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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Monday, May 5, 2014

Reconsiderations

When citing a work, make sure you put the words in context.

Sometimes the defenders of freedom must show patience as well as resolution. But that patience comes of confidence, not compromise. We believe, with Alexander Hamilton, that the "spirit of commerce" has a tendency to "soften the manners of men." 

Inherent limitations of Congress:
  • Except in simulation, legislation is slow. (And swift action is not necessarily smart action.)
  • In a body resting on geographic representation, parochialism is inevitable. (And it is often legitimate.)
  • A multi-member, bicameral institution will have a hard time planning.  (And planning is overrated.)

Peanuts

Reform proposals:
  • End the Tuesday-to-Thursday club.
  • Return to regular order and limit restrictive rules.
  • Change filibuster rules.
JFK on the complexity of courage:
  • The pressure to "go along" -- but we "should not be too hasty in condemning all compromise as bad morals."
  • The pressure to seek reelection -- but lawmakers "who go down to defeat in a vain defense of a single principle will not be on hand to fight for that or any other principle in the future."
  • The pressure to serve interest groups -- but "they are the articulate few whose views cannot be ignored and who constitute the greater part of our contacts with the public at large, whose opinions we cannot know..."
On January 12, 1991, House Speaker Tom Foley (D-WA) and Republican Leader Bob Michel (R-IL) spoke about the impending Gulf War. Click for video of their remarks, so you can see what grownups look like:

Thursday, May 1, 2014

The COIN & STAMP bills may not have been so unrealistic after all...

Except in this case, it's the GOP trying to trick the Tea Partiers:

http://www.politico.com/story/2014/04/immigration-reform-conservatives-106213.html

"In the aftermath, they are stepping up their efforts to thwart any plan that might be afoot among House leadership to jam reform through the House by the end of this year. A group of conservatives plans to meet and strategize this week, and are scouring bills searching for offending language that might somehow slip through their gates. [my emphasis]

“We have to man the watchtowers 24/7,” said Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa), referring to a feeling among hard-liners that House leaders will try to sneak through immigration measures."

Monday, April 28, 2014

Appraisals

 Transparency

Philanthropy as friend-buying:
He has received many honors, including the 2009 NAACP Lifetime Achievement Award, the 2008 BBA Humanitarian of the Year Award, the 2008 NAACP President’s Award, the 2006 Say Yes to Children Network Children’s Hero Award, the 1999 MDA Dennis Day Memorial Award, the 1998 Los Angeles Yeshiva Golden Menorah Humanitarian of the Year Award, the Asthma & Allergy Foundation 1998 Humanitarian of the Year Award, the Vista Del Mar Orphanage 1997 Man of the Year and the Gold Medal Humanitarian of the Year by the Special Olympics.
He was also named Humanitarian of the Year by the Los Angeles Police Historical Society at its 1999 Jack Webb Award gala. Funds generated by the event went toward the construction of the Los Angeles Police History and Community Education Center, a multi-purpose facility designed to pay tribute to those who have fallen in the line of duty and serve as a community center for at-risk youth, an interactive LAPD Museum, and an LAPD sub-station.
Click here to learn the identify of this philanthropist.

Accessibility
Average cost of winning elections in the House and Senate since 1986 in 2012 dollars


Sunday, April 20, 2014

Last Essay

After reading Congress: A Performance Appraisal, pick any of Taylor's benchmarks.  You may analyze it in one of two ways.
  • Explain an alternative appraisal.  How might a serious student of the institution reach a different conclusion about the extent to which Congress has met the benchmark?  If Taylor says that Congress has met it, tell how someone might reasonably argue that it has not -- or vice versa.  With which view do you agree?
  • You may disagree with the benchmark itself, believing that it is an inappropriate standard for judging congressional performance.  If so, explain why it is the wrong benchmark and suggest an alternative.  Has Congress met it?
Essays should reflect an understanding of class readings and discussions, including Taylor and Haskell, among others. Many resources, including CQ Weekly and Politics in America are at Honnold Library/Databases/CQ Library. You should check other sources as well.

