Even before the Capitol siege on January 6, Congress had a fraught agenda. It faced a contested election, social upheavals demanding justice from our public and private institutions, and a surging pandemic. Yet a potential silver lining exists beneath the surface of these crises. COVID-19 and the threat of violence have revealed more than just the fragile nature of our democratic institutions; they have also exposed the urgent need to modernize our government, especially the U.S. Congress. Accelerated by COVID-19 emergency measures, the Select Committee on the Modernization of Congress provides both the recommendations and the process model for how to proceed in our post-insurrectionary democracy.
Congress reauthorized the bipartisan Modernization Committee for two more years in January 2021, the same week as the Capitol siege. This official action marked a critical step towards a stronger American democracy. Insurrection is a system shock that can also signal a dynamic moment—a time for Congress to leverage data and digital tools for reform.
Push Forward Now provides an overview of the Modernization Committee, plus a playlist of how its Democratic and Republican members organized to achieve success. This report argues that the committee itself is a model for the future in both form and substance and demonstrates Congress’ timely capacity for institutional transformation.