Feb 4, 2019

The Key to a Healthy State of the Union

With the longest government shutdown in history—and a tense battle between Congress and the president—now over, it is time for the nation to come together for this week’s annual State of the Union address in which the president lays out his priorities for the year ahead. But there’s one key piece that will likely escape mention: Congressional reform.

Yet, a functional and effective Congress is foundational for a healthy state of our union.  And, lately, our union – and the democracy on which it is built — has been feeling a little under-the-weather from a government infected by dysfunction.

Thanks to outcries from Americans tired of the gridlock, Congress has taken the first important step of creating the Select Committee on the Modernization of Congress.  Now, at this moment when a number of divisive policy matters dominate the headlines—and Congress’s to-do-list—congressional reform represents a unique opportunity for both sides of the aisle to come together to revitalize our government.  That is why Congress must identify the Select Committee as a pressing priority.

There are a multitude of issues, including an updated congressional schedule and strengthened committee authority, that this committee can examine (as laid out by the Bipartisan Policy Center’s Commission on Political Reform and R Street Institute’s Casey Burgat and Kevin Kosar), but it must have these essential components in order to improve our union’s health:

  1. Committee members who are committed to putting reforms over politics
  2. Dedicated, sufficient funding and staff to allow for substantive impact
  3. Recommendations that are acted upon expeditiously by committees of jurisdiction
  4. Commitment from House leadership to vote on proposed reforms on the floor
  5. The creation of a similar committee in the Senate to provide a comprehensive revitalization of Congress

A functioning Congress is the key to a healthy state of the union. Let’s ensure that Congress keeps the Select Committee on the Modernization of Congress high on its priority list this year!

Is Congress Working for You?