First Branch Forecast for January 9, 2023: Rule of the Rules


Even after months of foreshadowing, last week’s Speakership deliberations clearly defied the expectations of many Congress-watchers and even the members themselves. The first day of a new Congress has become so routine and performative over the decades that many people just assumed that, after some preliminary protestation and accommodation, Kevin McCarthy would automatically ascend to the Speakership and the 118th Congress would begin “on time.” Some members-elect brought their children Tuesday, only to have C-SPAN’s unencumbered cameras find them sitting, bored and glued to smartphones, waiting to witness the swearing-in. The family that remained during the week’s worth of votes saw their loved ones take the oath of office in the wee hours Saturday morning.

The language the chattering classes used to describe the series of Speaker votes revealed their flawed understanding of what was happening and illustrated their expectations about how the House works. The inconclusive Speaker-election votes were a sign of “dysfunction,” “crisis,” and “chaos,” a “circus,” a “rebellion.” It was assumed that in the interest of party unity — or out of fear of punishment — Republican members would go along to get along and submit ultimately to the strong Speaker system that has defined the House for decades. When that didn’t happen, some members of the pro-McCarthy faction started referring to the holdouts as “the Taliban.” Some in the McCarthy faction were so outraged that it almost came to blows. Eventually, McCarthy gave away more and more to the Freedom Caucus faction, which negotiated hard for procedural and positional power in return for bestowing the Speakership on McCarthy by voting “present.”

What we really witnessed last week was the coming of age of a proto-coalition system in the House. A group of members in the majority party acted like members of a small third party that refused to form a government until they were given a share of political power. That’s hardly anarchy: it was leveraging the one opportunity afforded factions in the House to maximize institutional power at the start of a new Congress. This has happened often in the House’s history. McCarthy’s personal desperation and a lack of alternatives, along with Democrats turning the screws to keep his agony visible, heightened that leverage considerably.

It shouldn’t have come as a surprise, as some Freedom Caucus-types have been talking in this way for months and working towards increasing procedural power for years. Conservative Partnership Institute president Ed Corrigan described this tripartite coalition directly in November at an event organized by Rep. Andy Biggs and attended by Gaetz and Rep. Victoria Spartz. (The Grid did a writeup of it last week as Biggs, et al. followed Corrigan’s tactical advice.) The same points were repeated by Corrigan at a panel discussion a week later, hosted by the Lincoln Network, in which I was a co-panelist and all of you were invited. Biggs distinguishes between the “Uniparty,” i.e., Republicans and Democrats who make up the status quo in his view, and conservative purists. He and his compatriots were thinking in European multi-party coalition terms.

What held the Freedom Caucus faction of the Republican party together was their desire for the federal government to shrink, both in size and impact. Because of the rightward drift of the party, nearly every Republican gives lip service to these goals: but the FC wants to go further than most to roll back the New Deal. (We note, however, that the result of political geography is that America’s policies already are significant to the right of what the media voter wants.) With Kevin McCarthy as minority leader, the 116th Congress authorized trillions of dollars in new spending to respond to the pandemic under a Republican president. The Freedom Caucus faction views all this as a disaster decades in the making.

Continue reading “First Branch Forecast for January 9, 2023: Rule of the Rules”

First Branch Forecast for January 2, 2023: Hindsight is 2022

Top Line

The 117th Congress was astonishingly productive by any reasonable measure. It had everything arrayed against its success, including an attempted coup even before it began by the outgoing administration that nearly resulted in the murder of the constitutional line of succession. After it gaveled in, it contended with determination by the ex-president’s co-partisans to thwart impeachment proceedings and accountability for the Trump insurrectionists. Mitch McConnell took the Senate hostage, preventing committees from forming for weeks and prompting commitments from Sens. Manchin and Sinema to keep the anti-majoritarian filibuster. Meanwhile, a global pandemic continued to make convening in person difficult and dangerous.

Continue reading “First Branch Forecast for January 2, 2023: Hindsight is 2022”

First Branch Forecast for December 19, 2022: Not O.K.?


The end of this Congress feels like the run up before a high school graduation. Senior leaders are saying goodbye while the next crop waits their turn. Everyone’s rushing to turn in their remaining work, leading to sloppy mistakes. The turnover will lead to something new, but we’re not sure what.

This work week is the final one of the 117th Congress. The House will take up the omnibus spending bill — which it will see for the first time today — after agreeing to a short-term extension until December 23. The NDAA passed the Senate last Thursday, as did who-knows how many riders.

The January 6 Committee will hold its final public meeting on Monday and will vote on criminal referrals based on its findings. It will release its final report Wednesday. The Senate Rules Committee moved back its oversight hearing on the US Capitol Police to today. And it appears that Ways and Means had just scheduled a Tuesday hearing to discuss Trump’s tax returns.


Like a student frantically finishing a term paper, congressional appropriators asked for an extension on the omnibus spending package last week after coming to a deal on a longer bill – it helps that they were asking themselves.

What’s striking about the deal announced by appropriators last week is who wasn’t involved: House Republicans. The adults in the room simply went ahead without them, knowing House GOP demands on social spending and Ukrainian aid would be unrealistic and counterproductive. Members’ posturing on picking funding fights in the next Congress likely made it more imperative to strike a long-term deal now.

Members with the ear of leadership are making or have just made one final run this week to insert last-minute provisions into the omnibus and NDAA while leadership plays abracadabra. As we’ve said before, this process is deeply dysfunctional for a representative body and is one of the worst consequences of the concentration of power. All sorts of things will be waived through in these bills because there isn’t enough time to stop and look.

Sometimes, good things move quickly or in unusual ways, like Rep. Zoe Lofgren’s resolution to update overtime regulations for House staff (more on that below). We’re certainly glad to see the Access to Congressionally Mandated Reports Act and Plum Act make it across the finish line. But sloppy and harmful work also gets through, like the unconstitutional judicial security bill that censors information about judges’ familial conflicts of interest from the internet while failing to touch the data brokers it ostensibly targets.

Senators, spooked enough by the antidemocratic tendencies of some House Republicans, apparently will tack on the Electoral Count Act to the Appropriations bill. Last week, Talking Points Memo reported 34 Republican members texted White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows about ways to overturn the 2020 presidential election, including Rep. Ralph Norman’s call for Trump to declare “Marshall [sic] law.”

Continue reading “First Branch Forecast for December 19, 2022: Not O.K.?”

First Branch Forecast for December 12, 2022: Twelve Squared


No, this is not the most wonderful time of the year for people who care about Congress. The twin must-pass bills that remain for this lame duck session – the NDAA and additional government funding – encapsulate the most dispiriting aspects of current congressional procedure and leadership. Tracking what gets thrown into the vat and what is held out of the pink slime of legislation that oozes onto the floor this week is icky business.

This week, Democrats in the House were planning to release a government funding bill a few days ahead of the Thursday deadline to keep the lights on — but they’ve put that on ice, citing progress in their negotiations this weekend. Their floor schedule is heavy on suspensions but nothing pops out. Senate Republicans sound disinclined to accept it, and the bill needs 60 votes so we’ll see if a short-term alternative emerges instead. The hitch is whether to keep parity between increases in defense and non-defense spending and how to accommodate spending on veterans’ health care.

The full Senate Rules Committee will hear testimony from US Capitol Police Chief Thomas Manger in an oversight hearing Tuesday in the Russell Building at 3 PM ET.

The Senate is expected to vote on a war powers resolution that directs the President to stop providing support to Saudi Arabia for its military intervention in Yemen absent congressional approval.


In principle, the NDAA would be the blueprint for arming a global superpower. It’s become so much more than that in the hands of modern House leadership, who determine what other pieces of legislation that would die on their own get to piggyback onto it. This year’s version arrived at more than 4,000 pages, including provisions never seen before. Once found by civil society or members, some disappear back into the ether.

