Forecast for October 29, 2018. Child Care, Congressional Departures, the CAA, APIs, and Voicemail.


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?

Kristie Small, former acting Chief of Staff for Rep. Henry Cuellar, said she was fired for being pregnant and filed a complaint with the Office of Compliance. Rep. Cuellar’s office essentially declined to comment; it had the 5th highest staff turnover rate between 2001-2016. Congress Too started a GoFundMe page for Small. Congress still has not passed an updated Congressional Accountability Act.

GPO launched an API for, its federal document repository. If the previous sentence was gobbledygook, what it means is that it’s possible for computers to ask for data held by other computers and receive it in computer-friendly formats.

Voicemails bedevil Congressional offices, with senate mailboxes having a 300 message capacity, but they have some help from new tools built by Article One, a project of the OpenGov Foundation. Watch Seamus Kraft explain.

The First Branch Forecast turned 21, well, this is our 21st issue. How are we doing? Your best compliment is your criticism: please email Daniel at Daniel(at) If you have nothing bad to say, forward it to a friend and suggest they subscribe.


Biennial budget resolutions may be in the offing if a special congressional committee gets its way. It’s less likely the committee will reach agreement on moving the start of the fiscal year or addressing borrowing caps.

Earmarks are thinly veiled pay-to-play politics and encourage bad behavior, wrote nine Republican senators (& Claire McCaskill) in a letter. Other senators want to bring earmarks back to help smooth the way for unpopular legislation or restore power to Congress.

A House bill may allow GOP lawmakers to enact border wall fundingthrough the budget reconciliation process. A handful of approps continuing resolutions will run out in December.


A bipartisan group of lawmakers pushed for House rules reform in a Dear Colleague letter last week. It included a select committee to improve Congress’s ability to fulfill Article I duties and promoting regular order. We have more House Rules reform recommendations.

Amendments from “new conservatives” are no more conservative than those offered by run-of-the-mill conservatives, according to a new study.


The Judiciary Committee continued to demolish nomination norms, holding more judicial confirmation hearing this past week — lasting 40 minutes, covering four nominees, with only 2 Senators present — while the Senate was in recess and in spite of objections by Democrats.


Dozens of candidates (largely Republican) ran anti-Muslim campaigns,painting opponents as national security threats or tied to terrorism. Of the 40+ candidates running anti-Muslim campaigns, 23 made it to general election, of whom 13 are incumbents. A study found these hate-filled campaigns are not that effective.

Senate Republican term limits altered how that chamber works, centralizing power in leadership. James Wallner explored the history and possible reforms in a must-read article. (Get this guy a podcast!)

The FBI is investigating cyber attacks that targeted California Democrat Bryan Caforio, blocking his website. He lost a primary earlier this year. Three candidates in toss-up races were targeted.


More than a dozen explosive devices were mailed to prominent Democrats and Trump critics, including members of congress. Cesar Sayoc Jr., was taken into custody on Friday in connection with the crime.

House Majority Leader McCarthy’s California office was burglarized with several items stolen.

Journalist Ben Jacobs, who was body slammed by Rep. Gianforte, filed a cease and desist letter against Gianforte, demanding Gianforte stop falsely claiming Jacobs initiated physical contact. Trump praised the attack on the journalist.

Sen. McConnell published an op-ed claiming he was the target of “aggressive intimidation” when he was yelled at in a Louisville restaurant, claiming it is part of a “mob mentality” “fed and encouraged” by the “far left.” It’s notable that McConnell refused to condemn Trump for equivocating on Charlottesville.

Nathan Knauf is suing Sen. Perdue for battery. The Georgia Tech student alleged Perdue took his phone when Knauf asked a question about voter suppression. Perdue says he had permission. Watch the video and decide.

Rep. Steve King met with Neo-Nazis in Europe on a trip funded by a Holocaust memorial nonprofit. According to the Washington Post, “In an interview with a website associated with the party, King (R-Iowa) declared that Western civilization is on the decline,’ spoke of the replacement of white Europeans by immigrants and criticized Hungarian American financier George Soros.”

Rep. Kevin McCarthy tweeted, then deleted, a tweet CNN described as suggesting that “three Jewish, billionaire Democratic donors were attempting to buy’ the 2018 midterm elections.”


Are state legislatures subject to open records act requirements? Yes, generally. Cause of Action conducted a 50-state survey, prompted by the Institute for Justice lawsuit against Georgia officials over the state’s claims that its legislature is exempt from open records laws.

The National Archives’ Office of Government Information Services (OGIS)posted their FY 2019 calendar of activities.

PACER’s a pain but maybe not for long. A bill, H.R. 6714 could improve PACER, the electronic court records system, with reform measures like text-searchable and machine-readable documents and lowering costs.


Missed the 2018 Reboot Congress Conference? Watch the video.

The Library of Congress kicked off a new crowdsourcing toolwith transcription efforts focused on letters to appears modeled after the National Archives successful crowdsourcing efforts known as Citizen Archivist.

The Library slowed its efforts to publish CRS reports online, publishing only 7 additional reports over the previous week. EveryCRSReport published 10 during the same time period, illustrating that the Library is not releasing all the non-confidential reports. This upcoming Tuesday will mark one month since the Library started publishing the reports, which were all required to be published on September 18 (but were not).


The House and Senate are out this week, except for a Senate briefing by the Commission on Security and Cooperation in EuropeWhat is OSCE?



Looking Ahead: