Welcome to the First Branch Forecast, your regular look into the Legislative branch and government transparency. Tell your friends to subscribe.
The House and Senate are both in session today. This week Congress will attempt to pass the spending omnibus — which may include emergency supplementals for Ukraine and Covid-19 — before government funding expires Friday. We’re keeping our eyes out for the final Leg branch appropriations numbers, which we hope provide for a significant topline increase and also invest in transparency and capacity within FSGG and elsewhere.
SCOTUS Ethics. A hearing on the need for a code of conduct for Supreme Court justices is scheduled for tomorrow, March 8 at 2PM. It looks like federal judges will soon-ish be required to disclose stock trades over $1,000 on an online searchable database as well as their financial disclosure forms, as S.3059 recently passed the Senate and a companion measure passed the House in December. The SCOTUS is empowered to regulate itself, as if that’s meaningful, so a code of conduct may be a useful pathway to address its, uh, failure to do so thus far.
Bulk Data Task Force. Discuss congressional data this Thursday, March 10, at 2 PM. RSVP here; find the agenda here. This long running working-group, established by Congress and composed of congressional and non-governmental stakeholders, is a great place to talk about improving congressional data inside and outside Congress, including to see a preview of new tech tools in the pipeline. Our recap of the last quarterly meeting is posted here.
In honor of Sunshine week, join a panel discussion on some of the biggest transparency and accountability issues facing our world today next Wednesday, March 16th. RSVP here. Hosted by the Advisory Committee on Transparency, the event will feature remarks from Rep. Quigley, founder of the Congressional Transparency Caucus, and Rep. Kilmer, Chair of the House Select Committee on Modernization. Panelists include Shanna Devine of the House Office of Whistleblower Ombuds, Kate Oh of the ACLU, Danielle Brian of POGO, and Nick Hart of the Data Foundation. Alex Howard will moderate; he is co-director of the Advisory Committee on Transparency and director of the Digital Democracy Project. (I’m the other co-director. :)) More Sunshine week events are listed in the calendar section.
Ethics online. 36 organizations urged ethics and disclosure documents “made publicly available” at the Legislative Resource Center should actually be made publicly available by publishing them online and in a structured data format. The letter, sent to the House Administration Committee on Friday, noted that the LRC has been effectively closed to the public for more than two years. What do they have exactly? Here’s our spreadsheet of what’s available at the LRC and its Senate equivalent, the Senate Office of Public Records.Continue reading “First Branch Forecast for March 7, 2022”