Public confidence in Congress remains at an all-time low. 73% of the American people disapprove of Congress. The American people’s distrust is legitimate.
As the first branch of government established by Article 1 of the Constitution, Congress is charged with hefty responsibilities, like funding the government, providing for the military, and legislating. But as the American people well know, Congress is failing at doing its job. The body “of the People,” voted in “by the People,” is not working “for the People.”
During my tenure in Congress, I have experienced the dysfunction in Washington first-hand. However, the facts show us that this dysfunction has stretched for decades—regardless of which party has been in control. Congress has not passed all 12 appropriations bills since 1996. More than $300 billion in Federal programs and agencies have not been reauthorized. When was the last time Congress passed a budget through regular order on time, not days before the fiscal deadline?
So, what do we do about a dysfunctional Congress? It is time for an overhaul. It’s time to develop a mechanism for Congress to systemically improve.
That’s why I was proud to introduce legislation this month with Congressman Dan Lipinski (D-IL) to take the first steps towards reforming Congress.
How Would It Work?
Our legislation calls for a joint committee, composed in equal part of both Republicans and Democrats from the House and Senate, to study Congress. This body would be charged with a mandate to hold up a magnifying glass and a stethoscope to the institution of Congress and to propose comprehensive reforms to make the institution efficient, effective, and accountable to taxpayers.
The joint committee would first evaluate the legislative rules and procedures that control how Congress functions. Second, it would seek to change the behavior of the legislators themselves, empowering them to participate in the legislative process, debate issues, compromise, introduce amendments and get laws enacted. Finally, the joint committee would focus on restoring three important relationships: the relationship between Members of Congress and their constituents, the relationship between the House and the Senate, and the relationship between the Legislative and the Executive branches.
History of Joint Committees and Resulting Reforms:
Joint Committees on the Organization of Congress have occurred three times in our history: 1945-1946, 1965-1966, and 1992-1993.
Every generation or so, Congress has had to reevaluate itself and make big changes in order to be effective and responsive to the American people. Each previous joint committee ultimately led to radical and necessary changes in Congress. Actually, the fact that votes on the House Floor are recorded so America knows how their representatives are voting is a result of one of these endeavors. But the last time Congress held a Joint Committee to reform Congress was 23 years ago, in 1992.
CLICK HERE to read a summary of the accomplishments of the Joint Committees.
CLICK HERE to read a comprehensive history of Joint Committees.
Status of the Legislation:
CLICK HERE to check the status of the legislation and to see a list of cosponsors.
By Paul M. Krawzak, CQ Roll Call
Lawmakers frustrated with what they say is continuing dysfunction in Congress want to start discussions about an overhaul, and their drive got off the ground this week with the introduction of bipartisan legislation.
WASHINGTON, DC—Today, Congressman Darin LaHood (IL-18) and Congressman Dan Lipinski (IL-3) introduced legislation to reform Congress. Thirty-seven other members of Congress have already signed on in support.