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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Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Thank you

No news here. I just wanted to thank everybody for making this one of the best and most entertaining courses I've ever taken.

-Daniel Crowley


As the year winds down, I thought I'd publish a some of the Pitney quotations I've collected over the course of the semester. The following are listed in chronological order.

In Alaska, you have to carry votes across the tundra

Everybody in North Dakota knows each other so its kinda hard to get away with fraud.

Bush was less popular than athlete's foot

W ran for the House once, got his butt kicked, but that was when he was drinking so he probably doesn't remember it.

If you have a picture of Trent Lott on your wall, label it 'Don't be like this.'

Sunny Bono ended up being a good congressman...until he skied into a tree.

The etymologists have found a unique breed of cockroach found only in the FOB. I am not making that up.

If you're a prosecutor that's pretty cool, because you can indict a ham sandwich.

The fact that we show up is purely out of a sense of duty. If we were rational actors, we'd give you a one page exam, give you all A's and all go out drinking.

I don't live in Armenia, but I live in the Glendale area, which is basically the same thing.

I wonder if Bunning goes out drinking with Burris.

Here's a nice little factoid, if there's ever an awkward pause in conversation you can drop this in: the screenwriter of Mr. Smith Goes to Washington was a card-carrying communist.

Those of you who have ever dealt with a mechanic or body shop know that it is basically the secular version of purgatory.

Chris Dodd if not toast, is very warm bread.

Actually, Moynihan made more sense when he was drunk than when he was sober.

I can keep doing this till I'm senile, and then it will take years for people to notice anyways.

Maybe Captain Picard knows the answer to that question...75 years from now.

You may cover your ears...we are up shit's creek without a paddle.

And the guy who was supposed to assassinate Andrew Johnson just got drunk.

Johnson was hammered on inauguration day.

The faculty have no incentive not to come to class drunk.

I'm worse than a civil servant.

Let me put it this way, the Pomona class is a very worthy opponent.

Summing Up

Barack Obama on Supreme Court nominations and the separation of powers:

Continuity of Congress

Filling Senate Vacancies:

Getting Carried Away

U.S. Secretary of State apologizes to Afghan President for the killing of up to 120 civilians by american bombs.


The 2 (re)organization resolutions are S Res 130 and S Res 131.

S Res 130 was introduced by Reid for the Democrats and S Res 131 was introduced by McConnell to appoint minority members to committees.

The text of the legislation is not on THOMAS yet, but should be up in a day or two (or so the website says)

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Dems Strip Specter of Seniority

As reported by the Washington Post:

The Senate last night stripped Sen. Arlen Specter (Pa.) of his seniority on committees, a week after the 29-year veteran of the chamber quit the Republican Party to join the Democrats.

In announcing his move across the aisle last week, Specter asserted that Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) had assured him he would retain his seniority in the Senate and on the five committees on which he serves. Specter's tenure ranked him ahead of all but seven Democrats.

Instead, though, on a voice vote last night, the Senate approved a resolution that made Specter the most junior Democrat on four committees for the remainder of this Congress. (He will rank second from last on the fifth, the Special Committee on Aging.) Reid himself read the resolution on the Senate floor, underscoring the reversal... (Read more here)

Specter Gets the Short End of the Stick

Tying together several news threads we've been following this semester, Democratic leadership reneged on their previously agreed deal that Sen. Specter would receive seniority as if he had been elected as a Democrat. Evidently, Specter said he would not support Al Franken's claims in Minnesota, said he might vote against current health care proposals and has generally made himself unwelcome in his new party. Democrat fears that Specter might lose reelection or even his Democratic primary also factored into the changed deal.

Specter Will Be Junior Democrat on Committees

Despite promises from Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) that Sen. Arlen Specter (Pa.) would retain his seniority after switching parties, Specter will be put at the end of the seniority line on all his committees but one under a resolution approved on the floor late Tuesday.

Under the modified organizing resolution, Specter will not keep his committee seniority on any of the five committees that he serves on and will be the junior Democrat on all but one — the chamber’s Special Committee on Aging. On that committee, he will be next to last in seniority.

As a result, Specter — who as a Republican was ranking member on the Judiciary Committee and a senior member of the Appropriations Committee, as well as ranking member of the panel’s Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education — will now rank behind all the other Democrats, at least until the end of this Congress.

According to a senior Democratic aide, it remains unclear whether Specter — who will still retain his seniority in the Senate outside of the committees — will see a boost in his committee seniority should he be re-elected for the next session. The status of his seniority for the next Congress will be determined once the 112th Congress convenes in 2011, the aide said.

Democrats said that while unrelated, Specter’s comments to the New York Times Magazine this weekend indicating he would support former Sen. Norm Coleman’s (R-Minn.) disputed re-election bid against Al Franken have angered many Democrats.

“Sen. Specter better watch comments like these. They won’t help him in the caucus,” a Democratic leadership aide said, adding that the comments have “caused a lot of heartburn in the caucus.”

Monday, May 4, 2009

Stephen Colbert brings down the House – or does he?

Politico recently featured a spot on "The Colbert Report" about the House of Representatives, stating:

...Colbert has gone on to make his mark on Washington in another way — as the world’s only comedian to make the House of Representatives a major part of his shtick.

On Oct. 18, 2005 — the second episode of “The Colbert Report” — the host flashed a salty eye at the camera and proclaimed: “Congressional districts: You are in one right now, but what do you really know about it? Well, there are 435 of them, each exquisitely gerrymandered by a wise incumbent.”

With that, Colbert launched “Better Know a District,” a would-be 435-part series of interviews with members that has exposed the public to the sometimes-anonymous lower-chamber members.

“He’s discovered a wealth of material that most comics give up because the material isn’t as well-known as the president or some other such official,” said Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC)

See all episodes of "Better Know the District" here. They made me laugh out loud in Ryal.

The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Better Know a District - Georgia's 1st - Jack Kingston
Colbert Report Full EpisodesPolitical HumorFirst 100 Days

The Specter Hangover

Interesting blurb, clever title:

The Specter Hangover
CQ Politics

Arlen Specter's defection might be just a temporary crack hit for Democrats, a momentary high that falls flat once it's gone. Let's see, the Pennsylvania senator boasts that he won't be a guaranteed vote for his new party, can't be relied upon for Obama-style health reform and will reserve judgment on the President's pick for a Supreme Court vacancy.

