Forecast for July 1, 2019.

CONGRESS IN BRIEF

• Only 36 (working) days are left for Congress to pass all 12 spending bills, so why is McConnell pressing pause on the approps process? More below.

• 90% of House offices either don’t pay their interns or — more likely — failed to announce they have paid internships in job postings on their websites.

• The Bulk Data Task Force, where congressional technologists and civil society work to improve legislative data, will meet on Tuesday, July 9th at 11. Location TBA.

• The Supreme Court poked a hole in the Freedom of Information Act. A federal agency can withhold commercial and financial information from a requester merely by determining that the records fit within an expansive definition of ‘confidential’, instead of having to show as well that disclosure would cause harm to the private-sector submitter, as lower courts had held.

• PACER yourself. Sens. Portman, Wyden, Cruz, and Hirono and Reps. Quigley and Collins are trying to enable free access to court records on PACER via the Electronic Court Records Reform Act. Is it coincidence the Courts are forming an advisory committee on PACER?

• A House Ethics Committee working group wants to hear from you: submit comments by July 11th on how the rules should address conflicts of interest that arise from members of Congress and staff who sit on outside entities. Continue reading “Forecast for July 1, 2019.”

Forecast for June 24, 2019.

CONGRESS IN BRIEF

• Apparent mismanagement at CRS has created a 19% annual turnover rate in its law division and a lack of diversity in the agency’s senior leadership, and that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Last week’s House Admin hearing on CRS — the first in more than a decade — shed welcome light on problems facing Congress’s think tank. More below.

• Did you know the House doesn’t have a point person for HR? That point was made by Rep. Kilmer at the Fix Congress Committee’s hearing on congressional staff retention and diversity (video here), which featured experts on building strong, diverse workforces.

• Spending bills: the Financial Services and General Government bill will go to the House floor this week and, potentially, so will the leg branch spending bill (sans member pay raises). Plus, a minibus spending bill (Labor-HHS-Edu, Defense, State, and Energy) passed the House last week, amendments here. The second minibus bill (CJS, Ag, Interior, MilCon, and T-HUD) has been held up.

• The US almost went to war with Iran last week. Dems want to make that harder.

• Recess starts at the end of this week. Continue reading “Forecast for June 24, 2019.”

Forecast for June 17, 2019.

CONGRESS IN BRIEF

• Congress’s staff retention and diversity issues will be the subject of a Fix Congress committee hearing on Thursday.

• The Congressional Research Service will be subject to a rare (and much needed) oversight hearing before the House Administration Committee on Thursday. It’s time to re-read Kevin Kosar’s “Why I Quit the Congressional Research Service.”

• Approps on the floor. The House is expected to finish consideration of its first approps minibus (Labor, HHS, Ed, Defense, State, Foreign Ops, Energy & Water — i.e. H.R. 2740) sans Leg Branch Approps on Tuesday, and start consideration of its second approps minibus (CJS, Ag, FDA, Interior, Environment, MilCon, Veterans, T-HUD — i.e. H.R. 3055) the same day. You can probably expect a lot of Roll Call votes. What’s going to happen to Leg Branch? Um.

• House amendments approved by bipartisan majorities were at 4% last Congressnow they’re at 40%.

• ICYMI: The House announced its Whistleblower Ombudsman job vacancy; a new-ish app uses facial recognition to identify members of Congress (Unmask); Leg Branch Industry Day at the Capitol is set for June 27; the Senate post office facilities are upgrading their CCTV surveillance system of 37 cameras: anyone know what “intelligent video analytics” means? Continue reading “Forecast for June 17, 2019.”

Forecast for June 10, 2019. Leg Branch Approps Goes to the Floor; Modernizing the Contempt Process; and Improving Constituent Communications.

CONGRESS IN BRIEF

• The Approps minibus will hit the House floor this week. Several hundred amendments were offered for Rules Committee consideration, including 38 for leg branch; H. Rules meets Monday at 5 and again on Tuesday. Anyone offering amendments to stop the member pay adjustment from taking place should read this and then find something useful to do instead. Don’t just take it from us, read the Congressional Management Foundation’s statement.

• resolution to speed the path to court for contempt proceedings is also on the Rules Committee docket; H. Res 430, set for a Monday night vote, empowers the Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group (BLAG) to initiate legal proceedings on behalf of a committee instead of requiring additional floor time. This is good; we would also like the BLAG to publish information about its actions, i.e., when it votes to move forward on a matter and what it authorizes.

• Constituent communications with Congress were the topic of a Select Committee on the Modernization of Congress hearing on Wednesday — written testimonyvideo — featuring the Congressional Management Foundation’s Brad Fitch, PopVox’s Marci Harris, and Ohio State University Professor Michael Neblo. Continue reading “Forecast for June 10, 2019. Leg Branch Approps Goes to the Floor; Modernizing the Contempt Process; and Improving Constituent Communications.”

Forecast for June 3, 2019. Mission Accomplished

Congress is in session for the next 4 weeks. Here’s what you need to know:

Continue reading “Forecast for June 3, 2019. Mission Accomplished”

Forecast for May 28, 2019. Slow-mo.

HOLD ON TO YOUR “OUT OF OFFICE” RESPONSES

• Congress doesn’t have the resources right now to take on Trump and House Dem Leadership isn’t fighting to acquire them.

• The Fix Congress Committee unanimously approved five measures to improve congressional transparency and accountability.

• Oversight wars: the military is trying to hold info back from Congress; McGahn may be held in contempt; and what about those tax returns?

• Defense spending bill amendments would assert Congress’s war powers.

• The Congressional Transparency Caucus will demo free tools for staffers to help them do their jobs next Friday, June 7th. RSVP. Continue reading “Forecast for May 28, 2019. Slow-mo.”

Forecast for May 20, 2019.

DESCRIBING WHY CONGRESS IS BROKEN can be hard, but this awesome claymation video helps. Seriously, it’s better than schoolhouse rock. (Thanks CS Monitor).

ON STARTING IMPEACHMENT PROCEEDINGS, PELOSI’S STRATEGY HAS BEEN DELAY, DELAY, DELAY. But with Rep. Justin Amash’s statement this weekend that the “Mueller’s report reveals that President Trump engaged in specific actions and a pattern of behavior that meet the threshold for impeachment,” the political calculus is changing. Continue reading “Forecast for May 20, 2019.”