Demand Progress Proposals Included in FY 2022 Legislative Branch Appropriations Bill and Report

On Tuesday, June 29th, 2021, the full House Appropriations Committee favorably (33-25) reported the FY 2022 Legislative Branch Subcommittee Bill and report. The FY 2022 House Legislative Branch Appropriations Bill and Committee report are packed with good government reforms and significant investments in Congress’s capacity to legislate, conduct oversight, serve constituents, and more.

We and our civil society colleagues made recommendations of dozens of items to include — see our FY 2022 Appropriations requests, FY 2022 appropriations testimony, and 2020 report on updating House Rules  — a number of which made it into the bill and report. We are deeply appreciative of Chair Ryan, Ranking Member Herrera Beutler, and members of the committee for their thoughtful consideration of our requests.

As the Senate considers what to include in its Legislative Branch Subcommittee bill and report, we highlight some of the notable provisions included in the House bill and report. 

Find the complete FY Legislative Branch House Bill here, the report here, and the full committee adopted amendments here. For resources on prior Legislative Branch Appropriations bills, go here.

We did not address this below, but we believe this bill takes a giant leap forward to restoring strength to the Legislative Branch through its efforts to redress decades of underfunding. You can see how line item funding changed over last year. The following addresses some of the policy language included in the bill but there is too much to summarize in this blogpost. Although we were unable to include everything below, you can find a complete list of FY 2022 Legislative Branch Appropriations report items in this comprehensive spreadsheet.

Staff Capacity, Salaries, and Benefits

Congressional Staff Salaries (MRA Increase)

House Bill, p. 3

House Report, p. 7

Language: The Committee is taking extraordinary action to address staff pay due to prior pay freezes coupled with inflation. Over a ten-year period, House salaries have not kept pace with inflation, effectively causing a decrease in real wages as the cost of living for the NCR has risen steadily. To begin to address this situation the recommendation increases the MRA account by $134,400,000 to $774,400,000, Committee funding by $34,193,250 to $197,018,250, Leadership offices by $6,065,640 to $34,949,640 and benefits (Government Contributions) by $21,000,000 to $356,000,000. The Committee is taking this action simply to bring House salaries closer to the ten-year inflation-adjusted baseline. 

Civil society coalition letter led by Demand Progress and Lincoln Network (2021-05-17)

We note that Demand Progress and others have conducted significant research on the defunding of the Legislative Branch over the last decade, especially the defunding of Congressional staff, to which this is a partial remedy. We also note that Majority Leader Hoyer sent a letter calling for a restoring of funding levels for Congressional staff and Rep. Ocasio Cortez led a letter joined by a majority of the Democratic caucus calling for the same.

House Compensation Study

House report, p. 14

Language: The Committee appreciates the effort to implement the first ever Congressional Staff Salary report as requested in the fiscal year 2019 report. Given existing realities of gender and racial pay gaps in America, the Committee is concerned the data collected and findings asserted in the salaries report, where the report details an approximate 50 percent participation rate fails to adequately capture the necessary bench-mark data of which was the goal of the survey. The Committee directs the CAO to explore options, working through the new task force, to mandate participation and to re-implement the survey expeditiously. The Committee directs the CAO to provide a briefing to update the Committee on the status of a new survey no later than 120 days after the official posting of this report.

Demand Progress FY 2022 Appropriations Request, p. 54

We note that Demand Progress led the efforts to trigger the first compensation study in over a decade as part of the FY 2019 Appropriations bill and the conduct of a study on an ongoing basis and with greater detail is also a matter championed by the Office of Diversity and Inclusion and many others.

Streamlining Transparency on Diversity in the House of Representatives

House report, p. 17

Language: The Committee recognizes and supports the steps taken by the Office of Diversity and Inclusion to increase diversity on Capitol Hill through surveys and comprehensive reports. The Committee supports the streamlining of these efforts by adding disaggregated demographic data collection to the official onboarding process in the House of Representatives. The Committee directs the Office of Payroll and Benefits to work with the Office of Diversity and Inclusion to identify the best method for inserting a voluntary question on demographic diversity to employee onboarding paperwork for all employees. The data on race and ethnicity must be collected in a disaggregated format, and must at least include the following categories: White, African American, Hispanic, Asian American/Pacific Islander. Once the method is identified and implemented, the Committee directs the Office of Payroll and Benefits to share this data, in a manner that protects all personal identifiable information, with the Office of Diversity and Inclusion from which the Office can produce more comprehensive diversity reports as well as provide recommendations to increase diversity in the workforce and increase employee retention. The Committee directs the implementation of this additional question to employee onboarding forms by no later than 180 days after the official posting of this report. 

