First Branch Forecast for February 21, 2023: Help Wanted: AOC


The lights are off and no one is home as Congress takes an extended break for the Presidents’ Day holiday (which the newsletter also observed). When they return, the Senate committees have a clear path to staff up now that the Rules Committee has allocated budget allotments for each as it does at the start of each Congress.

Fortunately, committees can hire directly and not navigate the convoluted and interminably long process of installing a new Architect of the Capitol, which Congress now will have to do.

This week, both chambers are out of session. The Senate may hold votes on nominations. The House Judiciary Committee will hold a field hearing Thursday in Yuma, AZ about the US-Mexican border.


Senate committees will have significantly more money to hire staff and conduct oversight in the 118th Congress thanks to across-the-board increases. Last Monday, the Senate Rules Committee approved a resolution allocating an additional $53.2 million for committees for this Congress, excluding the Appropriations Committee (which sets its own funding in the Legislative branch appropriations bill.)

The total package for 18 standing and select committees is $291.4 million. (To put this in context, that’s ~41% of the funding level for the Capitol Police.)

All committees received increases of at least 15% over the 117th Congress in constant dollars, likely in response to inflation, unified party control, and the general underfunding of committees in Congress across the board.

The Agriculture Committee received the biggest bump, nearly a 25% increase to $14.4 million, perhaps because it has some responsibility for overseeing the cryptocurrency market. The Banking Committee, which may get a piece of that action as well, received a 20% increase.

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