ICYMI: Top reads on Congress

Robert George, “Return all legislative power to Congress,” Politico. September 20, 2019.

“[W]e have failed to say “no” to leaders who usurp the power of legislators (state and federal, by the way), and we have failed to hold legislators accountable for abdicating their authority and failing in their responsibility to … well, legislate.”

Kevin Kosar, “A permanent committee to improve Congress,” Politico, September 20, 2019.

Congress is a basket case. Our national legislature has passed only a couple dozen laws this year, a count which includes legislation naming a post office and appointing former Senator Bob Dole a colonel. Committees, once congressional powerhouses, are moving little legislation and are conducting fewer oversight hearings than in past decades. Meanwhile, huge issues—like immigration and the ongoing military operations in Afghanistan and Syria—go unresolved….

Tony Mills, “Teach Congress about science,” Politico, September 20, 2019.

“Since the beginning of modern science policy in the mid-20th century, the executive branch has taken the lead on supporting scientific research and relying on scientific expertise when making policy. Whatever the benefits of this arrangement—think NASA or the National Institutes of Health—it has often left Congress playing a perfunctory role in science policy, aside from footing the bill. Partly as a result, the Constitution’s First Branch has become less and less effective at exercising its lawmaking powers and conducting oversight. A recent bill about the law enforcement implications of encryption technology, for example, was widely criticized for its technical illiteracy…”

Juliegrace Brufke and Niv Elis, “House votes to avert shutdown, fund government through November,” The Hill. September 19, 2019.

“The Senate is expected to take up the House measure next week.”

Fmr. Rep. Allyson Y. Schwartz, “Modernize Congress to make it work for the people,” The Hill. September 19, 2019.

“They’re working to make meaningful changes. Some will never make headlines, but they will make a difference.”

Eleanor Van Buren, “Member lapel pins out, necklaces in, say women in Congress,” Roll Call. September 20, 2019.

“‘I also refer to it as my Hermione necklace since I have to be in three places at once,’ she said, referencing the character in the “Harry Potter” series. ‘She used to spin hers to time travel.’”

James Wallner, “All senators are to blame for the Senate’s dismal state,” Washington Examiner. September 18, 2019.

“Each senator has the power to force their colleagues to act on whatever issue he or she wants.”

Daniel Schuman and Amelia Strauss, “Why we can’t have nice things,” First Branch Forecast, September 16, 2019.

“[A] bipartisan coalition urged Senate appropriators to increase spending on the legislative branch by $300 million, or roughly 1% of the new non-defense non-mandatory spending, to pay for congressional modernization, address crumbling infrastructure, and reverse the decline in congressional expertise in science and technology. Neither the Senate nor the House numbers are sufficient to fix the Congressional funding gap….”

Craig Volden and Alan E. Wiseman, “Congress is back in town. Here’s why lawmakers will struggle to get much done,” Washington Post, September 12, 2019.

“Congress is back from its August recess, and lawmakers face public demands for action on issues as varied as health care, infrastructure, gun safety and trade. Legislators face at least one set of “must pass” agenda items: 12 spending bills that need to be enacted into law by Oct. 1 or the federal government will shut down. What else is Congress likely to work on? Keep your eyes on party leaders’ signals. Once, Congress’s committees incubated policy solutions. But congressional leaders have steadily reduced the power of committee chairs over the past two decades, bringing that power to a new low in the 115th Congress (2017-2018). Party leaders now drive the agenda….”



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