Demand Progress Rules Recommendations, p. 7

We would have to check, but we think this was a recommendation of the Select Committee on the Modernization of Congress.

Committee Intern Funding

House report, p. 17

House bill, p. 3

Language: The Committee recognizes that internships often serve as the gateway for careers in Congressional offices or even as Members of Congress. Unpaid internships raise barriers to participating that are steepest for the economically disadvantaged and members of historically underrepresented groups. Paid internships may make the House even more representative. Progress has been made by providing paid internships in Member and Leadership offices but given the importance of committees to the legislative process, the Committee recognizes that the case for providing funding for paid internships for committees is equally as strong. To this end the recommendation includes new funding for paid internships for majority and minority staff at the committee and/or subcommittee level.

Demand Progress FY 2022 Appropriations Request, p. 59

Stipend Feasibility Study

House Report, p. 17

Language:  The Committee directs the ODI, working in coordination with CAO, to conduct a study on the feasibility of creating a centralized House internship and fellowship office to provide support services, such as housing, training, and professional development, to Congressional interns as well as act as a resource hub for Standing Committees, Leadership Offices, and House offices. The feasibility study shall address inequities in access to congressional internships and shall include the viability of establishing an intern stipend program for interns from underrepresented backgrounds, including those who attend Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), Tribal Colleges or Universities, Hispanic-Serving Institutions (HSIs), and other Minority Serving Institutions as defined in section 371(a) of the Higher Education Act (20 U.S.C. 1067q). 

Demand Progress FY 2022 Appropriations Request, p. 58, 61

Intern Diversity

House Report, p. 14

Language: The Committee is concerned about diversity among interns. The Committee notes that Congressional internships are often prerequisites to full-time staff positions. Therefore, the Committee directs the CAO, working with the Office of Diversity and Inclusion (ODI) to examine and administer regular studies of demographic and pay information for interns and provide these reports concurrently with future budget submissions. 

Demand Progress FY 2022 Appropriations Request, p. 61

House Staff Benefits and Retention study

House Report, p. 14

Language: The Committee recognizes that to maintain an equitable and diverse workforce, the House of Representatives needs to ensure there are significant efforts made to compete with private sector benefits to recruit and retain staff. The Committee directs the CAO, using the mechanisms of the new task force, to conduct a feasibility study on benefits and efforts to retain staff in the House. This should include a list of known benefits and a review of potential benefits including:

(1) tuition credits, 

(2) authority and resources to establish matching contributions to 529 qualified education plans for employees of the House, 

(3) House-wide paid time off system and 

(4) child daycare credits. 

The CAO should complete this report within 120 days of the official posting of this report. 

Demand Progress Rules Recommendations, p. 5

Demand Progress FY 2022 Appropriations Request, p. 22

Civil society letter endorsing a CAO study on House Congressional Staff Benefits (2021-06-14)

Capitol Police

Arrest Summary Data 

House Report, p. 24

Language: The Committee is aware that the Capitol Police does publicly share its arrest data, however, it is not available in a user-friendly format that is searchable, sortable, and downloadable, and is made available on a cumulative basis. The Committee directs USCP report to the Committees as soon as practicable, but no later than 120 days after enactment of this Act on a timetable for deploying a system that can meet these requirements.

Demand Progress FY 2022 Appropriations Request, p. 8

USCP Information Sharing (FOIA)

House Report, p. 26

Language: While the USCP is not subject to the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) (5 USC 552), the Committee directs the USCP to develop a policy and procedure for the sharing of information that follows the spirit of the Freedom of Information Act. This policy should be consistent with, and not interfere with, USCP’s primary function of protecting the Congress. 