Technology should provide a workaround to the “read the bill” mantra for a bill this size. The comparative print project the House Clerk has launched for congressional users at least in theory allows staff to track what is appearing and disappearing through different leadership drafts.

The NDAA (and to some extent the government funding omnibus) are tools for House leadership to maintain caucus discipline by creating an artificial pressurized environment and by tacking on bills to reward good team players and favored donors and interests. It forces members who want their provisions included or object to amendments conjured by leadership to play chicken with bringing the entire bill down. Progressives did so with Sen. Joe Manchin’s permitting reform proposal, for example. It’s a vote-free spectacle, not representative governance.

The Senate is far from blameless in this absurd practice as the preservation of the legislative filibuster and the control of precious floor time has made passage of small, single topic bills virtually impossible. Fixes that don’t make it through the sluice have to wait for next time.

Some good government reforms made it into in those 4,000 pages:

  • The PLUM Act, which would require OPM to modernize its directory of senior federal officials
  • The ACMRA, which establishes an online portal for congressionally mandated reports
  • Counterintelligence assessment of foreign-owned spyware and prohibition of use by intelligence agencies
  • The Financial Transparency Act, which would require consistently formatted data from all federal financial regulatory agencies
  • Strengthen Inspector General independence and accountability
  • America’s Taxpayers Act, which would require GAO to explain how much money the government would save if its recommendations were adopted by the federal government.

The version released last week also includes an unwelcome internet censorship provision that allows for the removal of information about federal judges, shielding them from oversight for ethical lapses. The ACLU says the provision “could impose unconstitutional restrictions on speech.” Organizations that conduct judicial oversight have expressed grave concerns that it will cause them and others to censor basic information about judges, such as their birthdays and where their spouses work. The bill also initially added a reference to Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act that would have held websites liable like Google for not removing such information, but that provision disappeared overnight.

(On the topic of judicial transparency, the House Judiciary Committee held a hearing on the SCERT Act, which would create a code of conduct for SCOTUS and require disclosure of dark money support or gifts to justices.)

It’s also notable that the NDAA did not include a repeal of the 2002 Authorization of the Use of Military Force. Nor does the bill include two anti-authoritarian measures. It did not take up blocking implementation of Schedule F, which President Trump proposed to use to fire federal civil servants en masse and shield policy roles from competitive hiring. The House also did not attach the John Lewis Voting Rights bill to the NDAA.

At this point in the lame duck session, Democrats have set at least one government finance trap for themselves. A short-term government spending bill creates a government shutdown opportunity for the hard right almost immediately into the new term. Without the time (and votes because of SineManchin) to pass debt limit expansion in reconciliation, the Republican hostage raid may hit before summer recess.

The Senate still has time to take up bills to make access to PACER free and establish a reporters’ shield law. Majority Leader Schumer simply needs to put them on the floor. CBO recently estimated that making PACER free through the Enacting the Open Courts Act would slightly reduce the federal deficit over 10 years.

An important institutional reform also remains: enacting new overtime rules for congressional staff. Demand Progress, the Congressional Progressive Staff Association, and the Congressional Workers Union last week reminded House and Senate leadership to pass resolutions adopting the Office of Congressional Workplace Rights’ suggestions for updating congressional workplace rules on overtime, which haven’t been revised since the 1990s. A majority of Hill staff work more than 50 hours a week, according to a CPSA survey. New regulations would pay non-managers time-and-a-half for time over 40 hours a week. Given their hostility to the unionization drive currently underway in member offices, the changeover to a Republican majority makes the issue urgent in the House.

Continue reading “First Branch Forecast for December 12, 2022: Twelve Squared”

First Branch Forecast for December 5, 2022: The Second Triumvirate


Congress had some of its most substantive conversations about its rules in years last week. Although the results mostly fiddled around the edges of larger institutional problems, time and opportunity remain to continue the negotiations, at least in the House. The stasis within the Democratic caucus, however, was notable.

