Researcher and Writer in Washington, DC

A permanent committee to fix Congr...

A permanent committee to fix Congress

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 […]

Making sure Congress is not outgun...

Making sure Congress is not outgunned

I enjoyed reading the response essays of Will Rinehart, Betsy Hawkings and Berin Szóka. They all make good points and bring valuable facts and ideas to the discussion. On the most macroscopic level, all of us seem to agree that Congress is ill-equipped to oversee, let alone make, good policy on highly scientific or technological […]

William Barr and Congress’ broken contempt po...

William Barr and Congress’ broken contempt power

Last month, the House Judiciary Committee voted to recommend that the House hold Attorney General William Barr in contempt of Congress. The 24-16 decision was made along partisan lines. The vote came 19 days after Congress demanded Barr deliver to members an unredacted copy of the Mueller report — which he refused to do. That the committee’s Democrats held […]

Today: Oversight hearing on the Congressional Research Serv...

Today: Oversight hearing on the Congressional Research Service

The House Committee on Administration is holding a hearing on the Congressional Research Service (CRS) at 10am today. The hearing may be viewed online. The CRS is critical to the functioning of Congress. Its analysts and information specialists help congressional staff make policy and oversee the executive and judicial branches. Its importance cannot be understated, and the […]

Permanent appropriations: Might they improve the budget proce...

Permanent appropriations: Might they improve the budget process?

If you have not read Prof. Andrew Taylor’s article in the latest copy of National Affairs, you should. It is titled, “Reforming the Appropriations Process.” and is interesting and provocative. Certainly it made me think. He argues for making appropriations permanent. Doing so would stabilize spending and avoid the high dramas of government shutdowns, continuing resolutions, and all the […]

Why members of Congress should get a raise, whether they deserve it or ...

Why members of Congress should get a raise, whether they deserve it or not

You’ve surely heard the old line, “The best Congress money can buy.” Typically, it’s said sardonically. In the classic formulation, it’s not your money doing the buying. It’s special interests and lobbyists forking over the dough. In exchange, they get the best Congress they can buy – for them. But what if it were your money? How […]

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