The House is out for August recess; the Senate has one week to go. Here’s what you need to know for the week of July 29, 2019.
SELECT COMMITTEE GRAND SLAM
The Fix Congress Committee adopted two-dozen recommendations last week and also turned their May recommendations into H. Res 526. A super-majority of the committee is required to adopt recommendations; these were adopted unanimously. Continue reading “Forecast for July 29, 2019.”
The Government Publishing Office’s (GPO) lack of permanent leadership was just one of the major issues raised at this week’s oversight hearing of the GPO Office of the Inspector General.
Senate Rules Committee Chairman Roy Blunt kicked off the hearing by voicing concerns over shaky leadership: the agency hasn’t had a permanent director since October 2017 and has been under the leadership of Acting Deputy Director John Crawford for the last 12 months. On top of that, five of the ten GPO executive leadership team positions are vacant with employees serving in an acting capacity, according to Chairman Blunt’s remarks.
The Chairman also noted that it’s not just the agency leadership that’s in flux; GPO Inspector General (IG) Michael Leary is the third person to hold the position in the last 16 months. Continue reading “GPO Watchdog Testimony Raises Concerns About the Agency”
The last week before recess is always crazy and this week will be no exception. We apologize for skipping the Forecast over the last two weeks, but we were literally and figuratively underwater.
ON THE RADAR
Negotiations over appropriations levels and the debt ceiling must result in a long-term agreement, a short term agreement, Congress returning during the recess, or a government shutdown. Expect to see members forced to vote on a deal they don’t like. For our purposes, the big question is whether Pelosi fights to restore funding for leg branch, and, uh, whether the government shuts down.
Mueller’s testimony will dominate the news most of the week, alongside the Jeffrey Epstein scandal and Trump’s ongoing racist attacks on the squad. (Note I did not mention the refugee concentration camps, which have fallen out of the news, but are subtext to the appropriations fight and a BFD.) Trump impeachment on one hand and racist attacks may motivate base voters and it wouldn’t surprise me if two dozen more dems come out for impeachment.
Hearings worth monitoring— Continue reading “Forecast for July 22, 2019.”
It’s been a little over six months since the U.S. Capitol Police (USCP) started posting arrest summaries. Here’s what the data tell us:
Between December 19, 2018 and June 24, 2019 USCP disclosed 271 incidents where 531 individuals were arrested. Incidents can involve more than one individual getting arrested, which explains the gap in those two figures. Of these 271 incidents:
- 13.7% (37 incidents) took place at or around Union Station, with 54% (20) of those incidents involving drugs.
- 12.5% (34 incidents) took place in congressional office buildings and the Capitol or directly adjacent to those buildings. 188 individuals were arrested during these incidents.
- The most common charges issued: 36% of incidents included charges for driving without a valid license (98 incidents) and 13% of incidents included charges for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs (36 incidents).
Continue reading “Capitol Police Arrests: What Department Data Does and Doesn’t Tell Us”
Demand Progress obtained ten years’ worth of reports summarizing complaints against U.S. Capitol Police (USCP) employees. According to the data:
• Total complaint cases are up by almost 70% in the last decade. USCP reported 151 complaints in fiscal year (FY) 2009 compared to 253 complaints in calendar year 2018. We should note that the number of USCP officers has also significantly increased over that time: the department has 1,799 full time employees in FY 2009 compared to 2,283 at the start of FY 19.
• Internal complaint cases have more than doubled since 2016. USCP reported 212 internal complaint cases in 2018: that’s a 118% increase from the 80 reported in 2016 and a 226% jump from the 65 reported in FY 2010. These has been some suggestion this has been caused, in part, by race-based and gender-based discrimination within the department. Continue reading “The Changing Nature of Misconduct Complaints Against Capitol Police Employees”
Last week the Bulk Data Task Force (BDTF) convened internal and external stakeholders to discuss, you guessed it, congressional data.
Established in 2012, the BDTF brings together parties from across the legislative branch—including the House Clerk, the Secretary of the Senate, Government Publishing Office (GPO), Library of Congress (LOC), and more—as well as external expert groups to make congressional information easier to access and use.
Scroll down for a list of tools, both currently available and in the works, as well as announcements from the meeting. Continue reading “Recap of the July 2019 Bulk Data Task Force Meeting”
CONGRESS IN BRIEF
• Only 36 (working) days are left for Congress to pass all 12 spending bills, so why is McConnell pressing pause on the approps process? More below.
• 90% of House offices either don’t pay their interns or — more likely — failed to announce they have paid internships in job postings on their websites.
• The Bulk Data Task Force, where congressional technologists and civil society work to improve legislative data, will meet on Tuesday, July 9th at 11. Location TBA.
• The Supreme Court poked a hole in the Freedom of Information Act. A federal agency can withhold commercial and financial information from a requester merely by determining that the records fit within an expansive definition of ‘confidential’, instead of having to show as well that disclosure would cause harm to the private-sector submitter, as lower courts had held.
• PACER yourself. Sens. Portman, Wyden, Cruz, and Hirono and Reps. Quigley and Collins are trying to enable free access to court records on PACER via the Electronic Court Records Reform Act. Is it coincidence the Courts are forming an advisory committee on PACER?
• A House Ethics Committee working group wants to hear from you: submit comments by July 11th on how the rules should address conflicts of interest that arise from members of Congress and staff who sit on outside entities. Continue reading “Forecast for July 1, 2019.”