ICYMI: Top reads on Congress

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Image source here

By Marian Currinder

Leadership

Rachel Bade and John Bresnahan, “Ryan bombshell sets off scramble for his job,” Politico:

“Yet there has already been some discussion in Republican circles about whether Ryan can, or should, remain speaker for the rest of the year. Some GOP lawmakers and aides privately wonder whether having a lame-duck speaker is counterproductive.”

Molly E. Reynolds, “Is It Even Possible to Succeed as House G.O.P. Speaker?” New York Times:

“The speaker of the House’s institutional responsibilities date to the founding of our country, but the modern speakership is focused largely on its political roles: protecting the House majority and advancing the party’s policy goals. Success in one dimension — as Speaker Paul Ryan’s decision to retire reflects — does not always translate into success in the other.”

Dave Hopkins, “Ryan Was an Odd Fit as Speaker, and His Exit Proves It,” Honest Graft:

“Throughout his tenure in office, Ryan acted more like an ideological activist than as the leader of a party or a country. Ideological leaders of the left and right have their place in our political system, but that place is seldom at the head of a congressional caucus.”

Matthew Green, “Paul Ryan is departing in a most unusual way,” Washington Post:

“What makes his departure unusual is that he will have completed a full term as speaker in the current Congress. Although most representatives and senators end their careers that way, speakers don’t. In fact, Ryan would be the first to do so in more than three decades.”

David Hawkings, “Ryan: Liberated Deficit Hawk or Lame Duck Whose Quack Won’t be Heard,” Roll Call:

“Ryan’s decision against seeking an 11th term while staying at the House’s helm until year’s end, announced Wednesday, holds the potential to launch a period of personal liberation and professional recalibration.”

FiveThirtyEight, “Emergency Politics Podcast: Paul Ryan Is Moving On And So Is His Party,” FiveThirtyEight:

“House Speaker Paul Ryan announced Wednesday that he won’t seek re-election in 2018, marking the retirement of one of the two most powerful Republicans in Congress. In an emergency edition of the FiveThirtyEight Politics podcast, Julia Azari and Perry Bacon Jr. react to the news.”

David Hawkings, “Joseph Crawley, 56 Years Young and Ready to Succeed the Old Guard,” Roll Call:

“Crowley is more than two decades younger than any of them, born 56 years and four weeks ago in a Queens neighborhood he’s represented in Congress since 1999. And he’s well positioned to make the most of any of the likeliest scenarios.”

Burgess Everett, “Senate leadership shakeup looms for Republicans,” Politico:

“If Republicans keep the Senate, then Thune and Sens. John Barrasso of Wyoming and Roy Blunt of Missouri would probably secure easy promotions while a vacancy opens at the bottom of the leadership rungs, according to senators and aides. But if the GOP manages to lose the chamber, a broader scramble could ensue given the large number of ambitious senators elected in 2014.”

Congressional/executive relations

Katelyn Carelle, “Bob Menendez: Trump needs AUMF before he can launch military strike against Syria,” Washington Examiner:

“Sen. Bob Menendez, D-N.J., said Thursday Congress should have to issue an Authorization for Use of Military Force for President Trump to move militarily against Syria or launch any attacks against the Assad regime.”

Mike Lillis, “Ryan: No need for Congress to authorize Syria strikes,” The Hill:

House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) said Thursday that President Trump has broad authority to attack Syria, precluding the need for Congress to act beforehand. “The existing AUMF gives him the authority he needs to do what he may or may not do,” Ryan said during a press briefing in the Capitol.” 

Paul Kane, “Congress shows some might on military authority after years of inertia,” Washington Post:

“Instead, like many other issues of foreign policy, Congress has fallen down on the job and allowed the president — first George W. Bush, then Barack Obama and now Donald Trump — to operate in the vacuum and launch military actions without much direction or restraint from Congress.”

Burgess Everett, “Grassley-Feinstein feud threatens Mueller protection plan,” Politico:

“A breakthrough bipartisan bill to protect Special Counsel Robert Mueller is coming under a new threat: Partisan infighting among leaders of the Senate Judiciary Committee.”

Andrew Rudalevige, “Yes, Congress could give Trump a line-item veto. And it might want to,” Washington Post:

“There’s little evidence that a line-item veto would reduce deficits. Entitlements are safe from the veto, and state-level research suggests it does not reliably rein in spending there. But it would indeed shift the blame for the deficit to the president’s shoulders. That’s the kind of “rule” a blame-shifting member of Congress might like.”