"I did not say I would be a loyal Democrat"
-- Sen. Arlen Specter (NBC, 5/3/09)

So what is gained by Democrats clearing the field for the Republican turncoat in their 2010 Pennsylvania primary?

If Specter switched because he had no chance to win the GOP primary against an unelectable right-winger, there's a case to make that Democrats would be better off letting that happen and electing a more reliable real Democrat. That might be a more lasting high than smoking what Specter is pushing.

Congressional History, to the Present

Some artifacts of congressional history, courtesy of the Library of Congress.

A glimpse at Robert A. Taft:

A timeline of campaign finance reform.
A timeline of congressional reforms.

Polarization of House and Senate.
Polarization of leaders

More on Committee Assignments

Here's a good write up from the Washington Post about the impact the Specter defection will have on the Judiciary Committee, and how the parties are dealing with the news.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Told you how much it was worth

Loyalty oath or no, Reid seems to be going back on his promises to Specter. Considering Specter's barely disguised glee at stepping into a chairmanship, I can't imagine he's gonna take this well.

It also serves as a nice reminder for how things work in the Senate compared to the House. "One senior lawmaker who spoke to The Hill on condition of anonymity said that Reid does not have the power to let Specter keep his seniority earned as a Republican." Reid's only first among equals and his deal with Specter stepped on some prominent toes.

That and a dime

Specter denies offering a 'loyalty pledge' when he decided to caucus with the Democrats in response to a Wall Street Journal report that quoted him as saying to Obama: "I'm a loyal Democrat.I support your agenda." and attributed it to an unnamed source.

Because we'd all take that seriously.

"Congress is a coequal branch of government"

Op-ed piece in the NYT that echoes some of our discussions in class about how the majority party loves a super-majority when they have it, but whine about abuse of power and checks and balances when they are on the opposite side of the table.

Republicans are made to look hypocritical when they ask for adequate checks and balances in the Senate but then defend their use of torture as within the confines of the law (when really it bypassed the confines of the law, ignoring checks and balances). Republicans negate responsibility for the allowance of the torture by stating they were doing what they were told or simply relaying affirmations for torture made by others. Clearly the system of checks and balances failed in the authorizations of torture, or checks and balances were simply bypassed .

What can be gleaned from this though, for Republicans and Democrats, is that any time a system of checks and balances can be bypassed, blame can only land in one party's lap. Whatever goes wrong under the Senate's authorization will be squarely attributed to the Dems, giving the Republicans some campaign fuel for 2010 or 2012.

Harman, cont.

Laura Rozen's well-reported blog is essential for more information and speculation on the Harman story.

Her post raises a number of important questions. Such as, CIA director Porter Goss having a history of using info to get dirt on political enemies, whether Goss had the authority to issue a FISA wiretap, why isn't this "Israeli agent" being indicted, what the motives are of her accusers, and whether she knew about or had an opinion about the destroyed torture tapes.

Congress's Responsibility for President's Court Nominees

The Washington Post has an interesting editorial about replacing Souter. Most of it praises the outgoing justice's intellectual ability and open-mindedness and urges a simliarly qualified replacement. But the last paragraph touches on an important question about Congress's responsibility in the confirmation of the President's Supreme Court nominees. Just how much deference should it provide to the President's choice? Since the constitution provides little guidance, how much is the "mainstream" of thought used as a standard?

"The temptation for Republicans will be to treat Mr. Obama's pick as some Democrats -- including, sad to say, then-Sen. Obama -- treated President George W. Bush's. It is legitimate for senators to take a nominee's ideology into account and to probe it within ethical limits, but it is also important to keep in mind that elections have consequences, and that the president is, as a general matter, entitled to name justices who reflect his own understanding of the Constitution and the role of the courts. We say this having supported Mr. Bush's two nominees -- Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. and Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. -- as within the mainstream of conservative legal thought."

Friday, May 1, 2009

A couple of things

New Developments on FDR:

A new book disputes widely held assumptions that President Franklin D. Roosevelt was insensitive to the plight of European Jews under the Nazis, and instead concludes that he tried to arrange resettlement for thousands of refugees in the late 1930s, only to be thwarted by his own State Department.


Speaker Bass isn't the only one rescinding finances these days.

An Alum of this Class is Running for Congress

Adam Kokesh, Iraq War veteran, CMC alum, and Ted Kennedy in the 2005 simulation, is now the first person from this course to run for Congress.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Souter's retirement

Justice Souter is rumored to be retiring in June, as reported by the New York Times. If Souter does retire, President Obama would have a chance to elect a judge to the Supreme Court early into his presidency. Although Justice Souter was nominated by a Republican (President Bush in 1990), he has voted as a liberal. This means that Obama is unlikely to drastically change the makeup of the Court with his nomination. The President is, however, looking largely at female candidates. Currently, pundits are speculating that Elena Kagan, Sonia Sotomayor, or Diana Pamela Wood could be nominated. There is also pressure on Obama to nominate a Hispanic to the Court. Regardless of who is chosen, the conformation hearing is likely to be tough.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Republicans Attack Specter for Bush Ties

We discussed this idea in class today, but I saw an article in Politico's "The Scorecard" about how the National Republican Senatorial Committee is trying to hurt Specter in the Democratic Primary because of his previous ties to George Bush. Here's the robocall:

Congress: To and From the Civil War

You want polarization? Here's some polarization. Representative Preston Brooks of South Carolina beats Senator Charles Sumner of Massachusetts.

Video and transcripts of the Lincoln-Douglas debates.

The congressional oath of office dates from this era.

Background on the impeachment process.

There is an entire site on the Johnson impeachment.

Another impeachment:

Changing his game plan

With his recent party switch, Senator Specter has received more pressure from unions and other labor groups to change his stance on the Employee Free Choice Act. Specter's support for this bill could increase its popularity among moderate Democrats in the Senate and will most likely help his reelection prospects.

"You can’t win an election in Pennsylvania without labor"- Senator Specter

Politco Article

Specter ad from 2004

This could present problems in a Democratic primary, perhaps...

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Even more on the senior Democratic Senator from PA...

Specter's switch is huge for the Senate and Democrats, but how it will effect the structure of the Senate is yet to be determined. Specter is in his fifth term now and is one of the more senior members of the Senate. Given that committee chairs are handed out based in large part on seniority, how does this affect committee assignments? Are Dems going to be booted off committees to make room for Specter? Will chairmanships shift mid session? In addition, Republican assignments will need to shift. However, GOP Senate rules make those changes more complicated.

