker, there's a lot to like in this proposal. i think we can all agree, no matter which party you belong to, congress needs to be modernize and its processes improved. i'm especially happy that my friends have done so in a way that is bipartisan and hopefully will be above politics. the proposal isn't quite perfect, of course. personally, i would have preferred to have seen the house take up this responsibility and coordination with our colleagues in the senate. i'm sure the bulk of my conference and probably the bulk of my friend's conference, you know, would probably tell you if anybody in congress needs improvement it's undoubtedly the one on the other side of the capitol
rotunda. on that we can have a bipartisan agreement within this chamber. of course, congress works best when the house and the senate work together, and that cludes the need to improve processesed a modernize congress as an institution, as a whole. the majority would have been better to found a way to work with the senate and developing a joint committee made up of members of both houses of congress and charge making improvements to the house, senate as a whole. that aside, this is certainly a very good and serious proposal. and i look forward with a great deal of optimism as the select committee does its work this congress. with that i urge support of the measure and i reserve the balance of my time. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman reserves his time. for what purpose does -- the gentleman from florida is recognized. mr. hastings: madam speaker, i yield two minutes to the distinguished gentleman from massachusetts, the distinguished chairman of the rules committee, my good friend, mr. mcgovern.
the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman is recognized for two minutes. mr. mcgovern: i thank the gentleman from florida, mr. hastings, for yielding to me. and for his leadership on the rules committee. i'm looking forward to working with him as a member of the majority in this congress. madam speaker, you know, we started an important conversation about how to improve this house as the rules package was developed. members on both sides of the aisle brought forward ideas. many of them were included in the final package. but these rules shouldn't be the end of the dialogue. they should only be a start and i know members will have good ideas in the coming weeks and months, and this select committee on the modernization of congress is a unique opportunity to continue the conversation. it is a truly bipartisan way to consider ideas on how to promote a more modern and efficient congress, and procedures to develop the next generation of leaders, increase staff diversity, and improve technology and innovation.
it's also a way you for this congress to hold ourselves accountable, to ensure our work to reform this house is delivering on behalf of the american people, and i especially want to thank representatives kill my and lipinski and -- kilmer and lipinski and sarbanes. it's a step this house can take and it's a step this house quite frankly should take. madam speaker, finally, i just want to say as the gentleman from oklahoma pointed out, this select committee is truly bipartisan, and the ideas that come out of this select committee will be truly bipartisan. we can improve the way this house is run. we can improve the way we do things here. i think the american people are hoping we will move in that direction, and i think we have an opportunity to do that. and i want to say to the gentleman from oklahoma, i really appreciate his tone and his support for this initiative. you know, we all talk about new beginnings and about ways to make things better and i think
we're off to a good start. with that i want to thank the gentleman from florida, and i yield back the balance of my time. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman reserves. the gentleman from oklahoma. mr. cole: i thank you, madam speaker. i want to echo my friend's comments to some degree. first, i want to thank him personally and i want to thank his fellow members on the democratic rules committee for presenting this proposal. it's a genuinely excellent and bipartisan effort, and it suggests that the language we heard about trying to change the way in which we operate was very sincere and well-motivated. it's much appreciated on our side of the aisle. so while we certainly had our differences yesterday, i appreciate the way, frankly, that was handled by both sides, and i'm pleased that we're ending this at a point of agreement and a bipartisan commitment to actually improve the nature of our institution. again, i expect this committee
to actually produce really substantive proposals. don't know yet, obviously, who the members on the other side will be. but i know the leadership on both sides takes this very seriously. i think there is a genuine commitment to try and open up the process a little bit to make it, if you will, more member fit, friendly, whether the member is in the majority or minority. that's to be commended on the part of my friend. so, again, this is a good start, as my friend, mr. mcgovern, said, and i look forward to playing my part in participating as we make progress in this direction. with that, madam speaker, i reserve the balance of my time. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman reserves. the gentleman from florida. mr. hastings: madam speaker, i'm very pleased at this time to yield three minutes to the distinguished gentleman from washington, my friend, mr. kilmer, a member of the appropriations committee. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman from washington is recognized for three minutes. mr. kilmer: thank you, madam speaker. and i thank the gentleman for yielding. i'm proud to rise in support of
title 2 of this resolution to establish a new select committee on the modernization of congress. i'd like to start by thanking chairman mcgovern and the speaker for their collaboration over the past several months as they form this plan. let me say something that the american people know to be true and that is this house is a fixer upper. every time the american people feel like they don't have a say and nothing gets done or every time a bill is written behind closed doors and passed without debate, the american people lose their faith in the ideal that formed this body, the idea they have the ability to shape the outcome of what happens here. it is time to rebuild this institution so it lives up to the motto that serves as this nation's motto that hangs in this room, out of many one. now, every 20 years or so there has been an effort to reform and modernize this house.
