THE TOP LINE
The House and Senate return on September 9th, which is 3 full weeks before the start of the next fiscal year. Both chambers must pass and reconcile all 12 spending bills by October 1 to avoid a government shutdown.
So far the Senate hasn’t given notice of any approps markups. The House passed 10 of 12 bills earlier this year; new top line spending numbers mean there may be some adjustments to sync with the Senate.
USASpending (quietly) posted a page listing links to (some) federal agencies’ congressional budget justifications in one place, which we’ve been asking them to do and built a rough prototype of earlier this year. Their implementation is far from perfect, but it’s a welcome first step.
Curious where Capitol Police’s authority ends and DC Metro PD’s begins?We are, too. We built an interactive map of their jurisdiction and where they are reporting arrests. The USCP wouldn’t substantively answer questions about their jurisdiction, but it turns out the information was already up on their public site, buried 200+ pages into the traffic code. Don’t forget to check out related reads on the increasing Capitol Police employee complaints and analyzing six months of Capitol Police arrest data.
If you’re reading this newsletter you probably care about Congress; care about Congress professionally with Demand Progress — we’re hiring! Join us as a policy manager or policy analyst.
CONGRESSIONAL GLOW UP
Congress had its own tech expertise agency until Newt Gingrich nixed it in the 90s. Now House Appropriators and the Fix Congress committee say it’s time for Congress to get tech smart. Here’s how that could work, plus some ideas on rebranding OTA.
How should non-technical people oversee technology budgeting? Our friends at 18F released an incredibly detailed and helpful handbook entitled “De-risking custom technology products.” It’s aimed at state governments, but honestly, it works at the federal level, too.
FYI the CASES Act, i.e., Creating Advanced Streamlined Electronic Services for Constituents Act, will allow constituents to electronically authorize their congressional offices to intervene on their behalf instead of having to sign off in writing. It’s awaiting Trump’s signature.
EXEC BRANCH BAD BEHAVIOR
USDA is ignoring approps language that bans the agency from using appropriated funds for relocating or reorganizing without congressional approval. The USDA IG reports that the agency notified Congress, but didn’t seek permission from lawmakers.
Impeachment? House Judiciary Chairman Nadler is now describing, on TV, his committee’s investigations as “formal impeachment proceedings,” and says the committee will vote by the end of the year on whether to recommend articles for consideration by the full chamber. Speaker Pelosi has not supported starting impeachment proceedings even though a majority of House Democrats are in favor. This reminds me of that great moment from the TV show The Office. (Wait for it at 1:07)
A man who called for AOC’s murder was arrested. You can read the affidavit in support of the arrest of Timothy Ireland, who is alleged to say “She should be shot. Can’t fire me, my employer would load the gun for me,” and later told a USCP office he is proud of the statement. Ireland is a felon, has an outstanding warrant, and reportedly said he always carries a concealed firearm. Follow the proceedings here.
YOU SIGN YOUR NAME ON LETTERS, RIGHT?
Rep. Joaquin Castro faced pushback for tweeting the names of Trump donors in San Antonio who gave the maximum amount. FWIW, aggregate donations over $200 is publicly available via the FEC, public interest sites like OpenSecrets.org, and many journalistic outlets. This data empowers reporting like maps of the donors powering the 2020 Democratic presidential campaigns and the demographics of presidential campaign donors. It also helps identify cozy arrangements between donors and candidates. A $2,800 donation to a candidate committee is enough to pay for a 30-second (negative) ad on MSNBC during prime time or approximately 1400 clicks on a Google ad and many, many more impressions. (FYI, political science suggests donor disclosure doesn’t lead to violence against donors, but things donors fund can.)
ODDS & ENDS
DC is launching a program to provide confidentiality for victims of domestic violence, sexual crimes, stalking and human trafficking. Governments routinely publish people’s address information, which stalkers can find online; people can get an alternative but official address to put on these forms.
Who’s out? Keep an eye on member retirements from the House (12R & 3D) and Senate (3R & 1D).
Poland’s parliamentary speaker quits after bringing his family on government jets (and apparently lying about it).
Data Coalition is launching GovDATAx Summit in 2019, focused on improving government data policies.
The PSA Parliaments Group Annual Conference will take place in Cardiff November 7-8. Can’t make it across the pond? Check out the papers here.