See: http://www.claremontmckenna.edu/pages/faculty/JPitney/congress.html

The specifications:
  • Essays should be typed (12-point), double-spaced, and no more than three pages long. I will not read past the third page. 
  • Cite your sources. Please use endnotes in the format of Chicago Manual of Style.  Endnotes do not count against the page limit. Please do not use footnotes, which take up too much page space.
  • Watch your spelling, grammar, diction, and punctuation. Errors will count against you. Return essays to the Sakai dropbox for this class by 11:59 PM, Monday, May 5. Papers will drop one gradepoint for one day’s lateness, a full letter grade after that.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Phyllis Schlafly Claims Women Paid The Same As Men Won't Find Husbands

For those on the Judiciary Committee in simulation, one of the Republican witnesses for the sexual assault bill is chiming in on equal pay legislation. Ladies and gentlemen, Phyllis Schlafly.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/04/15/phyllis-schlafly-equal-pay_n_5154150.html?utm_hp_ref=politics

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Senator Dan Coats at the Wrong Hearing

A funny thing happened to Sen. Dan Coats (R., Ind.) at a subcommittee hearing: He pressed an official for information about possible job losses in his home state -- before realizing he was in the wrong hearing, and asking the wrong official. 


Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Tax Lobbying

The New York Times reports (h/t Julian B):
Just two days after he proposed a sweeping overhaul of the nation’s tax code, Representative Dave Camp, Republican of Michigan, traveled to Park City, Utah, for a glittering fund-raiser attended by lobbyists from some of the nation’s largest corporations, all with enormous stakes in the tax battle to come.
The event was intended to honor Mr. Camp, the chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, whose 979-page tax plan would cut the overall corporate tax rate by creating a new bank tax and a surtax on the very wealthy, among many other changes.
But this gathering ended up serving a decidedly different purpose: the unofficial kickoff of a push to make sure that Mr. Camp’s tax plan dies, a campaign that is highly likely to succeed, particularly now that Mr. Camp himself essentially conceded defeat, announcing this week he will not seek re-election this year.
The twist reflects how lobbying in Washington — and the millions of dollars in fees that lobbyists collect — are often about stopping action and preserving the status quo. Whenever Congress considers major changes to the tax code, lobbyists buy insurance on both sides of the fight. It also reflects a pivot by lobbyists who had spent months cheering Mr. Camp’s three-year effort to draft this giant package, given that its stated purpose was to lower corporate tax rates and simplify the tax code, and who are now working to make sure that the package never becomes law.
“There is no doubt that what they have done is put a big target out there on the backs of some industries,” said Jeffrey A. Forbes, a former staff director at the Senate Finance Committee turned tax lobbyist, who was not at the Park City fund-raising event but represents clients who were.
The undisputed winners of the legislative battle so far are the lobbying shops themselves. Senior congressional tax staff members have already named Mr. Camp’s push the “Build a Vacation Home for a Tax Lobbyist Act.”
Lobbyists say they have to be zealous because the tax code hits almost every corporate interest.
“If you are not at the table, you are on the menu,” said Heather Podesta, a lobbyist whose firm, Heather Podesta & Partners, has at least 10 tax-related corporate clients.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Another Ad Blunder

Mitch McConnell, who is facing steep competition in Kentucky, got some bad press recently for a split second mix-up in his most recent campaign ad. In a clip at the end of the the ad, there is a shot of basketball players celebrating a championship. The intended team was Kentucky's own University of Kentucky Wildcats but unfortunately the shot features two Duke players. His opponents have immediately jumped on the blunder.

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/03/27/us/politics/mcconnell-increases-lead-in-embarrassing-viral-videos.html

President, Congress, Judiciary

Simulation

A big gaffe

Newt Gingrich, Lessons Learned the Hard Way (1998):
We had not only failed to take into account the ability of the Senate to delay us and obstruct us, but we had much too cavalierly underrated the power of the President, even a President who had lost his legislative majority and was in a certain amount of trouble for other reasons. I am speaking of the power of the veto. Even if you pass something through both the House and the Senate, there is that presidential pen. How could we have forgotten that? For me especially it was inexcusable, because when I was Republican whip during the Bush Administration one of my duties had been precisely to help sustain presidential vetoes.
Rules and The Federal Register

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

Nominations
Investigations & Oversight -- more after the simulation

Legislation:  Executive Branch Organization

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

House of Claremont

I will use a video camera to record much of the simulation.  Please add some Underwood-style asides.




You may either make up your own, or draw from Sun Tzu's The Art of War

Monday, March 24, 2014

Congress and the President


Article I and Article II
Executive orders
Signing Statements 
Vetoes
Statements of Administration Policy 
1— Strongly Support Passage
2— Support Passage
3— Do not Object to Passage
4— No Position on Passage
5— Oppose
6— Strongly Oppose
7— Secretary’s veto Threat (single and multiple agency)
8— Senior Advisor’s Veto Threat
9— Presidential Veto Threat
Presidential success scores
Presidential approval

Friday, March 21, 2014

First class flights for members of Congress

House Rep. Paul Gosar (R AZ) asked the Appropriations Committee to ban members of Congress from  using their congressional funds for first class plane tickets. The savings would be a drop in the bucket, but Gosar's request is a matter of principle… and politics. His office has written three press releases in the last two days praising his request.

Also, it looks like Congress will not permanently fix the Medicare doctor pay formula and will instead simply extend the doc fix.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Foreign Travel

Here is a follow-up to the question about foreign travel.

Kent Cooper writes at Roll Call:
Some members of Congress didn’t stick around Washington during the cold month of February, but they found better places to be on free trips to foreign lands.
The big free trips during February included eleven members on the trip to Israel sponsored by the American Israel Education Foundation. Another fourteen went to Cartagena, Columbia, with expenses paid by the Aspen Institute, the John D. & Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, and the Rockefeller Brothers Fund. Other members went to Japan, Australia, and Belgium. The trip to Australia for one member and his spouse was worth almost $50,000.
Family members also traveled free. Seventeen members of Congress took spouses along. Two members took their children. Another took their mother-in-law, all without cost to them.
These foundations are all real.  But other foreign travel has sketchier funding sources, as Shane Goldmacher explained at National Journal in January:
he 2007 rules prevent a lobbyist for a corporate client from planning or paying for a lawmaker's trip. But the same rules allow such a trip if it's paid for by a foreign government. So while it does remain illegal for, say, a Google lobbyist to plan and accompany a lawmaker on a free trip abroad, if that same lobbyist does so on behalf of Turkey, it's perfectly legal. And if that lobbyist happens to have both corporate and foreign-government clients (as most do), they can still go abroad so long as it's a country and not a company footing the bill.
And that's only one of the loopholes the influence industry has exploited to help lawmakers score free travel. Today, a wide network of nonprofits—many with a clear agenda and some with excruciatingly tight ties to Washington's biggest lobbying operations—are putting together international congressional excursions. Some of these paper nonprofits have no staff or space of their own; they simply share with a sister organization that lobbies. Yet ethics officials in Congress have deemed them to be independent enough. In one instance, a lobbyist literally registered a new nonprofit—in his own office—that went on to pay for congressional travel abroad.
Big corporations bankroll some nonprofits, whose trips, in turn, can feature stops at the businesses of their corporate funders. As a bonus, the growing use of 501(c)(3) nonprofits, which occupy the same charitable rung of the tax code as soup kitchens and the American Red Cross, means that the wealthy and corporate donors underwriting congressional travel can do so in secret and get a tax write-off along the way.
Feel free to make up your own Frank Underwood-style epigram.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Reconcilation

In the fall, House passes one version, with public option.  The Senate, rather than use the House-passed health bill, instead uses an unrelated tax bill (HR 3590) as the shell for its version (See Sinclair, p. 211 for a discussion of the differences.)

Scott Brown's election prompts a different kind of procedure:  passing the Senate version, with agreed-upon changes in the reconciliation bill.

The final legislation.

House Leaders contemplate "Deem and Pass," then decide on a direct vote.


)

Monday, March 10, 2014

Stimulus and Health Care

HR 5140 in 2008

HR 1 (the Obama Stimulus)

Stimulus estimate chart from Obama transition team (with annnotations)

011013romerbernsteinfinal


In the 2008 campaign, Senator Obama expressed reservations about a mandate. By mid-2009, he changed his mind.

