What to expect from Congress this week? The House is holding a committee work week before joining the Senate, which is already out on recess. They will return the week of July 11th. We are writing this newsletter before 5pm on Friday, so you’ll have to check the House committee calendar for upcoming hearings, but we know the upcoming week is filled with Approps bills markups. By the end of the week, the appropriations committee process will be complete on the House side — phew — at least until there’s an agreement on the top line numbers, and we can expect the bills to move on the floor soon. The Senate approps timeline is more difficult to divine, but given that the deadlines for public witness testimony wrap up July 1, we could start seeing subcommittee markup notices in July. Or Senate Dems will simply release their draft bills prior to summer recess while leaders negotiate over the top line numbers. Stay tuned.
We’re not going to address the big news out of the Supreme Court on abortion and guns, or what’s happening with the NDAA, or the gun control law, the January 6th stuff, and most of the items that came out of the appropriations process. It’s simply too much for us to manage, but you can expect some of these items — to the extent they fit within this newsletter’s mission — coming up in the upcoming weeks.
Last week saw several big wins for strengthening the Leg branch. On Tuesday, a host of excellent congressional data modernization improvements were announced at the quarterly meeting of the entity formerly known as the Bulk Data Task Force; significant improvements in funding and operations for the Legislative branch were favorably reported by the full House Appropriations committee; and a significant increase in the wage available to interns was promulgated by the House Admin Committee. The House Defense Approps bill contains language to sunset the two AUMFs from 2001 and 2002 that have been abused ever since. We’ve got more below, along with summaries of two hearings that helped define what still needs to be done to modernize Congress: a House ModCom hearing on Congress and Technology and the Senate’s Leg Branch Approps hearing on the GAO & GPO.
Continue reading “First Branch Forecast for June 27, 2022: Apropos everything” →
On Wednesday, June 22, 2022, the full House Appropriations Committee favorably (32-26) reported the FY 2023 Legislative Branch Subcommittee Bill (with amendments) and committee report. They 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 2023 Appropriations requests, FY 2023 appropriations testimony, and report on updating House Rules for the 117th Congress — 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 consideration of our requests. For resources on prior Legislative Branch Appropriations bills, go here.
We already have published summaries of what the House included in its FY 2023 Leg Branch Approps bill text, and you can see the changes in the appropriations line items here.
As the Senate considers what to include in its Legislative Branch Subcommittee bill and report, we highlight a few provisions in the House bill that the Senate should consider for itself. They include:
- Creation of new offices to enhance diversity and inclusion, specifically the creation of the House Intern Resource Office and the Office of Translation Services.
- Strong investments in staff benefits and care, specifically child care, emergency care (which now include custodial and contract workers), and student loan repayments.
- Heightened funding for technology and modernization projects, specifically the congressional staff directory, collaborative legislative drafting tools, standardization of legislative documents, and separate technology modernization fund.
Although we were unable to include everything below, you can find a complete list of FY 2023 Legislative Branch Appropriations report items in a comprehensive spreadsheet. The following are some of the highlights.
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, the entity responsible, the timeline for completion, and the due date. See the spreadsheet here and below:
Continue reading “Demand Progress Proposals Included in FY 2023 Legislative Branch Appropriations Bills and Report” →
This week. The House is in today and so is the Senate. After this week, both chambers will take a break from floor legislative activities until July 11th — according to the House floor calendar and Senate floor calendar — although the House will hold a committee work week next week. Afterward, the House has scheduled only 3 weeks of floor activities, and the Senate has scheduled only 4 weeks of floor activities, before both chambers go into summer recess. Rapidly approaching elections suggest the September work period will be short and the interregnum work period in December will be chaotic. It also means that over the next few weeks even the most minor legislative issues will take on a political import that scrambles the likelihood of passage in unusual ways.
As you might expect, this week is terribly busy. In fact, today is the longest day. (Sorry.) We are watching (and participating in) Tuesday’s meeting of the Bulk Data Task Force, Wednesday’s House Appropriations Committee markup of the Legislative Branch Appropriations bill and the Senate’s Leg Branch Approps hearing on the GAO & GPO, and Thursday’s House Modernization Committee hearing on Congress and Technology. There will be several Jan 6th Committee hearings and all of the House Approps subcommittee markups will wrap up this week. (House full committee approps proceedings wrap up next week.) There’s also an interesting House Judiciary hearing on oversight of the DOJ’s National Security Division on Wednesday and a House Admin hearing on disinformation. For more info, see the combined committees schedule.
Continue reading “First Branch Forecast for June 21, 2022” →
As Congress considering appropriations levels for the Legislative branch for FY2023, we thought it would be useful to compare line items inside the Legislative Branch bill. Below contains the actual funding levels for FY21 and FY 22, the requests published in the president budget, the appropriations levels supported by the subcommittee and full committee as they come out, and a comparison of how those levels have changed.
It can be, at times, somewhat difficult to track appropriations bill text, report language, and press releases and the legislation goes through its paces. Congress.gov maintains a thorough appropriations page, but as of the time of this writing it still has not been updated for FY2023. It’s UI could also be improved.
So we are trying an experiment and will see if we can track the bills as they go through their paces — at least the initial paces. Accordingly, find below our FY 2023 appropriations bill text, report, and press release tracking spreadsheet. Let us know what you think.