Here are a few links to articles discussing the implications of this switch on the committee structure of the Senate that I found interesting/useful:

Washington Independent

Wall Street Journal

Talking Points Memo

Specter Defects, cont.

Very big political news this morning, indeed.

The move makes sense for a few reasons:

1) Specter could not have lost the primary and run as an independent, like Joe Lieberman. State law prohibits from doing so, as this The Hill article makes clear.


1) Will the Franken-Coleman court challenge become more acrimonious since his seating now means 60, and not just close to 60?

2) Can Specter win the Democratic primary? (Nate Silver asks why Democrats will settle for a "Lieberdem")

In addition, Sens. Snowe and Graham commented on Politico about the Republican Party attitudes towards moderates (as Snowe said, "You're with us or you're against us.")

Specter Defects


Congess and Flu

As we discussed yesterday, it did not take long for Congress to seize the issue. From Roll Call:

Congress rushed to respond Monday to the swine flu outbreak as the death toll south of the border mounted, the Obama administration urged Americans to avoid travel to Mexico, and fears of a worldwide pandemic grew. Lawmakers were taking another look at pandemic flu funding after the Senate sliced an $870 million item from the stimulus package in February, and committees announced flu hearings for Wednesday and Thursday. Democratic appropriators said they will try to include flu funding in the upcoming war supplemental, after Senate Republicans led by Sen. Susan Collins (Maine) blocked the money in February. Some lawmakers charged the funding was pork, and others — like Collins — deemed it an unnecessary expenditure for the economic recovery plan. Collins defended her role, with her spokesman Kevin Kelley saying in a statement Monday that she supports increasing funding for pandemic flu even though she helped nix it from the stimulus.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Courage and Congressional History

(Start at 3:00)

(Start at 8:00)

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Reid splits from Pelosi

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has taken a softer stance than his House counterpart on so-called "truth commissions" to investigate Bush-era interrogation techniques. Pelosi called for investigations earlier, but now Reid is toning down his rhetoric. Looks like the Dems won't have a united front on the issue.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Congress, War, and Peace


National Security and Intelligence in the News:

Drug War

War Powers

Georgia the Country vs. Georgia the State

During our discussion on Monday, I believe it was said that while members of Congress may not be experts on all areas of foreign policy, they at least know some basics like the difference between Georgias. Unfortunately, that is not always the case as Senate candidate and now Senator Jeff Merkley showed when he thought a reporter's questions was about the state of Georgia and not the country the Russians had just invaded. Here is an ad that tried to use the situation against him:

Election Updates

Coleman has appealed the lower court's ruling that Franken won the election to the Minnesota Supreme Court. Meanwhile, Franken has begun to hire a staff to run his future Senate office and his constituent service office in Minnesota. He said that it would allow him to "hit the ground running on Day 1," or Day 154 as the case may be.

Meanwhile in NY-20, Democrat Scott Murphy is ahead of Jim Tedisco by 273 votes with 1,800 absentee ballots to go. However, Murphy has gained from absentee ballots so far and most of the remaining ballots are from registered Democrats, so it looks like the Democrats will retain the Congressional seat here in what's normally a Republican-leaning district. In fact, even Republicans are worried, with one saying that Tedisco should strongly consider conceding. Though, in fairness, that Republican ran against him in the GOP primary.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Take-Home Final

CMC Government 101
United States Congress
Professor Pitney
20 April 2009

Take-Home Final

Answer question 1, and one of the other three.

1. Take any of JFK’s “profiles in courage.” How does this story illustrate differences between the Congress of its time and the Congress of today? Are there any important similarities?

2. Are the “two Congresses” converging? Are the two chambers converging? Explain, with reference to Baker, Davidson, Oleszek, and Lee, and other class materials.

3. See this article. In light of the history of congressional-presidential relations, do you agree or disagree? Answer with reference to Fisher and other class materials.

4. Consider this statement: “The usual textbook discussion of how a bill becomes a law no longer provides a complete understanding of the standard operating procedure of Congress.” Explain, with specific examples. Is this development good or bad for Congress?

  • Your answers should display a thorough and detailed understanding of the readings and discussions. Write carefully and concisely.
  • Exams should be typed, stapled, double-spaced, and between six and seven pages long (including both answers). I will not read past the seventh page.
  • Cite your sources. You may use either endnotes or parenthetical references to a reference list. In either case, put your documentation in a standard format (e.g., Turabian or Chicago Manual of Style). The endnotes or reference sheet will not count against the page limit.
    Watch your spelling, grammar, diction, and punctuation. Errors will count against you.
  • Return exams to me no later than May 6, 2009. Papers will drop a gradepoint for one day’s lateness, a letter grade after that. (Since the deadline for senior grades is noon on May 8, two days’ lateness will mean a failing grade for graduating seniors.)

So How Does Your Senator Compare?

From The Hill. Full story here.

Who’s the easiest senator to work with across the aisle? Who’s the toughest? The Hill asked all 99 seated senators about their colleagues’ bipartisanship, and the following names — arranged by frequency, from top to bottom — were cited the most.


1. Edward Kennedy (Mass.)
2. Tom Carper (Del.)
3. Chris Dodd (Conn.)
4. (tied) Evan Bayh (Ind.)
4. (tied) Tom Harkin (Iowa)

1. Susan Collins (Maine)
2. Olympia Snowe (Maine)
3. Orrin Hatch (Utah)
4. (tied) Richard Lugar (Ind.)
4. (tied) John McCain (Ariz.)


1. Patrick Leahy (Vt.)
2. Charles Schumer (N.Y.)
3. Chris Dodd (Conn.)
4. Dick Durbin (Ill.)
5. John Kerry (Mass.)

1. Jim Bunning (Ky.)
2. David Vitter (La.)
3. Tom Coburn (Okla.)
4. Jim DeMint (S.C.)
5. Lamar Alexander (Tenn.)

Monday, April 20, 2009

...but do Americans care?

Relevant to our class discussion today, this WSJ article calls for action regarding Darfur from President Obama. As the article states, the questions is not whether the Sudanese know that Americans know about the genocide, it's whether we care enough to do anything substantial about it.