Meanwhile, things that need to be done — and done well — remain with little time to accomplish. Democrats continue to play small ball about the risk posed by the debt ceiling, while several House committees have weeks to sift through evidence of various Trump-related malfeasance.

This week, the lame duck session continues, with votes scheduled Tuesday onward in the House. Looking at the Weekly Leader, we see the NDAA, Respect for Marriage Act, a bunch of minor bills, and the reminder that “additional legislative items are possible.” Per Politico’s Olivia Beavers, Monday through Wednesday this week the House Republican Steering Committee will fill in committee chairs. We hear the House Democratic Caucus may continue to consider conference rules on Tuesday, including some that get at the distribution of power. The Georgia senatorial run-off is Dec 6, after which Republicans may become publicly serious about addressing the approps omnibus. The Senate floor schedule is unrevealing. Go here for the committee schedule.


The process for establishing the rules of the House of Representatives is different this time. House Freedom Caucus members succeeded in forcing a conversation within the Republican conference, which continued last week in another round of closed-door meetings on member-proposed amendments to existing rules.

Freedom Caucus members did not secure their biggest objective, which was more member control of the Steering Committee through additional elected seats (although the House GOP does have new regional maps). They also failed to prevent the continued existence of earmarks, which most members see as a useful tool even if most of the gravy falls on appropriators. (There is a better way….) But HFC forced a serious and significant discussion within the conference about member power and leadership control. Such a discussion is healthy for the institution. It’s also one that will continue over the upcoming weeks and perhaps during the first meeting of the committee of the whole of the 118th Congress.

Democrats in both chambers, meanwhile, so far have chosen to freeze the status quo in place. After ratifying the generational shift in leadership, members of the House caucus are in the process of granting the Second Triumvirate the same ironclad control the last generation enjoyed. Accordingly, today’s rank-and-file and their successors may not get another chance to exercise power until another generation has passed. The pending transition will be about continuity rather than change and is a missed opportunity for a reform conversation like the one happening across the aisle. Of most significance, after a concerted leadership push, the caucus tabled Rep. Ed Case’s amendment to rebalance some of the power within the caucus through creating a more representative Steering and Policy Committee that has more member input. That measure could be brought up again on Tuesday, and other significant amendments have yet to be considered. (The concern here is not with the members of the Second Triumvirate, but with how broadly power is distributed.)

Senators, meanwhile, rejected Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse’s renewed effort to disallow top leadership from also holding A-level committee gavels. Although Whitehouse’s efforts might have been personally motivated, the principle of giving a few more Democratic senators an opportunity to lead is well taken. There is late word that the Senate Democratic Caucus will now begin to publish its caucus rules online, joining the other three party caucuses.

By the way, the fact that we only could learn about the outcomes of these party meetings through an amalgamation of reporters’ tweets and stories is frustrating. The parties should publish the proposed amendments, as well as the vote outcomes, because they are critical to understanding how the chambers will operate.

Also, to make your lives easier (and ours), we’re keeping track of proposed House Democratic and Republican amendments to their caucus rules, including the disposition of those amendments. This is hard to do because the information is all non-public, which is why we’ve been closely following the tweets and reporting of a handful of congressional reporters who have ferreted out some of the text and vote results. If we missed something or got something wrong, please let us know.

Continue reading “First Branch Forecast for December 5, 2022: The Second Triumvirate”

Special First Branch Forecast for November 28, 2022: Rules Rules Rules

This week is a big week for party leadership elections and party and chamber rules. We realize we just sent our weekly First Branch Forecast newsletter Monday morning, but this update is both important and timely.

As a reminder, we’ve gathered resources on proposals to update the caucus and conference rules. Also, don’t forget our compilation of recs to update the House chamber rules and the Senate chamber rules.