Ross Douthat neatly explains the interest group universe:
The mandate offered the interest groups what all entrenched industries desire: a fresh and captive market for their products. For the insurance companies, it promised enough new business to offset the cost of covering Americans with pre-existing conditions. For the health care sector as a whole, it guaranteed that disposable income currently being spent on other goods and services would be spent on its instead.
This explains why the health care bill was ultimately backed by so many industry lobbying groups, from the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America to the American Medical Association. It explains why the big insurers, while opposing the final legislation, never attacked it as vigorously as they did Bill Clinton’s ill-fated reform effort.
By 8/1, Energy & Commerce and HELP approve bills. CQ summary:
Two health care overhaul bills — HR 3200 and a draft Senate bill approved by the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee — are similar. Both bills would require employers to provide health insurance to workers and individuals to enroll in an employer-based, private or government health care insurance plan or face penalties. But there are differences in the details.
Employer Insurance Mandate
HR 3200: The bill would require employers that do not offer coverage to pay a payroll tax equal to 8 percent of their payroll costs. Certain small businesses would be exempt.
Senate Committee Draft Bill: For employers that do not provide coverage, the bill would assess a fee of $750 per worker per year, or $375 for part-timers. Businesses with 25 or fewer employees would be exempt.
Individual Mandate
HR 3200: The legislation requires individuals, by 2013, to buy coverage or pay a fine of 2.5 percent of their income — but the fine would be capped at the cost of the average plan in their area. It offers a hardship exemption.
Senate Committee Draft Bill: The bill would make individuals pay a fee of $750 a year if they fail to obtain coverage. As with the House version, it exempts those who have not qualified for any affordable coverage.
Subsidies
Both versions would offer subsidies to those with an income below 400 percent of the poverty level (about $88,000 for a family of four and $43,000 for individuals) down to the eligibility threshold for Medicaid coverage. 
The political climate changes:
In the fall, House passes one version, with public option.  The Senate, rather than use the House-passed health bill, instead uses an unrelated tax bill (HR 3590) as the shell for its version.

Scott Brown's election prompts a different kind of procedure:  passing the Senate version, with agreed-upon changes in the reconciliation bill.

The final legislation.

Nourse and Schacter on bill drafting:
Staffers’ drafting choices seem to be driven not by issues of legal dexterity but by the demands of a competing set of virtues—what we  are calling “constitutive virtues.” The interpretive virtues are the  virtues, generally, of courts: precision in drafting, consciousness of interpretive rules, discovery of meaning in past precedent, and detached reflection on the language of particular texts. Constitutive virtues, by contrast, tend to prize the institutional values of legislatures: action and agreement, reconciling political interests, and addressing the pragmatic needs of those affected by legislation.
Over and over again, staffers explained their choices in terms of constitutive virtues—that deliberate ambiguity was necessary to “get the bill passed,” or that statutory language was drafted on the floor because a bill was “needed” by a particular senator, by the leadership, or by the public. Even staffers’ reliance on lobbyists was an attempt to understand how the bill would “affect” people in the world. It was not that the staffers did not know the rules or recognize the interpretive virtues; it was that those virtues frequently were trumped by competing virtues demanded by the institutional context of the legislature. In an ideal world, the staffers seemed to say, they would aspire to both clarity and agreement, but, if there were a choice to be made, the constitutive virtues would prevail.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Congressional Fiscal Policy: A Mystery in Six Parts

What follows would baffle a Martian.

Part 1: Authorization
Part 2: Appropriation
  • Budget Authority
  • Outlay
Part 3:  "The Budget Process" and The timetable:



Part 4:  Entitlements

Part 5:  Revenue Bills

Part 6:  The Debt Ceiling

Latest Version of Simulation Roles

TENTATIVE AS OF MARCH 3

Simulation veterans are in italics, below


President Barack Obama  Sam Stone
Vice President Joe Biden Claire Goodrich
Attorney General Eric Holder Jack Houghteling

Finance Committee

Democrats

Ron Wyden (Oregon), chair  Julian Mackie
Harry Reid (Nevada), majority leader* Sean McKaveney
Debbie Stabenow (Michigan) Julian Buckner
Maria Cantwell (Washington) Josh Cohen
Bill Nelson (Florida) Zhenya Pereverzin
Robert Menendez (New Jersey) Denys Reyes
Mark Warner (Virginia) Katie Rodihan
Tom Carper (Delaware) Sara Linssen

Republicans

Orrin Hatch (Utah), RMM Steve Gilbert
Pat Roberts (Kansas) Cameron Ridley
Michael Enzi (Wyoming) Gavin Landgraf
Rob Portman (Ohio) William Mitchell
Patrick Toomey (Pennsylvania) Morgan Beltz
John Cornyn (Texas) Nick Herzeca
John Thune (South Dakota) Ana Kakkar
Mike Crapo (Idaho), Christina Brandt/Laura Epstein

Judiciary Committee

Democrats

Patrick Leahy (Vermont), chair Abby Michaelsen
Chuck Schumer (New York) Katie Trettenero
Dianne Feinstein (California) Jennifer Sitton
Amy Klobuchar (Minnesota) Tracy Yao
Al Franken (Minnesota) Lindsey Davidson
Richard Blumenthal (Connecticut) Hillary Lundberg
Mazie Hirono (Hawaii) Adrian Vallens
Dick Durbin (Illinois) Noah Jay

Republicans

Chuck Grassley (Iowa), RMM Kate Ruston
Mitch McConnell (Kentucky), minority leader* Michelle Saipe
Lindsey Graham (South Carolina) Alexandra Cooke
Mike Lee (Utah) Kyle Gosselin
Ted Cruz (Texas) Maddie Davidson
Jeff Flake (Arizona) Frances Kyl
----------------
*Not actually on the committee:  added for simulation purposes.