Walk Out

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad prompted a walkout from his speech to a U.N. racism summit on Monday when he accused Israel of establishing a "cruel and repressive racist regime" over the Palestinians

Impressive Fundraising

ok maybe not. Senator Roland Burris raised $845 in the last quarter. Jim Bunning claimed that he had "lousy" fundraising but he raised $263,000. Politico has an interesting "FEC Scorecard" where they discuss the winners and losers in the last quarter of fundraising. However, I do not see any way that Roland Burris is not the ultimate loser.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Looking Ahead

How is fundraising looking for Freshman in Congress? This Hill article reports that Freshman Democrats have raised almost twice as much as Republicans since the beginning of 2009. Largely thanks to the DCCC's Frontline program, these more vulnerable representatives are beginning their reelection campaigns strongly.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Go to Law School?

A couple of years ago, the legendary Christiana Dominguez reflected on the pros and cons of law school. Now, the New York Times reports:
The economic downturn is hitting the legal world hard. American Lawyer is calling it “the fire this time” and warning that big firms may be hurtling toward “a paradigm-shifting, blood-in-the-suites” future. The Law Shucks blog has a “layoff tracker,” and it is grim reading. Top firms are rapidly thinning their ranks, and several — including Heller Ehrman, a venerable 500-plus-lawyer firm founded in 1890 — have closed.

The writer recommends that law schools prepare students for fields other than the law. Amber Taylor (CMC `02, Harvard Law `05) takes exception to that advice:
Law graduates usually end up in those fields because they didn't like law. This probably means they shouldn't have gone to law school in the first place, not that an already "sometimes-aimless" law school curriculum should be diluted with more cheesy law and ____ classes to cater to people who really ought to be in J-school or an MPP program. These people ought to cross-enroll, or better yet transfer. The idea that law schools should teach more practical legal skills is in direct tension with the idea that they also ought to teach finance and reporting so graduates can use them in non-legal careers.

Coincidence? I Think Not

This article on Nancy Pelosi is fairly interesting, but I was particularly struck by the following piece of information:

"The reconciliation rules, set by agreement of both houses, would allow health care reform to get through the Senate with only a bare majority of 51 votes. But cap-and-trade will need 60 votes."

Sound familiar? It looks as though Congress took a page out of our stimulation manual but switched up health care and environment rules. Hopefully Obama won't go into hiding when it comes time to sign bills.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Congress and Interest Groups

Interest groups spend much more on lobbying activities than campaign contributions.

What is lobbying?

Frogs do it:

Congress Tweeting Twitterhea to Tweople

Although a phenomenon upon which I am not particularly sold, the simulation taught me a little more about the appeal of Twitter. We've talked about it before, but Congress is still seemingly obsessed.

We now understand why, how else would we know that Senator Kerry said: "Boom Shakka Lakka. Count it." at the end of the simulation?

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

"Oh no, no, no, no, no"

Concerned resident aims to form armed militia to patrol Stockton

By David Siders
April 07, 2009
Record Staff Writer

STOCKTON - A retired truck driver and Vietnam War veteran said Monday that he is forming an armed militia - mostly men with rifles and armbands, four to a car - to patrol Stockton this summer, when at least 43 police officers are to be laid off.

Alan Pettet, 66, said he has recruited 18 men, most of whom are ex-military. He said the militia will train at a firing range and "activate" if the city lays off any officer, as it intends by July 1.

The likelihood of an armed militia materializing is uncertain - there are legal concerns, and posturing to influence City Hall is not uncommon - but for a neighborhood activist even to advance such a proposal was indicative of frustration about Stockton's awful budget forecast. The City Council is expected by July 1, the start of fiscal 2009-10, to order police layoffs and spending reductions citywide to balance a general fund budget that is otherwise expected to be $31million in deficit by June 2010.

Pettet, a midtown neighborhood activist who has a Desert Eagle pistol, said militiamen will detain suspected criminals and call police to arrest them. They will wear armbands and will patrol in a car marked by a magnetic sign, he said.

"It's going to be 'Stockton Armed Militia,'" Pettet said. "'SAM' for short."

Neither the Police Department nor the city administration was impressed.

"We are not at the point that we need to have armed militias patrolling Stockton," Vice Mayor Kathy Miller said.

Mayor Ann Johnston said, "Oh, no no no no, no no no. ... We don't want armed citizens out there who are not trained."

That it is illegal in most circumstances in California to carry a loaded firearm in one's car did not disturb Pettet.

"If you look under the Constitution, a militia can be formed," he said. "Watch and see. Who's going to stop us?"

Attorney and anti-blight activist Ron Stein, who is a friend of Pettet's and has been advising him, said the militia will conform to state law, perhaps by having members seek permits to carry concealed handguns.

"You've got to do what you've got to do," Stein said.

Pettet said the militia will bill the city $350 per hour for its services. City Attorney Ren Nosky said he knew of no legal basis requiring the city to pay such a bill.

Nosky had other reservations, too.

"I just don't know if that's in the best interest of these gentlemen, from a safety perspective," he said. "We have a concern about the level of training that these gentlemen have, if any, especially in light of the firearms that they say they're going to be carrying."

Police encourage people to report crimes and form Neighborhood Watch groups, said Officer Pete Smith, a department spokesman. To form a militia is "taking it to another level," he said.

"It's ill advised," he said.

Stockton's violent crime rate is among the highest in the state. Stein and Pettet are critical of a budget proposal by City Manager Gordon Palmer that would require laying off at least 43 of the city's 403 police officers.

"We've got to protect ourselves," Stein said. "We are in the wild, wild West when you take people who are supposed to protect us off the street."

The telephone number Pettet is using for the militia is that of midtown's Safe Neighborhood Action Group, a group formed in the 1990s.

"You've reached the Safe Neighborhood Action Group," a recording at that number said. "Helping to protect Stockton citizens from their mayor and City Council."

Contact reporter David Siders at (209) 943-8580 or dsiders@recordnet.com.

Quoted Verbatum

Here's a quotation from a CNN interview with Joe Biden posted in an article on cnn.com.

"... I think the biggest thing we're doing is, I'm operating in concert with the president," he said. "There are not -- there are -- look, everybody talks about how powerful Cheney was. His power weakened America, in my view."

Biden does not have the best relationship with the press, so given what we've talked about I thought it was interesting that the journalist made him sound sloppy.


A recent Onion article describes Congress's efforts to urge bipartisanship. While satirical (again, its from the Onion), the article is particularly funny in light of the simulation.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Congress, Courts, and Interests

On March 21, Congress passed P.L. 109-3, which provided that either parent of Theresa Marie Schiavo would have standing to sue in federal court.

