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GOP taps six for House modernization committee

House Republicans on Friday afternoon named their members to the new Select Committee on the Modernization of Congress, which has been given a year – and a mandate for bipartisan consensus – to come up with proposals for improving the House's operating systems, technology, ethics, and legislative process and productivity.

The ranking member will be Tom Graves of Georgia, who last year was chairman of the Appropriations subcommittee on financial services and general government.

The others are Rob Woodall of Georgia (who announced Thursday he won't run again in 2020), Rodney Davis of Illinois (the ranking member of the House Administration Committee), Susan Brooks of Indiana (last year's chairwoman of the Ethics Committee), Dan Newhouse of Washington (who's on both Appropriations and Rules) and William R. Timmons IV of South Carolina, who fulfills leadership's obligation to include one freshman from each party.

The Democrats named their members last month. Derek Kilmer of Washington will be chairman. The others are Emanuel Cleaver of Missouri, Suzan DelBene of Washington (a former Microsoft executive), Zoe Lofgren of California (the new chairwoman of House Administration), Mark Pocan of Wisconsin and first-termer Mary Gay Scanlon of Pennsylvania.

In recent days, those Democrats have signaled they're ready to take on one of the House's more controversial modern practices – lawmakers using their Capitol Hill offices as their sleeping quarters during the week. While several dozen members, mostly Republicans, say doing so is a way to signal they haven't "gone Washington," critics say that lawmakers padding around in their pajamas late at night is all wrong in the #MeToo era and is a sign of disrespect to the institution.

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We can and must embrace our diversity as the operating system of our nation, write the leaders of the Bridge Alliance.

Diverse people must be in every room where decisions are made

Molineaux and Nevins are co-founders of the Bridge Alliance, a coalition of 100 democracy strengthening organizations. (Disclosure: The Bridge Alliance Education Fund is a funder of The Fulcrum.)

As we look to history, it has always been the mystics and scientists, innovators and outliers who saw the future most clearly and acted to push — or call — society forward, to awaken from our slumber of the way things are and envision a better future. The stories of their personal transformation inspire us to be better individually and collectively. With this inspiration, we can and must transform our nation into a more perfect union.

As co-founders of the Bridge Alliance, we are inspired and challenged by the problems facing our country. Our 100 member organizations work daily to protect the ideals of our American Dream so we can create healthy self-governance that has never fully existed before. Our members work to harness the tension of our differences as we enact our inalienable right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, balancing individual and community needs.

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Tech. Sgt. Jeff Kelly/U.S. Air Force

The Federal Voting Assistance Program assists military members who need to vote via absentee ballot. A spokeswoman for the Defense Department said there would be "minimal disruptions" if the United States pulls out of the international postage agency.

Costs to mail ballots may skyrocket for civilians, military living overseas

Election officials are growing increasingly concerned that the Trump administration's trade war with China could make it more difficult and expensive for overseas voters — including those in the military — to cast ballots in the 2019 and 2020 local, state and federal elections.

The issue is the pending withdrawal in October by the U.S. from the Universal Postal Union, a group of 192 nations that has governed international postal service and rates for 145 years.

Last October, the U.S. gave the required one-year notice stating it would leave the UPU unless changes were made to the discounted fees that China pays for shipping small packages to the United States. The subsidized fees — established years ago to help poor, developing countries — place American businesses at a disadvantage and don't cover costs incurred by the U.S. Postal Service.

With the U.S.-imposed deadline for withdrawal or new rates fast approaching, states officials are running out of time to prepare for overseas mail-in voting.

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