But lots of good simulation roles remain!   We need Secretary of Treasury Lew.  And these Senate roles are available:

Judiciary
  • Jeff Sessions R-Alabama
  •  Sheldon Whitehouse D-Rhode Island
  •  Lindsey Graham R-South Carolina
  •  Christopher A. Coons D-Delaware
Finance
  • Ben Cardin D-Maryland 
  • Sherrod Brown D-Ohio 
  • Michael Bennet D-CO 
  • Robert Casey D-PA
  • Richard Burr R-NC  
  • Johnny Isakson R-GA





Saturday, March 1, 2014

The legislative process

LexisNexis Congressional has a great series that summarizes the legislative process. These are the ones I found most helpful:

Committee action, hearings, and markup:
http://www.lexisnexis.com/help/cu/CU.htm#the_legislative_process/stage_3.htm

Floor action:
http://www.lexisnexis.com/help/cu/CU.htm#the_legislative_process/stage_5.htm

Resolving differences between House & Senate versions:
http://www.lexisnexis.com/help/cu/CU.htm#the_legislative_process/stage_6.htm

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Filibuster on Parks and Recreation

Senate Subcommittee Hearing

One responsibility of subcommittees is to hold hearings and hear testimony related to issues under their consideration. Seth Rogen recently testified before a Senate hearing on Alzheimer's Research. The fact that this video has been viewed nearly 50,000 times shows the usefulness of having a celebrity spokesperson. There is a great House of Cards moment too.


Unorthodox Lawmaking

Filibuster and Cloture



The D'Amato Filibuster

The Rand Paul Filibuster



Restrictive rules in the House

Rule XIV of the Senate

Polarization:


Divided government has been common. Split-party control of Congress has not.

Legislative productivity
Another view of productivity

But is the country suffering as a result?

Monday, February 24, 2014

Updated Simulation Roles

TENTATIVE AS OF FEBRUARY 25


President Barack Obama  Sam Stone
Vice President Joe Biden Claire Goodrich
Attorney General Eric Holder Jack Houghteling

Finance Committee

Democrats

Ron Wyden (Oregon), chair  Julian Mackie
Harry Reid (Nevada), majority leader* Sean McKaveney
Debbie Stabenow (Michigan) Julian Buckner
Maria Cantwell (Washington) Josh Cohen
Bill Nelson (Florida) Zhenya Pereverzin
Robert Menendez (New Jersey) Denys Reyes
Mark Warner (Virginia) Katie Rodihan

Republicans

Orrin Hatch (Utah), RMM Steve Gilbert
Pat Roberts (Kansas) Cameron Ridley
Michael Enzi (Wyoming) Gavin Landgraf
Rob Portman (Ohio) William Mitchell
Patrick Toomey (Pennsylvania) Morgan Beltz
John Cornyn (Texas) Nick Herzeca
John Thune (South Dakota) Ana Kakkar
Mike Crapo (Idaho), Christina Brandt/Laura Epstein

Judiciary Committee

Democrats

Patrick Leahy (Vermont), chair Abby Michaelsen
Chuck Schumer (New York) Katie Trettenero
Dianne Feinstein (California) Jennifer Sitton
Amy Klobuchar (Minnesota) Tracy Yao
Al Franken (Minnesota) Lindsey Davidson
Richard Blumenthal (Connecticut) Hillary Lundberg
Mazie Hirono (Hawaii) Adrian Vallens
Dick Durbin (Illinois) Noah Jay

Republicans

Chuck Grassley (Iowa), RMM Kate Ruston
Mitch McConnell (Kentucky), minority leader* Michelle Saipe
Lindsey Graham (South Carolina) Alexandra Cooke
Mike Lee (Utah) Kyle Gosselin
Ted Cruz (Texas) Maddie Davidson
Jeff Flake (Arizona) Frances Kyl
----------------
*Not actually on the committee:  added for simulation purposes.