House Rules. The House Rules Committee meets tomorrow for a Member Day hearing on the House Rules. Presumably, proposals will be published here. Tomorrow morning, Demand Progress and the Lincoln Network will jointly release bipartisan recommendations for updating the House’s rules. Stay tuned.


House Democratic Leadership. House Dems start holding elections for caucus leadership on Wednesday at 9 a.m., according to BGOV. No competitive races at the top. Punchbowl expects the new triumvirate + Clyburn will be elected by unanimous consent. Down ballot will be decided later, as will committee appointments.

— We continue to ask: why aren’t the Dem Policy and Steering Committee membership list and rules publicly available?

House Democratic Caucus Rules. Dems to vote on proposed changes to caucus rules on Wednesday. The proposals aren’t publicly available (argh!) but Punchbowl has obtained them, which we’ve republished here.

— Demand Progress Education Fund released a detailed list of proposed amendments to the caucus rules to bring needed transparency and accountability.

Proposed amendments go before the secretive Committee on Caucus Procedures on Monday afternoon — chaired by Grace Meng, regarding which there’s no public list of members. The Committee’s purpose is not to propose rules changes of their own, but to review and make recs on the proposed amendments. The full Caucus will vote on Wednesday.

— What are the 11 proposed amendments? The following are my summaries. By the way, the amendments most likely to provide the rank-and-file more of a voice in the policymaking process are amendment #9 and amendment #10, of which the former lessens leadership control and the latter lessens committee chair control & rules committee control.

  • Amendment 1. Implements ranked choice voting for contested caucus elections. (Beyer)
  • Amendment 2. Allows the caucus to vote by 2/3s of its members to waive the requirement that the Caucus vote by secret ballot to approve or disapprove the [Steering and Policy Committee chosen] nominee to chair a standing committee (Eshoo)
  • Amendment 3. Requires a secret standing committee chair retention election whereby a chair who wishes to serve more than 6 years needs an affirmative vote from a majority of the caucus. (Foster)
  • Amendment 4. Democratic Leader nominates the chair of the DCCC by Feb 15; caucus votes on that nomination (and any others made by 5 caucus members) by March 1. (Current rule doesn’t have the leader make a recommendation.) (DelBene, Schneider, Pocan)
  • Amendment 5. Creates the position of Chair of the Democratic Policy and Communications Committee. (Cicilline)
  • Amendment 6. Creates another party position akin to the regional reps, the Battleground Leadership Representative, elected by a majority vote of “Battleground Members.” (Lee)
  • Amendment 7. Allows members who temporarily serve on a committee to gain seniority over other members who also have temporarily served on the committee. (Kelly)
  • Amendment 8. I don’t understand this amendment. I think it allows a member whose bid, made in order of seniority, to serve as a subcommittee chair was rejected by the committee to stand for another election before the committee for that position, this time against everyone who has declared themselves interested in the subcommittee chair spot. (Sherman)
  • Amendment 9. Significantly increases rank-and-file influence on the currently-Speaker/leadership controlled Steering and Policy Committee by doubling the numbers of regional representatives and reducing the number of members who get to serve on the committee by virtue of their office. Specifically, it would allow for two representatives from each region instead of one, reduce the number of members appointed by the Speaker to 5 from 15, and eliminate the ex officio appointments of the senior chief deputy whip, all chief deputy whips, a member of the freshman class, and some committee chairs. (Case)
  • Amendment 10. Improves the ability of rank-and-file to get legislation considered in committees and on the floor. Requires committee chairs to markup any bill co-sponsored by both a majority of the Democratic Caucus and a majority of Democratic members of the committee of jurisdiction. Also requires Democratic Leadership to bring to the floor any bill cosponsored by two-thirds of the Democratic Caucus. (Larson)
  • Amendment 11. Directs the Caucus to provide technical support for Members to participate in hybrid/remote caucus proceedings and also to ensure that the meetings are secure. (Jackson Lee)
Continue reading “Special First Branch Forecast for November 28, 2022: Rules Rules Rules”

First Branch Forecast for November 28, 2022: Stopping by Congress


The next House will be symmetrical to this one: 222 Democrats becoming 222 Republicans. The incoming coalition, however, is a lot less stable than the outgoing one. How Rep. Kevin McCarthy navigates the complex journey to the speakership could break either way for the institutional health of Congress. Meanwhile, Democrats, like good Thanksgiving guests, are in full conflict avoidance mode within their caucus.

