THE HOUSE COMMITTEE TASKED WITH MODERNIZING CONGRESS
has 12 newly appointed members, an initial $50,000 budget (through March), and less than one year to issue recommendations. There’s little doubt that Congress must invest in its own brain power and modernize its technology.
The select committee isn’t Congress’s only hope, as the oversight committees (House Admin + Senate Rules) and leg branch appropriations committees play a major role in modernizing Congress. So too does the House and Senate writ large, as exemplified by the House’s consideration of HR 1 (the voting & ethics reform bill) and HSGAC’s favorable reporting of the Access to Congressionally Mandated Reports Act. What remains to be seen is how Congress will react to Trump’s ’emergency’ power grab; on that topic, it appears Sen. McConnell has dropped his guise as a Senate institutionalist. (More on that.)
Office of Congressional Workplace Rights. During last week’s oversight hearing on the Office of Congressional Workplace Rights, Rep. Lowey, who chairs the Appropriations committee, expressed an interest in addressing the lack of a uniform standard for paid family medical leave among House offices. FWIW, we think it should be 3 months and paid out of a non-MRA account. Also of note: the Congressional Accountability Act’s provisions don’t go into effect into June 19, so staff complaining of harassment are stuck under the old system until then; the OCWR will go through a notice and comment rulemaking in April; and a 70 new harassment filings have been received by the OCWR in 2019, with half from the Library of Congress. Finally, the climate survey won’t go out until Q1 or Q2 of 2020.
The Republican-led Senate Rules committee voted to change procedural rules by a 10-9 vote to cut down the debate time on nominations for lower-level positions, i.e. district court judges. To enact the change the Senate may have to go nuclear. Continue reading “Forecast for February 19, 2019. Never Waste an Emergency”