ICYMI: Top reads on Congress

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By Marian Currinder

House Leadership

Matt Fuller, "Can Anyone Take Down Nancy Pelosi?" Huffington Post:

"The California Democrat, the first and only woman to ever serve as Speaker of the House, has stayed atop Democratic leadership for so long for a number of reasons ― her ability to fundraise, negotiate with Republicans and read her caucus chief among them. But the growing chorus of Democratic candidates running for Congress who pledge not to support Pelosi for speaker is hard to ignore."

Lindsey McPherson, “The House Democrats Considering Leadership Bids — So Far,” Roll Call:

“Ahead of a potential wave election, few House Democrats have declared their interest in running for specific leadership positions. But more than a dozen are keeping their options open as the caucus members consider how much change they wants to see in their top ranks next Congress.”

Ella Nilsen, “Rising California Democrat Linda Sánchez is officially running for Joe Crowley’s spot,” Vox:

“Sánchez, currently the vice chair of the House Democratic Caucus, officially announced her bid for caucus chair in a letter to her colleagues Tuesday. It’s a signal she wants to move up the leadership ladder, but it comes as little surprise — Sánchez told reporters she was considering running for the position a few weeks ago.”

Quint Forgey, “Crowley declines to back Pelosi for speaker,” Politico:

“Rep. Joe Crowley of New York — the No. 4 Democrat in the House — declined on Sunday to endorse Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi for speaker, should Democrats take back the chamber from the GOP in this fall's elections.”

Heather Caygle, “Pelosi calls for delay in leadership elections to thwart fellow Dems,” Politico:

“House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi on Friday unexpectedly called for a delay in caucus leadership elections until after Thanksgiving. Pelosi’s request follows a behind-the-scenes scramble inside the House Democratic Caucus this week to force a delay in the elections, which are typically held in the first few weeks after the midterms.”

Melanie Zanona, “Freedom Caucus members see openings in leadership,” The Hill:

“Two members of the conservative House Freedom Caucus, a group that has earned a reputation for being a thorn in the side of GOP leadership, are now vying for a chance to sit at the leadership table themselves.”
 

Budget and Appropriations

Jennifer Shutt, “Joint Budget Committee Will Meet on the Side to Work It Out,” Roll Call:

“The 16 lawmakers tasked with overhauling the budget and appropriations process will begin meeting informally this month to determine if they can agree on bipartisan changes before the end of November, according to House Budget Chairman Steve Womack.”

Kevin Kosar, “We Might Actually Get Budget Reform This Year,” Real Clear Policy:

“Readers might be tempted to shrug this off as a non-event. “Elected officials complain about the budget, but never do anything,” is a common sentiment. But there are reasons to believe that we might actually get budget reform this year.”

Cole Carnick, “Congress opened the floodgates on pork-barrel spending in 2018,” Washington Examiner:

“The 2018 Congressional Pig Book, released on Wednesday by the think tank and advocacy group Citizens Against Government Waste, documents the government’s ballooning excess and waste. In fiscal year 2018, the number of earmarks passed by Congress increased by 42.3 percent since FY 2017, totaling $14.7 billion in costs — a 116.2 percent increase.”

 

Committee Hearings

Meagan Flynn, “Trey Gowdy says public hearings are ‘freak’ shows. ‘I don’t do many of them.’” Washington Post:

““This notion that the public hearings are somehow conducive with learning lots of new things — there’s a reason we don’t have public hearings, and you saw that reason,” he said.”

Casey Burgat and Charles Hunt, “Why was the Peter Strzok hearing such a circus? Because Congress wanted it that way,” Washington Post:

“As a result, committees spend a rising share of taxpayer funds on communications staffers at the expense of fewer aides with policy or investigatory responsibilities. No surprise, then, that recent investigations seem more like the circus than genuine policy or oversight work.”

Molly E. Reynolds, “In the House Strzok Hearing, a Reminder of Congress’s Shortcomings on Oversight,” Lawfare Blog:

“But the rules and procedures by which oversight hearings are conducted aren’t merely weapons the two parties can use to try to gain leverage over one another. Knowing how they work and allowing them to dictate the conduct of the hearing are vital to successful, productive hearings that elicit meaningful information from the witnesses. Understanding the procedures at hand is necessary for effective oversight—but by no means sufficient.”

