ICYMI: Top reads on Congress

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By Marian Currinder

Senate

Jonathan S. Tobin, “The Centrality of Mitch McConnell,” National Review:

“But as Trump unveiled Judge Brett Kavanaugh as his second pick for the U.S. Supreme Court on Monday evening, talk about GOP unrest or conservative grassroots anger toward McConnell is conspicuous by its absence. To the contrary, the majority leader’s place at the center of Trump’s Washington is no longer contested.”

Felicia Sonmez, “Trump Supreme Court pick: How key senators reacted,” Washington Post:

“With Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) away from Capitol Hill as he undergoes treatment for brain cancer, Kavanaugh’s fortunes could hinge on a single vote. Here are two groups of senators who will play a pivotal role in the confirmation process, along with their reactions to Monday night’s news.”

Molly E. Reynolds, “What to expect as Republicans race to confirm Kavanaugh,” Brookings FixGov:

“President Donald Trump announced Monday night that he was nominating Brett Kavanaugh to replace retiring Justice Anthony Kennedy, touching off a confirmation process that will shape the Supreme Court for years to come. Now that we have a nominee, here is what to expect next.”

Ed Pesce, “Democrats Have Few Tactical Options to Fight Supreme Court Pick,” Roll Call:

“Democrats can make as much noise as they want about President Donald Trump’s nominee for the Supreme Court, but they have few procedural weapons at their disposal to stop Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation on their own — although they can make life difficult along the way.”

Elana Schor and Heather Caygle, “‘I’m going to do my own thing’: Dems split on message in SCOTUS fight,” Politico:

“While the GOP is promoting Trump’s pick with a singular message — touting Kavanaugh’s ample qualifications — Democrats are offering multiple arguments against him that each speak to multiple parts of their base and the electorate.”

Niels Lesniewski, “Senate Delivers Mild Rebuke to Trump on Trade,” Roll Call:

“Sen. Bob Corker has finally got his colleagues on the record in support of Congress playing a role in national security-related trade decisions like those made recently under President Donald Trump.”

Juliegrace Brufke, “569 House-passed bills await action in the Senate,” The Hill:

“The House has sent 768 bills to the Senate this Congress, and 569 of them have yet to pass the upper chamber.”

 

House

Nicholas Fandos and Thomas Kaplan, “Republicans and Democrats Face Leadership Struggles as House Returns,” NYT:

“The House returns from its July Fourth recess this week in a state of remarkable uncertainty, with both Democrats and Republicans facing open questions about their leaders’ futures and neither party sure about which will be in control after November’s elections.”

Paul Kane, “The political futures of McCarthy and Pelosi could hinge on their home state of California,” Washington Post:

“House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi could have their political careers defined by what happens Nov. 6 in their home state of California.”

Lindsey McPherson, “House Democratic Leadership Talk Starts Moving Into the Open,” Roll Call:

“House Democrats have largely tried to avoid talking about potential leadership battles in an effort to focus on winning the majority in November, but an unexpected opening is making that more difficult.”

Lindsey McPherson, “House Democrats Contemplate Post-Pelosi ‘Bridge’,” Roll Call:

“Some House Democrats have begun to talk more openly about the possibility someone other than Nancy Pelosi may be their leader next year — although, for now, she is still the odds-on favorite to continue leading the caucus.”

Mike Lillis, “Dems struggle with unity amid leadership tensions,” The Hill:

“House Democrats are struggling to show a united front as the shocking ouster of their Caucus chairman rekindles tensions about the future of the party — and who is best suited to lead it into the crucial 2020 cycle.”

Ella Nilsen, “More than 20 Democratic House candidates want Nancy Pelosi to step aside after 2018,” Vox:

“A close tally of Democratic House candidates who have said they won’t support House minority leader Nancy Pelosi indicates Democrats would either have to win by a huge margin in order for her to hang onto her top leadership post in 2019 — or those newly elected representatives would have to go back on a key campaign promise during their first vote in office.”

