Forecast for August 19, 2019.

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. Continue reading “Forecast for August 19, 2019.”

The Crystal Ball on Funding for the Office of Technology Assessment

Earlier this year, the House’s Appropriations Committee favorably reported a Legislative Branch Appropriations bill for FY 2020 that contained $6m in start-up funds for the Office of Technology Assessment spread out over two years. Now that the House and Senate have agreed upon top line spending numbers for the federal government, where does all this stand?

As you might recall, the House of Representatives passed 10 out of 12 appropriations bills, but the Legislative Branch bill was not among them. It got hung up on the House floor over an unrelated fight over providing members of Congress with a cost of living increase.

To date, the Senate has not marked up any appropriations measures because leadership decided to hold off on markups until the House and Senate reached an agreement over the top line number for federal spending spending. With that now resolved, Senate appropriators reportedly made a secret determination about how the Senate will divvy up those funds among among the appropriations subcommittees — that information won’t be public until September — and staff likely are working feverishly over the August recess to draft the Senate’s appropriations bills. We should expect to see the Senate move as many appropriations bills as possible before the fiscal year ends at the end of September, although there may be a long term Continuing Resolution for the controversial measures and a short term CR if they cannot complete the non-controversial measures by October 1.

Also behind the scenes, I would expect that House and Senate appropriators are working out their differences over how much funding should be available to each of the appropriations subcommittees — the House and Senate bills need to be identical, after all — and perhaps they even are looking at what to include in those bills. It’s likely that most controversial measures will not be included. However, making determinations about what to include may be awkward as Senate appropriators do not have official baseline text.

What does this mean for OTA? Usually leg branch approps is the least controversial of all the spending bills and it would already have been passed by the House. But that did not happen and time is running short. I expect the House will pass its leg branch approps bill in September — at least, it seems reasonable they do so — and the recent bipartisan recommendations from the Select Committee on the Modernization of Congress on bringing back OTA in some form may firm up the House’s position in support of the start-up funds.

Senate appropriators may be less enthusiastic about bringing back OTA as an independent entity and more supportive of providing more funds to GAO’s STAA, but with the House’s strong support for restoring an OTA-like entity, it seems likely that they would acquiesce to some modest start-up funds.

The biggest determining factor likely is the amount of money that’s available for spending on the legislative branch, which has gotten the back hand for funding as compared to other appropriations subcommittees, and how leg branch priorities will be shoe-horned into that bill.

Job Announcement: Policy Analyst

POLICY ANALYST, DEMAND PROGRESS

Want to fix Congress? Do you think members and staff are captive to a broken process and lack the resources to do their jobs? Do you want your government to be transparent, accountable, and effective? Do you want to rebuild Congress’ science and technology capabilities? If so, this job is for you.

Demand Progress is looking for a smart, self-starting, intensely curious person fascinated by legislative policymaking who is willing to roll up their sleeves to make things better.

WHAT YOU’LL DO
You will be a policy analyst working as part of a small team focused on strengthening Congress’s capacity to govern and understand science and technology issues, led by Daniel Schuman, Demand Progress policy director.

You will spend 100% of your time working to improve Congress, using whatever techniques we can figure out to help us get there. We are focused on supporting the Select Committee on the Modernization of Congress, the Committee on House Administration, the Senate Rules Committee, the House and Senate legislative branch appropriations subcommittees, and the support support offices and agencies.

The work includes:

• Research and Writing: Performing research; writing reports, articles, blogs; supporting the writing of those resources; and contributing to our weekly newsletter (the First Branch Forecast).

• Connecting with People: Attending hearings, convening people, working with the media, representing the organization at coalition meetings, and using electronic media (twitter, listservs, etc.).

• Lobbying and lobbying support: This is a smaller but important part of your job: helping to write one-pagers, keeping in touch with staff, and supporting legislative staff who have good ideas.

• More: Figuring out new ways to solve problems, as well as a fair amount of the usual humdrum paper-pushing.

We strongly believe in helping staff grow and achieve their potential. You will get a lot of runway (and a lot of help), and we want you to make the most of it.

We are a small but mighty team.

OUR PHILOSOPHY AND BACKGROUND
Demand Progress has a progressive philosophy; however, making Congress better is not a liberal or conservative issue. You are expected to be able to work with everyone from across the political spectrum. I do mean everyone. At the same time, the institutions inside Congress that support legislative expertise come out of the progressive era, so it’s important to stay grounded in the idea that Congress must work for all Americans.

