Tom Graves

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.

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.

House modernization leaders seek consensus despite hurdles
Select committee is a long way from solving institutional problems

Reps. Derek Kilmer, right, and Tom Graves, leaders of the Select Committee on the Modernization of Congress, are seeking ways to improve congressional operations. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

With 2019 half done, so is the lifespan of the Select Committee on the Modernization of Congress. 

And the panel is still a long way from solving some of the big-scope institutional problems that House leaders asked it to. When it comes to some of the thornier political items — such as lawmaker pay raises and resurrecting earmarks — the panel is unlikely to agree.

Financial Services bill loaded with hot-button issues may signal trouble ahead
CQ Budget Podcast, Episode 116

Rep. Tom Graves, R-Ga., succeeded in passing a Motion to Recommit that supported sanctions against Iran. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

House Democrats passed the Financial Services spending bill that includes some controversial provisions, says CQ Roll Call’s banking reporter Jim Saksa. Those include blocking money for a border wall, increasing funding to enforce sanctions on Iran and allowing the District of Columbia to fund abortions.

Congressional compensation: Isn’t there a select committee for that?
Panel tasked with modernizing Congress will look at staff but not member issues

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

As lawmakers engage in a contentious debate about whether to thaw a decadelong freeze on their pay, there’s a logical place where the underlying issues of member compensation and housing could be addressed — the Select Committee on the Modernization of Congress. 

But the panel currently has no plans to take up such matters, its chairman, Rep. Derek Kilmer, and vice chairman, Rep. Tom Graves, told CQ Roll Call. 

Together on the front lines: How the US and UN are promoting stability in Lebanon
The Lebanese Armed Forces have made notable progress in size, strength and capability

U.S. lawmakers and military officials observe joint training involving the Lebanon Armed Forces and the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon during a recent trip to the Middle East. (Courtesy Office of Rep. Adam Kinzinger)

OPINION — Certain things become clear when you fly over the “Blue Line” — which separates Lebanon from Israel — in an open helicopter.

As the first members of Congress to visit this contentious stretch of land in over a decade, we realized that even though we come from different political parties, we have much more in common than we might have thought. Between the three of us, we share a strong support for a safe and secure Israel, a desire to counter ISIS and Hezbollah, and an understanding that Lebanon needs international help to manage the next phase of the Syrian conflict and the more than 1 million refugees currently living in the country.

Confused by Congress’ bills? Maybe AI can help
House clerk is working on an ‘artificial intelligence engine’ that will compare legislation

The Select Committee on the Modernization of Congress, led by Reps. Derek Kilmer and Tom Graves, got an AI preview on Friday. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

As lawmakers grapple with how to shape legislation dealing with artificial intelligence, the clerk of the House is developing an AI tool to automate the process of analyzing differences between bills, amendments and current laws.

That’s according to Robert F. Reeves, the deputy clerk of the House, who on Friday told the Select Committee on the Modernization of Congress that his office is working on an “artificial intelligence engine” that may be ready as soon as next year.

Lobbyists to Congress: Pay staffers better
Six ex-lawmakers offer recommendations on making Capitol Hill great again

The House Select Committee on the Modernization of Congress heard from lobbyists and former colleagues at a hearing Wednesday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

K Street denizens and former members of Congress offered tips on Wednesday for making Capitol Hill great again to the Select Committee on the Modernization of Congress, including recommendations to help Congress keep pace with lobbyists like themselves.

Six ex-lawmakers — including Virginia Republican Tom Davis — suggested that Congress pay its staffers more money to better hold their own with experts from K Street and the executive branch. They also called for more civility on Capitol Hill, less emphasis on fundraising, and to invest more in technology and technological savvy within the legislative branch.

House panel questions an empty chair because Wilbur Ross doesn’t show up
The made-for-CSPAN moment occurred after Ross canceled with a House Appropriations panel

A news photographer takes a shot of the empty witness chair set for Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross in a House Appropriations subcommittee hearing Wednesday. Ross did not attend. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

One congressional subcommittee decided to shirk the typically mundane, policy-focused nature of its hearings on Wednesday by questioning an empty chair.

The made-for-C-SPAN moment came after Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross canceled his appearance in front of the House Appropriations panel that determines how much funding his department receives and how they can spend it.