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Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is one of several freshmen in Congress who were named finalists in the Democracy Awards competition, which highlights congressional offices that are well run and offer exceptional constituent service.

Ocasio-Cortez, Shalala lead finalists for democracy awards

Freshman members of Congress, particularly the newest female lawmakers, are leading the way on Capitol Hill in how they run their offices and serve constituent needs.

The Congressional Management Foundation announced Thursday the finalists for its Democracy Awards and nine people in their first terms — the most in the three years the awards have been handed out — made the cut.

Seven women are among the finalists, again the most in the short history of the awards, which honor members of Congress for their work in four categories: constituent service; workplace environment; transparency and accountability; and innovation and modernization.

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Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Wednesday that Democrats are seeking an additional $1.6 billion for voting services necessitated by the coronavirus pandemic.

Standoff on timing of next stimulus masks debate over more election aid

Top congressional Democrats are promising to include much more money for healthy elections in the next coronavirus response package they're pushing. But Republicans' resistance to quickly writing such a bill is intensifying, obscuring their level of interest in additional spending to expand voting by mail, early voting and online registration.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Wednesday the measure her House majority has started putting together would provide at least $1.6 billion on top of the $400 million included in the economic rescue package passed last week.

Dozens of groups advocating for voting rights and the broader democracy reform agenda have coalesced behind that funding level as their singular focus during the pandemic, arguing that conducting a normal and trustworthy election in November will be impossible otherwise.

But Republicans in control of the Senate say they're in no rush to draft another stimulus bill, and state officials say significant delay could make it impossible to spend additional aid in time.

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Big Picture
Nilmini Rubin

"The political foundations of the United States require maintenance and cannot be taken for granted," said Nilmini Rubin, who is leading the Fix the System coalition.

New coalition will push democracy reforms targeted to center and right

Six of the most influential democracy reform groups are at the core of a new coalition, dubbed Fix the System, with the goal of putting more conservative and corporate muscle behind a cause that's generally dominated by progressives.

The effort comes at a time when many in the good governance movement worry their efforts are too diffuse and disconnected, and tilted too far left at a time of divided government. The hope is that, during a time of pandemic fear and economic distress, political polarization will ease enough to permit some good governance changes to muster bipartisan support.

The alliance has been in the works for months but was formally unveiled this week, along with its first public effort: getting Congress to include money to make voting easier and safer this year in the nearly $2 trillion coronavirus stabilization package.

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Continuity of Congress in the Wake of COVID-19

Congressional experts call for emergency, remote legislative operations

With a senator and two House members now testing positive for the novel coronavirus, calls for Congress to shift to emergency, remote work are escalating.

A group of congressional experts gathered (virtually, of course) last week to talk through how lawmakers could ensure continuity of the legislative branch while protecting the health of lawmakers.

Guest speakers included two experts on continuity of government: Norman Ornstein, resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, and John Fortier, director of the Bipartisan Policy Center's Democracy Project.

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