But lots of good simulation roles remain!   We need Secretary of Treasury Lew.  And these Senate roles are available:

Judiciary

  • Jeff Sessions R-Alabama
  •  Sheldon Whitehouse D-Rhode Island
  •  Lindsey Graham R-South Carolina
  •  Christopher A. Coons D-Delaware

Finance

  • Tom Carper D-Delaware 
  • Ben Cardin D-Maryland 
  • Sherrod Brown D-Ohio 
  • Michael Bennet D-CO 
  • Robert Casey D-PA
  • Richard Burr R-NC  
  • Johnny Isakson R-GA






Sunday, February 23, 2014

Fact-Checking ‘House of Cards’ and Its ‘Senate of Cards’ Sequence

In case you haven't read enough news articles on House of Cards yet, Roll Call published an article Friday describing a situation in 1988 when missing Senators were arrested and escorted to the Capitol by Sergeant-at-Arms Henry Giugni, proving this situation happens not only in House of Cards and Claremont Congress class simulations, but also in the real Senate!

An excerpt from the article: "After Giugni, a former Honolulu police officer, arrested Packwood and escorted him to the Capitol, Packwood told Giugni that he refused to enter the chamber under his own power. Giugni responded by ordering the officers to lift Packwood and carry him through the chamber doors, which he entered feet first at 1:19 a.m."

http://hoh.rollcall.com/house-of-cards-or-senate-of-cards/


U.S. territory of Saipan birth tourism: $27,000 to have an American baby

http://thehill.com/blogs/global-affairs/americas/198078-lawmakers-concerned-about-chinas-promotion-of-birth-tourism-in

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Simulation Roles


Finance Committee

Democrats

Ron Wyden (Oregon), chair  Julian Mackie
Harry Reid (Nevada), majority leader* Sean McKaveney
Debbie Stabenow (Michigan) Julian Buckner
Maria Cantwell (Washington) Josh Cohen
Bill Nelson (Florida) Zhenya Pereverzin
Robert Menendez (New Jersey) Denys Reyes

Republicans

Orrin Hatch (Utah), RMM Steve Gilbert
Pat Roberts (Kansas) Cameron Ridley
Michael Enzi (Wyoming) Gavin Landgraf
Rob Portman (Ohio) William Mitchell
Patrick Toomey (Pennsylvania) Morgan Beltz

Judiciary Committee

Democrats

Patrick Leahy (Vermont), chair Abby Michaelsen
Chuck Schumer (New York) Katie Trettenero
Dianne Feinstein (California) Jennifer Sitton
Amy Klobuchar (Minnesota) Tracy Yao
Al Franken (Minnesota) Lindsey Davidson
Richard Blumenthal (Connecticut) Hillary Lundberg

Republicans

Chuck Grassley (Iowa), RMM Kate Ruston
Mitch McConnell (Kentucky), minority leader* Michelle Saipe
Lindsey Graham (South Carolina) Alexandra Cooke
Mike Lee (Utah) Kyle Gosselin
Ted Cruz (Texas) Maddie Davidson

*Not actually on the committee:  added for simulation purposes.

Poems Are Made By Fools Like Me, But Only Congress Can Make an Amendment Tree



Motion to recommit

Role Selection Resources

Since character selection is today, here's a few resources to figure out where your would-be member stands on the issues. Are you a maverick or a party man/woman?

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Tentative List of Roles

Here is a tentative list of roles for the simulation.  If there are other senators on the committees that you believe should instead be on the roster, I may be able to make revisions.  Also note that we shall fill out the list with volunteers from my parties class and from past simulations.

Start thinking about Claremont friends whom you would like to draft as members of the administration and as hearing witnesses.

Finance Committee

Democrats

Ron Wyden (Oregon), chair
Harry Reid (Nevada), majority leader*
Debbie Stabenow (Michigan)
Maria Cantwell (Washington)
Bill Nelson (Florida)
Robert Menendez (New Jersey)

Republicans

Orrin Hatch (Utah), RMM
Pat Roberts (Kansas)
Michael Enzi (Wyoming)
Rob Portman (Ohio)
Patrick Toomey (Pennsylvania)

Judiciary Committee

Democrats

Patrick Leahy (Vermont), chair
Chuck Schumer (New York)
Dianne Feinstein (California)
Amy Klobuchar (Minnesota)
Al Franken (Minnesota)

Republicans

Chuck Grassley (Iowa), RMM
Mitch McConnell (Kentucky), minority leader*
Lindsey Graham (South Carolina)
Mike Lee (Utah)
Ted Cruz (Texas)

*Not actually on the committee:  added for simulation purposes.