Congress had passed other bills for the relief of individuals. (Note, however, that P.L. 109-3 was technically a public law.)

Judicial nomination hearings can take dramatic turns:

And hearings can also involve discussion of legal principles:

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Disturbingly Realistic

Just when you thought that the simulation was getting silly, it was actually at its most realistic.

From CQ Politics:
The Senate embarked Thursday on its annual budget “vote-a-rama,” an event many feel is deeply flawed but that neither party has found a way to avoid. The vote-a-rama is an hours-long series of roll call votes on dozens of amendments to the annual budget resolution — in this case, the fiscal 2010 blueprint (S Con Res 13) ...

To Senate newcomers the vote-a-rama often seems bizarre.

“As we went up to vote on this kind of preposterous comical bomb-throwing positioning amendments, a lot of the new freshmen at the time were thinking and
saying to each other, ‘You know, this is just too damn silly to vote on,’” Sheldon Whitehouse , D-R.I., said at the February hearing, recollecting his first vote-a-rama in 2007. “And so we at that time discussed the idea of actually changing the Senate voting tally so that your choices were ‘yay,’ ‘nay,’ or ‘too damn silly to vote on.’”

Whitehouse went so far as to write the idea down on paper at the time.

“We have it framed and hanging in my office in case anyone wants to see it,” said a chuckling Lamar Alexander , R-Tenn., first elected in 2002.

From AP:

Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., spent much of the day at her desk in the rear of the chamber, studiously trying to read each amendment before voting. Despite her earnestness, she couldn't keep up.

"I would like to change my vote," she said at one point, referring to an amendment on which she was a co-sponsor. "It was my intention to vote 'yes' and I voted 'no.'"

"If we had a vote on my amendment, I missed it," Sen. Bob Bennett, R-Utah, said at another point. "Was there a vote?" Conrad said Bennett's amendment had passed unanimously, without a roll call vote.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Obama and Congress

Lyndon Johnson biographer and historian Robert Dallek has an interesting blog post on the Times discussing how President Johnson was able to pass legislation in Congress, and what challenges Obama faces.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Harry Reid Tried to Flip Specter

From CQ Politics:

Reid acknowledged that he had reached out to Specter, a moderate Republican, to try to convince him to abandon the GOP. Democrats have long courted Specter, who
is expected to draw a primary challenge in 2010.

But Reid said Specter effectively answered the question on March 24 by announcing he would vote against limiting debate on a major Democratic priority — so-called “card check” legislation that would ease union organizing rules

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Appointment and Removal

Confirmation hearings:

  • John Kerry has questions for a nominee for Ambassador to Belgium, and donor to Swift Boat Veterans for Truth. Why do you think Bush pulled the nomination?

Kerry Confronts Swift Boat Funder

  • Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse uses Mukasey's confirmation hearing to make a point about waterboarding:

The removal power came dramatically into view when a controversy arose over the firing of US Attorneys:

He's like the Energizer Bunny

Blago has a new job. Perhaps to defray the cost of his legal bills, or maybe just for ego, the indicted former Governor of Illinois now does guest hosting of radio shows.

“Now I’m here sitting in the seat that Don Wade sits in,” he marveled. “I guess you could say that I’ve achieved higher office.” The Illinois GOP must be loving this.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Congress and the Bureaucracy

Congress "organizes" the executive:

Forms of delegation:


  • GAO and CBO
  • 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.
  • Committee hearings
  • A freshman tries his hand:

Hold put--and lifted--on Obama nominees

In light of our discussions the last few classes and the reading for this week I thought that this story about holds that were put on a few of Obama's nominations was rather appropriate. Apparently in an effort to have a change made in US foreign policy toward Cuba, Democratic Senator Menendez of New Jersey put a hold on the nominees for the heads of the White House Office on Science and Technology Policy (John Holdren) and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (Jane Lubchenco). Three weeks after Menendez’s original hold, it was lifted and the two nominees finally saw confirmations hearings. Both were confirmed on Friday March 20, Holdren unanimously.

Friday, March 20, 2009

The Speaker's role

With the CBO's grim predictions of massive deficits, Pelosi provides a prime example of the Speaker's place in Legislative-Executive relations, using her position to round up House support for the budget and in turn, pushing reps to work on their home districts. With the budget hardly a divisive issue within the party, Pelosi offers simply a letter of appeal to colleagues rather than a crack of the whip.

The letter at politico.

Reading the Bills, continued

This site (h/t to Helena) makes an important point that we have stressed in class: lawmakers should read the bills. The stimulus is a great example: page 404 of the final version included language explicitly allowing the kind of bonuses that AIG paid out. Senator Ron Wyden (D-Oregon) told Arianna Huffington: "This lack of transparency -- and the lack of accountability that results -- is one of the most significant threats to our democracy. This is not at all how the civics books tell us the system is suppose to work. What we have here is a prime example of Washington deny, defer, delay."

Read The Bill from Sunlight Foundation on Vimeo.

The race that won't end

Seriously, this is getting ridiculous.

It's been over 4 1/2 months since election day and Minnesota still doesn't have 2 senators. The Franken campaign rested its case and its lead has officially increased to about 250 votes from 225, but neither of those mean that the legal shenanigans are over. This week it was reported that top Republicans are pressuring Coleman to appeal to the Supreme Court if he loses using Bush v. Gore as precedent for an argument based on an Equal Protection violation.

In addition, Franken has asked the court to force Coleman to use some of the $5 million he has raised since election day to pay for the cost of the seven week trial and his (Franken's) lawyer fees if Coleman loses. This effort could pay dividends (no pun intended) if Coleman's other legal trouble blows up even more. Turns out that Coleman's donor list (with credit card info) somehow made it onto the web, but Coleman didn't inform supporters promptly, as is required by state law. He had hoped to avoid chilling donations in the run-up to what promised to be a brutal legal battle. That decision may soon come back to haunt him, as he could very well lose both the recount and now have this around his neck.

Turns out that congress can act quickly

Less than a week after the AIG bonus payments were announced, the House of Representatives passed a bill that would take back 90 percent of that money. For all the cries of partisan gridlock, Congress can get something done if it really wants to. The bill passed with large bipartisan support (328-93). Only 6 Democrats opposed it while the Republicans were pretty evenly divided with 85 voting for the bill and 93 against.