there's been an acknowledgment like any other functional organization, it's worth diagnosing what's working and what isn't and determining how to have it perform better. this committee that is established with today's vote will empower members to help congress to work better and to be more responsive to the american people, a congress that will lead to the advancement of shared goals between the parties and a reform system that allows the 435 people lucky enough to work here to have meaningful outcomes to show for nair work, to produce solution -- their work, to produce solutions. we are on the cusp of a new era. we need to rise to the challenge to fulfill the priorities of the nation that elected each one of us to represent them. i truly believe that this select committee will help us chart beater course, one where consensus is not only sought but actually achieved, where we can finally make progress on our nation's greatest challenges by developing proposals with broad bipartisan
support and allowing them move through regular order. looking at key issues like new technology, cultivate leadership, operational changes to this body. i believe modernizing this institution is key to settling our diverse country -- settling our diverse country's most pressing challenges and restoring the public's faith in congress. again, i want to commend chairman mcgovern and the speaker for leading the way forward by establishing this committee. i also want to take a moment to thank some of the folks behind the scenes who've worked really ard to bring this plan through fruition, the democratic staff who spent countless hours working to bring us to today. i ask my colleagues to support this resolution so this committee and congress can finally get to work. thank you and i yield back. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman reserves? the gentleman from oklahoma. mr. cole: thank you, madam speaker. i have an additional speaker on the way, i hope, but right now i don't have anything
additional to add personally. so madam speaker, i'll reserve the balance of my time. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman reserves. the gentleman from florida. mr. hastings: thank you, madam speaker. i yield two minutes to the distinguished gentleman from maryland, my good friend, mr. sarbanes, a member of the energy and commerce committee and oversight and reform. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman from maryland is recognized for two minutes. mr. sarbanes: i thank the gentleman for yielding. madam speaker, i rise in support of the rules package being put forward by the democratic majority and in particular, i want to applaud the decision to establish a select committee on the modernization of congress and i want to thank chairman mcgovern. i want to thank speaker pelosi and all those who made this a priority. we know that the best motives of members on both sides of the aisle are too often frustrated by dysfunction in the legislative process, which then makes it difficult for us to deliver on the promises that we
give to our constituents and to the nation. diminishing congressional outside and at interests in the legislative process and those are interests who don't always have the public interest in mind and, of course, we know modern day campaigning demands are running members ragged. we are increasingly unable to study the material and build the relationships necessary for a healthy legislative institution. we have a responsibility to the people to build a congress that serves the people well. this is not something that's going to be easy and it's not something that's going to happen until we make it happen. it will take work, but it's work that needs to be done. the challenges we face as an institution are not entirely new, as my colleague, congressman kilmer, just said. for much of modern congressional history, congress
has continuously wrestled how to be more effective as the first branch of government. in the past, when the challenges grew, we've come together as a body to explore reforms to our rules and to institutional design and congressional capacity and the matter of resources. 1945, in 1965, again in 1992, congress convened joint committees to study the functioning of congress and to propose comprehensive expert-guided reforms. yield one more minute? mr. hastings: the gentleman is recognized for 30 seconds. mr. sarbanes: such a moment is before us begin. it will be a challenge. after all, congress is messy and complicated by design. modernizing its operation is no simple task, but that's exactly the rule the proposed select committee can play. it can create a space for members of congress from across the ideological spectrum represent be different parts of the country, different world views, different backgrounds to come together to work through the challenges and think
through the remedies. it will be a place for experts, historians and academics to present their views and help us wrestle with how to self-improve and it will signal to the american people that we are earnest in our efforts to make congress work better. i strongly support the rules package before us and look forward to the work of the select committee on the modernization of congress. i yield back. . the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman reserves. the gentleman from oklahoma. mr. cole: madam speaker, i continue to reserve. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman from florida. mr. hastings: thank you, madam speaker. madam speaker, i urge a yes vote on the resolution and turn to my good friend from california, the distinguished chairwoman of the committee on house administration, ms. lofgren, to control the remainder of our time. i reserve. the speaker pro tempore: the gentlewoman from california will control the remaining time. ms. lofgren: i thank the gentleman from florida and i