COMPENSATION
The salary is $55-65k, depending on your experience. In addition, Demand Progress offers excellent benefits such as employer-paid health insurance, a 3% retirement match, 3 weeks vacation (plus the week between Christmas and New Years), parental leave, travel expenses, and short and long term disability insurance. This position is considered exempt for overtime purposes.

You can work from wherever you want— we don’t have a central office — but you are expected to regularly attend meetings with Congress and with civil society organizations in the Washington, D.C. area. You also can keep flexible hours, subject to the approval of your supervisor and the needs of the job.

This is a grant funded position and this position is funded for the next year.

QUALITIES YOU SHOULD POSSESS:

  • Openness to implementing unconventional and innovative ideas.
  • Be self-starting, resourceful, and organized.
  • The ability to manage multiple projects and meet deadlines.
  • Be a proactive problem solver (and avoid the word proactive).
  • Strong attention to detail.
  • Excellent written and oral communication skills.
  • A willingness to learn and to teach.
  • A sense of humor and a sense of the absurd.

PREFERRED EXPERIENCE AND SKILLS:
A bachelor’s degree with at least 2 years of work experience. Ideally, you’ll have worked on or around Capitol Hill as staff, as a journalist, or in an advocacy role in civil society. It is a plus if you already possess expertise in how the lawmaking process works, and experience with the aforementioned committees and offices is a real bonus. Familiarity with the former Office of Technology Assessment and efforts to revive it also is a plus. You must be a capable and fluent researcher and writer that is used to working on a deadline. This is not an entry-level position.

Comfort with Google applications (Gmail, Google docs, calendar, etc).

Basic computer/technology skills or understanding thereof.

Strong analytical skills. You be able to figure out why things work as they do and what the effects are of changing the underlying system.

ABOUT DEMAND PROGRESS
Demand Progress is a national grassroots organization with 2.5 million members that promotes the democratic character of the internet and uses it to break concentrated power and make government accountable. Our work focuses on the final part: building up the legislative branch as an institution capable of overseeing the executive branch and making smart legislative decisions.

We are fiscally sponsored by New Venture Fund and the SixteenThirty Fund, 501(c)(3) and 501(c)(4) organizations. In other words, we’re a traditional non-profit and we can lobby and engage in political activity. Your work largely will fit comfortably into 501(c)(3) work, although you will do some 501(c)(4) work. Depending on the circumstances, you may have to register as a lobbyist if you spend 20% of your time lobbying, although that is unlikely.

HOW TO APPLY
We will begin reviewing applications no later than August 9, 2019, and continue on a rolling basis.

Please submit your job application to jobs@demandprogress.org. Please follow the following directions:

  • In the subject line, write: “Policy Analyst: yourname
  • In the body, please include your first and last name, your phone number, and an email address to contact you.
  • Please attach a cover letter, resume, and a writing sample or two. The writing sample (or two) should demonstrate your ability to analyze, explain, or summarize a topic, ideally something that’s congressionally-related.

MORE ABOUT DEMAND PROGRESS
Demand Progress is committed to the principles of social and economic justice, and we try to build a workplace where all employees are treated fairly, feel respected as individuals and enjoy working together. Additionally, we recognize that the issues we work on play out differently in different kinds of communities, and value the perspective of people from communities that have traditionally experienced discrimination.

People of color, women, people with disabilities, and LGBT people are especially encouraged to apply.

NEW VENTURE FUND CAREERS
Demand Progress is a project of the SixteenThirty Fund, a 501(c)(4) advocacy organization; and Demand Progress Education Fund is a project of the New Venture Fund, a 501(c)(3) public charity that incubates new and innovative public-interest projects and grant-making programs. The New Venture Fund is committed to attracting, developing and retaining exceptional people, and to creating a work environment that is dynamic, rewarding and enables each of us to realize our potential. The New Venture Fund’s work environment is safe and open to all employees and partners, respecting the full spectrum of race, color, religious creed, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, national origin, political affiliation, ancestry, age, disability, genetic information, veteran status, and all other classifications protected by law in the locality and/or state in which you are working.

(First announced on August 5, 2019)

 

Job Announcement: Policy Manager

POLICY MANAGER, DEMAND PROGRESS

Want to fix Congress? Do you think members and staff are captive to a broken process and lack the resources to do their jobs? Do you want your government to be transparent, accountable, and effective? Do you want to rebuild Congress’ science and technology capabilities? If so, this job is for you.

Demand Progress is looking for a smart, self-starting, intensely curious person fascinated by legislative policy-making who is willing to roll up their sleeves to make things better.

WHAT YOU’LL DO
You will be a policy manager working as part of a small team focused on strengthening Congress’s capacity to govern and understand science and technology issues, led by Daniel Schuman, Demand Progress policy director.

You will spend 100% of your time working to improve Congress, using whatever techniques we can figure out to help us get there. We are focused on helping the Select Committee on the Modernization of Congress, the Committee on House Administration, the Senate Rules Committee, the House and Senate legislative branch appropriations subcommittees, and Congress’s support support offices and agencies.

The work includes:

• Research and Writing: Performing research and writing white papers, reports, articles, blogs, and contributing to our weekly newsletter (the First Branch Forecast).

• Connecting with People: Attending hearings, convening people, working with the media, representing the organization at coalition meetings, and using electronic media (twitter, listservs, etc.).

• Lobbying and lobbying support: This is a smaller but important part of your job: helping to draft legislation, one-pagers, keeping in touch with staff, and supporting legislative staff who have good ideas.

• More: Figuring out new ways to solve problems, as well as a fair amount of the usual humdrum paper-pushing.

We strongly believe in helping staff grow and achieve their potential. You will get a lot of runway (and a lot of help), and we want you to make the most of it.

We are a small but mighty team.

OUR PHILOSOPHY AND BACKGROUND
Demand Progress has a progressive philosophy; however, making Congress better is not a liberal or conservative issue. You are expected to be able to work with everyone from across the political spectrum. I do mean everyone. At the same time, the institutions inside Congress that support legislative expertise come out of the progressive era, so it’s important to stay grounded in the idea that Congress must work for all Americans.

COMPENSATION
The salary is $80-95k, depending on your experience. In addition, Demand Progress offers excellent benefits such as employer-paid health insurance, a 3% retirement match, 3 weeks vacation (plus the week between Christmas and New Years), parental leave, travel expenses, and short and long term disability insurance. This position is considered exempt for overtime purposes.

You can work from wherever you want— we don’t have a central office — but you are expected to regularly attend meetings with Congress and with civil society organizations in the Washington, D.C. area. You also can keep flexible hours, subject to the approval of your supervisor and the needs of the job.

This is a grant funded position and this position is funded for the next year.

QUALITIES YOU SHOULD POSSESS:

  • Openness to implementing unconventional and innovative ideas.
  • Be self-starting, resourceful, and organized.
  • The ability to manage multiple projects and meet deadlines.
  • Be a proactive problem solver (and avoid the word proactive).
  • Strong attention to detail.
  • Strong written and oral communication skills.
  • A willingness to learn and to teach.
  • A sense of humor and a sense of the absurd.

A bachelor’s degree with at least 3 years of related work experience, ideally as staff on Capitol Hill. (Hill journalists count, too.) You must already possess significant expertise in how the lawmaking process works, and experience with the aforementioned committees and offices is a definite plus. Familiarity with the former Office of Technology Assessment and efforts to revive it also is a plus. You must be a capable and fluent writer that is used to dealing with complex subject matter at length and on a deadline. This is not an entry-level position.

Comfort with Google applications (Gmail, Google docs, calendar, etc).

Basic computer/technology skills or understanding thereof.

Strong analytical skills. You must be able to figure out why things work as they do and what the effects are of changing the underlying system.

ABOUT DEMAND PROGRESS

Demand Progress is a national grassroots organization with 2.5 million members that promotes the democratic character of the internet and uses it to break concentrated power and make government accountable. Our work focuses on the final part: building up the legislative branch as an institution capable of overseeing the executive branch and making smart legislative decisions.

We are fiscally sponsored by New Venture Fund and the SixteenThirty Fund, 501(c)(3) and 501(c)(4) organizations. In other words, we’re a traditional non-profit and we can lobby and engage in political activity. Your work largely will fit comfortably into 501(c)(3) work, although you will do some 501(c)(4) work. Depending on the circumstances, you may have to register as a lobbyist if you spend 20% of your time lobbying, although that is unlikely.

HOW TO APPLY
We will begin reviewing applications no later than August 9, 2019, and continue on a rolling basis.

Please submit your job application to jobs@demandprogress.org. Please follow the following directions:

  • In the subject line, write: “Policy Manager: yourname
  • In the body, please include your first and last name, your phone number, and an email address to contact you.
  • Please attach a cover letter, resume, and a writing sample or two. The writing sample (or two) should demonstrate your ability to analyze, explain, or summarize a topic, ideally something that’s congressionally-related.

MORE ABOUT DEMAND PROGRESS
Demand Progress is committed to the principles of social and economic justice, and we try to build a workplace where all employees are treated fairly, feel respected as individuals, and enjoy working together. Additionally, we recognize that the issues we work on play out differently in different kinds of communities, and value the perspective of people from communities that have traditionally experienced discrimination.

People of color, women, people with disabilities, and LGBT people are especially encouraged to apply.

NEW VENTURE FUND CAREERS

Demand Progress is a project of the SixteenThirty Fund, a 501(c)(4) advocacy organization; and Demand Progress Education Fund is a project of the New Venture Fund, a 501(c)(3) public charity that incubates new and innovative public-interest projects and grant-making programs. The New Venture Fund is committed to attracting, developing and retaining exceptional people, and to creating a work environment that is dynamic, rewarding and enables each of us to realize our potential. The New Venture Fund’s work environment is safe and open to all employees and partners, respecting the full spectrum of race, color, religious creed, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, national origin, political affiliation, ancestry, age, disability, genetic information, veteran status, and all other classifications protected by law in the locality and/or state in which you are working.

(First announced on August 5, 2019)

Forecast for June 10, 2019. Leg Branch Approps Goes to the Floor; Modernizing the Contempt Process; and Improving Constituent Communications.

CONGRESS IN BRIEF

• The Approps minibus will hit the House floor this week. Several hundred amendments were offered for Rules Committee consideration, including 38 for leg branch; H. Rules meets Monday at 5 and again on Tuesday. Anyone offering amendments to stop the member pay adjustment from taking place should read this and then find something useful to do instead. Don’t just take it from us, read the Congressional Management Foundation’s statement.

• resolution to speed the path to court for contempt proceedings is also on the Rules Committee docket; H. Res 430, set for a Monday night vote, empowers the Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group (BLAG) to initiate legal proceedings on behalf of a committee instead of requiring additional floor time. This is good; we would also like the BLAG to publish information about its actions, i.e., when it votes to move forward on a matter and what it authorizes.

• Constituent communications with Congress were the topic of a Select Committee on the Modernization of Congress hearing on Wednesday — written testimonyvideo — featuring the Congressional Management Foundation’s Brad Fitch, PopVox’s Marci Harris, and Ohio State University Professor Michael Neblo. Continue reading “Forecast for June 10, 2019. Leg Branch Approps Goes to the Floor; Modernizing the Contempt Process; and Improving Constituent Communications.”

Forecast for April 29, 2019. It’s off to work we go.

CONGRESS IS BACK FOR THE NEXT FOUR WEEKS.

Buckle up, it’s gonna be bumpy. The Scylla and Charybdis of our odyssey will be Appropriations and the Trump investigation(s). It’s possible that the Trump administration’s refusal to meaningfully cooperate with subpoenas and accede to requests to testify will become fused to the appropriations process, as appropriations measures can be used to pressure a recalcitrant White House.

This fusion of appropriations and oversight isn’t necessarily a bad thing.The Trump administration may want to avoid a government shutdown out of fear that a slowing economy could hurt Trump’s reelection chances, and the House is being pushed to engage in sweeping oversight. It’s more likely House Dems will use leverage over the upcoming debt ceiling default to redress imbalances in appropriations funding and use other tools to vindicate their oversight obligations, but maybe they’ll go for a two-for-one. Notably absent in news coverage of this issue is the Senate, but I’m sure they’re there … behind the scenes.

Obscured by all of this is probably the most important question relating to a strong Congress: will Congress at last spend more money on Congress? The vote on the terribly named 302(b) suballocations, where the full Appropriations committee decides how much to give each of its subcommittees, is likely set for May 8. This is important. Continue reading “Forecast for April 29, 2019. It’s off to work we go.”

Forecast for March 18, 2019. The seven-per-cent solution.

SEVEN PERCENT OF THE HOUSE, or 32 Members, spoke at a Member’s Day hearing of the Fix Congress Committee, held on Tuesday, with 35 members submitting written testimony. (VideoWitness statements). The 3 hour hearing, which followed the committee’s organizational meeting that adopting committee rules, is too complex to recap, but we summarized the subject matter in this spreadsheet. FWIW, I was generally impressed by the testimony.

Of the 22 Democrats and 10 Republicans who testified, the most popular issues were staff pay and benefits (8 members), modernizing technology (6 members), and investing in the institution (6 members). Of the three, modernizing technology had bipartisan speakers. In addition, other popular items, such as addressing committee jurisdictions (e.g, fixing the budget process), cyber security, and improving the House calendar, had bipartisan speakers. Roll Call and Issue One have a summary of the proceedings. Follow the committee’s new twitter account here. Continue reading “Forecast for March 18, 2019. The seven-per-cent solution.”