Derek Kilmer

Climate change solutions can’t wait for the politics to catch up
New Democrat Coalition pushes for bills that have bipartisan support and can make a difference

Climate change youth activists demonstrate at the Supreme Court on Sept. 18. Solutions to the climate crisis must not get caught up in partisan battles, New Democrat Coalition Chairman Derek Kilmer writes. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

OPINION — In the Pacific Northwest, we have a sense of urgency about addressing climate change. That urgency is driven, in part, by the fact that we are already seeing its impacts.

Where I’m from, we have four coastal tribes that are trying to move to higher ground due to rising sea levels and more severe storms. Catastrophic wildfires threaten the health and safety of communities throughout the Pacific Northwest. And our region’s largest employer — the Department of Defense — identifies climate change as a “threat multiplier” that makes our world less safe.

House leaders give modernization panel more time
A second year of work ahead for committee that seeks to make Congress more efficient

Chairman Derek Kilmer, D-Wash., right, and vice chairman Rep. Tom Graves, R-Ga., are seen during a Select Committee on the Modernization of Congress meeting in the Capitol in March. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Like most any fixer-upper endeavor, renovating Congress for the modern era will take at least a year longer than originally planned.

The House’s temporary Select Committee on the Modernization of Congress is on track to get more time to finish its effort to update the legislative branch amid the increasing political polarization of the 2020 elections. The House Rules Committee approved a rule Wednesday extending the modernization panel through next year. The full chamber voted Thursday, making the extension official.

Modernization panel mulls overhaul of congressional calendar
Members weigh time in districts vs. in the District

Rep. Mark Pocan, a Wisconsin Democrat, suggested having the House in two for two full weeks, then away for two weeks.  (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Members of a panel to modernize Congress are floating proposals to overhaul the legislative calendar, including an option of being in session for two full work weeks and then recessing for a fortnight of district work time.

Reps. William R. Timmons IV, a South Carolina Republican, and Mark Pocan, a Wisconsin Democrat, both suggested such an option Wednesday during a hearing of the House Select Committee on the Modernization of Congress, a temporary panel tasked with offering recommendations to update Capitol Hill technology and to improve working conditions for lawmakers and staff.  

Some lawmakers question amount of time spent in committees
How sustainable are members’ often packed and chaotic schedules?

California Rep. Mark DeSaulnier sits on four committees and seven subcommittees, one of the most packed rosters in the House. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The House parliamentarian brought the hammer down on the Education and Labor Committee in April, ending a long-standing practice that allowed panel members from both parties to vote on bills in committee on a flexible schedule — a violation of the House ban on proxy voting.

Members say their schedules have become so hectic and compressed that the courtesy, which the committee has extended for years, is needed. But the practice raises a bigger question: How sustainable are members’ often packed and chaotic schedules?

With impeachment churning, Modernization panel urges civility
Ex-Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood suggests leaders plan bipartisan retreat and weekly dinners

Modernization committee leaders Derek Kilmer, right, and Tom Graves say their panel “has set a new standard for collaboration on Capitol Hill.” (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

As impeachment and partisan politics rage on Capitol Hill, one congressional panel spent Thursday morning brainstorming ways to promote civility and collaboration among lawmakers.

The Select Committee on the Modernization of Congress almost seemed like it inhabited an alternate Congress from the one where, at the same time, Speaker Nancy Pelosi outlined plans for an impeachment inquiry of President Donald Trump and the House Intelligence Committee probed a whistleblower complaint central to that effort.

Photos of the Week: A statehood hearing, climate activists and a new way to wear glasses
The week of September 20 as captured by Roll Call’s photojournalists

D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser rides a double-decker bus on Monday with American flags featuring 51 stars down Pennsylvania Avenue along with 51 military veterans ahead of this week’s House Oversight and Reform Committee hearing on making D.C. the 51st state. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Modernization panel calls for staffer HR hub, mandatory cybersecurity training
Package of recommendations is ‘really a big deal,’ Graves says

Rep. Tom Graves, the top Republican on the Modernization Select Committee, applauded the bipartisan work to approve two dozen recommendations Thursday. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The Select Committee on the Modernization of Congress unanimously approved two dozen recommendations Thursday, urging lawmakers to create a centralized human resources hub for staffers, resurrect the Office of Technology Assessment and make cybersecurity training mandatory.

The recommendations, the second batch for the one-year panel, also included making permanent the Office of Diversity and Inclusion, updating the staff payroll system to semimonthly, creating a Congressional Leadership Academy to train lawmakers and reestablishing the OTA, which would advise Congress on technology matters.

Rep. Derek Kilmer: Disputes among Democrats amount to ‘false divisions’
On health care, campaign finance, immigration and gun control, Democrats are more unified than divided, congressman says

Democratic Rep Derek Kilmer, right, seen here with GOP Rep. Dan Newhouse, also of Washington, says Democrats are more united than divided. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Rep. Derek Kilmer, a Washington Democrat who chairs the moderate, business-friendly New Democrat Coalition, sought to downplay disputes within his own party, calling them “false divisions within the caucus.”   

On health care, campaign finance, immigration and gun control matters, Democrats are more unified than divided, Kilmer told C-SPAN “Newsmakers” in an interview that airs on July 28, despite recent intraparty conflicts on such matters as the border crisis and legislation to raise the minimum wage, leading to heated rhetoric, particularly between progressives and moderates.

The mountains between Congress and modernization

Chairman Derek Kilmer, D-Wash., right, and vice chairman Rep. Tom Graves, R-Ga., are seen during a Select Committee on the Modernization of Congress business meeting in the Capitol on Tuesday, March 12, 2019. Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call

Time is running out for the Select Committee on the Modernization of Congress to find bipartisan consensus on a variety of issues.

House doing ‘deep dive’ to smooth new member office setup
‘It’s been sort of a nightmare,’ House CAO Philip Kiko tells select committee

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., and other members of the 116th Congress' freshman class had several issues getting their offices up and running, which has prompted a "deep dive" by the House Chief Administrative Officer to address the problems. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The Office of the Chief Administrative Officer of the House is conducting a “deep dive” into the problems of setting up offices for the 116th Congress’ large freshman class, according to CAO Philip Kiko.

“It’s been sort of a nightmare,” Kiko told the Select Committee on the Modernization of Congress during a Thursday hearing on ways to ease the transition for newly elected members.