Demand Progress FY 2022 Appropriations Request, p. 7

We note that similar language was included in the FY 2021 Legislative branch appropriations bill but has yet to be implemented by the Capitol Police.

USCP Inspector General Reports

House Report, p. 26

Language: The Committee is aware that the public does not have access to reports issued by the Capitol Police Office of Inspector General. While the Committee understands that these reports can be sensitive to law enforcement actions and Congressional security, the Committee is interested in what reports can be shared with the general public. The Committee believes that the Inspector General should try to make appropriate reports public if they do not compromise law enforcement activities, national security, or Congressional security and processes without redaction. The Committee instructs the Inspector General to institute procedures to make reports publicly available whenever practicable and to begin publishing reports on its website. 

The Committee directs the Inspector General to assess current practices to prevent, white supremacist and other extremist organizations infiltration of and sympathy to such groups by the Capitol Police Force and the successes or failures of these methods. The Committee encourages the Inspector General to publish this report no later than 180 days after the enactment of this Act. 

Demand Progress FY 2022 Appropriations Request, p. 10

We note that language requesting the USCP IG review all reports over the prior 3 years and make recommendations for those which could be released to the public was included in the FY 2021 Appropriations bill, but we have not yet seen any reports made available to the public.

Risk-Based Protections for Members of Congress

House Report, p. 23

Language: Provided this year’s 107% increase in threats against Congress, the Committee continues to find that ensuring the continuity of government must include protecting the physical security of Members of Congress. The recommendation provides $2,000,000 for the Department to enhance Member security outside of the Capitol campus in the NCR, as warranted by risk-based analyses. As laid out in the December 2018 report detailing the Department’s plans to enhance off-campus Member security in the NCR, the Committee expects the USCP to continue working closely with the House and Senate Sergeants at Arms and local law enforcement partners in the NCR and educating Member Offices on the USCP strategy for Members’ protection within the NCR while outside the Capitol Grounds. The Committee instructs USCP to coordinate with the House and Senate Sergeants at Arms to direct patrols to buildings or locations where the Members tend to congregate in order to fulfill its mission under 2 U.S.C. 1966.

Security Supplemental Recommendation, p. 3

USCP Public Information Office

House Report, p. 26

Language: USCP communication is vital to provide accurate and timely information to Members and staff, as well as the public that often visits the Capitol Hill Complex. While the USCP does an excellent job of keeping Members and staff informed, the Committee is concerned that the public is often not aware of severe weather events and security incidents while on the complex grounds. The Committee directs the USCP to employ a community notification system that can be utilized by visitors and community members to allow a larger audience to receive USCP notifications. The Committee further directs the USCP to brief the Committees no later than 90 days after the enactment of this Act on its progress to meet this directive.

Security Supplemental Recommendation, p. 5

We note that similar language was included in the FY 2021 appropriations bill. We have seen the Capitol Police begin to use Twitter, but recent testimony by the Acting Police Chief suggests that they do not see any value in briefing the public or the press, which is an ongoing concern for us.

Science and Technology

GAO Science and Technology Assessment

House Report, p. 42

Language: The Committee is pleased with GAO’s institutional development of its technology and science function through the Science, Technology Assessment, and Analytics (STAA) team. The Committee is pleased with STAA’s unbiased fact-based scientific and technological expertise. The Committee encourages GAO to continue to develop new components of STAA studies by including policy recommendation options, when appropriate to the subject. STAA is also encouraged to identify new cloud data management and storage solutions for GAO’s enormous volume of data that would enhance STAA’s analytic capabilities and make the data more accessible and usable.

Demand Progress Rules Recommendations, p. 42

Demand Progress FY 2022 Appropriations Request, p. 32

Demand Progress and the Lincoln Network have issued a report outlining how to further strengthen Science and Technology inside the legislative branch. 

GAO Unimplemented Recommendations 

House Report, p. 42

Language:  The Committee is concerned with the potential waste of federal tax dollars due to departments and agencies in the Federal Government not implementing GAO recommendations. The Committee directs that no later than 180 days after enactment of this Act, the Comptroller General shall provide the Committees with a report estimating the financial costs of unimplemented Government Accountability Office recommendations by agency.  

Demand Progress FY 2022 Appropriations Request, p. 33

The Lincoln Network has led on this issue.

