The House and Senate are out but we’ve got a brief First Branch Forecast for you to hold you over. Here’s what you need to know:
ON YOUR RADAR
Acting AOC is out. The Acting Architect of the Capitol’s resignation was effective on Saturday (surprise?!) and Tom Carroll is the new Acting Architectwhile the search for a permanent AOC continues. Unrelated, but also notable in AOC news: a new AOC IG report is out (looks like they found some problems).
The BLAG? Everyone’s heard of the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel, but the House of Representatives has a legal office that articulates the institutional view of the people’s chamber: the Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group. The BLAG decides when the House General Counsel should intervene, but not much is known about its work. Fourteen civil society organizations wrote to the General Counsel and Members of the BLAG to encourage the adoption of some basic transparency measures. (We had recommendations in our House rules recs, too.) Also, wouldn’t it be fun to rename it the BLAWG?
We are experimenting with a new Twitter account, @CongressRadar, which we will hand curate to provide First Branch-y news all week long. It joins our automated accounts @AppropsTracker, @EveryCRSReport, @LeadershipFlack, @OpenAtAGlance & @CongressRFP.
POWER OF THE PURSE
Congress wouldn’t appropriate money for Trump’s border wall so in February he declared a national emergency; now, six months later, Roll Call is checking in on what Congress plans to do about the presidential end run.
TikTok. Appropriators have 3 full weeks to pass and reconcile all 12 spending bills when they get back from recess to avoid a government shutdown. What’s notable here is the lack of public reporting on the behind-the-scenes negotiations.
THE FOURTH ESTATE
California’s version of C-SPAN (the California Channel), known for “gavel to gavel coverage” of the state Legislature, will shut down in October. Why? The need for the telecom-industry funded channel decreased after a law required the legislature to make video of its proceedings available to the public within 72-hours.
Trump weighed in with a foreign country to prevent Members of Congress from visiting. Legislators in both houses should move a resolution condemning Trump for interfering with Congress. Alternative, for the SOTU, they should pull a Bercow.
Sen. McConnell prioritized confirming judges over moving legislation. 59 federal judges were confirmed this year (with 99 district and 43 appellate confirmed during the Trump administration); the Senate has passed only 88 billsthis year.
ODDS AND ENDS
Sen. McConnell helped lift sanctions to allow a Russian company that had plans in the works to team up with an American company and open a plant in McConnell’s district.
Rep. Duncan Hunter is under a 60-count indictment for misuse (that’s an understatement) of campaign funds; his trial has been delayed until 2020. The House Ethics Committee paused its investigation of him pending the prosecution; maybe they should, uh, unpause. Here’s the OCE cover letter from 2017 from their referral; the H. Ethics Committee still hasn’t released OCE’s report. I feel sorry for Hunter’s staff, who are stuck in the middle of this.
Noted pornography collector and Library employee Ralph Whittington has died. He also was an authority on R&B, cars, and Washington-area high school sports.
INFORMATION IS POWER: TOOLS AND TECH
Lawmakers juggle busy schedules with markups, hearings, and votesfrequently happening at the same time. Could technology help with scheduling? Boston Public Schools saved $5 million by using an algorithm to plan bus routes. Maybe a similar algorithm could identify windows when the most members can attend a hearing?
ProPublica has tips on what to when messy data leaves you with apples-to-oranges comparisons. (Answer: make a fruit salad.)
In the UK, Parliament’s Library offers constituents newsletters on 30 different topics. Authoritative, unbiased information, delivered to your inbox. What a concept!
The Architect of the Capitol is hiring an attorney for its Office of Diversity, Inclusion and Dispute Resolution to work on compliance with the Congressional Accountability Act (CAA). The AOC is the subject of multiple discrimination claims.
The Library of Congress is hiring an innovator in residence.
Muckrock is hiring a new editor and a development associate
GAO wrote about its professional development program in a recent blog that touted the agency as one of the best places to work.
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Data Coalition is launching GovDATAx Summit in 2019, focused on improving government data policies.