What a CR-azy week. In many respects it is the natural result of the rules package agreed to at the start of the 118th Congress, the inability of the 117th Congress to enact key reforms, the rise of Trumpism, the return of the strong Speaker model in the 80s-90s, and a Constitutional framework that creates perverse disincentives for lawmakers. Don’t worry, we won’t talk about all of that.
Because of the timing of the House’s passage of the CR on suspension(!), 335-91, we will just make a few quick points. (This measure sailed through the Senate a few hours before midnight.)
First, note that House Republicans did not follow the 72-hour rule and gave Dems fewer than 30 minutes to read the bill, raising real concerns about whether something’s getting snuck past the goalie. (Like a new submarine! And member COLAs!) While it was a politics-created emergency, this points to the need for more time, better policy support, and better technology so people know what they’re voting on.
Second, on the COLAs issue, we are not a fan of arguments that a bill should go down because it allows members to get a COLA. Member pay is down something like $50K in real terms over the last quarter-century, and we don’t want a chamber where you can only serve if you’re wealthy. Better pay is an anti-corruption measure.
Third, we note how hard it is to find the text of the CR, which popped up on the docs.house.gov floor page. This is a fine place to publish information, but most people playing at home would be looking at Congress.gov, which is going to have the bill waaaay after-the-fact. The reason the Clerk’s website exists is because the Library was unwilling to play ball with the House for more realtime information a decade ago. It’s time to get that fixed. The most timely information should be available on Congress.gov, which is where most people look.
Finally, Speaker McCarthy used the suspension of the rules as a way of getting around his own Rules Committee and the hardline Republicans. We will see what kind of retribution they will try to bring. Rep. Gaetz said over the weekend he’s going to force a vote to remove McCarthy. And (some?) Republicans are apparently planning on using the Ethics Committee investigation as a vehicle to expel Gaetz.
We cover below the seismic shifts in the Senate. We run through the impact of a shutdown on the institution. Also how members should be thinking about reconstituting the House to prevent further damage from a faction intent on bending the chamber to its will.
There’s good news, too. We cover a smart House Admin hearing into the Government Accountability Office and an otherwise unnoticed CHA markup. We touch upon the departure of the unlamented USCP IG.
We’re not going to touch the failures of all those other CRs and approps bills in the House and Senate. They appear to be artifacts of a failing process attributable to how the Congress is reshaping its party/faction system, and there’s lots of coverage of the tick tock elsewhere.
This week, the House will continue to work through a scheduled recess. The Senate is in session as well. House leadership drafted this calendar for appropriations bills, starting with the Legislative Branch. The Rules Committee will take it up on Monday at 4 PM ET.Continue reading “First Branch Forecast for October 2, 2023: CR-azy week”