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."
A top issue on the democracy reform agenda — protecting elections against both disinformation and cyber hacking — is getting some unusual attention this week in the Democratic presidential campaign.
Amy Klobuchar, arguably at the top of the second tier of candidates given her rising support in Iowa, went to Atlanta on Monday to highlight her efforts in the Senate to enhance election security and to unveil some additional proposals.
The choice of location made sense for two reasons. She and nine other Democrats will meet in the city Wednesday night for their latest in a series of debates where the governing system's problems have so far received short shrift. And Georgia has emerged as the most prominent state where bolstering voting rights and election integrity have become a top priority of the Democratic establishment.
The latest effort to ease restrictions on voting through litigation is a challenge to Mississippi's requirement that naturalized citizens show proof of their citizenship when they register.
The lawsuit, filed Monday by the Mississippi Immigrants Rights Alliance, says the law is unconstitutional because it violates of the 14th Amendment's equal protection clause by treating one category of citizens differently from another. People born in the United States need only check a box on the state's registration form attesting they are citizens.
The Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, which helped bring the suit, says Mississippi is the only state with a unique mandate for would-be voters who were not born American citizens.