 

Congress, Miscellaneous

Stephanie Akin, “Critics Pan Plan to Publish Congressional Research,” Roll Call:

Government transparency advocates were thrilled last spring when Congress ordered its in-house think tank to publicly release its reports. Now, groups that lobbied for years to end the secrecy surrounding the Congressional Research Service say the website scheduled to launch in September would leave out crucial documents and cost hundreds of thousands of dollars more than it should.

Chase Gunter, “Is Congress expanding its knowledge to meet oversight demands?,” FCW:

“Congress once had the Office of Technology Assessment, an internal congressional think tank that produced reports on technical matters for lawmakers, but it was shuttered in the 1990s to cut costs.”

John T. Bennet, “Analysis: Congress Mere Passenger in Trump Foreign Policy Express,” Roll Call:

“President Donald Trump just concluded a European foreign policy swing that resembled a runaway car, and Congress is merely a passenger with seemingly no intention, at least from those setting the agenda, of taking the wheel.”

Niels Lesniewski, “State Department Nominees Could Be In For Procedural Headache,” Roll Call:

“Sen. Robert Menendez of New Jersey has made a thinly veiled threat against pending State nominations if the Trump administration is not more responsive to questions about their interactions and agreements with foreign leaders.”

Amber Phillips, “Is Congress going to hold Trump accountable on Russia? Don’t bet on it.” Washington Post:

“After President Trump appeared to side with Russia over his own intelligence community, Republican leaders in Congress did something remarkable, for this political moment at least: They openly considered ways to rein in Trump's pro-Russian tendencies.”

Alexander Nieves, “No ‘underlying facts’ to pursue Trump impeachment, top House Democrat says,” Politico:

“Democrats won't act to impeach President Donald Trump as long as the investigation into Russian interference is ongoing, the vice chairwoman of the House Democratic Caucus said today.”

Alex Gangitano, “Latino Staffers Who Call the Shots on Capitol Hill,” The Hill:

“Latino staffers are leading offices on Capitol Hill, running communications operations and advising some of the highest-ranking members of Congress.”

Alex Gangitano, “Vulnerable Senate Democrats Have Another Thing to Worry About: Diversity on Their Staffs,” Roll Call:

“Democratic senators gearing up for competitive re-elections tend to have whiter staffs, according to a Roll Call analysis of data released by Senate Democrats.”

Alex Gangitano, “Shelby: Appropriations’ First-Ever Female Staff Director Is ‘Tough, Absolutely’, Roll Call:

“For the first time ever, a female staff director has the reins of the powerful Senate Appropriations Committee. Shannon Hines took the job after her longtime boss, Sen. Richard C. Shelby, became chairman in April.”

Katherine Tully-McManus, “Negotiations Over Sexual Harassment Bills Continue, but No Timetable Yet,” Roll Call:

“Even as lawmakers and staff work to reconcile legislation passed by the House and Senate to curb sexual harassment on Capitol Hill, a timeline for enacting the bills is unclear, months after they were fast-tracked for floor votes.”

Stephanie Akin, “Alexa, What’s Going on in the House of Representatives?,” Roll Call:

“What’s the quickest way to find out whether the House is in session? What committee hearings are scheduled? The name of a district’s congressional representative? Soon, you might be able to ask Alexa.”

Shawn Zeller, “Blue Dog Democrats Vote With GOP More in 2018,” Roll Call:

“Blue Dog Democrats tend to move to the right in election years, which is understandable given that they typically represent swing districts.”

Jonathan Bernstein, “Radical Tactics Still Don’t Bode Well for Radical Ideas,” Bloomberg:

“Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, who is expected to be elected to the House in November, is floating a proposal for a new “progressive caucus” that could use threats to vote as a bloc to extract concessions from the Democrats. Is this a sign that she and other very liberal Democrats will soon mirror the radical conservatives of the House Freedom Caucus? Probably not.”

David A. Hopkins, “In the Democratic Party, Even "Anti-Politicians" Tout Policy Credentials,” Honest Graft:

“This year, however, many of the Democratic nominees in competitive districts lack previous elective experience—a pattern that could foreshadow a more reformist House if the 2018 elections return the Democrats to power. But these new Democratic "amateurs" are still not exactly the mirror images of their Republican counterparts.”