The House Legislative Branch Appropriations Subcommittee today released its draft FY 2023 appropriations bill accompanied by a press release. The subcommittee markup is tomorrow at 11 am ET — the full committee vote is next Wednesday — and we won’t know what is in the committee report until the day before the full committee markup. We reviewed the legislation and compared the proposed funding to the enacted levels from prior years. (If you’re interested in the documents from prior Congresses, we have compiled them here.)
At first glance, this bill is packed with many smart funding decisions that will help strengthen Congress. In particular, we noticed significant adjustments to personal, committee, and leadership staff funding; improving the intern pipeline by providing a living wage and the creation of a new intern resource office; a significant investment in modernizing the House’s technology and implementing the recommendations of the Select Committee on the Modernization of Congress, and providing adequate funding to support the House unionization process. There are also significant changes in funding levels for offices and policy agencies, including the GAO. We also note tremendous amounts of new money for the Capitol Police and the Architect.
We applaud the hard work of Chair Ryan, Ranking Member Herrera Buetler, and all members of the House Legislative Branch Appropriations Subcommittee who have demonstrated good stewardship of the Legislative branch. We look forward to seeing the many provisions that will be contained in the committee report and reflect more granular decisions concerning improving Legislative branch operations.
Appropriators have proposed a $5.7 billion funding level, which is a $954.4 million increase over FY 2022, or a 20.1 percent increase. Please note that this does not include funding for the Senate, which will add approximately $1 billion dollars. A whopping 71.4% of the increase will go to the Capitol Police and Architect. This raises significant concerns with us, most notably because historically funding for the USCP and the Architect has resulted in significant decreases in funding for Congress’s policy apparatus, which will become more of a problem in subsequent years.
Continue reading “First Reactions to the Draft FY 2023 House Legislative Branch Appropriations Subcommittee Bill” →
As hearings into the Trump insurrection start, we join the #CapitolStrong community in recognizing that this can bring up strong feelings among the Members, staff, employees, journalists, and others who work on Capitol Hill or are close to those who do. Some mental health resources are available on the coalition website.
This week. The House is in on Monday and the Senate is in on Monday. The House begins subcommittee markup of its appropriations bills and will hold three hearings this week into the Trump insurrection. Senate Armed Services is holding subcommittee markups of the National Defense Authorization Act.
House Appropriations subcommittee markups will take place June 15-22, with full committee markups June 22-30, per the official announcement. Our spreadsheet includes the updated schedule for both chambers in an easy-to-read format. (Schedules are subject to change). We note there is no agreement on top line numbers, so funding levels are still subject to negotiation, and Republicans are already suggesting a short-term CR.
Tracking appropriations markups can be challenging. How far in advance does a meeting have to be noticed? When are the draft bills and reports due to committee members? To the public? We answer all those questions, and more, in our perennial guide on how to track House approps markups.
What will we be tracking? We’ll be keeping a particular close eye on Leg Branch approps, scheduled for subcommittee markup on Wednesday, June 15th, with a full committee markup on the 22nd; FSGG, which is June 16th and 24th; CJS, on June 22nd and 29th; and Defense, June 15th and 22nd. Also, the subcommittee allocations will be adopted in the House on June 30th — this is what establishes the funding levels for the twelve appropriations subcommittees for the chamber… although presumably the bills considered up to that point will be a good indicator. We’ll be watching those top-line numbers and whether good government priorities make it into the bill + committee reports.
Continue reading “First Branch Forecast for June 13, 2022: Everything at once” →
This week. We promised we’d take the week off from the newsletter, but we just can’t quit you. Please note that House subcommittee markups for the NDAA are happening this week and appropriations hearings are continuing. (See our appropriations tracker for the latest deadlines.) We understand the January 6th Committee will hold the first hearing in a series of eight at 8 PM EST on Thursday, June 9.
The Judiciary Committee at Work. The House Judiciary Committee held a markup on Thursday, June 2nd, focused on gun violence, entitled “Protecting our kids.” The proceedings were unusual in that they were scheduled when the House was in recess (although still holding pro forma sessions). Remote deliberations, whether hybrid or fully virtual, allow a committee to quickly respond to current events regardless of whether the chamber is in session. One big, and often unfair criticism, is that Congress is not “at work” when it is in recess, but the reality is remote deliberations allow members and committees to perform legislative work based upon exigent needs, not a travel schedule. Moreover, when Congress is able to act on time-sensitive matters, it prevents the erosion of its power to the Executive branch, which is a big issue for anyone who cares about the strength of our democracy.
War Powers Resolution. A war powers resolution that would end unauthorized U.S. military participation in the Saudi-led war in Yemen was introduced during the May 31st pro forma session, co-sponsored by dozens of members and enjoying broad support from civil society. Endorsing the proposition that Congress decides matters of war and peace is a BFD, as a former senator would say, and there’s great need to strengthen how Congress can exercise its rightful authority. If you want to know why this matters, look no further than Saturday’s blockbuster Washington Post report entitled, “Saudi-led airstrikes in Yemen have been called war crimes. Many relied on U.S. support.” Despite the so-called end to US support for “offensive operations,” “maintenance contracts fulfilled by both the U.S. military and U.S. companies to coalition squadrons carrying out offensive missions have continued,” with airstrikes responsible for the vast majority of civilian deaths.
Continue reading “First Branch Forecast for June 6, 2022: Congress heats up” →
Pathways to Congressional Service are the focus of a forthcoming House Modernization Committee hearing on Wednesday, June 8th.