Budget and appropriations

John Lovett, "Budget process reform on U.S. Rep. Steve Womack's radar as chair of select committee," Press Argus-Courier:

“U.S. Rep. Steve Womack, R-Rogers, chairman of the House Budget Committee and Arkansas’ Third District Congressman, told members of the Noon Exchange Rotary Club on Friday his intention as chair of a select committee for budget process reform is to come up with some changes to the 1974 Budget Act to help Congress fulfill its “fundamental” duty and have that in bill form by the end of July prior to election campaigns begin in full force.”

Jennifer Shutt, “Senate Republicans View White House Rescissions Package as Non-Starter,” Roll Call:

“Senate Republicans on Monday threw cold water on a forthcoming proposal from the White House that will ask Congress to cut previously enacted spending, including from the $1.3 trillion spending bill that President Donald Trump signed last month.”

Erica Werner and Mike DeBonis, "On heels of spending binge, balanced-budget vote fails in the House," Washington Post:

"After passing tax cuts and spending that added massively to the deficit, congressional Republicans made a show of fiscal austerity Thursday by voting for a ­balanced-budget amendment to the Constitution. As expected, the measure failed, falling short of the two-thirds vote needed to advance. The vote was 233 to 184."

Senate and nominations

Jordain Carney, “Senate braces for showdown over Trump’s nominees,” The Hill:

“The Senate is barreling toward a showdown over President Trump’s latest Cabinet shuffle, with three critical departments looking for new leaders and more that could follow. Republicans are preparing for a weeks-long battle as they try to confirm CIA Director Mike Pompeo to be secretary of State and CIA Deputy Director Gina Haspel to succeed him.”

Susan Ferrechio, “Senate ready to change rules to speed up Trump nominees,” Washington Examiner:

“GOP lawmakers told the Washington Examiner Tuesday that momentum is building for a change in the Senate rules that would shorten the time frame allowed for lawmakers to debate each nominee.”

Mark Strand and Tim Lang, “Clipping Cloture Clears Confirmation Clogs: How Shortening Post-Cloture Debate Time Increased Senate Efficiency in the 113th Congress,” Congressional Institute:

“Assuming the Judiciary Committee has conducted a thorough examination of the nominee and Senators have had adequate time to consider the nomination before cloture, the time limits in Senator Lankford’s proposal are probably sufficient to ensure that the Senate has conducted its due diligence. Perhaps if the Senate adopts it, the Chamber can make relative haste (compared to say, paint drying), but still slowly enough that nominees are thoroughly vetted.”

Retirements

Philip Bump, “One of eight House seats will have no incumbent on  Election Day,” Washington Post:

“There have been more retirements before Election Day this year than there were at Election Day in any election from 2006 to 2016. The average last retirement over that period was 87 days before the election — meaning that the total this year can be expected to keep rising until about mid-August.”

Anjali Tsui, “What’s Driving Republican Retirements from Congress?” Frontline:

“So far, around three dozen Republicans House members and three senators have announced that they will not be running for re-election in November — the highest number since World War II, according to the Brookings Institution. By contrast, only 17 Democrats are retiring.”

Andrew Prokop, “More and more House Republicans are deciding they want no part of the 2018 elections,” Vox:

“But the trend is more meaningful even than that. These very retirements could help make such a wave even bigger, because it’s generally easier for the opposition party to flip open seats than it is to knock off incumbents.”

Melanie Zanona, “Retiring GOP lawmakers cut loose on Trump,” The Hill:

“While it’s not uncommon for members to feel far more liberated on their way out the door, it has taken on a whole new meaning in the Trump era, where lawmakers are confronted daily by a never-ending stream of White House controversies.”

Jorge Uquillas and Peter Brusoe, “Who’s Leaving Congress With Million-Dollar Reserves?,” Bloomberg:

“Retiring senators and House members are sitting on about $38.6 million in campaign funds they’re not going to be needing this year. More than half of the three dozen lame ducks have at least $500,000 in their campaign committees—money they can use to help other candidates, give to charity, donate to their political parties or just invest for some future allowable purpose.”