Science and Technology Assistance For Congress

House Report, p. 6

Language: The Committee notes the interest among some Members during the past several years to reinstitute the Office of Technology Assessment (OTA), which was de-funded in 1995. In fiscal year 2019 the Committee instructed the National Academy of Public Administration (NAPA) to conduct a study to determine the best way to increase Congress’s access to needed in-depth analysis of fast-breaking technology developments. The NAPA report, released in November, 2019, recommended strengthening the capacity of the Government Accountability Office (GAO) and Congressional Research Service (CRS) in technology assessment rather than restarting OTA. The Committee is pleased with both CRS and the GAO’s efforts to increase the depth and breadth of its capacity to provide research and policy analysis on current and emerging legislative issues related to science and technology (S&T) and Federal uses and oversight of S&T. 

CRS is encouraged to continue to hire additional staff for their specialized teams working on science and technology issues expanding its capacity and expertise to allow CRS to meet the growing need of Congress for timely, complex, and multidisciplinary analysis of policy issues related to these rapidly changing technologies, the effects of Federal government in oversight of such technologies, and the effects of the Federal government S&T policies across all sectors. CRS is also encouraged to increase outreach efforts to make Members and congressional staff more aware of the resources it provides related to S&T issues Congress is examining. 

Additionally, in 2019 the GAO established a Science, Technology Assessment, and Analytics (STAA) team to better address the evolving and time-sensitive needs of Congress. The Committee encourages the GAO to continue to strengthen its STAA S&T team and the Innovation Lab to increase the depth, breadth, and diversity of knowledge available to meet congressional needs. 

As a result, the bill provides the full request for CRS and GAO to strengthen S&I programs. The Committee will continue to review the work of CRS and the GAO to see if other steps are needed in the future. 

Demand Progress Rules Recommendations, p. 42 

Leg Branch-wide

Demand Progress also called on several efforts to provide more transparency and accountability for all Leg. branch offices and agencies. The subcommittee included we requested in the areas, including provisions over:

Results, Oversight, Transparency, and Accountability

House Report, p. 3

Language: The Committee recognizes that effective programs, projects, and activities must set transparent goals and measure progress toward those goals in tangible ways. Data-driven results should be the yardstick for measuring success. The recommendation continues to prioritize the proper management of taxpayer dollars, including strong internal controls, reduced inefficiency, ineffectiveness, and waste, fraud, or abuse, and a focus on results, and customer service for all agencies under the jurisdiction of this Act. 

The Committee continues its focus on reducing unnecessary expenditures and expects the agencies funded by this Act to identify cost savings and efficiencies where possible. 

Demand Progress Rules Recommendations, p. 29

Staffing Data In Budget Documents

House Report, p. 4

Language: The Committee continues to direct the Legislative Branch agencies to include in their budget justifications data on FTE levels that would be supported by the associated request or enacted funding levels. The Committee also continues to direct the Legislative Branch Financial Managers Council to coordinate on a plan for aligning FTE levels with the Legislative Branch agencies for consistency in reporting

Demand Progress FY 2022 Appropriations Request, p. 29

We note that reliable data on staff at support offices and agencies is very difficult to find and uses different metrics. This is a welcome improvement.

Childcare Access 

House Report, p. 5

Language: Providing access to quality, affordable childcare is critical for retaining staff, and advancing women in the workplace, who are still disproportionately primary caregivers. The Committee strongly supports further investments to further reduce the waitlist, expand admissions, and ensure quality care at Capitol complex childcare centers. 

Demand Progress Rules Recommendations, p. 21

We note that Demand Progress has long championed addressing the insufficient child care resources, such as in this report

Cyber and Physical Data Security

House Report, p. 5

Language: The Committee is concerned that many legislative branch agencies continue to store critical data on Capitol Hill and in the Alternate Computing Facility which does not meet high physical security standards or Tier III data center requirements and has had a history of system failures and outages. The Committee directs each legislative branch agency to utilize available contract vehicles to expeditiously secure agency data in facilities that have been third party certified to meet Tier III standards and geographically located outside of the National Capitol Region (NCR). Additionally, the Committee directs each legislative branch agency to provide the Committees an action plan within 60 days of enactment of this Act which details a schedule, cost and implementation plan to secure agency data in a certified Tier III facility by January 31, 2022. 

