THE TOP LINE
Rules reform is the topic of a Congressional Transparency Caucus event on Thursday at 2 in Rayburn 2456 entitled “Playing by the House Rules.” RSVP here. Rep. Quigley will make opening remarks. Panelists include Daniel Schuman, Demand Progress; Meredith McGehee, Issue One; Matt Glassman, GAI at Georgetown; Molly Reynolds, Brookings Institution. For more, we are compiling rules reform proposals and news coverage here.
A subset of current CRS reports was published online by the Library of Congress on Tuesday. CRS published only the R series reports, approximately six hundred documents, while federal law required much, much more. Longtime CRS watcher and report publisher Steven Aftergood noted, “other CRS product lines — including CRS In Focus, CRS Insight, and CRS Legal Sidebar — are not currently available through the public portal.” We’ve got more information here on what happened and what should happen next.
It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas, or maybe slightly before, when the short term continuing resolution will expire and lame duck legislators will have to thrash out the remaining spending bills — including whether to fund for a border wall — or shut down the government, or maybe both. Continue reading “Forecast for September 24, 2018. Congress’ Staff Capacity Problem, Plus the Library of Congress Started Publishing CRS Reports.”
A subset of current CRS reports was published online by the Library of Congress on Tuesday. While federal law mandated the Library publish by September 18 any non-confidential final written work product of CRS containing research or analysis in any format that is available for general congressional access and that was published after the date of enactment of the legislation on the CRS Congressional Intranet, CRS published only the R series reports, totalling in the low six hundreds. As longtime CRS watcher and report publisher Steven Aftergood noted, “other CRS product lines — including CRS In Focus, CRS Insight, and CRS Legal Sidebar — are not currently available through the public portal.”
The Librarian of Congress implicitly addressed this gap in her blogpost, writing “we worked closely with Congress to make sure that we had a mutual understanding of the law’s requirements,” hinting at a behind-the-scenes agreement with appropriators. It could also be a response to criticism leveled by us (with R Street and GovTrack) concerning problems in the Library’s implementation plan. Continue reading “CRS Publishes Some of its Reports, With Promises of More to Come”
Unnoticed elsewhere but celebrated here, the Library of Congress must update its website to include a unified calendar for Senate and House of Representatives committee hearings and markups. The deadline is 90 days after enactment of the Legislative Branch Appropriations bill, which was on September 21, which means it must be up by Friday, December 21st.
Continue reading “Coming Soon: A Unified Congressional Meetings Calendar”
On the 231st anniversary of the delegates to the Constitutional Convention signing the U.S. Constitution, we’re pleased to share the good news that Cornell’s Legal Information Institute (LII) will today publish Congress’s legal treatise that explains how the Supreme Court interprets the Constitution.
The treatise, known as the Constitution Annotated, is prepared by the Library of Congress’s Congressional Research Service and is published by the Government Publishing Office. Unfortunately, they do this poorly, as we describe below. For nine years we’ve asked the Library of Congress to do better, and since they have not answered those calls, Cornell’s LII has stepped up to the plate. Continue reading “Finally, The Constitution (Annotated) In Your Virtual Pocket”
THE TOP LINE
Happy birthday to the US Constitution, signed 231 years ago today. In its honor, we are pleased to publish online the Constitution Annotated, a treatise commissioned by Congress that explains the Constitution as interpreted by the U.S. Supreme Court. By we, I mean Cornell’s Legal Information Institute, GovTrack.us, and Demand Progress.
Reforming the House’s rules is a major topic of conversation in front of and behind the scenes.
— A coalition of 20 organizations and 8 experts on Congress released a letter outlining 10 principles for rules reform. Fleshing out those principles, Demand Progress issued a 21-page white paper with specific reform ideas. Roll Call has the best summary of those recs.
— The House Rules Committee held a members-day hearing on rules reform, with 11 documents submitted containing a variety of ideas.
— Minority Whip Steny Hoyer outlining his reform ideas in a major speech; it included several of our technology reform suggestions.
— Let’s get it started. While some House members said it was too soon to consider what to include in the rules package, 15 members of the Problem Solvers’ caucus pledged to withhold their votes for Speaker if their rules recs aren’t adopted. Continue reading “Forecast for September 17, 2018. Celebrating Constitution Day and Reforming the House Rules.”
The Leg Branch minibus conference report may get a House floor vote this week; there was an actual, real-life conference committee last week. Here’s what’s in the House and Senate bills.
— As a bonus (& thanks to Tim Ryan), the House plumped down $8.8m for intern pay in the amended legislation (text is unavailable), a big step forward to opening up the ranks of hill staff, which by my math will pay one person for 3 months in every House office. The Senate, thanks to Chris Murphy, included $5m for intern pay.
— Watch this for a Rules committee meeting on floor consideration.
— Too busy to watch the House hearing? House proceedings are webcast on YouTube, which creates an automatic transcript; you can also double the playback speed and turn on closed-captioning.
House rules are the subject of member-day Rules Committee hearing on Thursday. Member requests to testify are due by 5pm Monday. I’ll have more on proposals to reform the rules next week. Continue reading “Forecast for September 10, 2018. Legislative Branch Appropriations and Conference Rules.”
The rules for the people writing the rules can seem like a black box, and that’s because to an extent they are. Demand Progress has voiced concerns for years that House Republicans are the only conference publishing their rules online (they also post their proposed changes to rules so extra credit for them).
Historically Senate Republicans and Democrats in both chambers haven’t published their conference rules, leaving the public in the dark, until now. House Democratic Caucus rules were recently published, along with the House Republican Conference rules. Now the Senate needs to step their game up and put their rules online as well.
THE TOP LINE
Appropriations. House and Senate appropriators have moved their bills faster than usual, but time is running out. Only eight legislative days remain for the House and sixteen days for the Senate to reach agreement and enact them before the fiscal year starts on Oct. 1. The action will be on the floor, in the House Rules committee, or between the chambers. The House will vote on Tuesday on a motion to instruct conferees on the Defense Dept. bill and on Thursday on a conference report to accompany the Leg Branch minibus.
Kavanaugh. Sen. Grassley will convene 3-4 days of hearings on Kavanaugh’s SCOTUS nomination on Tuesday even while the Trump administration is holding back more than 100,000 pages of his Bush administration records on the flat assertion of presidential privilege. Continue reading “Forecast for September 4, 2018. Appropriations Bills and SCOTUS Nomination Are Moving Forward Quickly.”