Heather Caygle, “Tim Ryan weighs new challenge to Pelosi amid Democratic unrest,” Politico:

“Rep. Tim Ryan is considering taking on House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi again in November despite previously ruling out the idea — the latest turn in the caucuswide chaos unleashed by Rep. Joe Crowley’s shocking primary loss last month.”

Mile Lillis, “Fifth-ranking House Dem doubles down, says it’s time to overhaul leadership,” The Hill:

“Rep. Linda Sánchez (D-Calif.) on Wednesday amplified her previous calls for a complete overhaul of House Democratic leadership next year.”

John Bresnahan and Rachel Bade, “McCarthy launches stealth campaign for speaker,” Politico:

“House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy is quietly lining up votes to succeed Paul Ryan as speaker, reaching out to key lawmakers across the Republican Conference and asking whether they will commit to back him as speaker next January, according to GOP lawmakers and aides.”

Lindsey McPherson, “Citing No Regrets About Retiring, Paul Ryan Bets Kevin McCarthy Will Replace Him,” Roll Call:

“Speaker Paul D. Ryan’s Thursday interview with David M. Rubenstein, president of the Economic Club of Washington, D.C., started with an admission that he has no regrets — “none whatsoever” — about retiring. It then diverted into a wide array of topics including his replacement, future plans and policy goals for his last few months in office. The Wisconsin Republican reiterated his preference that House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy succeed him as speaker when asked about his replacement.”

Matthew Yglesias, “Paul Ryan’s pathetic excuse for not challenging Trump on trade, explained,” Vox:

“Speaking to reporters Thursday morning at the Economic Club of Washington, House Speaker Paul Ryan had three clear messages on trade: He thinks the Trump administration’s trade wars are misguided, he doesn’t intend to do anything about it, and he is a deeply dishonest person who is committed to pretending that there’s nothing he can do about it.”

Durand D’souza, “We mapped out the road to gender parity in the House of Representatives,” The Pudding:

“Jeanette Rankin was the first woman elected to the House of Representatives on November 7, 1916. Since then, 289 different women have represented their constituents in the House, bringing the House to 19% women. In this article, we follow their stories through data and identify their contributions with the help of machine learning.”

 

Budget and Appropriations

CQ Roll Call, “How the Summer Spending Stretch Is Shaping Up,” (Podcast):

“Congress returns from its Fourth of July break with expectations that it will tackle a robust spending agenda including the two chambers negotiating the final shape of three spending bills — as lawmakers hope to avoid another 12-bill omnibus. But, there are several challenges ahead both inside and outside of the annual appropriations process. CQ appropriations reporters Ryan McCrimmon and Kellie Mejdrich discuss what the final three months leading into fiscal 2019 hold with guest host Jennifer Shutt.”

Mark Strand, “Want Congress to Reassert Its Authority? Fix the Budget Process,” Real Clear Policy:

“To most Americans, whether the federal government handles its budget on a yearly or a biennial cycle is not a pressing matter. For Congress, it should be a top priority:A move to biennial budgeting could reduce the negative implications of continuing resolutions (CRs) and omnibuses.” 

 

Congress, Miscellaneous

James Wallner, “What’s Wrong With American Politics,” Law and Liberty:

“In reality, the inaction we observe results from the absence of conflict inside the House of Representatives and the Senate. In other words, the problem is how members of Congress think about politics.”

Sen. Chuck Grassley, “Oversight is fundamental for a functioning federal government,” The Hill:

“An essential function of American government is our system of checks and balances. Our Founding Fathers purposely structured it that way to ensure that no one branch would become too powerful. Congressional oversight is one vehicle to fulfill those checks.”

Bipartisan Policy Center, “Oversight Matters: What's Next for Inspectors General,” BPC:

“The IGs provide an excellent return on the taxpayers’ investment in their work and have become a critical part of the checks and balances in our democratic system. The task force is confident that the recommendations in this report will lead to even better returns in the future.”