Sidenote: AIG comes out of this awfully from both a PR and financial perspective. Not only will they pay out bonuses that won't actually benefit their employees, but the White House and Treasury may decide to withhold $165 million from the next $30 billion payment of bailout funds, leaving AIG $330 million short. (from NPR)

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Sen. Calls for AIG bow out

Good Morning from D.C...
Sen Grassley suggests, "you know, obviously, maybe they ought to be removed," Grassley said. "But I would suggest the first thing that would make me feel a little bit better toward them if they'd follow the Japanese example and come before the American people and take that deep bow and say, I'm sorry, and then either do one of two things: resign or go commit suicide. And in the case of the Japanese, they usually commit suicide before they make any apology."

Read on to enjoy the contradictory statements made in the article..


Friday, March 13, 2009

Happy Pi Day!

Amid two wars, global economic crisis, and the ongoing threat of catastrophic terror attacks, the House of Representatives took time to declare today (3/14) Pi Day. No kidding. See the text of H.Res. 224:

1st Session
H. RES. 224
Supporting the designation of Pi Day, and for other purposes.
March 9, 2009
Mr. GORDON of Tennessee (for himself, Mr. HALL of Texas, Mr. LIPINSKI, and Mr. BAIRD) submitted the following resolution; which was referred to the Committee on Science and Technology
Supporting the designation of Pi Day, and for other purposes.
Whereas the Greek letter (Pi) is the symbol for the ratio of the circumference of a circle to its diameter;
Whereas the ratio Pi is an irrational number, which will continue infinitely without repeating, and has been calculated to over one trillion digits;
Whereas Pi is a recurring constant that has been studied throughout history and is central in mathematics as well as science and engineering;
Whereas mathematics and science are a critical part of our children's education, and children who perform better in math and science have higher graduation and college attendance rates;
Whereas aptitude in mathematics, science, and engineering is essential for a knowledge-based society;
Whereas, according to the 2007 Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) survey done by the National Center for Education Statistics, American children in the 4th and 8th grade were outperformed by students in other countries including Taiwan, Singapore, Russia, England, South Korea, Latvia, and Japan;
Whereas since 1995 the United States has shown only minimal improvement in math and science test scores;
Whereas by the 8th grade, American males outperform females on the science portion of the TIMSS survey, especially in Biology, Physics, and Earth Science, and the lowest American scores in math and science are found in minority and impoverished school districts;
Whereas America needs to reinforce mathematics and science education for all students in order to better prepare our children for the future and in order to compete in a 21st Century economy;
Whereas the National Science Foundation has been driving innovation in math and science education at all levels from elementary through graduate education since its creation 59 years ago;
Whereas mathematics and science can be a fun and interesting part of a child's education, and learning about Pi can be an engaging way to teach children about geometry and attract them to study science and mathematics; and
Whereas Pi can be approximated as 3.14, and thus March 14, 2009, is an appropriate day for `National Pi Day': Now, therefore, be it
Resolved, That the House of Representatives--
(1) supports the designation of a `Pi Day' and its celebration around the world;
(2) recognizes the continuing importance of National Science Foundation's math and science education programs; and
(3) encourages schools and educators to observe the day with appropriate activities that teach students about Pi and engage them about the study of mathematics.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Tension on the Omnibus

From the Christian Science Monitor:

As the Senate debated whether to change the House bill and eliminate an automatic pay raise for Congress, Senator Reid cautioned that the House would not accept any amendments from the Senate: “There aren’t going to be any limits on this bill that I can get through the House,” he said. The moment marked a sharp break with tradition. “It’s hard to think of a comparable moment like this,” says Julian Zelizer, a congressional historian at Princeton University in New Jersey. “The tension between the two chambers is becoming very strong, especially the Pelosi-Reid rivalry.”

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Congress and the Presidency, continued

Presidential Messages

The Minority Gets a Say in the House

Republican lawmakers slammed the door on a proposal to limit development on millions of acres of public land. Brought up under a rule requiring a 2/3s majority because the measure was expected to pass by a wide margin, Pelosi found herself six votes short of the requisite number. Now Republicans will likely have a chance to amend the bill's content.

House GOP derails public lands bill
House Republicans temporarily derailed a land-use bill Wednesday that had become a top priority for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) after a contentious yearlong back-and-forth with conservative Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.).

GOP leaders corralled enough votes to force the Democrats to bring the legislation back to the floor under a process that would allow them to amend it. The legislation fell six votes short on Wednesday because Democrats brought the legislation up under rules requiring a two-thirds vote for passage. They didn't hit that mark, so Democrats will have to bring the bill back up under a normal procedure.

The bill would set aside million of acres of public wilderness and create more than 1,000 miles of scenic river designations. Some Republicans have opposed this legislation — which is actually a combination of many public lands proposals — because it would lock away so much land for development.

It's meant to be a non-controversial bill, but it created a huge public fight — and a weekend Senate session — back in January when Reid used a variety of Senate procedural tactics to force Coburn to back down after blocking the lands bill for more than a year. The bill passed the Senate on Jan. 15.

House Democrats are expected to bring the bill back next week in a manner that would allow Republicans to tweak it.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Cuba policy instrumental in omnibus decision

Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ) was the last vote to reach the 60 necessary for the recently passed $410B spending bill. Initially, he opposed the package because it would have softened the US embargo on Cuba. The Treasury Department guaranteed him that the embargo would remain as strong as ever, and Menendez offered his vote. Havana Spring Break will have to wait.

Monday, March 9, 2009

For Discussion on Wednesday

Ryan Lizza, "The Gatekeeper: Rahm Emanuel on the Job," The New Yorker, March 2, 2009, at http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2009/03/02/090302fa_fact_lizza

And more Facebook caution (h/t to Bryant):
A Facebook post criticizing his employer, the Philadelphia Eagles, cost a stadium operations worker his job, according to a story in Monday's Philadelphia Inquirer. Dan Leone, who the Inquirer said worked as a west gate chief, was unhappy the team let Brian Dawkins sign with the Denver Broncos in free agency. According to the newspaper, Leone posted the following on his Facebook page: "Dan is [expletive] devastated about Dawkins signing with Denver ... Dam Eagles R Retarted!!" Click here for rest of story.

Congress and the President I

A leftover from last week, some legislative slang:

Congress and the President

Note how both President Clinton and President Bartlet used the Antiquities Act. In this case, as in others, have presidents overstepped their authority?As for the latter, shall see a classic video presentation of LBJ working his will on Congress. Here is an audio on the same topic. (And another.) Could you picture similar conversations with President Bush?

