THE TOP LINE
What did last week’s election change? The House will have at least 100 new faces and the average age dropped by eight years. Three Democrats lost their seats in the Senate, but it appears that, at most, they will lose one seat overall, with the parties in that chamber becoming more ideologically homogeneous.
Demographically speaking, 101 women were elected to the House (23%) and 12 to the Senate, of whom 104 are Democrats. There’s a slight increase in the number of African Americans (12.4%), Latinos (11.3%), and Asian-Americans (3.0%) in the House. BuzzFeed reported on some of the “firsts.” At least seven new members have STEM backgrounds. House committee leadership will change dramatically.
Rules and leadership decisions made in the next few weeks will shape the next two years. The House Republican leadership election is this Wednesday, and FreedomWorks has the best roundup of the nominees and proposed rules changes. Here’s the draft conference rules, courtesy Politico. On leadership: for Minority Leader, it’s McCarthy vs Jordan; Scalise is unopposed for Whip; Cheney is running for Conference Chair; Walker vs Mullin for Vice Chair; Schweikert vs Palmer for Policy Committee Chair. It’s not leadership, but watch McClintock vs Johnson for the Republican Study Committee.
Democratic elections will be on Nov. 28-29, according to Politico. Pelosi is running for Speaker, and there’s hand-wringing on whether she can get enough votes on January 3rd, with eight members and two members-elect saying they won’t vote for her. As CRS points out, a candidate for Speaker doesn’t need 218 votes, rather, a majority of votes cast by members “for a person by name.” Voting present, for example, doesn’t count in the denominator. So far, no one besides Pelosi has said they’re running for Speaker. Even if members vote for Pelosi, holding off commitments now may be the best opportunity for leverage over committee assignments and rules changes. It’s unclear whether the progressive caucus will support her, according to the Intercept.
Who else is running? Hoyer is running for Majority Leader; Clyburn vs DeGette for Whip; Lee vs Jeffries for Caucus Chair (Sanchez dropped out following her husband’s indictment); Lujan vs Cicilline for Assistant to the Democratic Leader; Bustos vs. DelBene vs. Heck for DCCC chair. Members rapidly are announcing, dropping out, and switching races.
Don’t forget about the rules! While everyone is paying attention to the leadership races, what’s most interesting to me are changes to the House rules (and the caucus rules). This is where many of the fights on policy will be decided. Just this past week we published our recommendations for updating the rules of the House at GetTheHouseInOrder.com.
Future Rep. Ocasio Cortez got a lot of undeserved flack for saying that moving to DC before drawing a salary will cause a financial pinch, even though it’s important to be here for orientation and other transition-related events. The executive branch gets support for the presidential transition. Should there be something analogous for newly elected members of Congress?
Hiring season has started. All these new members of Congress will have to hire staff. House Democrats, through Whip Steny Hoyer’s office, updated their online resume bank and provide a free listing of congressional jobs. House Dems are also considering creating a House diversity office, to help recruit a more diverse Capitol Hill staff. This is a welcome step, and hopefully it will include paying all staff a living wage, including interns.
K Street is gearing up, with one lobbying firm bragging that it has the former chiefs of staff for both McConnell and Pelosi. Just a friendly reminder that more money is spent on lobbying than the American people spend on all of Congress’s operations.
The bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus is neither bipartisan nor solves any problems, according to a Washington Post story. While the Caucus isn’t attributed any significant legislative wins, its name was thrown about prominently on the campaign trail. The Caucus is affiliated with No Labels and its super Pac, which spent $3.75 million in independent expenditures the 2018 election on 20 candidates, including $2.5 million for Republicans. The Caucus has embraced a package of rules reforms that run the gamut from reasonable to potentially unconstitutional.
Midterms are over and just when you thought you could relax: the government will shut down in early December if lawmakers don’t resolve border wall funding disputes soon. 7 approps bills await passage.
Oversight summit. The Project on Government Oversight, along with many partner organizations (like ours), is hosting an Oversight Summit this Friday. RSVP here.
The CIA monitored congressional staff communications with whistleblowers, and Sen. Grassley had the documents declassified after a four year fight. Grassley’s press release includes links to the congressional notifications from March 19, 2014 and March 28, 2014.
Where to start? House Democrats have laid out what they’d like to investigateonce the new Congress starts. A former Gingrich-era staffer warned House Dems to avoid politicized investigations that would undermine their credibility, as they did to Gingrich’s House. Nancy Pelosi’s former Chief of Staff has some advice for new members, too. No free advice for the Senate, which seems uninterested in oversight.
Rep. Jackie Speier wrote about her experiences at Jonestown, and I cannot help but think that it is an object lesson on the need to have hands-on, experienced Members of Congress and staff.
Will court rulings that forced the Obama administration to turn over documents to House Republicans come back to haunt the party now that Dems control the House?
As always, great resources in Leg Branch Blog’s top reads on Congress.
OCE released its third quarter report. Among the highlights: 2,700 people contacted OCE during the third quarter; four matters were transmitted to the House Ethics Committee. Of those items, the House Ethics Committee must release the referral or make public announcements on December 17 (one item); January 7 (one item); February 3 (two items).
Reps. Duncan Hunter and Chris Collins won their re-election races last week despite being under indictment: Hunter allegedly misused campaign funds and Collins is charged with insider trading. House Republicans will vote on whether to change their conference rules to strip indicted members of their committee and leadership spots. Will Dems include that in the House rules package, too? This CRS report lays out what indicted Members can and can’t do.
Former Rep. Steve Stockman was sentenced to 10 years in prison and ordered to pay about $1 million in restitution after stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars meant for charity.
ODDS & ENDS
CRS published 57 new reports on its website in the week ending Nov. 6, bringing the total number of reports to 1,254. CRS has said that by April it will have published all the R series reports, and by the end of September it will have published the other non-confidential reports.
Of all things, the NYT opined in favor of expanding the size of the House and moving to multi-member districts. While the latter is eminently reasonable, the former doesn’t take into account the political effects. In short, it would further empower leadership, diminish the roles of each member, give big money an even larger effect on political outcomes, make journalistic scrutiny harder, and not accomplish its purpose. Let’s start with hiring more staff and paying them better, please?
UK #MeToo: Parliament acknowledged an “institutional failure” to protect stafffrom mistreatment and sexual misconduct, a High Court Judge issued a report on the issue
Two South African Parliamentarians were kicked out for brawling.
Herman Anderson died on Sunday, at age 85. He was an elementary school teacher in West Hartford, Connecticut — John Larson’s district — where he spent 26 years teaching third graders. I don’t know how he did it. He treated everyone with respect, always kept his sense of humor, and taught his charges to be kind to one another. If there was someone special for you, like there was for me 33 years ago, take a moment and reach out.
- Veterans Day — Federal Holiday
- Judicial Nominations Hearing (4 federal district court nominees)— S. Judiciary Cmte at 10.
Down the Line
- Monday, December 3: Federal Advisory Committee on the Records of Congress meeting — Hosted by the National Archives and Records Administration at 10 in Capitol Visitor Center, SVC 210-212
- Friday, December 14: New Employee Ethics Training — H. Committee on Ethics at 2 in HVC-201 A and B, Capitol