Forecast for August 12, 2019.

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. Continue reading “Forecast for August 12, 2019.”

USASpending Publishes (Some) Budget Requests In A Central Location

USASpending.gov/#/agency

Every year federal agencies explain to Congress their requests for funding in a document known as a Congressional Budget Justification (CBJ). Unlike other budget documents, these requests are written to be read and understood by most people. 

Hundreds of agencies and sub-agencies submit these requests and OMB requires executive branch agencies to publish their CBJs online, but there hasn’t been a ‘one-stop-shop’ government database that aggregates all the requests in one place…until now (sort of).

Continue reading “USASpending Publishes (Some) Budget Requests In A Central Location”

The Long Arm of the U.S. Capitol Police

The U.S. Capitol Police (USCP) isn’t your standard police department: tasked with keeping Congress safe while maintaining an open environment, USCP is more of a police-force-security-agency hybrid. The agency enjoys wide jurisdiction, but how wide exactly? We contacted the department in June to find out. 

We requested a map of USCP’s jurisdiction and the agreement with DC police governing how the departments address jurisdictional overlap. USCP’s public information office declined to substantively respond to our request and several follow up inquiries. 

Fortunately, it turns out a map of USCP’s extended jurisdiction is available on the USCP website, buried inside the traffic code document (page A85). Here it is: Continue reading “The Long Arm of the U.S. Capitol Police”

Forecast for August 5, 2019.

FirstBranchForecast

The Senate and the House are out for recess but we are still in session.

AT THE TOP
Want to fix Congress? We’re hiring!
 We’re looking for a policy manager and a policy analyst to focus on strengthening Congress. Please apply or tell your friends!

A beta whistleblower portal is live on Oversight.gov; it instructs whistleblowers regarding who to contact to blow the whistle or request assistance to address retaliation. The portal was jointly developed by CIGIE and the Office of Special Counsel.

House Democratic Caucus Rules still have not been changed despite a previously scheduled vote in February, but a party committee is continuing to work on proposed amendments, led by Rep. Meng. They’re soliciting comments. We have some.

Write-o. The UK Parliament has an interesting model for legislative e-petitions.

File any FOIAs recently? The federal FOIA Advisory Committee wants to hear how it went. Continue reading “Forecast for August 5, 2019.”

Rule of Law(makers)

We’ve previously written about the rules that rule the rules, which has to be one of the world’s wonkiest subjects. In short, each party in the House and Senate has rules that govern their conference or caucus, leading to different party rules for (1) House Democrats, (2) House Republicans, (3) Senate Democrats, and (4) Senate Republicans. 

Party rules shape the power structure inside the party: they govern things like committee chair assignments and term limits for leadership. These rules can empower rank and file members and give them a voice, strengthen committees, or consolidate power in the hands of a few at the top.  Continue reading “Rule of Law(makers)”

Forecast for July 29, 2019.

FirstBranchForecast

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.”

GPO Watchdog Testimony Raises Concerns About the Agency

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”