Demand Progress Rules Recommendations, p. 36

Offensive Capitol Statuary

House Report, p. 7

Language: The bill includes language directing the Architect to remove the statues or busts in the United States Capitol that represent figures who participated in the Confederate Army or government, as well as the statues of white supremacists Charles Aycock, John C. Calhoun, and James Paul Clarke and the bust of Roger B. Taney. The Architect is instructed to work with the States who contributed Confederate statues to return them to the donor State. The placement of statues in the Capitol commemorating men who tried to overthrow the government of the United States or who were white supremacists has been controversial for years and offensive to many of the visitors who come to the Capitol each year. The Committee believes their removal is long overdue. 

Demand Progress FY 2022 Appropriations Request, p. 27

Demand Progress and the R Street Institute have called for removal of the statues multiple times going back at least to 2017.

Data and IT

Electronic Consent

House Report, p. 14

Language: The Committee is aware of the ongoing pilot to support Member offices with their casework business processes via a casework privacy release app. The Committee supports the CAO’s efforts to investigate these technologies that will provide electronic document management, accessibility, and the creation of constituent forms that can be viewed, edited, and electronically signed. This type of technology is widely used by businesses and will improve Member office efficiency, workflow, and provide cost savings. Implementation of this technology will help Member offices implement new constituent electronic consent authorities granted under the House-passed H.R. 1079: Creating Advanced Streamlined Electronic Services for Constituent Act of 2021 or the ‘‘CASE Act’’. 

Demand Progress FY 2022 Appropriations Request, p. 41

Demand Progress Rules Recommendations p. 33

Transparency

Lobbyist Disclosure Unique Identifier

House Report, p. 11

Language: The Clerk of the House is directed to brief the Committee not later than 90 days after the official posting of this report regarding the status of a unique identifier for lobbyists and efforts to require disclosing that identifier to the public as structured data as part of the lobbying disclosure downloads. 

Demand Progress FY 2022 Appropriations Request, p. 21

Demand Progress Rules Recommendations p. 28

We note language directing the use of a lobbyist disclosure unique identifier was included in prior appropriations bills and the Clerk’s office submitted a report on its implementation in May 2020. Last we checked the Clerk was waiting for direction from the House Administration Committee.

Library of Congress

IT Modernization

House Report, p. 36

Language:  The Library has made significant progress in recent years modernizing essential Library technology and standardizing and optimizing Library operations. The recommendation will allow the Library’s flagship websites, loc.gov, congress.gov and crs.gov, to be sustained in continuous development and allowing IT infrastructure to continue to be refined and enhanced, with increased integration of IT development, IT security, and IT operations. The agency-wide modernization efforts also address major IT efforts for the Copyright Office, CRS and the National Library Service for Blind and Print Disabled (NLS). The Committee expects the LOC to continue to refine the IT Modernization and Integrated Master Schedule and encourages the LOC to consider it as an evolving document. The plan should be used to integrate schedules and cost baselines for responsible project management. In addition, the leadership of Office of the Librarian should help shape and use it as an important management tool. 

Demand Progress LOC recommendation report 

We note that the Library of Congress, at the direction of appropriators, conducted a virtual public meeting that resulted in a number of public recommendations for the Library to consider. We do not know the status of those recommendations. 

Law Library Digitization

House Report, p. 36

Language: The Committee continues to commend the Law Library for providing support to the time-sensitive and complex needs of the Congress, the Supreme Court, executive branch agencies, courts, practicing attorneys, State bars, State and local governments, American businesses, scholars, journalists, and those with legal research needs. The Committee urges the Law Library to continue its digitization strategy as part of the Library’s overall digitization strategy to increase online access to major parts of its collection, such as the United States Serial Sets and Supreme Court Records and Briefs. 

Demand Progress LOC recommendation report 

Complete List

To help keep track of all items requested by the Legislative Branch Subcommittee, we built a public spreadsheet that maintains a catalog of items, broken down by title, entity responsible, timeline for completion, and due date. See the spreadsheet here and below: