How to Save the Federal Legislature

Our Congressional system currently operates on the worst kind of winner-take-all cronyism: the majority party controls all of the legislative committees.

Here’s an alternative: Count up the number of committees, and divide into 100%. If there are 20 committees, that would be 5%. Every party with more than 5% representation in the chamber gets to pick a committee to run. The largest party picks the first committee, on down to the smallest qualifying party. Continue the rotation, skipping those parties that have more committees by percent under their control than has been allotted to the larger parties.

So if a party has 5% representation when there are 20 committees, they don’t get to pick any more committees at all. If they have 10%, they have half as many as they are allowed, and they don’t get to pick another committee until every other party has at least half as many committees as they are allowed.

So if the party has 7%, they only get one committee.

This allows single-issue parties to manage the committee they feel most passionately about – although with only a single committee member, they still have to convince the larger parties on the merits of their policies.

And the majority party can’t prevent legislation from advancing from committees that they don’t control. So they’ll have to learn to negotiate, instead of acting like little tyrants.