Forecast for July 9, 2018. Coming Up This Week: the Sixth Annual Congressional Legislative Data and Transparency Conference.

THE TOP LINE

• The Supreme Court nomination fight will dominate headlines (with a live TV announcement Monday at 9 pm) and deflate other conversations except perhaps the controversy surrounding Rep. Jim Jordan. Appropriators are expected to move another minibus and the intelligence authorization bill is teed up for passage in the House.

• While this may get comparatively little attention, the sixth annual Congressional Legislative Data and Transparency Conference will take place on Thursday in the US Capitol, hosted by the Committee on House Administration. If you haven’t been before, this bipartisan event is the best opportunity to meet the people who make the legislative branch’s technology work and to learn about how the legislative branch is modernizing its legislative processes to address the digital revolution. RSVP here.

OVERSIGHT

• Can the president pardon himself? Former House Counsel Mike Stern argues it doesn’t really matter… from a certain point of view. (Point of Order)

• A CIA whistleblower who suffered retaliation after repeatedly trying to get a review of agency actions he believed unnecessarily put lives at risk, and sought to sue to force the agency to act only to have a court say he had no right of private action, was fired. (GovExec)

• The George Mason University Foundation, which is a mechanism by which the eponymous public university receives private funds, was determined to not be subject to Virginia’s FOIA, dealing a blow to students seeking to understand whether/how the Koch brothers have affected its academic independence. (Washington Post)

LEG PROCESS, CAPACITY, AND POLITICS

• What does germaneness mean in the Senate? (Leg Branch)

• The 20 representatives who have not had a primary challenger in a decade. (NY Times)

• Rep. Capuano has the highest paid staff in the House (WGBH), but the story does not address the context of a decades-long decline in congressional staff pay and low pay compared to the executive branch.

• S. Intel released its initial findings on Russian involvement in the 2016 election. (SSCI)

TRANSPARENCY

• Sens. Grassley and Leahy asked C.J. Roberts to release same day audio of all Supreme Court oral arguments (Grassley). As we noted last week, C.J. Roberts had previously declared the judicial branch the most transparent branch of government.

• A federal court said neither Trump’s tweets nor “pontifications” by a military general serve to declassify a program or undermine the gov’ts legal authority to keep it a secret for FOIA purposes. (Politico)

• The US government [foolishly — ed.] is considering charging for Earth-observing data. (Nature)

• When local newspapers close, municipal borrowing costs increase by 5 to 11 percent. (SSRN) (H/T Sarah Schacht)

• A bill to modernize government websites and digitize forms was introduced by Reps. Khanna and Ratcliffe. (Wired)

• The FEC has been without a permanent general counsel for five years. (Center for Public Integrity)

TECHNOLOGY

• The NSA purged hundreds of millions of call and email records after massive over-collection. (NY Times)

• A history of the GSA’s technology wing, the Office of Products and Programs. (18F)

• Angela Colter becomes the head of 18F. (Angela Colter)

• Congressional Innovation Fellowship applications will begin to be accepted on July 17th. (TechCongress)

• Senate appropriators zero out the IT modernization fund, using report language to chastise OMB and GSA for woefully insufficient communications. (Federal News Radio)

ETHICS

• EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt resigned amid numerous ethics scandals. Former coal lobbyist and Senate staffer Andrew Wheeler — who is the subject of a pending ethics complaint for violating of Trump’s EO 13770 that requires lobbyists to recuse themselves from matters related to their prior work — will become acting EPA head. Incidentally, Wheeler has a twitter account but has yet to tweet while Pruitt’s twitter account apparently (unlawfully) was deleted. (Digiphile)

• More than a half dozen students have accused Rep. Jim Jordan of knowing about but doing nothing to stop sexual abuse perpetrated by a student athletics team doctor that occurred in the 1980s-1990s when he was an Ohio state wrestling coach (NBC news); Jordan says he did not know of the abuse. (Politico).

• Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross earned millions after he failed to divest a stock after taking office. (Center for Public Integrity)

ODDS & ENDS

• The French Constitutional Court cited the “principle of fraternity” to overturn the conviction of a farmer who knowingly and unlawfully aided more than a dozen migrants who entered the country illegally. (France 24)

• The White House is churning through staff at an unusually high rate. (Reuters)

• The European Parliament voted down transparency on reimbursement for member expenses. (Politico)

• Congressional IT worker Imran Awan plead guilty to bank fraud; but no evidence of misconduct with House IT systems. (NY Times)

• What does natural language processing say about who wrote each Federalist Paper? (JonLuca)

PROGRAMMING NOTE

I try to keep the calendar (below) as up to date as possible, but when Congress comes back from recess, the Senate’s public facing amalgamated calendar is not updated until they resume. At the time of writing (10:30 pm Sunday), it is empty. Of course, Senate committees are meeting this upcoming week, and I’ve scanned through many of the committee websites to see what’s on the schedule and add it below.

CALENDAR

Monday

• Senate reconvenes at 3

Tuesday

• House reconvenes: first vote at 6:30; on suspension a bill (HR 5970) to require the SEC to make recommendations on “simplifying” the 10-Q quarterly financial report it requires publicly traded companies to file, looking at the costs and benefits from certain perspectives but not that of journalists, civil society watchdogs, or the general public

• Unfunded Mandates Information and Transparency Act of 2017 (HR 50) hearing — H. Rules at 5 (amendments due Monday, July 9 at 10)

Wednesday

• Amendments to H. Minibus (including FSGG) due to H. Rules by 10 — announcement

• Senate Judiciary has a nomination hearing scheduled but no nominees listed — S. Judiciary at 10

• Securing election systems — H. Homeland Security at 10:30

• Election security preparation: federal and vendor perspectives — S. Rules at 10:30

• Hearing on the Intel Authorization Act for FY 2018 and 2019 (bill text and report) — H. Rules at 3 (amendment deadline was July 5)

Thursday

• House floor: intel authorization bill (HR 6237)

• FBI/DOJ oversight w/r/t the 2016 election — H. Oversight & Judiciary at 10 (witness: Pete Strzok)

• Anti-terrorism Clarification Act of 2018 markup — S. Judiciary at 10

Friday

• House floor: Unfunded Mandates Information and Transparency Act of 2017 (Subject to a Rule)