Dr. Michael Neblo Testifies Before the House Select Committee on the Modernization of Congress
On March 25th, 2021, Professor Michael Neblo of the Ohio State University’s Institute for Democratic Engagement and Accountability (IDEA) testified for the second time to the House of Representatives Select Committee on the Modernization of Congress (SCMC).
Professor Neblo’s testimony focused on the need to expand the group of constituents involved regularly in the policymaking process. Per Professor Neblo’s testimony, expanding access to the policymaking process has three dramatic impacts on the policymaking process:
“Bringing new voices in improves the quality and efficiency of policy by incorporating much more lived experience into decision-making; it improves equity by reaching people who do not have the resources to make their voices heard; and it improves legitimacy by linking policy directly to all the people who will have to live under it.”
Professor Neblo also explored directions for the future of the innovative Deliberative Town Hall model, including applications in Congress’s oversight capacity, and bringing Deliberative Town Halls to high school civics classrooms to engage newly-enfranchised citizens in the democratic process. Professor Neblo also called on the Select Committee to consider ways that Congress can encourage its Members to take advantage of the resources and expertise offered by civil society organizations, including by providing grants for Members to explore new methods of constituent communications, and revamping ethics rules to allow for collaboration with nonpartisan outside groups.
Professor Neblo was joined on the panel by Kathy Goldschmit of the Congressional Management Foundation; by Keith Allred of the National Institute for Civil Discourse; by Beth Noveck, of NYU and the GovLab; by Kevin Esterling of UC Riverside; and by Marci Harris of POPVOX--many of whom are frequent IDEA collaborators.
Questions in the hearing focused on how technologies can be developed to make connecting with constituents easier and more equitable, as well as what Congress can learn from its counterparts in other countries. “It was heartening to hear from Members of Congress who are so open-minded and willing to learn from other examples and to bring innovation and technology into their work as Representatives,” Neblo said. “The Select Committee on Modernization continues to be a wonderful example of how Congress can work to strengthen American democracy, and I was honored to be asked to return to testify in the 117th Congress.”