ICYMI: Top reads on Congress

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By Marian Currinder

 

Congressional Dysfunction

Carl Hulse, “Frustrated by Gridlock, House Members Propose Rules Overhaul,” New York Times:

“Trying to ease gridlock in Congress, a bipartisan group of frustrated House members is coming forward with a rules overhaul intended to give rank-and-file lawmakers more say.”

Thomas E. Mann and Norm Ornstein, “Supply-side congressional reform?” Brookings:

“Dismayed by the apparent dysfunctionality of Congress, many scholars and reformers have proposed strengthening its institutional capacity.”

Jonathan Bernstein, “It’ll Be Up to the New Congress to Rebuild It,” Bloomberg:

“However, I still think the drive for increased Congressional capacity isn’t futile, and it shouldn’t be delayed. At least, the hard work of figuring out exactly how to build a working Madisonian Congress, capable of real governing, in an era of partisan polarization is urgent right now.”

David Hawkings, “The 5 M’s for Describing Why Congress Is Broken,” Roll Call:

“But decoding what ails Capitol Hill is the central work of today’s congressional correspondent. And after plumbing the topic with hundreds of people in recent years — senators and House members, staffers and think tankers, lobbyists and advocates — I have reduced what’s a pretty complex diagnosis to five elements. And they can be readily remembered, using this alliterative mnemonic:  Money, maps, media, mingling and masochism.”

Daniel Stid, “How more conflict could fix Congress: Q&A with R Street Institute’s James Wallner,” Hewlett Foundation:

“That Congress can be paralyzed by the mere prospect of disagreement, or conflict, is a testament to the extent of our political dysfunction today. The irony is that our political system was made for conflict.”

Rick Shapiro and Brian Baird, “How to fix Congress? Change the rules,” The Hill:

“By better sharing legislative power across the institution, Congress can generate more innovative thinking by members and committees, promote greater debate of the issues, require more bipartisan negotiations and collaboration, enhance the morale of the members and reduce the hyper-partisanship that has been emblematic of Congress in recent years.”

Philip Wallach and James Wallner, “Party Unity Is an Illusion,” Real Clear Policy:

“In order to change the status quo in Congress, members must demand that their leaders loosen their tight grip on the legislative agenda. Until that happens, gridlock and inaction will persist as Democrats and Republicans continue to avoid the internal disputes that keep them from acting."

 

House Leadership

Rachel Bade and John Bresnahan, “Texas GOP weighs trading speaker votes for key chairmanship,” Politico:

“The contentious contest for the Appropriations Committee gavel demonstrates how the infighting over prestigious committee posts could spill into McCarthy’s bid to become speaker.”

Al Weaver, “Kevin McCarthy on next speaker: ‘I want it to be me',” Washington Examiner:

“While speaking to students at a conference hosted by Turning Point USA, the No. 2 House Republican spoke about the need for Republicans to hold the House in November and to deny House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., the speakership. He went on to say that he wants the top job.”

Lindsey McPherson, "Jim Jordan Announces Bid for Speakership," Roll Call:

"House Freedom Caucus founding chairman Jim Jordan officially announced Thursday his intentions to run for speaker in a “Dear Colleague” letter to House Republicans, a development sure to hearten conservatives as the midterm election cycle gets into high gear."

Heather Caygle, “House Democrats delay leadership elections to December,” Politico:

“House Democrats voted Tuesday to delay their leadership elections a full month past the November midterms, setting up a potentially lengthy and contentious battle for control of the caucus. Democrats will now vote on their leaders — including speaker if they win back the House — after Dec. 5.”

Ella Nilsen, “Nancy Pelosi’s last stand,” Vox:

“If Democrats win a narrow majority in November, Pelosi will need some newly elected members who ran as Pelosi skeptics to flip-flop, even as resentment of the long-entrenched leadership cadre has grown among established members of the Democratic caucus.”

Scott Wong and Melanie Zanona, “10 dark horse candidates for Speaker of the House,” The Hill:

“The GOP lawmakers, none of whom wanted to be identified, said the secretive talks have centered on who would be interested — and who would be a viable candidate — if both McCarthy and Scalise stumble."

Carla Maranucci, “Barbara Lee to announce bid for Democratic Caucus chair,” Politico:

“Rep. Barbara Lee of Oakland, one of the party’s most outspoken progressive voices, will formally launch her campaign Monday to chair the House Democratic Caucus — a post that would make her the first African-American woman to hold a leadership spot in either major political party.”

 

Budget and Appropriations

Stan Collender, “Raising The Chances Of A Government Shutdown This Fall To 60%,” The Budget Guy:

“The deadline for Congress and President Donald Trump to come to an agreement that will avoid a government shutdown this fall — which may be a much more frequent threat and occurrence these days than it used to be but would still be anything but routine – is approaching quickly and neither the White House, House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) or Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) have done anything to make it less likely.”

Burgess Everett, “McConnell, Ryan pitch Trump on plan to avoid shutdown,” Politico:

“Meeting with President Donald Trump at the White House Wednesday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Speaker Paul Ryan presented a government spending strategy intended to minimize the threat of a politically debilitating government funding lapse over border wall funding. And Trump seemed receptive, according to lawmakers and aides briefed on the meeting.”

