GOP transition effort includes Dem feedback, online suggestions

The House GOP Transition Team website has received close to 1,500 submissions from the public on how to improve House operations.

Since the website GOPLeader.gov/NewMajority went live three weeks ago, the transition team has received 1,490 suggestions from the public, according to spokesman Brendan Buck, who added that he has been “very pleased with the quality and thoughtfulness of the ideas.”

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As part of House Speaker-designate John Boehner’s (R-Ohio) effort to ensure a smooth transition back to Republican control of the lower chamber, the top-ranked lawmaker tapped Rep. Greg Walden (R-Ore.) to head the transition process.

One of Walden’s top priorities was to provide a way for the public to weigh in on the process online, a GOP source explained.

Buck provided more than a dozen e-mails to The Hill to offer a taste of the issues and concerns being raised by the public as Republicans regain control of the gavel in the House, four years after losing that control to Democrats.

Some ideas are short and quick.

“Read the Constitution and abide by it period!!!!” Marvin F. suggested. Al C. wrote, “Post all legislation online with the authors of each section listed by their contribution to the work.”

And there are the longer, more detailed suggestions such as Anne A.’s contribution to end the practice of adding unrelated items to must-pass bills.

“Abolishing earmarks would be a symbolic gesture, but far more important is a major overhaul of the way Congress does business. Step number one would be to ban unrelated riders tacked onto bills for the purpose of sneaking in legislation which would not otherwise be approved. It is often a form of blackmail. This makes the process even less transparent than normal and makes voters very angry — at all politicians,” Anne wrote in her submission to the transition team.

A recurring theme among the public suggestions has been that lawmakers need to put aside their party labels and solve the nation’s problems cooperatively.

“Stop the partisan bickering and do the job you were elected to do – represent all the people and not just 'your party,' ” Sam D. suggests in one submission.

Walden has, in fact, reached out to Democrats for their ideas and suggestions as Republicans return to control of the House.

He tapped Democratic Reps. Robert Brady (Penn.) and Robert Andrews (N.J.) to serve as liaisons to the transition process.

Andrews said he appreciates being asked to offer his suggestions.

In an interview with The Hill recently, the Garden State lawmaker said that he has some ideas on reforming the House schedule — a common frustration among House members is a lack of certainty in their weekly schedule, as well as votes scheduled during committee hearings.

Walden intends to meet with both Brady and Andrews this week when the House returns.

Democrats have also offered suggestions to improve the transparency, efficiency and effectiveness of the House, in surveys that were handed out by Walden’s team before the Thanksgiving recess.

The forms, sent to the member, chief of staff and scheduler in each office, included questions on the day-to-day operations of the House in order to improve operations and “lower costs and increase efficiency,” according to Walden’s request in a letter accompanying the surveys.

At least 380 forms, due the Friday before the break, were returned to the transition office — an indication that the transition team received feedback from Republicans and Democrats, since House Republicans hold only 178 seats this Congress.

Walden has continued to receive updates on items submitted by the public in addition to those from fellow colleagues and staffers on Capitol Hill. They will be incorporated into the changes that Walden and the 22-member transition team present to their conference and eventually to the House.

“The input we’re receiving continues to inform Mr. Walden’s perspective on this transition as well as our new majority. Clear patterns are emerging that let us know what ideas are really resonating with the American people,” Buck told The Hill  Friday afternoon.

Walden said he encourages input from any and all individuals — he even tacked up an old-fashioned Suggestions Box outside the door to the transition office.

For those individuals on Capitol Hill in the vicinity of HC-8, Walden would appreciate any suggestions and comments on how to improve House operations.

Just place comments on a note card or piece of paper and drop it in the box before the end of this week.