ICYMI: Top reads —and listens— on Congress

Casey Burgat, “Impeachment: What happens now?” LegislativeProcedure.com, September 25, 2019

“Political observers and talking heads were quick to point out that Pelosi’s announcement did not answer important questions concerning the impeachment process and strategy. For example, the Speaker did not say whether or not the House was going to vote on a resolution that would officially and formally open an impeachment inquiry. The House took such a vote during the Nixon and Clinton impeachment proceedings, but as of now, it is unclear if Pelosi will put it to an official a vote.”

Lee Drutman et al., “APSA Task Force Memorandum: Modernizing congressional capacity,” September 26, 2019.

Congress today is overwhelmed….But Congress is not helpless. Both the House and the Senate can choose to invest in their own expertise and capacity. In this report, we examine the House’s options for bulking up its resources, so that it can best represent the people as a powerful “first branch” of government…. [Here we] explore five approaches the House could take should members decide they want to bulk up resources. We examine options for investing in: individual member offices; committees; support agencies; caucuses and shared staff; and party leadership.”


Matt Glassman and Joshua Huder, “Emergency impeachment podcast,” Two Beers In, September 25, 2019.

“These things can turn on a  dime.”

Henry Olsen, “Do Democrats realize McConnell would call the shots in a Senate impeachment trial?” Washington Post, September 25, 2019.

“The fact that Supreme Court Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. would preside over that trial does not prevent the Senate from drafting its own bespoke procedures and rules. The Senate’s impeachment rules provide that Roberts’s evidentiary rulings can be subjected to a Senate vote and overturned according to the Senate’s standing rules. Presuming motions to overturn such rulings are handled according to Senate Standing Rule XX governing questions of order, a simple majority of the Senate would be sufficient to overrule the chief justice. In other words, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), not Roberts, would be the de facto presiding officer if he so chooses.”

Gary J. Schmitt, “How the Framer’s thought about impeachment,” The American Interest, September 25, 2019.

“At the time of the Constitutional Convention, the phrase—borrowed from British legal practice and the ongoing impeachment proceedings against the former British governor of India, Warren Hastings—was intended to address the problem of when an executive exercises legitimate authority but does so in a manner, as Alexander Hamilton put it, in ‘violation of some public trust.’ A president, for example, has virtual plenary power to grant pardons, but if he exercises that authority so as to hide a crime, at a minimum he has violated his duty to faithfully (that is, in good faith) execute the laws.”

Senate Budget Committee Chairman, Mike Enzi, “America’s fiscal path is unsustainable,” Senate floor speech, September 24, 2019.

“The threat of a fiscal crisis is not something anyone should take lightly. As a father and grandfather, this is a concern that keeps me up at night.”

James Wallner, “Why the electoral college should be preserved,” Ripon Forum, September 2019.

“Notwithstanding the merits of their various claims, the Electoral College’s opponents and proponents have more in common than they realize. That is, they both ignore the underlying role played by the institution in American politics. The Electoral College, along with the Constitution’s other institutional arrangements, exists to safeguard the space where Americans participate in politics to make collective decisions based on equality. Abolishing it would jeopardize that space and, in the process, exacerbate the federal government’s current dysfunction.”

Melanie Zanona and John Bresnahan, “House GOP weighs easing term limits on committee chairs,” Politico, September 24, 2019.

During a steering committee meeting Tuesday night, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy floated the idea of changing the GOP’s long-standing rule that allows members to be the top Republican on a committee for only three terms, regardless of whether they serve in the majority or minority.”

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