Senator John McCain has died. We wish him fair winds and following seas and offer condolences to his family.
— McCain Senate Office Building? In his tweets commemorating the life of Sen. McCain, Sen. Schumer said he would introduce a resolution to rename the Russell Senate Office Building after McCain. Richard Russell was a Democratic lion of the Senate who dominated the chamber for 30 years — he served for almost 40 — and was that chamber’s leading opponent of the civil rights movement. He coauthored the southern manifesto with Strom Thurmond that called on southerners to use all lawful means to resist desegregation. He also chaired the Senate investigation into the Pres. Truman’s removal of Gen. Douglas MacArthur from command for insubordination, doing an excellent job of separating politics from policymaking. Continue reading “Forecast for August 27, 2018. Rest in Peace Senator John McCain.”
LEGISLATIVE CAPACITY, PROCESS, AND POLITICAL SCIENCE
Put down the popcorn, congressional hearings aren’t pure theater. An analysis of over 120 hearings found that witness testimony tended to be fairly balanced and sophisticated. That said, we have concerns that the methodology: using complex language doesn’t mean the arguments are strong, and having competing viewpoints should not suggest full and appropriate ventilation of an issue.
Thanks but no thanks was the gist of President Trump’s signing statement for the FY 19 defense spending bill. The bill prohibits any use of funds that recognizes Crimea as part of Russia, but the signing statement signaled the administration won’t be bound by that requirement. Since Reagan, presidents have frequently used signing statements to assert presidential authority and intent by challenging the constitutionality of certain provisions of enacted laws; the American Bar Association has called this practice, which usurps congressional prerogatives, “contrary to the rule of law and our constitutional separation of powers.” Continue reading “Forecast for August 20, 2018. How Effective Exactly Are Lawmakers?”
In March, new legislation from Congress required the Library of Congress publish all non-confidential Congressional Research Service reports online by September 19th of this year. That deadline is rapidly approaching and while congressional and civil society concerns about the library’s implementation plan remain unaddressed, the Librarian of Congress, Dr. Hayden, declined a direct request from Rep. Lofgren for the Librarian to meet with civil society about improving the website. Continue reading “Plan for Publishing CRS Reports Falls Short”
THE TOP LINE
Rep. Collins was arrested for insider trading every news outlet on earth reported, but that’s not the most interesting part. Multiple news outlets described what happened as Speaker Ryan stripping Collins of his committee membership. He didn’t. Curious? Read my dive into the Speaker’s power to police member behavior and what that means for policy dissenters.
Kavanaugh hearings will start Sept. 4, the Senate Judiciary Committee announced, even as nonprofits ask for comprehensive disclosure of his records in two letters: one asking Sens. Grassley and Feinstein to work together on public access, the other to the George W. Bush Library. Sen. Feinstein repeated her request to the Archivist to release materials.
Congress remains split on sexual harassment legislation with the House insisting on stronger reforms and the Senate pushing for weaker ones, Politico reported. Absent from the conversation: the legislation could be stronger still by addressing non disclosure agreements that limit reporting to official channels, expanding prohibitions on member-employee relationships in committees, and requiring outreach to member offices when problems develop. Continue reading “Forecast for August 13, 2018. While #MeToo Stalls in Congress, SCOTUS Nomination Hearings Move Forward.”
Rep. Collins was arrested for insider trading every news outlet on earth reported, but that’s not the most interesting part. Immediately after his arrest, Speaker Ryan released a statement that said, in passive voice, “Until this matter is settled, Rep. Collins will not be serving on the House Energy and Commerce Committee.” Multiple news outlets described what happened as Ryan stripping Collins of his committee membership. At least in a technical sense, that’s not possible. Continue reading “What Does Rep. Collins’ Exit Say About the Speaker’s Power to Police Member Behavior?”
TICKING CLOCK ON TRANSPARENCY BILLS
The House and Senate have about a dozen good government and transparency bills that have widespread support, have advanced through the chambers, but are now stuck for no apparent (or good) reason. Here’s four of them:
— The Access to Congressionally Mandated Reports Act (HR 4631), which requires all mandated agency reports to Congress to be made available on GPO’s website. The measure was unanimously voted to be favorably reported out of the House Oversight and House Administration committees, but House Administration still has not actually reported the bill despite the April vote, apparently because it’s in a food fight with the Oversight committee. Should it pass the House the measure is teed up in the Senate. Continue reading “Forecast for August 6, 2018. Transparency Bills Are Stuck and the Clock Is Ticking.”