First Branch Forecast for June 20, 2023: Approps Heats Up


After a House Administration Subcommittee hearing focused on the personal rather than the institutional aspects of the Office of Congressional Ethics, we take a deeper look at why that office is vital to an ethical Congress.

Congressional unions scored an historic win for committee staff and others.

This week both chambers are in session through Friday after the Juneteenth holiday.

The full Senate Appropriations Committee plans to complete markups for the Agriculture and MilCon/VA bills at the funding levels set by the debt ceiling agreement, teeing up a conflict with House Republicans who are reneging on the deal. Meanwhile, House Appropriators will have a full committee markup on Wednesday for Leg Branch and Homeland Security, and on Thursday a full committee markup for Defense and Energy & Water.

Senate Armed Services Committee will have a series of closed hearings on the NDAA while the House will hold its markup of the bill Wednesday morning.

The Congressional Data Task Force will hold a quarterly meeting on Thursday from 2-4 PM in B-248/B-249 Longworth. If you care about congressional data, this open meeting is for you. RSVP and catch up on what happened in March.

A bipartisan quartet of members have circulated a Dear Colleague letter inviting cosponsors for the PRESS Act, an important journalist shield law, which the House passed unanimously last Congress but was blocked by a lone senator on a spurious basis. In light of the recent death of American hero Daniel Ellsberg, who told the truth about Vietnam at the risk of his freedom, we should make sure that the government cannot compel the press to spill on their sources.

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Bipartisan Coalition of 35 Organizations and Individuals Urge House to Protect and Strengthen the Office of Congressional Ethics

Logo for the Office of Congressional Ethics

In advance of tomorrow’s House Administration Oversight Subcommittee hearing on the Office of Congressional Ethics (OCE), 35 organizations and individuals across the political spectrum sent a letter today to leaders of the House Administration Oversight Subcommittee urging them to protect and further strengthen the OCE in its mission. Notably, the coalition asks for the removal of a new hiring provision instituted by the House Rules for the 118th Congress that could effectively prevent OCE from having staff and functioning. 

The House Rules adopted by the 118th Congress imposed a two-term limit for Board members and required the Board to appoint OCE staff and set their compensation within 30 calendar days of adoption of the Rules resolution. The confluence of these two provisions might inadvertently result in a Board unable to appoint staff within the required timeframe.

This Rules change is the latest in a succession of moves to weaken the independent watchdog or zero out its funding

The coalition led by Demand Progress and Public Citizen recommends the removal of the 30-calendar-day hiring provision. Board members are appointed by the Speaker and Minority Leader respectively, and should the Board lack a quorum and those appointments be delayed, the effect could be the constructive dismissal of all OCE staff with no ability to hire them. 

The letter is below and also available here.

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