Forecast for July 2, 2018. Everything You Need to Know About the SCOTUS Nomination Process. Plus, How We Can Protect Journalists.

TOP STORIES

The Supreme Court. — Sen. McConnell says the Senate will consider Trump’s nominee to the Supreme Court this fall; Pres. Trump says he’ll nominate within two weeks. Here are background reports on Supreme Court nominations from CRS: Nominations from 1789 to the presentthe appointment processcommittee and floor procedurehistorical overview and data on Senate Judiciary hearingsestablishing majority cloture in the Senatespeed of nominations from 1900-2010nominations not confirmed from 1789 to the present.

The Fourth Estate. — The murder of five reporters this past week is a reminder of the importance and vulnerability of members of the fourth estate. Congress currently is considering two sets of bills on protecting journalists.

• The Journalist Protection Act (HR 4935S 2967) would make a federal crime out of certain kinds of attacks on people reporting the news; this Hill op-ed explains more.

• The bipartisan Free Flow of Information Act (HR 4382), first introduced by then-Rep. Mike Pence in 2005, would establish a federal statutory privilege to protect journalists from being compelled to reveal confidential sources and would ensure they can do their jobs without fear of imprisonment or intimidation. 49 out of 50 states have a reporter shield law; the Senate had a version of this bill in the 113th that was sent to the floor.

•  Additionally, Congress has its own processes to work with the press; learn more about the House and Senate Press galleries in this CRS report.

Leg Branch Capacity. — Legislative Branch appropriations bills have been passed by the House and Senate and they currently are working out their differences, with the House recently naming mini-bus conferees.  While some of the provisions to strengthen Congress have made it into the news cycle, most notably on paying Senate interns and requiring e-filing of Senate campaign reports, many have not.

Both chambers would require a study of staff pay and retention, with a focus on diversity; and both have include language on examining Congress’s technological assessment capabilities. The House modestly would address staff pay, require a study on how to improve how whistleblowers communicate with Congress, and encourage the Library of Congress to publish a calendar of hearings and markups for the entire chamber. The Senate would address CBO transparency, child care availability, and independence for Leg Branch IGs.

There’s more, including issues like cybersecurity, with summaries of those capacity strengthening provisions at the links above. (Note: we advocated to Congress on most of these issues.)

OVERSIGHT

• The government will begin filing “Open America” stays in all FOIA lawsuits against the FBI; so if you sue, the bureau won’t process it until 2021. (Jason Leopold) (An “Open America” stay of proceedings in a FOIA lawsuit can be issued by a court to allow a defendant agency time in which to reach a FOIA request in its existing backlog and to process it in an orderly fashion.)

• The UK’s Parliament and Security Committee released two reports on detainee mistreament and rendition, covering 2001-2010 and addressing current issuesBoth of the committee’s reports implicate the US’s mistreatment and rendition of detainees.

• House Intel Committee reported out the Intel Authorization Bill for FY 2018 and 2019 (HR 6237)

• Government agents surprise former ICE spokesman turned whistleblower at his home (CBS News)

LEG PROCESS, CAPACITY, AND POLITICS

• House Judiciary advances non-binding anti-Rosenstein censure as a first step towards contempt (Washington Post)

• The Senate wants to pay (some of) its interns (NY Times)

• Here are some easier ways to get a vote in the Senate (James Wallner)

• What happened to the discharge petition? (Legislative Procedure)

TRANSPARENCY

• 3 of 18 surveyed federal agencies fully implemented changes required by the the FOIA Improvement Act of 2016 on time (GAO)

• Senate campaign e-filing requirement is included in leg branch approps, for now (Roll Call)

• FEC online political ad hearing couldn’t find consensus on moving forward (Public Integrity)

• C.J. Roberts makes the laughable claim of the Courts as the most transparent branch of government (C-SPAN)

TECHNOLOGY

• OMB is requesting public comment on its federal data strategy (FedScoop)

• SEC finally adopts inline XBRL for corporate financial filings (Data Coalition)

• Appropriators are asked to clarify their technology assessment language in a letter sent by Demand Progress Action, the R Street Institute, and the Lincoln Network (Demand Progress)

ETHICS

• H. Ethics Committee launches full investigation into Rep. Schweikert and his aide over misspending official funds and receiving illegal campaign contributions (Politico)

• More than $120k worth of equipment went missing from a Member’s office (Daily Caller)

• This lawmaker-turned-lobbyist is donating leftover campaign funds to his former committee colleagues, who he now lobbies on behalf of his former donors (Sludge)

• Rep. Sean Maloney’s claimed House Admin disallowed his purchase of tampons for office visitors (Rep. Maloney), but House Admin says otherwise (Washington Post).

White House releases its annual report on White House personnel as a PDF. Womp Womp. (Politico)

ODDS & ENDS

• Hudson Hollister to step down from Data Coalition, search for new ED beings (FedScoop)

• The truth about sexual harassment in Westminster (Financial Times)

• The role of lawyers in (parliamentary) legislatures (uk constitution law)

• Recap of the 17th annual Congressional Golf challenge (Roll Call)

• McConnell presiding over a Senate pro forma session (Seung Min Kim)

CALENDAR

Congress is in recess. The Senate reconvenes on Monday, July 9, at 3 pm, although it’s unclear when the first vote will take place. The House is expected to reconvene on Tuesday, July 10, although there’s no additional information at this time.