David Williams, “Opinion: Agency Watchdogs Can Do Much More Than Bark and Bite,” Roll Call:

“IGs aren’t just watchdogs for Congress’ oversight needs. They also assist agencies in better accomplishing their missions. IGs make recommendations to improve the effectiveness of programs in addition to identifying potential risks for fraud and abuse.”

Donald Sherman, “Congress should prioritize diversity so government reflects Americans,” The Hill:

“While the biannual employment carousel for members of Congress has already begun, August is the unofficial start to hiring season for staff. Everyone from chiefs to interns fill their calendars with meetings as folks look to move in or move up following Election Day. As this rite of passage begins anew, staff diversity must also come back into focus.”

Alex Gangitano, “Staff Up Congress Aims to Tackle Diversity From the Top,” Roll Call:

“What’s one way to increase diversity on the Hill? Start at the senior-staffer level. That’s according to the group Staff Up Congress, a joint campaign between the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials Educational Fund, which focuses on opportunities for Latinos, and the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies, which focuses on opportunities for African-Americans.”

Samuel Metz, “Raul Ruiz wants to give you the power to subvert Paul Ryan's agenda. Sort of,” Desert Sun:

“Frustrated with Congress’ inaction on issues important to the public, Rep. Raul Ruiz, D-Palm Desert, has introduced legislation that would require lawmakers to vote on bills if enough of the public gets behind them.”

Steven Nelson, “Lawmakers slow to reintroduce presidential term limit repeal under Trump,” Washington Examiner:

“Members of Congress responsible for almost a dozen attempts to repeal the two-term limit on being president have not reintroduced their bills since President Trump took office. Two sitting lawmakers, Reps. Steny Hoyer, D-Md., and Jose Serrano, D-N.Y., introduced bills repeatedly to repeal the 22nd Amendment, but have not done so under Trump.”

Alan Rappeport, “Government Work Done, Tax Policy Writers Decamp to Lobbying Jobs,” NYT:

“Six months after Republicans pushed a $1.5 trillion tax overhaul through Congress, many of the most influential players who worked behind the scenes on the legislation are no longer on Capitol Hill or in the Trump administration. They are now lobbyists.”

Rachel Augustine Potter, “Regulatory lobbying has increased under the Trump administration, but the groups doing the lobbying may surprise you,” Brookings:

“While talk of whether Trump is or is not “draining the swamp” of lobbyists continues in Washington (and on Twitter), one form of lobbying—lobbying the White House about regulations—has quietly flown under the radar. The Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA)—the tiny White House office that serves as a clearinghouse for agency rules—regularly holds private meetings with stakeholders about regulations that are under development.” 

Paul Singer, “Capuano Has Highest Paid Staff In Congress,” WGBH:

“Rep. Michael Capuano pays his employees very well. In fact, the 10-term Somerville Democrat has the highest average staff salary of any lawmaker in the United States Congress, either House or Senate. The mid-range salary in Capuano’s office was $81,000 last year, according to a website called Legistorm.com that tracks congressional spending records.”

Chris Nehls, “Congress Needs Modern Tech to Keep Up with Constituents’ Needs. Here’s How Philanthropy Can Help,” Democracy Fund:

“Democracy Fund and our affiliated social welfare organization, Democracy Fund Voice, recently awarded several grants to address the disparity between the tools available to congressional staff and the technological innovations of the digital advocacy industry.” 

D.A. Banks, “Before They Were Lawmakers: Unique Careers of Some Senators and Representatives,” Roll Call Video:

“Most lawmakers serving on Capitol Hill had previous careers in state or regional government, law, business or education. But what about the outliers? Undercover Capitol explains some of the more unique backgrounds of current sitting members.”

Event, “Out of Order: Why Congress’s Budget Process Satisfies No One,” BPC:

“Join us on July 23 as our expert panel discusses how it’s supposed to work and reforms for the future. BPC will also release its quarterly Healthy Congress Index which offers crucial metrics for evaluating Congress’s ability to effectively legislate and govern, including its performance on budget and appropriations.”