yield myself such time as i may consume. madam speaker, i rise today in support of the creation of the select committee on the modernization of congress and i encourage all of the house to do the same. there is precedent for select committees like this one. 7 rd and 93rd -- congress the house created the select committee on committees, although the select committee's mission was to study the structure and operation of house committees, it ultimately made several recommendations to improve housewide administrative and technology functions. mon the improvements and modernization steps the select committee suggested that the house form a commission on information and facilities. tasked with responding to the growing number of issues congress faced but with limited access to information and analysis. the commission also tackled the growing problem of growing
staff needed to support an increased workload, but with limited physical space to accommodate them. the result was an installation of a system of 30 computer terminals for members of congress and committees of legislative research. now this seems trivial now, but when information, especially trivial, when information is in our pocket, in our eye phones, but at the time it was revolutionary for the congress to be able to get this information on its computers. this is just one example of how a select committee made congress work better. following the select committee came the election of the class of 1974 fueled by the watergate scandal, the new members did much to change the congress. they decentralized power, they invigorated our oversight responsibilities, they began a conversation that would change how we do business forever. for example televising the
floor proceedings, 1976 government sunshine act. the process they started opened up our democracy so the american people and created a lasting record for history. this select committee has a broad mandate to study how our congress has changed and is changing. that begins with our changing work force. we need to invest in our work force and that is why the proposal we passed in the rules package yesterday to create the office of diversity inclusion was so important. this select committee will be tasked with studying how we can better recruit, retain, and compensate our staff. we also must be responsible stewards of public money, and this select committee will help us minimize waste and maximize value in how we operate the house. as been mentioned one of the virtues of the select committee is its composition.
it will be composed of members of the house administration committee who have firsthand experience with the details of house administration, there will be members of the rules committee, experts in process an procedures who know what works and what doesn't when it comes to an efficient legislative process, and the select committee will feature members in their first term who bring a a new perspective and create energy to the house. shortly after her election my home state colleague from california, representative katie porter, said, congress wasn't built for members like me. and unfortunately i think katie's right. but we can change that. and we will change that. we can give the people's house back to the people. and i reserve the balance of my time. the speaker pro tempore: the gentlewoman reserves. the gentleman from oklahoma. mr. cole: thank you, madam speaker. my additional speaker has not
yet arrived. i'm prepared to close whenever my good friend is. ms. lofgren: we do have an additional speaker. i would like to yield five minutes to the gentleman from llinois, mr. lipinski. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman reserves. the gentleman from illinois is recognized for five minutes. mr. lipinski: i thank the gentlelady for yielding. madam speaker, i rise today in support of title 2 of house res. 6 which creates a select committee on the modernization of congress. before i was elected to o congress, i was a political science professor. i studied and taught american government. my specialty was congress. whenever i was teaching our class on congress i started by showing the old schoolhouse rock video i'm just a bill. in this video bill taught how a bill becomes a law. it was a great way of introducing not just kids
watching saturday morning cartoons, but also teaching college students how a bill goes through the process in congress to become a law. this is a three-minute video from 40 years ago. unfortunately, if the song was updated today, it would need to be longer than three minutes. with the addition of many more verses to explain how difficult it is for a bill to become a law. over the years, congress has become increasingly dysfunctional. when i taught american government, i would always point out that the constitution established congress in article 1 before the executive and judicial branches. because the drafters understood the critical importance of congress leading in our representative democracy. congressional dysfunction increasingly turns more power, however, over to the president and to the courts which takes power away from the american people.