This week, The Senate returns on Monday and will vote on cloture for the Respect for Marriage Act. The House returns on Tuesday. It looks like a light legislative week in the people’s chamber even as the clock ticks down on many important legislative efforts, big and small.

The House Rules Committee will hold a Members’ Day hearing Tuesday to gather rules change proposals for the 118th Congress. House and Senate Democrats will vote on their caucus rules Thursday.


We’ve been focused on the House Freedom Caucus and the rest of the hard-right faction as it positions itself for greater influence in the 118th Congress. It’s hardly the only faction, or even the largest, in the GOP conference, however. Politico last week reported on how party “moderates” and some Democrats are considering utilizing their own leverage, particularly as Rep. Kevin McCarthy plays 17-dimensional chess to secure enough votes for the Speakership. They may be looking for potential rules or committee structure changes, which is intriguing.

The story is a reminder that the tactical posturing of establishing the 118th Congress represents real rifts developing between some key constituencies in the Republican Party and for some Democratic “moderates.” Republicans who see themselves representing white Christian conservatives have broken with corporate America over companies becoming “woke” on social equity issues that affect both public reputations and employee satisfaction. Their constituents, especially the wealthy mega-donors and grassroots donors, want control of the party for their decades of commitment as its activist base. But they’re running up against very powerful and wealthy (corporate) interests that are used to political dominance.

Perhaps the first problem the Problem Solvers Caucus might end up solving is the HFC.

Continue reading “First Branch Forecast for November 28, 2022: Stopping by Congress”

First Branch Forecast for November 21, 2022: Twilight of the Idols


Last week, the transition of leadership in the Democratic caucus of the House grabbed the spotlight even as control of the House finally flipped. Off stage, we started tracking whether an institutional transition is underway from the current party/leader management structure.

Splinter groups of Republicans in both chambers are dissatisfied with their subordinate positions and could be driving towards a different model of power sharing and deliberation within their conferences, beginning in the next Congress. Similarly, many Democrats — progressive and otherwise — share a similar frustration, if not the same tactics, and we will see in the coming weeks whether their calls for institutional change will be implemented within the caucus.

For our part, today we’re publicly releasing a report containing recommendations for House Democrats to update their caucus rules. Most of these recommendations are common-sense, heck, if you like this newsletter you’ll like most of the ideas, although somehow leadership has managed to overlook some of our prior efforts to nudge things in a better direction. House Democrats are expected to vote in a week on their caucus rules, with draft amendments due by the end of this week.

We also published a list of House rules adopted in the 116th and 117th Congresses that should continue on to the 118th. The Freedom Caucus has talked about reverting the House rules to before Democratic control, which would be a mistake in many instances. It would also be a political blunder. We’ll soon be releasing a comprehensive list of what Republicans should include in their chamber rules.

Sorry, friends, but you know we love the rules stuff. In fact, we’ve put together this wiki page that has all the caucus and conference rules we could find plus the text of the 24 proposed amendments to the 118th Republican conference rules. (Confidential to Sen. Schumer: it’s time for Senate Dems to publish their caucus rules.) ICYMI, FreedomWorks hosted this excellent event last Monday with many of the leading lights in the effort to decentralize power in the Republican party — we loved the statement that there are now three parties in the House: Democrats, Republicans, and Freedom Caucus. And I enjoyed serving as a panelist for the Lincoln Network’s look at modernizing the House on Thursday, which, alas, was not recorded.

