ICYMI: Top Reads on Congress

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By Marian Currinder

Congressional Dysfunction

John Lawrence, “Would a Democratic majority actually fix Congress?” Washington Post:

“But the history of those reforms should serve as a warning to Democratic candidates hoping to become part of the next famous freshman class: Well-intentioned reforms to make Congress more decentralized or transparent can also complicate the process of enacting complex laws, making it that much harder to implement an ambitious agenda.”

Doug Sosnik, “Why Congress Rolls Over for Trump,” Politico:

“There’s an underappreciated reason for Congress’ inability to stand up for itself: the mass departures of leading members who were more committed to the institutions of the House and Senate than they were to their political tribe.”

Casey Burgat, “Congressional staff turnover isn’t usually a problem. But when it is, it’s bad.” Washington Post:

“The findings were encouraging and disheartening at the same time. Annual turnover in the House overall is lower than in virtually any private-sector industry and in most other government jobs. And yet, in some offices, turnover is regularly quite high — and often an indicator of problems in the workplace.”

Bill Galston, “A Chance to Fix House Rules -- and Dysfunction,” Real Clear Policy:

“The House of Representatives is the epicenter of the dysfunction that grips the federal government.  Much of it reflects the deepening polarization between the parties.  But something else is at work as well—ill-conceived and obsolete rules that make polarization worse and prevent bipartisan coalitions from having their voices heard.”

BPC, “Why The Filibuster Needs Reform,” Congress of Tomorrow:

“The Bipartisan Policy Center’s Commission on Political Reform found that while the filibuster is an important feature of the Senate, it should be used “sparingly.”  Whether one agrees or not often depends on if he or she sides with the majority party at the time.  Further, while designed to protect the minority, many argue that it gives small states out-sized control in the Senate given that they represent a smaller portion of the U.S. population.”

 

House Leadership

Lindsey McPherson, “Speaker Race Could Hinge on Who Agrees to Change the Rules,” Roll Call:

“Whichever party controls the House in 2019, the next speaker won’t secure the job easily and will likely have to promise major changes to how the institution operates, with members demanding that as a condition for support.”

John Bresnahan and Heather Caygle, “Democratic takeover could bring first black speaker,” Politico:

“The next speaker of the House could be a black Democrat. And Congress would never be the same. In 230 years, there’s never been a black speaker, or any black lawmaker seriously in the running for the post. That could change after voters go to the polls in November.”

 

Budget and Appropriations

Jamie Dupree, “With House Gone, Congress Again Poised to Fail on Spending Work,” WSB Radio:

“As the U.S. House left Thursday on an extended summer break which will last until Labor Day, Republican leaders in Congress signaled that 2018 won’t be much different from the past twenty-plus years on Capitol Hill, as lawmakers once more will not get their spending work done on time by the end of September, requiring the approval of a temporary funding plan to avoid a government shutdown on October 1.”

Burgess Everett, “GOP leaders yawn at Trump’s shutdown threats,” Politico:

“President Donald Trump keeps threatening a government shutdown over his border wall. And Republican leaders keep ignoring his warnings.”

Juliette Rocheleau, “McConnell, Schumer Agree: They're Eager to Avoid a Government Shutdown,” Roll Call (video):

“Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Tuesday in remarks to the media he's committed to advancing the appropriations process in a way that avoids a bundle of spending bills like the president has warned he may veto. (Editor's Note: all 12 appropriations bills haven't been passed separately before the end of the fiscal year in decades). Meanwhile, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer described his daily conversations with McConnell on the matter of funding the government.”

Molly E. Reynolds, “The Senate passed another “minibus” funding package. Now what?” Brookings:

“The Senate has needed the minibus strategy to rack up this year’s strong record, however; while using fewer, combined bills has allowed the chamber to get more work done, it does represent a departure from the letter of the process, which calls for separate deliberation on a series of individual bills.”

Jennifer Shutt, “For Once, Senate Set to Eclipse House in Appropriations Pace,” Roll Call:

“In addition to settling the vast differences in spending levels and policy between the House and Senate bills, congressional leaders will also have to convince Trump to sign a few of the spending bills.”

 

Congress, Miscellaneous

Burgess Everett, “Not The Onion: Congress set to pass bills,” Politico:

“Rather than another bout of budget brinkmanship or a host of votes designed to make Democrats look bad, Senate and House GOP leaders are planning a pre-election agenda to persuade voters to keep Republicans in control of both chambers. Specifically, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) are aiming to rack up bipartisan wins on government spending, defense and farm legislation.”

Alex Keena and Misty Knight-Finley, “Want a less partisan senator? Elect a former governor.” Washington Post:

“Candidates make noises like this all the time in an effort to show how principled they are. But our recent research suggests there may actually be something to these pronouncements. When former governors join the Senate, they tend to be less partisan in their voting behavior than their colleagues who have never been a state chief executive.”

Niels Lesniewski, “Senate’s Out for Truncated August Recess,” The Hill:

“Senators may be skipping the traditional August recess, but that does not mean they will be spending too much time on Capitol Hill.”

Melanie Zanona, “Freedom Caucus ponders weakened future in minority,” The Hill:

“Life in the minority would be uncharted territory for the conservative group, which has wielded immense power in the majority by sticking together as a unified voting bloc and fighting unapologetically for its causes.”

Don Wolfensberger, “Presidential censure card is the joker in the deck,” The Hill:

“The point is, Congress always has ways to criticize a president without resorting to the bogus and misleading card of censure. That a respected journalist and journal should suggest censure as a political safety valve for each party makes it all the more suspect as a formal means of admonishment.”