Rule of Law(makers)

We’ve previously written about the rules that rule the rules, which has to be one of the world’s wonkiest subjects. In short, each party in the House and Senate has rules that govern their conference or caucus, leading to different party rules for (1) House Democrats, (2) House Republicans, (3) Senate Democrats, and (4) Senate Republicans. 

Party rules shape the power structure inside the party: they govern things like committee chair assignments and term limits for leadership. These rules can empower rank and file members and give them a voice, strengthen committees, or consolidate power in the hands of a few at the top.  Continue reading “Rule of Law(makers)”

What Does Rep. Collins’ Exit Say About the Speaker’s Power to Police Member Behavior?

Rep. Collins was arrested for insider trading every news outlet on earth reported, but that’s not the most interesting part. Immediately after his arrest, Speaker Ryan released a statement that said, in passive voice, “Until this matter is settled, Rep. Collins will not be serving on the House Energy and Commerce Committee.” Multiple news outlets described what happened as Ryan stripping Collins of his committee membership. At least in a technical sense, that’s not possible. Continue reading “What Does Rep. Collins’ Exit Say About the Speaker’s Power to Police Member Behavior?”

Congressional Reactions to Charlottesville: An Analysis of 327 Tweets and Statements

Trump addressing a joint session of Congress on 2/28/2017. Photo courtesy Wikimedia.

On Saturday, white nationalists including neo-Nazis, the KKK, and the “alt-right” held a rally/riot in Charlottesville, VA. In the immediate aftermath, President Trump said “many sides” were to blame for the violence. Again on Tuesday, Trump drew a moral equivalency between white nationalists and those who opposed them in Charlottesville. These statements were widely interpreted by many, including by white nationalists, to be a tacit endorsement of white nationalism. How did Congress react?

We analyzed 327 communications issued by Members of Congress on Saturday, August 12th. On that day slightly more than half of Congress weighed in on Twitter and in press releases — 152 Democrats and 133 Republicans (285 total). When we analyzed the language and the timing of congressional statements, several trends emerged.

  • 2/3s of those who weighed in on Charlottesville prior to Trump’s 3:33 p.m. statement were Democrats.
  • Democrats were 3 to 7 times more likely to condemn white nationalists by name than Republicans.
  • Only 7% of Congress condemned white nationalists by name prior to Trump’s 3:33 p.m. speech — 34 Democrats, 5 Republicans, and 1 Independent.
  • By the end of the day, 19% of Congress condemned white nationalists by name — 77 Democrats, 24 Republicans, and 1 Independent.

Continue reading “Congressional Reactions to Charlottesville: An Analysis of 327 Tweets and Statements”

Effort Underway to Undermine the House’s Ethics Watchdog

Source: MasonDan

Update at 12:52 pm on Tuesday: After an outpouring of phone calls, emails, tweets and an avalanche of news stories, House Republicans held a secret meeting just before noon and pulled the Goodlatte amendment, which would have eviscerated the Office of Congressional Ethics. While we have won for now, members are quoted as saying they’re going to revisit the issue later this year. We must remain vigilant. Continue reading “Effort Underway to Undermine the House’s Ethics Watchdog”

Report from the 2016 Legislative Data & Transparency Conference

Today the House of Representatives’ Committee on House Administration hosted its fifth annual Legislative Data & Transparency Conference in the U.S. Capitol. The Conference brought together staff from House and Senate and legislative support offices, civil society advocates, technologists, overseas legislatures, and featured a speech by House Speaker Paul Ryan. More than 150 people attended, with more participating online.

There’s too much to recap from the conference — my notes, taken in real-time, are online, as is a video of the proceedings — but this blogpost will focus on the highlights. Once again, the most important aspect of the conference was that it brought together all the internal and external stakeholders to work together, announce progress, celebrate advances, and educate one another. It was a tremendous success. Continue reading “Report from the 2016 Legislative Data & Transparency Conference”

The Icky Democrat(ic) Party

There is a weird difference in how Democrats and Republicans refer to the Democratic Party, and it comes down to the suffix “ic.” Republicans overwhelmingly use the term “Democrat Party,” while both democrats and republicans use the phrase “Democratic Party.”

Source: Statements in the Congressional Record as Tracked by “Capitol Words”

Continue reading “The Icky Democrat(ic) Party”

Washington Post’s Monkey Cage Blog Published an Article Measuring Legislative Effectiveness. It’s Wrong and They Should Withdraw It.

Photo source: Ted McGrath

Dear Professor Lazarus:

I just read your post on the Washington Post’s Monkey Cage blog, the headline of which declares “Hillary Clinton was a more effective lawmaker than Bernie Sanders.” Respectfully, there is insufficient data to make such a comparison and the conclusion cannot be supported by the available evidence. You should withdraw or amend the blogpost. Moreover, there is no good way to (quantitatively) measure legislative effectiveness. Let me explain why. Continue reading “Washington Post’s Monkey Cage Blog Published an Article Measuring Legislative Effectiveness. It’s Wrong and They Should Withdraw It.”