Some of why we’re optimistic about the potential for a Congress that shares power more widely was on display last week in several committee hearing rooms, where members demonstrated mutual respect and an interest in understanding complex issues collaboratively at hearings before the Rules Committee and the House Modernization Committee.

THIS WEEK Congress takes a week-long break for Thanksgiving, with a few hearings scheduled.

Oh, and the number of Members of Congress on Mastodon has grown by 300%, to 3. If your boss/committee/office is setting up an account, please let me know.

Continue reading “First Branch Forecast for November 21, 2022: Twilight of the Idols”

First Branch Forecast for November 14, 2022: Who’s the Boss?

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We still don’t know many things after Tuesday’s congressional elections, including who will control the House of Representatives. It appears at the moment that Republicans can do no better than a two-seat majority in the House, and winning control is not guaranteed. Democrats will retain control of the Senate, and, pending a run-off, may be able to exit the power-sharing agreement with McConnell and take charge (to the extent the filibuster lets them do so).

One thing we do know is the current status quo is over. Congressional majorities haven’t been this slim in both the House and Senate since 1931-32 (which, of course, didn’t last long). This election is bizarre in historical terms. As James Fallows points out, “Every first-term president since World War II (except one) has suffered midterm election losses,” with an average loss of 30 House seats. By those metrics, this was a modest blue wave, albeit one tempered by the structural disadvantages in how districts for House members are constructed. It also suggests something new is happening within the plate tectonics of our political system.

The resulting razor thin margin in this era of high partisan polarization leaves us thinking of the myriad unknowns going forward in the near and longer term for Congress and the federal government. Rifts between hard-line conservatives and Republican leadership in both chambers already have opened up, as has Democratic infighting over messaging and resourcing of candidates.

Continue reading “First Branch Forecast for November 14, 2022: Who’s the Boss?”

First Branch Forecast for November 7, 2022: The Longest Weekend

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The fallout from the attempted murder of Paul Pelosi reverberates as Americans go to the polls. Those charged with protecting Members of Congress have asked for even more money while the proximate cause of security failures — bad leadership, bad management, bad oversight — remain unaddressed. As some on the new right escalate and make light of political violence, its likelihood increases.

This week Americans elect a new Congress.

Staff pay. The House Chief Administrative Officer circulated a new analysis of pay for congressional staff, comparing average annual salary ranges for 2022 v. 2021 based on third-quarter pay rates. For the positions compared, the average salary increased by 23%, from $67,420 to $82,849. This significant increase reflects a tremendous House commitment to restore pay levels for staff to their 2010 levels, as they had been cut mercilessly in the intervening years. We also note that no staffer in a House personal office surveyed is paid below the floor of $45,000 annually, which was not true previously. The analysis only covers personal office staff and does not include committee or leadership positions. The details are here.

Mastodon. The great #TwitterRapture, or perhaps #ElonExit, is taking place, with Mastodon now hosting 4.5 million accounts and 1.3 million active users and growing at a fast pace. When will Members of Congress, committees, leadership, and non-partisan offices open up accounts? Will there be an official congressional “instance,” such as So far the only congressional account we saw was for Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, and that retweets her Twitter account. Know any congressional offices on Mastodon? Let us know here. The unofficial tally is here. I’m online here. Is this all a good idea? I’m old enough to have worked at the Sunlight Foundation when it ran a campaign called “Let Our Congress Tweet.” There’s definitely a lot of lessons learned. OTOH, at least one government has jumped in.

Down the line, Congress will reconvene on Nov. 14, with the Senate scheduled to take up the NDAA. House Republicans will hold conference rules and leadership elections through the week of the 14th. The House Modernization Committee will vote on its final set of recommendations Nov. 17. Democratic leadership elections look likely at the end of the month, or perhaps later.

Continue reading “First Branch Forecast for November 7, 2022: The Longest Weekend”