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Enhancing Congressional Capacity

Overview

Congress’s institutional capacity—including its funding, personnel, and internal expertise—has decreased dramatically in recent decades. Weakened capacity has undermined Congress’s ability to fulfill its Article I responsibilities, act as an effective check on executive power, and go about even its most basic legislative and oversight functions. 

At Protect Democracy, we believe that strengthening Congress is key to strengthening American democracy. This includes:

  • Building capacity to legislate effectively and oversee the federal government;
  • Reforming the budget and appropriations process;
  • Reclaiming power from the Executive Branch; and
  • Returning deliberation to both chambers by allowing majorities to bypass leadership.

Read more in our Roadmap to Renewal.

How To Re-Empower Congress

On Thursday, March 25, 2021, the Select Committee on the Modernization of Congress held a listening session to hear from Protect Democracy, as well as other organizations committed to improving the performance of Congress, about issues they would like the Committee to focus on in the 117th Congress.

At Protect Democracy, we believe that strengthening Congress is key to strengthening American democracy. In Protect Democracy’s prepared testimony, we lay out how the Select Committee on Modernization is part of a broader set of congressional actions to take back control of key legislative functions such as war powers and its power of the purse:

“The House Rules Committee and House Foreign Affairs Committee held hearings on Tuesday about war powers reform, for example, and the Bipartisan Congressional Budget Reform Act and the Congressional Power of the Purse Act chart a path forward for both budget process reform and power of the purse reforms. This committee, in particular, can and should lead to fundamental reforms that would look like a new Legislative Reorganization Act.”

Protect Democracy has championed the importance of the Select Committee in particular as a place for discussing and proposing bipartisan reforms to strengthen the institution.

For a PDF version of the entire written testimony, click here.

A recording of the testimony can be found below and linked here.

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