Forecast for December 31, 2018. Party Like It’s 2019.


And we’re (almost) back. The 116th Congress starts on Thursday.

It’s common for members to introduce legislation on the first day (237 bills were introduced in the House on day one in the 115th). But — and this is unusual timing — it looks like the House will pass an appropriations bill to end the partial government shutdown on day one. Sen. McConnell said he won’t hold a vote on a plan Trump won’t sign, which presumably includes an identical version of the bill the Senate recently passed. In light of this, House Dems might as well pass a bill that reflects their values and splits the Republicans. 

— Whose fault? The New York Times wrote about how the shutdown suggests a congressional abdication of its responsibility. Oddly, they didn’t mention Sen. McConnell, who is a key player and has the power to end this charade. Matt Glassman has a smart analysis of the politics of the situation

Speaker-designee Pelosi released a letter Saturday night lauding the Rules package, which will include a select committee on the modernization of Congress, something many advocates have worked to advance. More on the rules package below. Continue reading “Forecast for December 31, 2018. Party Like It’s 2019.”

Forecast for December 24, 2018. Naughty or Nice.


Naughty or nice. Congress is still in session, so here’s a little something to read if you’re still hanging around.

Shutdown. For the first time in years, the House and Senate got their approps work done on time and five bills enacted into law. But instead of pushing for the remaining seven, they delayed and kicked the can down the road. And now, instead of protecting the legislative branch’s prerogatives, leadership in the House and Senate caved to Pres. Trump’s politically untenable demands, aimed at keeping his base happy, shifting blame, and distracting from his administration’s scandals. How does this end? Stay tuned.

In the last days of the 115th Congress, a few good bills made it over the finish line. The amended Open Government Data Act (HR 4174) requires the government to inventory its data sets; automatically publish its public data sets online, in a machine-readable format, in a catalog; and have each CFO agency establish a Chief Data Officer. (More) The GAO-IG Act (S 2276) requires each agency to identify, in its congressional budget justification, every GAO recommendation to that agency and whether it’s been closed. As mentioned last week, a watered-down Congressional Accountability Act (link) was enacted. As was the IDEA Act (HR 5759), which would require agencies to provide better digital services. Continue reading “Forecast for December 24, 2018. Naughty or Nice.”

Capitol Police to Publish Some Arrest Information

The US Capitol Police announced yesterday they will publish their weekly arrest summaries online each Wednesday that they had previously had distributed via email to the press. This practice will start on January 2, 2019. The summaries will include “the Capitol File Number (CFN); crime classification with any additional charges; offense date and time, and crime summary. ”

The USCP did not give a reason for the change in their blogpost, but we had made multiple (unsuccessful) requests for information from the Capitol Police and had organized a civil society letter on this topic, and it also seemed likely that incoming House Democrats may push them to take this step. Continue reading “Capitol Police to Publish Some Arrest Information”

How Many People Exactly Have the Capitol Police Arrested?

In the lead up to the Senate vote to confirm Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, the U.S. Capitol Police arrested hundreds — if not thousands — of protesters. We can’t say how many people were arrested or what they were arrested for, however, as the Capitol Police did not publish that information online and will not answer our questions. (It took five tries to get any kind of response to our calls and emails to their Communications Director.) We know the rough number of arrests from media reports, but members of the press have told us they have a hard time getting information from the Capitol Police as well.

This is why we wrote a letter to Capitol Police Chief Verderosa requesting improved transparency. We want the department to regularly publish certain arrest information online. Specifically, the department should disclose the location of each arrest, what the charges were, and demographic data about the person arrested (i.e. race, age, gender, and ethnicity). The department should also disclose its total number of arrests. Continue reading “How Many People Exactly Have the Capitol Police Arrested?”

Forecast for December 17, 2018. #MeToo Legislation Sent to the President, Sen. Kyl Resigning, and Nancy Pelosi Secures Support for Speaker.


A government shutdown is looming on Friday and it’s all Trump’s fault, just ask him. With 7 approps bills outstanding, and Congress having done it’s homework, will Congress enact 6 bills as written and turn the 7th into a long term CR, kick the can to the next Congress, or something else? Here’s what happens in a shutdown. If the CR goes down, it’s going to take a lot of riders with it.

Nancy Pelosi will be Speaker, obtaining that position in return for term limits for leadership positions — and undermining Hoyer and Clyburn as a bonus.More below.

Compromise harassment legislation was sent to the president after congressional negotiators reached a compromise that watered down the House bill. The House Administration Committee, for example, said they would continue to push for a future bill that “holds Members personally liable for discrimination, reauthoriz[es] the Employee Advocate, and strengthen[s] our workplace rights and responsibilities education program,” and Dems may include stopgap fixes in the House rules package. Rep. Speier said her work on this isn’t done. Here’s where we think the House bill should have gone further. Continue reading “Forecast for December 17, 2018. #MeToo Legislation Sent to the President, Sen. Kyl Resigning, and Nancy Pelosi Secures Support for Speaker.”

The House Office of Inspector General Should Publish Information About Its Reports

The House of Representatives has an Inspector General that is authorized to provide independent, nonpartisan investigations into the House’s operations, but over the years that office’s findings have become largely shrouded from public view. In what ways has it become less transparent? How many reports does the office issue and what do they cover?

We looked at all the public records we could find since the IG’s office was created in 1992.

Our findings:

  • Initially, many of the House Inspector General’s reports were made publicly available on its website, but now there is very little public information concerning the office’s work.
  • While most federal Inspectors General have increased transparency concerning their findings, transparency concerning the House IG has decreased.
  • Information about the work of the House Inspector General has been inconsistently made available to the public; we created our own inventory of House IG reports pieced together from publicly available information.

Continue reading “The House Office of Inspector General Should Publish Information About Its Reports”

Forecast for December 10, 2018. Term Limits for Committee Chairs, Paying Interns, and a Look at the House IG.

Welcome to an abbreviated First Branch Forecast.

Today we release a new report on the House Inspector General — yes, the House has an IG. Among our findings: the House IG used to publish its reports online, but nearly all reports were taken down and there’s little public accounting for the IG’s work. What’s in them? Continue reading “Forecast for December 10, 2018. Term Limits for Committee Chairs, Paying Interns, and a Look at the House IG.”

Forecast for December 3, 2018. Shutdown Potentially Postponed, Plus Leadership and Caucus Election Results.


George H.W. Bush will lie in state at the Capitol from Monday at 5 p.m. until Wednesday at 7 a.m. with a bicameral arrival ceremony Monday morning.

 The executive branch will be closed on Wednesday and Bush’s funeral service will take place at the National Cathedral at 11; no official word on when the House or Senate will be in session, but expect schedule changes.

 A 2 week CR is on the table; approps will run out this Friday, Dec. 7, be extended presumably to Dec. 21, which would postpone a partial government shutdown.

What happened in leadership elections, caucus elections, and committee chairmanships this past week? More than we can possibly say, but we sum it up below. Continue reading “Forecast for December 3, 2018. Shutdown Potentially Postponed, Plus Leadership and Caucus Election Results.”