Forecast for January 27, 2020.

THE TOP LINE

The “Senate is hiding from all of us,” writes longtime hill reporter Kathy Kiely, who said “the current security scheme appears designed to protect lawmakers from reporters’ questions.” The restrictions on press access, which we oppose, are a black eye on the Senate and a provocation for future restrictions.

Care about leg branch funding? We’ve built the definitive spreadsheet on funding, tracking every line item appropriation over the last 25 years.

Congress’s Science & Technology Policy capabilities were the subject of a recent NAPA report; our white paper covers the reports strengths and weaknesses and now we are pleased to release a 1-page summary. Stay tuned for news about an upcoming hill briefing on recs we co-authored (and will release soon) with the Lincoln Network.

Whistleblowers and CBO hearings: House Oversight will discuss whistleblower protections tomorrow at 2. The House Budget Committee has a hearing on “The Congressional Budget Office’s Budget and Economic Outlook” at 10 on Wednesday.

War and PeaceTonight at 5, House Rules will consider a measure from Reps. Barbara Lee and Ro Khanna to repeal the 2002 AUMF and prohibit military strikes on Iran absent Congressional authorization; the effort is an aspect of the leg branch’s reassertion of its proper role. (Notable is the procedural posture to avoid defection from a handful of Dems by sidestepping a MTR.) In addition, newly introduced legislation would provide long overdue reforms of the government’s surveillance powers — some authorities are set to sunset in March — in the wake of revelations of misuse of those authorities and a recent DOJ IG report on FISA process abuses. See our primer on section 215.

Just for fun: the NYT made a 3-D tour of how the Senate was transformed for the impeachment trial. Continue reading “Forecast for January 27, 2020.”

Capitol Police Round Up: Week Ending January 23, 2020

For the week ending January 23, 2020, there were 11 Capitol Police incidents reported; 20 individuals arrested. There were 3 traffic related incidents, including 1 DUI and 2 invalid permit arrests. Multiple individuals were also arrested for disorderly conduct that included chanting, shouting, and dropping papers down the Rotunda of the Russell Senate Office Building on Friday, January 17th around 2pm. There were no recorded arrests between January 19th and the 22nd. 

Here’s how this week’s activity was distributed:

Continue reading “Capitol Police Round Up: Week Ending January 23, 2020”

Improving Congress and Public Access to OLC Opinions: An Update on Congressional Activity

This blogpost summarizes some recent legislative developments concerning opinions issued by the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel. By way of background, OLC interprets the U.S. Constitution, federal statutes, and federal regulations. For many (but not all) matters within the executive branch, the opinions are considered authoritative. For example, the Department of Justice, as a matter of policy, will not prosecute people who violate the law so long as they are following OLC guidance, and OLC opinions are used to resolve legal disputes between agencies.

Continue reading “Improving Congress and Public Access to OLC Opinions: An Update on Congressional Activity”

25 Years of Legislative Branch Appropriations

Every year Congress determines exactly how much money will be made available to the Legislative Branch and the purpose for which it can be spent. The Legislative Branch Appropriations bills directs congressional spending, line-item by line-item — but, alas, the instructions are published as prose, can run for dozens of pages, and it is difficult to see how appropriations spending has changed over the decades.

We’ve gone through  all of the spending bills for the last quarter-century and lined up the spending items in a downloadable spreadsheet. Now you can see how spending on each line-item has changed from 1994 forward.

Peruse the Legislative Branch budget line items from fiscal years 1994-2020 below, or download the data set here Continue reading “25 Years of Legislative Branch Appropriations”

Forecast for January 21, 2020.

House Members are in their districts this week but the Senate is in for impeachment trial proceedings, which start today. Senators are the deciders, but they are not jurors.

Before we start, it’s worth rereading MLK’s letter from a Birmingham jail. I found this section resonant: “I have tried to make clear that it is wrong to use immoral means to attain moral ends. But now I must affirm that it is just as wrong, or perhaps even more so, to use moral means to preserve immoral ends.”

THE TOP LINE

Press under attack: the Senate has implemented ridiculous press restrictions for impeachment trial coverage. Coalitions of transparency advocates (like us), free press representatives, and the Senators themselves all are saying the restrictions must go. There’s no public-facing written guidance on the rules, but that’s not stopping the Capitol Police from ending voluntary conversations between Members and press if they’re outside the press pens. More details in the impeachment section below.

The Fix Congress committee discussed how to reclaim Congressional power last week; we summarize the discussion below.

Freedom for all press: the DCCC filed a House ethics complaint against GOP “trackers” for recording video in public House hallways. Continue reading “Forecast for January 21, 2020.”

Capitol Police Round Up: Week Ending January 16, 2020

For the week ending January 16, 2020, there were 10 Capitol Police incidents reported; 156 individuals arrested. There were 4 traffic related incidents, all involving invalid permit arrests. 147 individuals were also arrested for unlawful demonstration activities on the Rotunda steps of the Capitol Building on Friday, January 10th at 12:55pm. These arrests included actors Joaquin Phoenix and Martin Sheen, who were participating in Jane Fonda’s final DC Fire Drill Fridays protest.

Here’s how this week’s activity was distributed:

Continue reading “Capitol Police Round Up: Week Ending January 16, 2020”

Presenting a New One-Stop-Shop for all Science and Technology Related Reports: @Global_OTA.

In today’s clickbaity and information saturated digital age, it can be difficult to find definitive and objective information, research, and reports on science and technology and their impacts on global policy making. Luckily, our team just made many of these reports easier to find. @Global_OTA, our newest twitter bot, tweets all science & technology assessment reports that are published from European Parliamentary Technology Assessment (EPTA). 

Continue reading “Presenting a New One-Stop-Shop for all Science and Technology Related Reports: @Global_OTA.”