Sarah Ferris, “Senate plots to avert government shutdown with massive spending bundle,” Politico:

“Senate leaders are closing in on a groundbreaking bipartisan strategy to fund the majority of government operations this summer, including the Pentagon, in a pointed bid to avoid a government shutdown.”

John T. Bennett, “Odds of a Government Shutdown Tick Up as House Leaves for Recess With Unfinished Business,” Roll Call:

“The House is adjourning for the August recess with half its spending bills still unfinished, plus no legislation to address separation of migrant families at the U.S. southern border or Russian election meddling. When lawmakers return, White House correspondent John T. Bennett says there will be just a handful of days to cobble together a stopgap spending bill to keep the government open when the new fiscal year starts on Oct. 1.”
 

Congress, Miscellaneous

Niels Lesniewski, “Road Ahead: House Ready for Recess. Senate? Not So Much,” Roll Call:

“This is the last week the House is in session before members depart for the August recess — expect senators to be grumbling about that.”

Jordain Carney and Juligrace Brufke, “This week: House GOP heads for the exit,” The Hill:

“House Republicans are eyeing the exit until September as they wrap up their work. The House has just one week left in session before they head back to their districts ahead of what is gearing up to be a contentious midterm election cycle.”

Lindsey McPherson, “5 Big Things the House Is Not Doing Before August Recess,” Roll Call:

“As the Senate prepares to work into August, the House is set to adjourn Thursday for its annual late summer recess with some unfinished business. Some legislative items the House is leaving on the table are must-pass bills with looming deadlines, and others are issues members want to tackle.”

Kellie Mejdrich, “Do-Nothing Amendments Give Lawmakers Bragging Opportunity About Successes,” Roll Call:

“While ineffectual in practice, such amendments can hold symbolic value: they allow sponsors to tout their influence on the spending process, including in official descriptions circulated in advance of the vote and in floor speeches and news releases.”

Douglas L. Kriner, “Congress has three tools to counter Trump on Russia,” Washington Post:

“Congress may no longer play the lead role envisioned in Article I of the Constitution. But it has the tools to influence the course and conduct of U.S. foreign policy.”

Molly E. Reynolds, “Reading Between the Lines on House Efforts to Impeach Rod Rosenstein,” Lawfare:

“As defined in House Rule IX, questions of the privileges of the House involve “the rights of the House collectively, its safety, dignity, and the integrity of its proceedings.” Questions related to the powers delegated to the House by the Constitution often fall into this category; impeachment is one such issue.”

Caitlin Yilek, “Mark Meadows: We can go around Paul Ryan to impeach Rod Rosenstein,” Washington Examiner:

“The resolution was filed Wednesday as a nonprivileged motion, meaning Ryan would have to approve it for a vote on the House floor. Meadows said they could instead file it as a privileged motion, requiring a vote on the House floor within two days.”

Brian Murphy, “Top Senate staffers are nearly all white. Here’s what some are doing to change that,” McClatchy:

“In 2015, African-Americans accounted for less than 1 percent of top Senate staffers, according to a report by the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies. Just 7.1 percent of top Senate staffers were people of color. Last year, Democrats in the House and Senate instituted the “Rooney Rule,” an NFL requirement that minority candidates be interviewed as part of the hiring process.”

Joe Williams, “Walmart offers $2 million in grants to boost racial diversity on Capitol Hill,” Washington Examiner:

“Walmart will spend $2 million to help encourage minority students to pursue internships on Capitol Hill, according to an announcement on Tuesday. The money will go to the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation and the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute, increasing the Betonville, Ark.-based company's total commitment to the two groups to more than $6 million over the last few years.”

Stephanie Akin, “Groups Call for Fed Crackdown on Lawmaker Slush Funds,” Roll Call:

“Leadership political action committees are meant to help Congress members raise money for their colleagues — thus helping them climb leadership ranks. Because those accounts aren’t subject to the same spending restrictions as the ones candidates use for their own campaigns, they are prone to eyebrow-raising spending activity, or “used as slush funds to subsidize officeholders’ lifestyles,” the Campaign Legal Center and Issue One wrote in a petition to the FEC.”

Joseph Lawler, “Website Congress created to track spending is mostly inaccurate,” Washington Examiner:

“A website that Congress set up to track federal spending contains mostly inaccurate data and internal inconsistencies, according to a new report Wednesday from a bipartisan group of senators.”

Kate Ackley, “Appropriations, Trade Policy Keep K Street Swamped,” Roll Call:

“Work on appropriations bills and consternation over new tariffs helped keep K Street in business this year, as the midterm elections begin to cast a shadow over the Capitol.”

Katherine Tully-McManus, “House to Codify Guidelines for Virtual Town Halls,” Roll Call:

“Under the new regulations, members can be reimbursed for “ordinary and necessary” expenses related to conducting town halls over the phone or internet with other members of the House from any state or with senators from the co-host’s home state. For flat rate expenses, members must split the costs evenly. Costs that are based on the number of constituents contacted must be divided relative to each member’s districts.”

Katherine Scott, “House, Senate May Go Separate Ways on Anti-Harassment Policy,” Bloomberg:

“The House and Senate are so far apart in negotiations over a sexual harassment policy that Congress might end up with two different standards.”