Signing Statements

NYT is reporting that President Obama will order "executive officials to consult with Attorney General Eric Holder before relying on any of them [signing statements] to bypass a statute."

DCCC and NRCC Up With New Ads in Special Election in NY-20

A little off topic from this week's Presidency and Congress but both committees are up with ads for the special election in New York



Sunday, March 8, 2009

Congress and the President I

As the LA Times reports this morning, the separation of powers still stands athwart party unity:
President Obama is facing misgivings about his policy agenda from inside his own party, with prominent Democrats objecting to parts of his taxation and spending plans and questioning the White House push to do so much so fast.

The LA Times also confirms something that we discussed on Wednesday:
When the balance of power shifts in Washington, views on the virtues of filibustering tend to shift with it. Four years ago, the Senate Republican majority faulted the minority Democrats for threatening what they deemed an "unconstitutional filibuster" of President Bush's court nominees. Democrats then said they saw the filibuster as a needed check on extremism from the majority. Now, both parties are adjusting their perspectives.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

The Real Permanent Campaign

Minnesota still can't figure out who it's second Senator is. The state's Supreme Court unanimously rejected Franken's request to be certified as the winner.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

The NRA Understands the Importance of House Rules

Interesting article in The Hill about the DC Voting Bill. The Senate version of the bill had an amendment that removed "D.C.’s ban on semiautomatic weapons, its registration requirement and trigger-lock rule." The article says that:

"Supporters of the District’s voting-rights legislation predicted that a similar amendment could be kept off the House bill. As long as it were in only one version, Democratic leaders could strip it out in conference. Conference reports can’t be amended, just voted up or down, so the conference report would pass without the gun bill.

But that got complicated when word spread in the House that the NRA would “score” the procedural vote (called a “rule”) used to bring up the Voting Rights Act if it didn’t allow for a vote on the gun language. That means that voting to bring the bill to the floor would be considered a vote against gun rights."

The Democrats removed the bill from the floor because they did not want vulnerable members to have the NRA giving them bad rankings which would hurt them in 2010. The article comments that the "Democrats may be running the House, but the National Rifle Association (NRA) can still stop a bill in its tracks." Clever use of House rules.

New hold

Senate Democrat Robert Menendez (NJ) has placed a hold on two of President Obama's science advisers. The Washington Post article states that Menendez is looking to gain leverage on an issue he deems important relating to Cuba. One has to assume that a Democrat leaked this story to the press in the hopes that Menendez would drop his objection. The action taken by Sen. Menendez is a good example of the plotting that occurs in Congress so that certain issues are brought to the attention of fellow Congressmen.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Another way to 60

We all know that Judd Gregg almost took the Commerce Secretary slot in Obama's Administration, leaving open the option of a filibuster-proof Democratic caucus should his replacement have been a Democrat.  But he balked, and Democratic hopes for 60 were destroyed... until now.

Kentucky Senator Jim Bunning recently let slip to a group of lobbyists that if his efforts to seek re-election were hampered by the many Republicans urging him not to run again, he would resign his seat in Congress.  This resignation would give Kentucky's Democratic Governor the ability to name a Democratic replacement for Bunning, giving Dems 59 seats.  Al Franken, once the recount challenges are over and he is seated would give Democrats the magic number.  Bunning has since denied that he has said this.  He also has threatened to sue the NRSC if they recruit a primary challenger.  Really, this race provides so much entertainment it's unbelievable.

Trees on the Hill

The Simpsons - An Amendment To Be

How a bill becomes law: the formal process

The classic amendment tree.

Rahmbo on "Face the Nation"

Chief of Staff discusses passage of stimulus bill in Congress and Rush Limbaugh as the "Voice of the GOP":

Thursday, February 26, 2009

This calls for a trip to the DMV ...

By a vote of 61-37, the Senate passed a bill providing D.C. full voting representation in the House of Representatives, nearly ensuring that the measure will become law this time around. If the bill became a law, the size of the House of Representatives would increase to 437 members—one seat for DC and another for Utah. This would only give the district representation in the House.

Presently, Eleanor Holmes Norton represents D.C. but can only vote in committee, not on final matters on the House floor. The district has not had full representation since 1801.


Doctor Phil has some wisdom for Facebook users:

What is the connection to the Congress class? Simple: Facebook is a great resource for opposition researchers.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

A new health care plan?

OK well, the big front-page Politico headline grabbed my attention but it turns out simply to be a 10-year $634 bil. reserve plan coming from limiting tax deductions and "efficiencies" for future reforms, which are not detailed. But it could be laying the ground for a new plan of what Obama outlined in his campaign--of course, the criticism of health care reform is that it is too expensive. Perhaps, this could be allaying future criticism on that front.

Word on the Tweet

Were you wondering what Congressmen were thinking while listening to Obama's speech last night? If you had been subscribed to their Twitter accounts, you would have known. An article in the Sydney Herald was rather critical of America's politicians. The title alone, "Politicians twitter throughout address to Congress like bored schoolchildren" reflects the tone of the article and gives you a a good idea of what it is about. The article makes one think about the use of technology, especially BlackBerrys, by those governing our Nation. President Obama was unwilling to give his BlackBerry up when he became president and clearly some Congressmen are addicted to them as well. The article is short but insightful and at points will certainly make you laugh. The Huffington Post has a slightly less disapproving article, "Impolite or Not, Congress Twittered While Obama Spoke".
Also, for background information on Twitter, Wikipedia on "Twitter"
To see if your Congressman twitters, check here

A few quotes from last night that are relevant to the recent Baker reading:

Rep. Steve Israel (D-NY): "Sitting in my seat on House Floor. Had to arm wrestle for it. Colleagues get very possesive about where they sit. Bruises and welts." - 2/24, 8:24 PM

Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR): "Location! Presiding today I delivered message no more reserving seat by taping your name. Have to be there. And they are, early." - 2/24, 8:28 PM

Rep. Michael Burgess (R-TX): "Somehow the best seats are reserved for the Senators." - 2/24, 8:33 PM

The Myth of the Filibuster

An interesting little commentary on senate procedure, and why unfortunately we won't see Republicans forced into an all night spectacle with a filibuster.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009