so congress needs reform so it can function as was intended and return this power to the american people. since 2016 i introduced legislation with my friend and colleague mr. lahood to establish a joint committee on the organization of congress so we could have a mechanism to study and enact reforms, reform proposals to improve the operations of the house and senate. i advocated for this committee because we need a forum with a holistic examination of the rules and procedures essential to effective legislating. we need to hold up a magnifying glass to congress and push for comprehensive reforms to make the institution more efficient, effective, and accountable to all americans. we need to find new ways to empower all members that participate in the legislative process, debate ideas, advance their ideas, and get laws enacted. as ms. lofgren talked about,
through the history of congress we have had these committees that have brought important changes to the way that this body operates. with the start of this new 116th congress, i'm happy to see that this call for reform has been heated with the inclusion in the resolution creating a select committee on the modernization of congress. while select committee does not contain all the elements of the legislation we had introduced, notably it doesn't include senate reform, this is an important step forward that we can achieve today, immediately, through house rules. the select committee will be able to make recommendations on a wide range of issues affecting work in congress, including procedural reform, leadership development, staff recruitment and retention, technology innovation, and administration. and the committee gives both parties an equal say in the process of developing the package of reforms.
i'm grateful for my party's leadership, especially speaker pelosi and incoming rules committee chairman mcgovern for making this a part of the house rules package for the 116th congress. madam speaker, i look forward to continuing to work to restore public trust in this institution by making congress more transparent and effective. and by doing, we will return power to the american people. we can have lou making -- lawmaking just as explained by bill in the schoolhouse rock video with power going through the people, through their representatives, in the house. i ask my colleagues to support this resolution and i yield back the balance of my time. the speaker pro tempore: the the gentlewoman from reserves. the gentleman from oklahoma. mr. cole: thank you, madam speaker. i again want to advise my friend i'm prepared to o close whenever she is. ms. lofgren: we're prepared to close. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman from oklahoma is recognized.
mr. cole: thank you, madam speaker. in closing while i normally would stand here and be in opposition to what my good friends, mr. hastings, mr. mcgovern, and ms. lofgren, we would be proposing, in this case i fully support the measure that they are bringing before us. the proposed select committee on modern -- modernization of congress is a serious, well-intentioned proposal to create a bipartisan committee to produce a bipartisan product aimed at improving the way congress functions. now and into the future. and while this idea could have been improved if it had incorporated the senate and ensured that both houses were working together on improving the overall institution, it is still nonetheless a very worthy endeavor. i for one think my colleagues -- thank my colleagues on both sides of the aisle and i think that this is an issue that they could and should support in a bipartisan fashion. frankly i want to thank my
friend, having been on the losing side of every vote yesterday, it will be nice to be on the winning side today. with that, madam speaker, i want to urge a yes vote on the underlying measure. i yield back the balance of my time. the speaker pro tempore: the gentlewoman from california. ms. lofgren: thank you, madam speaker. congress is a creature of precedent, but we must never be captive to the old ways. the house, the people's body, must continually update and renew itself to meet the challenges facing the nation and to respond to the needs of a new generation of representatives. this select committee on modeshization of -- modernization of congress is a way this congress can identify and address the challenges of tomorrow and will assist us in boldly meeting these challenges. the select committee on modernization of congress is a way to deal with problems facing this body right now, today. the select committee is a way to make sure that my colleague,
katie porter, works for a congress built for her and all other new members. it's long past time to chart a path forward and to address the problems we must face. i look forward to working with all the members of the select committee and congressional stakeholders and transforming the house for the better on a bipartisan basis. c-span washington journal. like, wired
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