ABOUT THIS BLOG

I shall post videos, graphs, news stories, and other material there. We shall use some of this material in class, and you may review the rest at your convenience. You will all receive invitations to post to the blog. (Please let me know if you do not get such an invitation.) I encourage you to use the blog in these ways:
To post questions or comments about the readings before we discuss them in class;
To follow up on class discussions with additional comments or questions.
To post relevant news items or videos.

There are only two major limitations: no coarse language, and no derogatory comments about people at the Claremont Colleges.


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Friday, March 27, 2015

Reid to Retire

Harry Reid -- the real one, not the simulation Reid -- will retire.  Carl Hulse reports at The New York Times:
Senator Harry Reid, the tough tactician who has led Senate Democrats since 2005, will not seek re-election next year, bringing an end to a three-decade congressional career that culminated with his push of President Obama’s ambitious agenda against fierce Republican resistance.

Mr. Reid, 75, who suffered serious eye and facial injuries in a Jan. 1 exercise accident at his Las Vegas home, said he had been contemplating retiring from the Senate for months. He said his decision was not attributable either to the accident or to his demotion to minority leader after Democrats lost the majority in November’s midterm elections.

“I understand this place,” Mr. Reid said. “I have quite a bit of power as minority leader.”

He has already confounded the new Republican majority this year by holding Democrats united against a proposal to gut the Obama administration’s immigration policies as well as a human-trafficking measure Democrats objected to over an anti-abortion provision.

“I want to be able to go out at the top of my game,” said Mr. Reid, who used a sports metaphor about athletes who try to hang on too long. “I don’t want to be a 42-year-old trying to become a designated hitter.”

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

The Next Couple of Weeks

1. For Monday, April 6, please read ch. 12 of Davidson.

2. Peer evaluation: On Monday, April 6 (the Monday after simulation) please bring in a short memo in which you identify three or four participants who did a particularly good job. Give a couple of sentences to each person you name, explaining why she or he stood out. Give special attention to those who did their work behind the scenes. Please take some care with these memos. In addition to using them for evaluating the assignment, I save them so that I may quote them in letters of recommendation. Evaluations are anonymous: please bring in hardcopy and do not put your own name on the sheet.

3 Writeup: In analyzing your role in the simulation, please cover these points:

  • How well did your positions and goals match those of your real-life counterpart?
  • What methods did you use? In the circumstance that you dealt with, would your counterpart have done the same?
  • What obstacles did you face?
  • What did you achieve?
  • How did the simulation both resemble and differ from the real world?
  • Overall, what did you learn?

You may include  relevant supporting materials, such as: memoranda, bill drafts, or strategy notes. (Better yet, just refer to material that is already online, and provide the URLs.) Please be selective here: do not include everything, just the key items.

  • Essays should be double-spaced, and between 5 and 6 pages long. I will not read past the 6th page. (Supporting materials do not count against the page limit.) 
  • Cite outside sources with Turabian endnotes.
  • Watch your spelling, grammar, diction, and punctuation. Errors will count against you.
  • Return essays to the Sakai dropbox by 11:59 PM, Thursday, April 16. Your grade for the simulation will drop one gradepoint for one day's lateness, a full grade after that.


Appointments and Removals

"The Human Sacrifice"
The Smoking Gun Tape:

 

House hard-line conservatives turning over a new leaf?

Interesting article from Poltico about the "hell no" caucus  which discusses how the conservatives in Congress have started to adjust their obstructionist tactics since their recent loss over DHS funding. Members of the "freedom caucus" gathered after the loss and have since worked with less hard-line senate rebulicans to bring about a "yes" on the budget. The "Queen of the Hill" tactic was used. Still, people remain skeptical that the "hell no" caucus has turned over a new leaf.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

News Items on Legislation and the Process

Vota-a-Rama!

At The New York Times, Derek Willis writes that a bill on sex trafficking stalled in the Senate when Democrats discovered antiabortion language.  Actually a Democratic staffer spotted the language but got the blame for not alerting members (who failed to read the bill). Willis proposes avoiding such problems by treating bills as if they were web pages, with links to relevant laws and rules.
Sound far-fetched? It isn’t. The way most congressional legislation is drafted (using computers) makes it possible to add markup — like citations to laws — to the text of bills. That ability has been in place since 2001. What happened to the sex-trafficking bill, which would create a fund for victims, is an example of how marking up legislation like web pages (and then publishing them) would be useful.
...
The sex-trafficking bill’s offending language isn’t exactly transparent; it doesn’t mention abortion at all. It says, if you can parse the legalese: “Amounts in the [Domestic Trafficking Victims’] Fund, or otherwise transferred from the Fund, shall be subject to the limitations on the use or expending of amounts described in sections 506 and 507 of division H of the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2014 (Public Law 113-76; 128 Stat. 409) to the same extent as if amounts in the Fund were funds appropriated under division H of such Act.”
The “limitations” referred to in the bill say that money can’t be spent “for any abortion” except in cases of incest or rape or “for health benefits coverage that includes coverage of abortion.” But in order to know that, a reader of the bill would have to know what was in part of the law passed in January 2014 or know what search keywords to use in those sections. The abortion restrictions, which are commonly known as the “Hyde amendment” after Henry Hyde, a former Illinois Republican congressman who opposed abortion, are a regular feature in Republican-authored spending bills.
There’s already an effort to modernize most congressional legislation drafting, but it isn’t coming from inside government. The Cato Institute, the libertarian-leaning research and policy organization, created the Deepbills Project, which takes legislation published by Congress and adds references, including to existing laws and government organizations like federal agencies and congressional committees.
Matt Fuller reports at Roll Call:
Republicans are breaking out their procedural rulebooks for the House budget resolution, with leadership getting creative to appease defense hawks who want additional spending and conservatives who are apt to reject more military dollars that aren’t offset.

The House Rules Committee Monday set up a series of votes this week on six budget proposals: The one reported out of committee, the version reported out of committee with an additional $2 billion for Overseas Contingency Operations, a leaner Republican Study Committee budget, a House Democratic Caucus budget, a proposal from the Progressive Caucus, and one from the Congressional Black Caucus.

The budget with the $2 billion additional defense dollars is the one House leadership ultimately wants to see adopted. That proposal will be the final vote in the series.

Here’s how the process works: the budget that gets the most votes is the one that wins. In congressional parlance, it’s called “Queen of the Hill.”

GOP leaders had to get funky with the rule after the Budget Committee reported out a bill without the additional $2 billion that Republican members of the House Armed Services Committee said was critical to their support. It seemed like the Rules Committee would just include self-executing language — making a bill with the amendment to the base text — but conservatives balked. They threatened to vote down any rule that simply added money without an offset for that expense and without a real vote.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Congress and the Other Branches

Foreign Relations hearing 

 Commerce hearing





Forms of delegation:
The Administrative Procedure Act
The Congressional Review Act.

Legislative Veto and the Presentation Clause (Art I, sec. 7, clause 3): Every Order, Resolution, or Vote to which the Concurrence of the Senate and House of Representatives may be necessary (except on a question of Adjournment) shall be presented to the President of the United States; and before the Same shall take Effect, shall be approved by him, or being disapproved by him, shall be repassed by two thirds of the Senate and House of Representatives, according to the Rules and Limitations prescribed in the Case of a Bill.


NAIL: Nominations, Appropriations, Investigations, Legislation






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