Committee List

Investigative Hearing on Walter Reed

Ledbetter Hearing


House vs. Senate

Towards the end of Ryan Lizza's profile of Rahm Emanuel (long, but well worth the read) is this tidbit about the final negotiations on the stimulus. The passage shows the impact of the differences between the House and the Senate, and the power of individual senators

“Emanuel laughed as he recounted the final sticking point in the negotiations. It was not, as many people have thought, an argument between the five centrist senators—Ben Nelson, Joe Lieberman, Collins, Snowe, and Specter—and the House but a debate among the centrists themselves. The dispute was over a formula for how Medicaid funds in the bill would be allocated to the states. In the House version of the legislation, fifty per cent of the funds would go to all states and fifty per cent would go to states with high unemployment. In the Senate, where rural interests are more dominant, the formula was 80-20. A deal had been reached between the two chambers to split the difference and make the formula 65-35. “Everybody signed except for Ben Nelson,” Emanuel said. “He wants 72-28, or seventy-two and a half, and he says, ‘I’m not signing this deal.’ Specter says, ‘Well, I am not agreeing with you.’ ” Without Nelson, Collins wasn’t likely to vote for the deal, either. “Collins and Snowe are kind of like, at this point, looking at their shoes,” Emanuel went on, “because Specter says, ‘Well, why make it seventy-two? What do you mean? We all have it at sixty-five, in the middle.’ ” Emanuel politely declared that the formula would stay at 65-35. He then asked Nelson to step out of the room with him. After a brief conversation in the hallway, they returned, and Nelson agreed to the stimulus package.”

Monday, February 23, 2009

In the Spirit of our Last Essay

A slew of formidable female candidates, mostly Democrats, are lining up to run for the Senate in 2010, enough to raise the prospect of a surge of women into a chamber that currently has just 17 women senators. Read more...

And the recount continues...

As reported by the Minnesota Public Radio, the Coleman/Franken recount continues with both candidates focuses on absentee ballots. Coleman's latest argument is that different counties count similar ballots differently, creating a systematic bias in the system. He wants to create a set standard by which the state handles absentee ballots, which involves counting currently rejected ballots and rejecting others that are currently accepted.

With Words We Govern

Stylistic comments:

Legislative Research

Bill Drafting


Thursday, February 19, 2009

RNC chair plans 'off the hook' campaign, tells critics to ‘stuff it’

Michael Steele in his latest master plan to recruit the 'urban hip-hop culture.' Short of enlisting Ludacris and 50 Cent to bash the stimulus, I'm not sure what Steele's approach is going to be here. Appealing to the 'urban hip-hop culture' probably isn't something the party of country-club-loving Nascar-watching Country-music-listening rich people can do overnight. Also, one-armed midgets? Come on.

More Burris - It's not looking good for him

From Politico's The Huddle:

A sure sign your political career has gone over a cliff: When the no. 2 leader of the Senate - from your own party -- calls your hometown paper from Turkey to tell them that your 'future in the Senate is uncertain.'

This is what Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) told the Chicago Tribune yesterday about Sen. Roland Burris: 'I'm troubled by the fact that his testimony was not complete and it was unsatisfactory. It wasn't the full disclosure under oath that we were asking for. ... At this point, his future in the Senate seat is in question.'

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Congress could have used this:

Here is a way to try and figure out where every billion is going.

"How Congress Actually Works"

A classic SNL skit about Gingrich and the Republican Revolution. It gives a fairly good impression of the role of the minority in the House.

The House Minority Leader Reacts to the Stimulus

Presidential Rankings

Honest Abe Lincoln takes his humble spot at the top.

Bush only 36 out of 42 in one arena.

Check out the snapshot right here, right now!

What is in the stimulus?

This article again illustrates that our Congress cannot read entire bills. Obviously, the 1000+ page stimulus could not have been read within the ten hours of time between the final draft and the vote. The nearly $800 billion stimulus has lost its course as it no longer involves only jobs, infrastructure and tax cuts. Unfortunately, it is now to late for Congress to read the bill that is meant to help save our economy.

Congressional approval allegedly jumps

Congressional approval ratings are up to a whopping 31%. The latest Gallup poll, taken before the passage of the stimulus, has the rating at its highest point in two years. Unfortunately, the gains are almost entirely due to Democrats increasing their favorable numbers, not Republicans or Independents jumping on the bandwagon. The country remains polarized as ever, and the data indicates that Republicans are digging in their heels.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Burris Update

CMC alum Andy Barr reports in The Politico:
In another damaging drib-drab admission, Sen. Roland Burris (D-Ill.) acknowledged Monday that he did, in fact, try to raise money for then-Gov. Rod Blagojevich (D-Ill.) at the request of the governor’s brother – and that he did so while trying to get Blagojevich to appoint him to Barack Obama’s Senate seat.
The Chicago Tribune explains why this admission is big trouble:
In comments to reporters after appearing at a Democratic dinner, the senator several times contradicted his latest under-oath affidavit that he quietly filed with the Illinois House impeachment panel earlier this month. That affidavit was itself an attempt to clean up his live, sworn testimony to the panel Jan. 8, when he omitted his contacts with several Blagojevich insiders.

The Illinois perjury statute is here.

A felony indictment or conviction does not automatically mean removal from the Senate. Under the Constitution, it takes a two-thirds vote to expel a member. The Senate has done so only fifteen times.

Nevertheless, those applying for the Washington Semester should not plan on an internship with Burris.

New DSCC Chair Projects 2010 Success

New DSCC Chair, Robert Menendez, projects Democratic success in the 2010 Senate elections. With 19 Republican and only 17 Democratic seats up in November 2010 Menendez is optimistic. The five retiring Republicans, as discussed in class, are also likely to help Democrats retain or gain seats. One glitch could come from the Economy. Specifically, with only three Republicans voting for the Stimulus Package, if it fails to help, all the blame will go to the Dems. Menendez, however, expects that regardless of the specific outcomes, not acting—voting no, will inevitable hurt the Republicans among voters.

New York Times: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/02/18/us/politics/17web-nagourney.html?_r=1&hp

Monday, February 16, 2009

What constitutes a successful legislative fight as a minority in the House

I'm not exactly sure how the stimulus passing represents success for House Republicans in the minority, but Eric Cantor (House minority whip) tries to make it one here based on party unity. I'll let the video speak for itself.

Hill Style and Home Style

Hill Style: Sen. Tester schedule

A House staff:

Dreier homepage

Hill Style Meets Home Style: Better Know a District:

Congressional Leadership

Blog Archive