The Select Committee focused particularly on recommendations aimed at building Congress’s capacity to engage partisan differences more constructively. Our brief reviewed 13 bipartisanship and civility recommendations.
Large majorities of CommonSense Americans support each reform proposed by the Select Committee on the Modernization of Congress, especially the recommendations to foster greater bipartisanship and civility.
The vast majority of recommendations received more than three-quarters support
Every one of the 97 recommendations that we asked about received more than 65% support
Fostering Bipartisanship & Civility
- When asked about the 13 recommendations overall, 98% of our members said they supported the bipartisanship and civility reforms
- Support for each of the 13 individual recommendations ranged from 65% to 98%
- Six of the 13 reforms received 90% support or more
Support for Bipartisan Reform Recommendations
Members of CommonSense American strongly support recommendations that foster bipartisanship & civility.
Congressional Reform Recommendation Results Menu
Congressional Reform Results
Top 6 Select Committee Bipartisanship & Civility Recommendations
The following six recommendations received the highest levels of support.
*Support for Changing the Congressional Calendar
One of the recommendations receiving the most support was to adjust the calendar so that members of Congress have more workdays and less time traveling back and forth from their district. Our brief reviewed three specific changes to achieve that. Below are the results.
97% Support more full work days and less travel time
CommonSense American's Messages to Congress
Our members were asked, "What would you like to say to your members of Congress about the recommendations for fostering bipartisanship and civility?" These are some representative responses.
To my members of Congress, I understand if these reforms seem a bit superficial. They don’t seem like they guarantee any real change. However, as politics become more and more divided, something must be attempted to develop some bipartisanship. These are reasonable reforms that should foster relationships between opposing parties and decrease the angry rhetoric on Capitol Hill. Most would take very little time to implement, so this is not a massive overhaul of a system. Anyway, despite your likely reticence to put forth such seemingly simple reforms, it is worth it even if it creates just one good relationship in DC. That is how far gone we are and that is why we need these reforms more than ever.
I want to thank you for the efforts being made to create a more civil government. I do believe that civility starts with you and our process of governing. As someone who normally identifies as moderate, I don’t know that there is a place for my views anymore. I do not like the incessant name-calling, put-downs, and hype. Returning to the civilized and respectful discussion is imperative. Thank you for these steps and good luck!
I believe fostering bipartisanship and civility is a must with our leaders of today and tomorrow. It is time to prepare for the future of this country and it’s citizens. We can no longer afford minimal accomplishments, while being inundated with bickering leaders. The goal is too move the country forward. No one person or one party will have all the answers, but together we can find solutions and resolutions. Let’s move this country forward, together.
I admit the thought of bipartisanship initially makes me feel skeptical because I have not seen a spirit of bipartisanship in years. At present, the Democratic Party supports policies that to me are very extreme. The views of the parties are so significantly different that I feel that there are some issues that it seems impossible to find consensus. However, I am not opposed to simple reforms like seating, meetings, and debates that have been mentioned. Personally I find the debates in Congress are a joke. The members seem to merely be grandstanding to get their point across. It’s simply political theater. Using and Oxford style would be a good experiment. To the extent that retreats or any other ways for members to meet is found, I think it should not be on the taxpayers dime. The members of Congress have so many perks that to the average voter paying their own expenses to visit other districts seems reasonable.
Independent, District of Columbia
I do not envy your position in today’s heated political climate. Despite the seemingly intractable political conflict in our society, it moves me greatly to hear when decency triumphs over partisan noise and fear-mongering. Every time such a story surfaces, it gives me hope for the restoration of the people’s faith in government, which lately seems to have been driven to new lows. Our current party model, with its separation of forces on either side and rare unscripted interaction, is more reminiscent of a conflict zone than a system of government.
I think it is vital that elected legislators spend far more time in Washington DC to do the work they were elected to do and far less time traveling and raising funds. To be on-site for three days (Tuesday-Thursday) does not allow legislators that time.
I feel that if all members regularly put themselves in each other’s shoes it would broaden their views. If they get to know each other’s families more they would have a better understanding of differences. If they sit next to each other more instead of across the aisle, they could come together better. We need more common ground to stand on and more understanding of differences to bring our beloved USA back together again. I really think too that labels should be removed and only the best interest of our beautiful country be first priority of all involved!
Most of the Select Committee’s recommendations focused on ways to make Congress more effective not directly related to bipartisanship and civility. The Committee organized its Final Report on the 97 unanimous recommendations it made in the 116th congress into 12 chapters. Our brief reviewed seven of those 12 chapters. Large majorities support those recommendations.
CommonSense American's Messages to Congress
Our members were asked, "What would you like to say to your members of Congress about the other select committee recommendations?" These are some representative responses.
Education does not end with being elected to office. The “Overhaul the On-boarding Process and Provide Continuing Education for Members” is vital in my humble opinion for successful integration into office. The term Freshman carries with it the understanding there is much to learn.
I believe Continuity of Government and Congressional Operations, Reform the Budget and Appropriation Process, and Congressional Schedule and Calendar are the more important sections, the latter being the most important. Members of Congress must be available to serve their districts. Without this enhancement, many of the suggested recommendations are futile as many require time. I believe the recommendations which deal with enhancing efficiency through technology could save time to counter some of the hardships facing the members and Congress. Creating a HR hub would streamline processes and provide continuity. I believe incoming members should be able to hire one person; work done on the front end would enable a smoother transfer inclusive of more immediate efficacy.
On the onboarding process, the ability to hire a transitional staff member would allow the member to come on board more quickly and increase effectiveness. The ability of members of congress to work effectively in the face of crisis from remote locations is essential and all members need the technology and training to perform an any location.
It is incomprehensible that there is not a standard format and process for submitting proposals and tracking amendments. Collaboration tools for creating and editing documents and moving documents through an approval process are readily available. All members of Congress and staff members must have proper licenses to the tools they need to effectively perform their jobs.
Nobody likes having someone look over their shoulder in a manner of speaking while they work. But it’s become very apparent lately that without some sort of oversight the Senate and the House simply don’t get anything done in anything that remotely resembles a timely manner. Therefore I support all of the select committee recommendations and hope for a day when both the House and the Senate are operating in an efficient and effective way.
Continued Modernization Work in the House and Senate
The House reauthorized the Select Committee to continue its work. We asked our members whether they supported the reauthorization. We also asked whether the Senate should establish a similar committee and whether there should be a joint committee of the House and Senate to work on these issues. Overwhelmingly majorities support continued work in the House and Senate to make Congress more effective.
Re-establishing Select Committee for 117th
Similar Select Committee for the Senate
Similar Joint Committee of House and Senate
CommonSense American's Messages to Congress
Here are some representative responses on the idea of doing similar work in the Senate.
I’m fully aware of the number of challenges that would face such an initiative to consider Senate reforms – HOWEVER – I am also convinced that the types of recommendations shown here are CRITICAL to the future of our current bicameral form of government. I salute and support any and ALL of your efforts towards improving the effectiveness and efficiency of our entire Legislative Branch – so that the people who have elected you can be truly served.
I strongly support the establishment of a similar Select Committee for the Senate and/or a Joint Committee with the House and the Senate for similar purposes. This will ensure the “world’s most deliberative body” maintains this distinction.