ICYMI: Top reads on Congress

 Image source  here

Image source here

By Marian Currinder

Congressional dysfunction

Burgess Everett and Elana Schor, “Congress driven to distraction,” Politico:

“Even in peak form, Congress struggles to focus on any one issue for more than a few days. But its short attention span has taken on new meaning in the era of Donald Trump. “We kind of have attention deficit disorder,” as Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) put it.”

Tom Ridge and Tom Daschle, “America has a broken political system our leaders need to fix,” The Hill:

“We elect leaders to place country above party, address the most critical issues plaguing the nation and prevent future crisis from taking root. But Washington needs to face the facts: The political system itself is broken, wearing down too many leaders with endless fundraising demands and turning the job of elected representative into a never-ending campaign whose purpose is to vilify the other party.”

Lee H. Hamilton, "Congress Tanks - But Does It Care?" IU Center on Representative Government:

"Americans have a right to be disappointed in the performance of the legislative branch. But they also have an obligation to speak up about it and demand action not just on a favored bill, but on improving the effectiveness of the Congress itself."

Rep. Bradley Byrne, “Making Congress work again,” Alabama Today:

“I am tired of just talking about how the process is broken. We need less talk and more solutions, so I introduced the Protecting Our Children’s Future Act. I chose this title because getting our budgeting and spending right really is all about the future of our country.”

Kate Ackley, “House Committee Leadership is Becoming a Game of Musical Chairs,” Roll Call:

“At least eight of the chamber’s sitting committee chairmen are quitting Congress — and two additional chiefs have already given up their gavels. These exits come at a cost to the institution, as House Republicans will lose policy expertise, political savvy and procedural prowess.”

Rachel Bade and John Bresnahan, “The place bills go to die,” Politico:

“Goodlatte has long posed an imposing hurdle even for House Republican leaders who should, in theory, be able to pull rank on him. They’ve spent more than five years trying to cajole the 65-year-old Virginia Republican to take up consequential legislation. Instead, Goodlatte has moved slowly or not at all, his GOP colleagues say, often stalling until lawmakers move on.”

Budget and appropriations

Stuart M. Butler and Timothy Higashi, "Three reasons to be optimistic about budget process reform," Brookings:

"It’s been more than 40 years since there was a comprehensive overhaul of the budget process. Every few years Congress attempts a reform, but those efforts are usually modest, or ineffective, or the effort fizzles out. In the most recent budget deal, Congress did lay the groundwork for another attempt by creating a bipartisan and bicameral Joint Select Committee  tasked with coming up with a package of reforms for Congress to consider."

Yuval Rosenberg, "Experts Tell Congress CBO Isn't the Problem," Fiscal Times:

"Here are some highlights from the prepared testimony of outside experts, all of whom defended CBO at today’s hearing."

Susan Ferrechio, “Must-pass spending bill held up by congressional wish lists,” Washington Examiner:

“Disagreements over guns, abortion, sanctuary cities, and other issues are preventing Congress from agreeing to a must-pass spending bill that they hoped to approve by this week, and must pass by March 23.”

Tara Golshan, “Congress has until March 23 to fund the government,” Vox:

“Without an appetite to actually legislate in the midterm election year, Congress still has a job to do: keep the government open. Lawmakers have to pass a spending bill by midnight March 23 or the government will run out of money and shut down — again.”

Jordain Carney and Niv Elis, “Spending talks face new pressure,” The Hill:

“Congress is scrambling to avoid its third government shutdown of the year as lawmakers slog through negotiations ahead of next week’s deadline.”

John Bresnahan and Sarah Ferris, “Congress pushes up against March 23 funding deadline,” Politico:

“Congress is pushing up against a March 23 deadline to fund the federal government, as the House is unlikely to take up a massive spending bill until next week. Multiple House lawmakers and aides say a $1 trillion-plus omnibus funding bill that was supposed to be on the House floor by Friday won't be voted on until next week. GOP sources don't expect the spending package to even be unveiled until the weekend or early next week.”

CFRB, "Appropriations Watch: FY 2018," CFRB Blog:

"Congress is expected to act on further appropriations legislation, including a possible omnibus, the week of March 19. Omnibus legislation would fund the government for the remainder of the fiscal year, through September 30. A budget deal enacted in February that increased spending caps paved the way for an omnibus for the remaining 11 appropriations bills; a Defense spending bill was included in last month's legislation. An additional continuing resolution is also possible if lawmakers cannot work out an agreement on remaining issues before the end of the week. "

Congressional staff

Simone Pathe, “Plenty of Pitfalls for Hill Staffers Doing Campaign Work,” Roll Call:

“Everyone knows there’s supposed to be a separation between official and campaign work. That’s Ethics 101 in Washington. But even the most black-and-white lines are still crossed. And in reality, some lines — like what constitutes government time — are murky, especially when enforcement is lacking.” 

Heather Caygle and Elana Schor, “Congress nears deal to crack down on sexual harassment,” Politico:

“House and Senate negotiators are nearing a deal to significantly rewrite Capitol Hill’s workplace discrimination rules in the hopes of attaching it to a must-pass funding bill in the next two weeks.”

Griffin Connolly, “For Harassment Cases, House Staffers Have Key Legal Resources Others Don’t,” Roll Call:

“Thanks to new internal House policies, staffers in the chamber now have access to a 24/7 hotline for legal advice on employment complaints. They can even retain a free lawyer for the entire in-house counseling and mediation process when they think they’ve been harassed, discriminated against or otherwise aggrieved. But if you’re a U.S. Capitol Police officer, a janitor at the Capitol, an intern on the Senate side or a gardener at the Library of Congress — well, you’re on your own.”

Paul Bedard, “Alumni mobilize effort to restore House Page Program,” Washington Examiner:

“Armed with a new documentary and support from alumni including lawmakers and even former page and Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates, former House pages are launching a bid to restore the program killed in 2011 after a nearly 200-year run.”

Congress miscellaneous

Niels Lesniewski, “Tillerson Termination Adds New Priorities to Senate Calendar,” Roll Call:

“The Senate is scheduled to be in recess the last week of March and the first week of April for Passover and Easter. The next break would be the first week in May. Trump’s personnel moves mean that two of the six session weeks over the next two months could easily be consumed with the senior national security nominations.”

Lindsey McPherson, “House Democrats Punt on Leadership Question After Anti-Pelosi Candidate Wins,” Roll Call:

“House Democrats had plenty to say about the Pennsylvania results, but few wanted to talk about him running as a Pelosi opponent and whether Democrats should consider campaigning for new leadership as a broader election strategy.”

Kevin King, “Twelve States Have No Women in Congress,” Quorum:

“While women make up 20 percent of Congress, only 22 states have 20 percent or more of their state delegation represented by women. The remaining 28 states sit well below that mark—including 12 states with zero female representation.”

Andrew Gelman, “3 cool tricks about constituency service,” andrewgelman.com:

“I’m not saying that that constituency service is a perfect signal; of course it’s just one piece of information. My point is that constituency service conveys more information than I’d realized: it’s not just about the legislator or someone in his office being energetic or a nice guy; it also tells us something about his priorities.”