ICYMI: Top reads on Congress

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By Marian Currinder

Senate

Molly E. Reynolds, “Why is the Senate broken?Brookings Fixgov:

“In a new book entitled Broken, Ira Shapiro lays much of the blame for the Senate’s current state at the feet of those who lead the chamber. And while there are certainly choices those leaders have made about how to run the Senate and how to use Senate rules and procedure that have contributed to the environment in which we currently find ourselves, it’s equally as important to consider the environment that those leaders have found themselves in.”

Gregory Koger, “Senators, We Have a Problem,” The Filibluster: A National Politics Podcast:

“The Senate took up immigration last week, and Tyler and Larry talk about the politics of immigration in the Trump era and some of the proposals that were debated. The Filibluster also welcomes a new guest, Professor Greg Koger from the University of Miami (Go ‘Canes!), to explain the rules and process of debate for immigration last week in the U.S. Senate. Also, Larry and Tyler discuss gun control in the wake of the horrific shooting in Florida and utilize one of our favorite “leather-bound books” to try to make sense of why legislators regularly fail to act on gun control proposals. Tune in to find out!”

Burgess Everett and Elana Schor, “Inside the Senate’s ugly immigration breakdown,” Politico:

“The Senate’s spectacular failure to address the plight of the most sympathetic batch of immigrants in the country illegally — a group that President Donald Trump once declared he had “great love” for — was the latest display of legislative ineptitude in the upper chamber.”

Ed Pesce, “The Senate Majority Leader’s Superpower? Stopping Time,” Roll Call (video):

“The Senate doesn’t have to play by the normal rules of the clock — the majority leader can dictate how long a legislative day lasts, as long as his caucus backs him up. CQ News senior legislative analyst Ed Pesce explains how the rule is used to put pressure on the minority party.”

Lydia Wheeler, “Grassley, Dems step up battle over judicial nominees,” The Hill:

“The blue-slip rule — which Democrats describe as a long-running Senate tradition Grassley has taken to ignore — has become a flashpoint for members on the Judiciary Committee. The committee has been tasked with considering the slew of nominees from the Trump administration, many of which have been controversial.”

Sen. Chuck Grassley, “Chuck Grassley: Senate Democrats are trying to stall Trump’s nominations by rewriting the history of ‘blue slips,’” Washington Examiner:

“I have stated consistently that I am maintaining the blue-slip courtesy as chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee. Since 1917, whenever a president has selected a judicial nominee to fill a court vacancy, the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee has issued blue slips of paper to each senator representing the state where the vacancy occurred. The historical purpose of the blue slip has been to gather insights about judicial nominees from home-state senators and encourage the White House to consult with them before choosing a nominee.”

House

Kyle Cheney, “Partisan ‘poison’ infects House Intel panel,” Politico:

“The House Intelligence Committee, for years considered an oasis of bipartisanship in a fractious Congress, has collapsed into what many lawmakers call unprecedented bitterness and distrust that endangers its core mission of protecting national security.”

Mieke Eoyang, “How the House Intel Committee Broke Bad,” Politico:

“As stark as this distinction is, the House-Senate difference is not just a product of the different personalities of their respective chairmen. The roots of the current differences in the committee approaches can be seen in the history, rules and culture that govern each chamber's approach to intelligence oversight. These two committees were born different.”

Susan Ferrechio, “Immigration reform faces high hurdle in the House,” Washington Examiner:

“While the House can pass legislation with a simple majority and does not require the more difficult 60-vote threshold needed in the Senate, lower chamber lawmakers have historically failed to find consensus on the issue. This time, it's shaping up to be just as difficult.”

Scott Wong, “House Oversight a gavel no one wants,” The Hill:

“The lack of interest in the gavel underscores how politically tricky and toxic many Republicans view the job. Most Republicans have no desire to lead a committee whose central charge would be investigating a Republican administration — particularly one led by the volatile President Trump, who strikes back fiercely at critics.”

Budget

Mark Strand and Tim Lang, "Bipartisan Budget Reform Committee: Congress' Best Hope to Fix Budget Process," Congressional Institute:

"As part of the recent Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018, Congress created the Joint Select Committee on Budget and Appropriations Process Reform, a temporary House-Senate committee to study ways to reform how Congress debates the country’s spending decisions. This type of committee is rare, and it presents an important opportunity for Members of Congress to reexamine their stewardship of their constituents’ money."

Lindsey McPherson, “House Budget Being Drafted Despite Nearly Insurmountable Obstacles,” Roll Call:

“Obstacles to House Republicans passing a fiscal 2019 budget resolution appear insurmountable and have some members questioning why the Budget Committee is even planning to write one.”

James C. Capretta, “The Congressional Budget Process: A Brief Primer,” AEI Economic Perspectives:

“The current process was written for a time when appropriations spending was dominant; it does not work as well with so much of the federal budget devoted to spending that occurs automatically on entitlement programs. Further, the current process does not facilitate executive-legislative agreement on budgetary aggregates, which is an important reason for instability and uncertainty in federal finances.”

Misc. Congress

Todd Ruger, “Justices Air Differences on Value of Congressional Reports,” Roll Call:

“An opinion Wednesday shows the Supreme Court is as divided as ever on whether congressional committee reports should be used to help understand what Congress meant when drafting and enacting a law.”

Michael Tomasky, “Who Needs Congressional Districts?” New York Times:

“There is nothing in the Constitution that says we have to have congressional districts. Article 1, Section 2, says merely that “the House of Representatives shall be composed of members chosen every second year by the people of the several states.” No particular method is prescribed.”

Rachel Schartz, “Interview Exclusive: Mark Strand,” Harvard College Law Review:

“I think the most important thing about the legislative process is the people. When the people get tired of the current politics, they will cause it to change because there is nothing more important for a member of Congress than getting reelected, which keeps them in touch with their constituents and what they think. Right now the people are angry. So the legislators are being driven by people who are angry, but soon they will see that is a dead end because Americans tend to be optimistic and innovative. When they get tired of their anger, they will go back to this— which I am hoping comes soon.”

Alex Gangitano, “Digital Staffers Focus on Getting on Message,” Roll Call:

“Breaking through the noise is a typical goal in communications, but this year, staffers just want to speak with one voice. They’re making coordination a priority within their parties. That coordination is most obvious when multiple congressional offices blast out the same message with the same graphics on the same day. Whether it’s criticizing the Republican tax plan or celebrating Ronald Reagan’s birthday, it’s all from the same script.”

Daniel Schuman, “The White House Latest Move to Undermine Congressional Authority,” Just Security:

“As a matter of constitutional law, either chamber of Congress can release classified information to the public over the President’s objection. While the House and Senate have imposed an onerous process on themselves before that release can happen, these limitations are a function of House and Senate rules and are not otherwise limited. Yet buried in the White House and House Intelligence Committee’s back-and-forth over the Nunes memo, is a new effort to weaken Congressional oversight and misdirect Congress.”

Various authors, “Supplement: Advances in Political Psychology,” Political Psychology:

“The supplement’s symposium on partisanship contains several ungated articles.”

Did we miss something? Message @MarianCurrinder with suggestions – thanks!