THE TOP LINE
Capitol Hill child care centers that prioritize Congressional staff have only 240 spots and a 550 deep wait list, according to a new Demand Progress report. Roll Call’s Katherine Tully-McManus covered efforts to expand availability to serve the 15,000 staffers on Capitol hill; even if expansion plans come to fruition, they would not meet demand.
The election will transform the House, with nine GOP committee chairmen and 70 lawmakers departing. Only one-third of House Republicans have served in the minority. Pelosi says Dems will use subpoena power to hold Trump’s feet to the fire — although enforcement (via civil or inherent contempt powers) is an open question — and The Washington Post‘s Seung Min Kim explained how House Dems may handle their investigative power. By the way, only seven of the 84 Gingrich Republicans who started on the hill in 1994 will serve in the 116th Congress. Feel old yet? Continue reading “Forecast for October 29, 2018. Child Care, Congressional Departures, the CAA, APIs, and Voicemail.”
THE TOP LINE
Decades of institutional deterioration has left lawmakers in the dark on technology. The Lincoln Network’s Zach Graves told the tale in ten charts. (We helped). Bookmark it and visit Future Congress for more.
The Senate Judiciary Committee advanced six judicial nominations while the Senate was in recess in a further destruction of institutional norms. Nomination hearings during recess always have had the assent of the minority, which Feinstein tweeted she did not give. Another hearing is set for this Wednesday. Also recent norms casualties: the blue slip process, the refusal to give Merrick Garland a hearing, and whatever it was that happened with Kavanaugh. Continue reading “Forecast for October 22, 2018. The Tale of Congress’s Incapacity, Plus Judiciary Moves Nominees in Recess.”
THE TOP LINE
The Senate joined the House in adjourning until mid-November. Most members and many staff are now working on the campaigns (with the staff “on vacation”), others are taking much deserved vacations, and some are working on plans should the House flip. This includes drafting new rules for the chamber, new committee rules, new party rules, and oversight and investigation plans.
— What almost no one is thinking about is closing up offices for departing members. Here’s a primer from CRS that provides an overview of closing a congressional office, privileges and courtesies extended to departing members, and retirement benefits. Did you know that members are considered to own all their personal office papers?
— Also under the radar are committee websites, which in the House will be wiped and recreated with the new majority’s imprint. The last 8 years of content will disappear, except as part of the National Archives’ web harvest, which keeps copies of old congressional websites going back to 2006. Fortunately, docs.house.gov, the fantastic repository of committee information managed by the Clerk’s office, should continue regardless of who is in control, providing a lifeboat for crucial information about the House. The Senate has no central system for preserving committee info and relies on individual committee websites.
We’re not out of the woods on a shutdown, with outgoing Speaker Ryan picking a fight over funding for a border wall in the still not-yet-permanently funded appropriations bills. Nita Lowey, who would likely chair the appropriations committee should the Democrats gain control, said she would do away with continuing resolutions and omnibus spending bills, at least on the House side. Continue reading “Forecast for October 15, 2018. Preparing Congressional Offices and Committees for Transition.”
It is hard enough to be a congressional staffer, but if you have young children the problem is magnified. Washington, D.C. is the most expensive place in the United States to raise a family, congressional staff work on average 53 hours-per-week when Congress is in session, and child care options in the nation’s capital can be particularly challenging. Given that Congress already faces significant staff retention problems and three-quarters of its staff find their jobs insufficiently flexible in addressing the work-life balance, is Congress doing enough to support staff in taking care of their youngest family members?
Here’s what we found:
- The child care spots available to staff who work in the House, Senate, and Library of Congress are woefully inadequate to meet demand
- The wait lists for infant-care are so long that by the time a position opens up, the average child ages out of infant care.
Continue reading “Congressional Child Care Options Are Grossly Inadequate”
That Congress’s tech savvy hasn’t kept up with the times isn’t exactly breaking news, but we should highlight that 20 bipartisan advocacy groups led by Demand Progress and the Lincoln Network launched Future Congress this past week, a resource hub for efforts to improve science and technology expertise in the legislative branch.
Do 218 co-sponsors make a difference when passing legislation? Yes, and surprisingly 2/3s of these popular bills are substantive in nature. Read our report exploring how this finding fits into possible House rules changes. Continue reading “Forecast for October 9, 2018. FutureCongress, Plus “Popular Bills” Can Be Substantive, Too.”
Recent proposals to reform the rules of the House of Representatives included measures to make it easier for legislation that has the support of a majority of the chamber to advance to the floor or prompt committee consideration. If implemented, would this make a difference in how legislation plays out? Apparently, yes.
To find out, we reviewed all House bills that had 218 or more sponsors between 1999–2016, i.e., the 106th-114th Congresses. In the House, 218 members constitutes a majority, so for simplicity’s sake we’ll refer to this set of bills as “popular House bills.”
During the 106th-114th Congresses, 108,086 bills were introduced, but only 3.5% were enacted, or 3,728 bills. In the same period, 450 popular House bills were introduced, with 22% enacted, or 102 bills.
In other words, a bill with 218 co-sponsors is six and a half times more likely to be enacted than any particular bill. Continue reading “Do 218 Co-Sponsors Make a Difference? Apparently, Yes.”
THE TOP LINE
On Thursday we briefed congressional staff on House, committee, and caucus reform proposals with experts from Issue One, Georgetown, and the Brookings Institution. Incidentally, party rules are very important: for example, the earmark ban and chairman term limits are both Republican party rules. Learn more about how we’d make the House work better in our white paper.
— 19 Problem Solvers Caucus members won’t support a speaker candidate unless they commit to enacting their “Break the Gridlock” House rules package. The package includes proposals like a fast track process for legislation co-sponsored by at least two-thirds of House members and a guarantee that each member gets at least one markup of a bipartisan bill in a committee they serve on.
The House is on recess until after the election, cancelling the two weeks it planned on meeting in October, but the Senate will stick around working on judicial nominations.
We’re pleased to launch Future Congress in partnership with the Lincoln Network (and many others). It’s a hub for efforts to improve science & technology expertise in the legislative branch. We’ll have more, soon. Continue reading “Forecast for October 1, 2018. Briefing on House and Party Rules, Plus the Launch of TechCongress.”