House committee proposes transparency enhancements
The committee tasked with recommending ways to improve the inner workings of Congress approved a first set of policy proposals, focused on increasing the transparency of the lawmaking process.
The five proposed reforms passed Thursday by the bipartisan Select Committee on the Modernization of Congress are intended to improve the public's access to congressional information. The recommendations would:
- Standardize the format of legislative text, making it easier for the public to access and understand legislation.
- Create a centralized home to track committee votes.
- Update both the House and Senate lobbying disclosure systems.
- Make it easier to track amendments to legislation.
- Create a database showing which agencies and programs are due for reauthorization.
Democratic Chairman Derek Kilmer said he plans to introduce legislation to reflect the transparency-focused proposals, which the committee passed unanimously.
"Transparency in Congress promotes more accountability to our constituents, and that's a good thing," Kilmer and the Republican vice chairman, Tom Graves, said in a statement. "These bipartisan recommendations are just the first step towards making the legislative branch more effective and accessible for the American people."
The spread of disinformation online promises to be one of the biggest threats to American democracy during the 2020 election and beyond, if no action is taken. But efforts to defend against these falsehoods remains hamstrung by partisanship.
Federal Election Commission Chairwoman Ellen Weintraub called disinformation "a fundamental assault on democracy" during a digital disinformation symposium this week at FEC headquarters in Washington.
Weintraub, along with PEN America and the Global Digital Policy Incubator at Stanford University, invited politicians, government officials, tech companies, academics and media representatives to the symposium to discuss disinformation and how to combat it. There were no ready answers.
Only a handful of states earned high marks in a new report analyzing the enforcement power and transparency of state ethics agencies.
The researchers behind "Enforcement of Ethics Rules by State Agencies" surveyed 2018 enforcement statistics for every state ethics agency and scored states by how well those agencies made their actions publicly available. The study was released last week by the nonprofit Coalition for Integrity, which works to combat corruption in both governments and business.