Congressional staff

William Douglas, “One small step for racial diversity on Capitol Hill,” McClatchy:

“The internship helped Hinton escape a cycle that keeps many minority applicants from getting full time congressional staffing positions. Most offices require applicants to have prior experience through internships. Many African American miss the internship experience because the positions rarely pay enough to allow them to save money and spend a summer in Washington. The Adams-Walker program does.”

Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies, “Joint Center Statement on New Reporting Showing Capitol Hill’s Racial Pay Inequity,” Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies:

“Capitol Hill pays white staffers substantially more than staffers of color, a new study found. According to a new LegiStorm analysis of congressional salaries, in the U.S. House of Representatives, white staffers take home an annual salary averaging $900 more than Asian and Pacific Islander (AAPI) staffers, $2,000 more than Latino staffers, and $3,500 more than black staffers. In the Senate, white staffers made approximately $4,800 more than AAPI staffers, $1,800 more than Latino staffers and $7,000 more than Black staffers.”

Megan Jula, "Sexual Harassment is Rampant in Congress. 1,308 Former Staff Members Are Demanding Change," Mother Jones:

"More than 1,300 former congressional staff wrote to Senate leaders Thursday urging them to pass legislation addressing sexual harassment on Capitol Hill."

Elise Viebeck, "'Astonishingly lax': Congress's sexual-harassment data stored on insecure server until late February, senator says," Washington Post:

"Information about sexual harassment and other workplace misconduct on Capitol Hill was at risk of being hacked until the office that handles these cases implemented new cybersecurity controls earlier this year, according to Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.)."

Alex Gangitano, “More Unites Than Divides Senate Communicators from Both Parties,” Roll Call:

“Given how partisan this place can be, the Senate Press Secretaries Association is one of the only bipartisan groups that helps bring people together based on our shared press experience,” president Megan Whittemore said. “It is so helpful to have a community of communicators to bounce ideas off of and learn from no matter how seasoned you are on Capitol Hill.”

Congress, miscellaneous

Reps. Steve Stivers and Joyce Beatty, “A movement to #ReviveCivility,” The Hill:

“We are colleagues and friends who happen to be on different sides of the aisle. For years, we have found ways to work together on a whole host of issues, and at the same time disagree without vilifying each other. The foundation for our bipartisan relationship is respect; regardless of where we stand on an issue, we respect each other. This has allowed us to be more successful in representing our districts and Central Ohio.”

C-SPAN, “Jason Altmire and Tom Davis on Making Government More Effective and Less Partisan,” C-SPAN:

“Former Representatives Jason Altmire (D-PA) and Tom Davis (R-VA) talked about ways to make government more effective, civil, and less partisan.”

Lorelei Kelly, “Overwhelmed by data, it’s time for Congress to have a digital support team,” The Hill:

“Today there’s another part of our government in massive need of modernization. It is central to the functioning of our democracy, but it often stops working. You could even say it crashes routinely. It is too big to fail, but somehow it never gets in the crosshairs of a tech and data driven modernization strategy: The U.S. Congress.”

Kevin King, “Congressional Activity and Messaging in Q1 of 2018,” Quorum:

“This report analyzes how the legislative activity in the first fifteen months of the 115th Congress compares to the past ten Congresses. Using Quorum's social media monitoring tools, we also identified the top hashtags used and the most frequently mentioned news outlets by legislators in the first three months of 2018.” 

Tara Golshan, “All the things Congress probably isn’t going to do this year,” Vox:

“Congress’s massive spending bill — a $1.3 trillion funding package that will keep the government open through September 30 — was widely regarded as their last major legislative fight of the year. But on health care, immigration, guns, and infrastructure, there are still a lot of policies that were supposed to see action and haven’t yet.”

Wayne State University, "More than 80 attend national oversight symposium at Wayne Law," Wayne State University:

"The event convened 15 national experts to explore the definition of congressional oversight and how best to measure its effectiveness, examine the relationship of oversight and the judicial branch, and discuss various tools and mechanisms involved in conducting fact-based, bipartisan oversight."

Wayne State University, "Levin Center at Wayne Law Announces Carl Levin Award for Effective Oversight," Wayne State University:

"The Levin Center at Wayne State University Law School is accepting nominations for the inaugural Carl Levin Award for Effective Oversight, in honor of former U.S. Sen. Carl Levin’s legacy as a champion for fact-based, bipartisan legislative oversight investigations."