THE TOP LINE
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.
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.
Can’t wait for the 116th Congress to start? Check out the 2019 House schedule here (of note: 4 session days per week with votes only between 1-7 p.m.) and learn the faces of new members with the (free) Memrec App.
What’s wrong with Congress? CQ/Roll Call does a deep dive into Congress’s decline, highlighting many of the causes.
Where are all the new caucus/conference rules? We have no idea, but we put together all the historic ones we could find. House and Senate Republicans routinely publish their internal party rules, but the Dems do not.
House Intel personal office staff may finally receive sufficient clearances to do their jobs. All Intel dems had asked for the highest level (TS/SCI) clearances for personal office staff — all except Rep. Schiff — but Schiff now appears to be (somewhat) on board. In the Senate, Senate Intel members have a staffer with access to the same info as committee staff. With so many classified matters before Congress, there’s a push for all House members to have one staffer with high enough clearance to advise them.
The Joint Select Committee on Budget Reform failed to report out reforms on the budget process. Senate leadership wouldn’t let the measure advance without tinkering with it, undermining committee members willingness to take risks and advance significant reforms.
HOUSE DEMOCRATIC ELECTIONS
Twitter and Instagram opened up the Dem election process much more than in previous years by allowing the press and members to share the minutia that’d never made it into news stories. Here’s the schedule for day one; the ballot for Speaker-elect; and the Dem Caucus tweeted the official results and live-streamed the press conference.
Who’s in? Speaker Nominee: Nancy Pelosi; Majority Leader: Steny Hoyer; Majority Whip: Jim Clyburn; Assistant Democratic Leader: Ben Ray Lujan. Democratic Caucus Chair: Hakeem Jeffries; Democratic Caucus Vice Chair: Katherine Clark; DCCC Chair: Cheri Bustos; DPCC Chair: David Cicilline. DPCC Co-Chairs: Ted Lieu, Debbie Dingell, and Matt Cartwright; Caucus Representative: Jamie Raskin.
Nancy Pelosi won the Speaker nomination with 203 yes votes, 32 no votes, 3 blank ballots, and one abstention (who would have voted for her). Pelosi was expected to win the nomination, especially after she quashed an effort to raise the threshold for victory in the caucus to 218. If we assume everyone who voted for her stays true (plus the abstention), and subtract the 4 delegates who don’t count, she must pick up 1 vote on the floor, assuming that no Dem votes for anyone else by name. For every Democrat that votes for someone else by name, Pelosi must pick up another vote for her by name.
Hakeem Jeffries won as Caucus Chair, barely defeating Barbara Lee by 123-113 in a test of strength between liberals and progressives. Many progressive orgs had endorsed Lee. HuffPo explains how progressives have gained strength in the 116th caucus despite this loss. Lee gets a consolation prize, as Pelosi appointed her as the (newly created) third co-chair of the Steering and Policy Committee, which determines committee assignments.
Nine Problem Solvers Caucus Dems delivered their votes for Pelosi in exchange for adoption of some of their proposed rules reforms. Some of the items were already in the proposed rules (discharge petition, motion to vacate chair) and others are useful but limited (“consensus calendar”). The strongest proposal appears to require public notice of the text of draft committee legislation 3 days in advance. Most notable about this cycle is how conservative and progressive dems used their leverage to change the House rules, pointing towards a rebalancing of power in the House.
WHO’S IN CHARGE: CAUCUSES
Congressional Black Caucus (55 members): Karen Bass
Congressional Hispanic Caucus (39 members): Joaquin Castro.
Congressional Progressive Caucus (90+ members): Pramila Jayapal and Mark Pocan
Blue Dog Coalition (24 members): Stephanie Murphy, Tom O’Halleran, Lou Correa
The House Freedom Caucus is gaining control over the Republican Study Committee with the choice of Mike Johnson as the new chair.
WHO’S IN CHARGE: COMMITTEES
House Republicans (via Craig Caplan): Appropriations: Granger*; Armed Services: Thornberry; Budget: Womack; Education: Foxx; E&C: Walden; Financial Services: McHenry*; Foreign Affairs: McCaul; Homeland Security: Rogers*; Judiciary: Collins*; Natural Resources: Bishop; Oversight: Jordan*; Science: Lucas; Small Business: Chabot; T&I: Graves*; Veterans: Roe; Ways and Means: Brady; HPSCI: Nunes; Admin: Davis*. A “*” means they are new in that role. Rep. Jordan as Oversight chair is a surprise.
LEGISLATIVE PROCESS, POLY SCI, & POLITICS
History repeats itself: a wave of new left-leaning members won back the majority for Democrats and called for a fresh voice in leadership — in 1986.
Member-elect Susan Wild was sworn in last week, filling former-Rep. Charlie Dent’s vacant seat. This gives her a bump in seniority over her freshman classmates.
Brenda Jones was sworn in this week to fill former Rep. John Conyers Jr.’s seat, although not for long, as Rashida Tlaib will take that seat in January. Jones wasn’t sworn in earlier because of a dispute over her holding local elected office.
The British House of Commons acquired documents for a Facebook hearing by exercising rarely-used parliamentary powers. The Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee prepared for a ‘Fake News’ hearing by sending the sergeant at arms to an American tech executive’s hotel and escorting him to parliament after he failed to comply with a records request.
The House passed a bevy of technology-related bills, including standards for websites, a new federal CIO, and more.
CRS published 34 new reports on its website in the week ending Nov. 28, bringing the total number of reports published to 1,511. Among the highlights:
The Office of the Inspector General of the Intelligence Communityreleased its semiannual report last week. The report comes on the heels of civil society calls for stronger oversight of the intelligence community.
The House Committee on Ethics is extending its inquiry into Rep. Jim Renacci, but its jurisdiction runs out when Renacci leaves Congress on January 3rd. We have recommended the Committee retain jurisdiction even when a member departs.
A witness testified Rep. Bob Brady allegedly conspired to pay a primary challenger $90,000 to exit the race in 2012, although Brady is in no legal or ethics jeopardy because the statute of limitations has run and he is departing Congress in a month.
It’s December which means it’s holiday season, here are the House ethics guidelines on holiday gifts.
ODDS & ENDS
The New York Times lauds new members of Congress with executive branch experience. We are concerned that these formers won’t put Congress first, which is why we like all the new members with Congressional staff experience.
GovTrack’s Josh Tauberer changed DC law by correcting a typo.
Leg Branch’s top reads on Congress.
They say public service is a thankless job, but Rep. crowley got a standing ovation.
Cartoon: Lame ducks crossing.
The House and the Senate are both in session this week.
— 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
— Google and its data collection and use — H. Judiciary at 10
— Wednesday, December 5: Congressional Reorganization Act 101: Past, Present and Future Proposals — Hosted by R Street. The discussion of bipartisan Joint Committees on the Organization of Congress (JCOCs) will be at noon in R Street’s Hill Office.
— Oversight hearing: Architect of the Capitol — S. Rules and Administration Cmte at 11.
Down the Line
— Friday, December 14: New Employee Ethics Training — H. Committee on Ethics at 2 in HVC-201 A and B, Capitol