The Senate finally is organized, budget reconciliation is prioritized, and impeachment has materialized. Welcome to the First Branch Forecast, your weekly look into the Legislative branch and government transparency. Please tell your friends to subscribe.
THE TOP LINE
Dems took control of Senate committees on Wednesday, two weeks late, when the chamber adopted its organizing resolution after Sen. McConnell withdrew his objections.
A security supplemental appropriations bill is in the works, according to Speaker Pelosi, who said Congress needs to strengthen security for Members. She also called for a 9/11-style commission to examine the security failures that led to the insurrection.
A strong Congress is essential to a strong democracy. With 3 dozen organizations, we sent a bipartisan coalition letter endorsing a 10% increase in funding for Congress, or a comparatively paltry $500ish million, to mitigate decades of damage to the Legislative branch. More here from us; and here’s Chris Marquette’s story.
House Dems will begin to craft a relief bill this week after a budget resolution was adoptedto allow the Senate to move the bill through reconciliation. No floor votes are scheduled this week or next, but House committees have a February 16 deadline to submit legislation for inclusion in the package. Budget reconciliation is a byzantine and lengthy process that can weaken legislation, but it is necessary so long as Sen. McConnell retains the ability to filibuster, blocking more productive legislative avenues.
Impeachment begins tomorrow; both sides filed their briefs last week.
Rep. Greene was stripped of her committee assignments after House Republicans refused to hold her accountable. The resolution was adopted with the support of 11 GOP Members. Rep. Babin, perhaps at the behest of leadership, offered an amendment to replace Rep. Greene’s name with Rep. Ilhan Omar. By choosing to substitute one member for another, these Republicans signaled they did not believe Rep. Greene’s behavior was worthy of punishment, for if they were serious about articulating a standard then Rep. Greene’s name would surely have stayed in place.
COVID-19 is mutating, spreading quickly, and possibly re-infecting people. The House should stop holding drawn-out floor votes and move to fully remote proceedings; the Senate should make it possible to remotely deliberate and vote in committees and on the floor.
Busy today? I’ll be speaking about “Creating and Improving Pathways for STEM Professionals to Advise Congress,” alongside Harvard’s Laura Manley and UMD’s Joan Burton, at the American Association for the Advancement of Science conference today at 3pm. Come to watch us, stay for Dr. Fauci.Continue reading “First Branch Forecast: February 8, 2021”