House of Cards and Senate Procedure

The third episode of season 2 of House of Cards bears a striking resemblance to past simulations.  If you do not care about possible spoilers (albeit for secondary storylines), see this post at US News. (h/t Wendy Qian, who played Al Franken in 2012)

And see real members do lines from the show:



Saturday, February 15, 2014

For those of you who need a break from binging through House of Cards (if you haven't already, that is), here's a couple of interesting reads.

If you're thinking about who you'll play in the Congress Simulation, here's some things to give you a few ideas about potential characters. The Washingtonian's Best and Worst of Congress 2012, and Who Are the Best and Worst Bosses on the Hill? 

And for those of you with political careers in mind, remember that opposition researchers will be watching. Politico: Confessions of a Political Private Eye








Friday, February 14, 2014

Second Essay

Pick one:
  • Answer any of the "Questions for Discussion" for chapter 5 of the Haskell book (pp. 164-165).
  • Read the final lines of the Sinclair book (p. 276).  Do the congressional events of 2013 confirm or contradict her conclusion? 
  • Evaluate a current proposal for reforming congressional procedure. Carefully explain arguments for and against the proposal. Consider: even if it sounds good in principle, would it work in practice? If you were a member of the relevant chamber, would you vote for it? Explain. In your answer, account for any procedural changes that have taken place since January.  You may find "options for reform" in Reclamation of the US Congress or choose a measure such as one of the following:
    • S Res 4 – filibuster reform 
    • H Con Res 9 – “Govern before going home” 
    • H Res 14 – permitting nonvoting delegates to vote in the Committee of the Whole 
    • H Res 16 – single-subject rule
  • Pick any episode of House of Cards.  Explain how it both resembles and differs from the real world of Congress.  In your answer, do not dwell on the obvious point that most lawmakers are not murderers.  Rather, consider such matters as the role of congressional leaders, the process of passing legislation, and the contrast between home style and Hill style.
  • You may also write on any relevant topic, subject to my approval.
Essays should reflect an understanding of class readings and discussions. Many resources, including CQ Weekly and Politics in America are at Honnold Library/Databases/CQ Library. Also go to the library and see The Almanac of American Politics. You should check other sources as well. See: http://www.claremontmckenna.edu/pages/faculty/JPitney/congress.html

The specifications:
  • Essays should be typed (12-point), double-spaced, and no more than three pages long. I will not read past the third page. 
  • Cite your sources. Please use endnotes in the format of Chicago Manual of Style.  Endnotes do not count against the page limit. Please do not use footnotes, which take up too much page space.
  • Watch your spelling, grammar, diction, and punctuation. Errors will count against you. Return essays to the Sakai dropbox for this class by 5 PM, Friday, February 28. THIS REVISED DUE DATE IS THREE DAYS LATER THAN THE SYLLABUS INDICATES. Papers will drop one gradepoint for one day’s lateness, a full letter grade after that.

CMC Alum Kicks Harry Reid's Butt

Montana Gov. Steve Bullock (D) told Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) in December to stay out of his decision to nominate a replacement for former Sen. Max Baucus (D).
Bullock said Reid called him to offer a suggestion before the news of the senator’s ambassadorship to China was made public.

“He wanted to weigh in on who I should choose, and this was before it was even public,” Bullock said, according to the Helena Independent Record. “And I said it was none of your damn business.”
Bullock eventually tapped his Lt. Gov. John Walsh (D) to the position — a decision many expected since Walsh was already running to replace Baucus.
Baucus was set to retire at the end of this year before making an early departure to fill the diplomatic post.

“I said, ‘You know what. Stay out of my decision-making. This is a decision I make and no one else. This is one of those decisions that voters have entrusted me with,’" Bullock said.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Leadership and LBJ

HOW TO USE BLOGGER

HOW TO USE LEXIS NEXIS ACADEMIC

MY CONGRESS LINKS

VOTE STUDIES

Hill leadership
Caucuses

LBJ:



LYNDON JOHNSON AND FRANK UNDERWOOD 

LBJ and Senator Theodore Green (D-RI)






Gingrich on the difference between majority and minority:


In short, overnight I found myself in a job far bigger than most people, even Washingtonians, understand to this day. The Speaker is the third-ranking constitutional officer. That in itself might seem weighty enough. In addition, the day-to-day job requires him not only to preside over, but to attempt to lead, 435 strong-willed, competitive, and independent-minded people. (Some wag has likened this to an attempt to herd cats.) After all, if these people had not in the first place been heavily endowed with all three of these characteristics—will, competitiveness, and independence of mind—they would never have been able to get through the process of winning a primary, followed by a general election, followed by the requirement that they represent 600,000 of their fellow Americans in the nation's capital. So if they sometimes made difficulties for one another, and for me, that was one of the great strengths of the system.
All of this added up to the fact that, politically experienced as I was, everything seemed a little unfamiliar to me. I hadn't shifted from my old job to my new job fast enough. I hadn't shaken off some of the habits I had acquired being the minority whip. I'll give you an example. As the minority party, we were in the position of having to fight every day just to get some media attention. We tended to say and do things that were far more strident and dramatic than are prudent to do and say as the leaders of the majority who find themselves in front of the microphone every day. If you are seldom covered by the press, which was the case with House Republicans for forty years, you have a lot of leeway to make mistakes. But when you are in people's living rooms every evening, your mistakes are magnified.



Monday, February 3, 2014

Leaders and Parties

Parties:  
  • Party in the electorate (PIE)
  • Party organization (PO)
  • Partisan outside groups (POG)
  • Party in government (PIG)
Party campaign committees:

Republican... RNC NRCC NRSC 
Democratic.. DNC DCCCDSCC*

*Chair appointed by party leader

Four strategic postures

...............................................Majority.............................Minority

President's Party..........GOP 04, Dems 08...............GOP 06....Dems 10
Out Party.....................GOP 10, Dems 06...............GOP 08....Dems 04

Note:  even majorities of the president's party may split with the administration agenda.  See Democrats on trade in 1993 and 2014.

Hill leadership

Caucuses

Sunday, February 2, 2014

A Scene with Philip Seymour Hoffman

Among the best movies about a member of Congress is Charlie Wilson's War.

Here is a scene showing Aaron Sorkin's skill at dialogue -- and Philip Seymour Hoffman's brilliance as an actor:



Friday, January 31, 2014

Health Care

Kaiser Health News reports:
Uninsured Americans — the people that the Affordable Care Act was designed to most aid — are increasingly critical of the law as its key provisions kick in, a poll released Thursday finds.
This month’s tracking poll from the Kaiser Family Foundation found that 47 percent of the uninsured said they hold unfavorable views of the law while 24 percent said they liked it. These negative views have increased since December, when 43 percent of the uninsured panned the law and 36 percent liked it. (KHN is an editorially independent program of the Foundation.)
The poll did not pinpoint clear reasons for this drop, which comes in the first month that people could start using insurance purchased through the online marketplaces that are at the heart of the law. It did point out that more than half of people without insurance said the law hasn’t made a difference to them or their families. In addition, the pollsters noted that almost half of people without coverage were unaware the law includes subsidies to offset premium costs for people of low and moderate incomes.
Among all Americans, the sentiment was also negative, with 50 percent holding unfavorable views of the law and 34 percent supporting it. Views on the law have not been even since the end of 2012. Despite this, just 38 percent of the public wants the law to be repealed.
Most Americans say they have not been personally affected by the law. However, 27 percent say they have had a negative experience, while 15 percent say they’ve had a positive one. People with negative views chalked it up most often to the high costs of health care and insurance.
At National Journal, Sam Baker reports on a Democratic congressional brain drain on health issues:
SENATE
  • Edward Kennedy (chaired the Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee; died)
  • Chris Dodd (ran the HELP Committee while Kennedy was sick, retired)
  • Tom Harkin (chairs the HELP Committee now; retiring in 2014)
  • Max Baucus (chaired the Finance Committee during Obamacare markup; principal author of Obamacare; retired to be ambassador to China)
  • Jay Rockefeller (No. 2 on Finance Committee; advocate for Medicaid; retiring in 2014)
HOUSE
  • Pete Stark (senior member of Ways and Means Committee; career-long interest in health care; lost reelection in 2012)
  • George Miller (Pelosi lieutenant; chaired Education and Labor Committee during Obamacare markup; retiring in 2014)
  • Henry Waxman (chaired Energy and Commerce during Obamacare markup; long career in health issues; retiring in 2014)
  • Allyson Schwartz (active on Medicare and the health care delivery system; retiring to run for governor of Pennsylvania)
And while Democrats' ranks have diminished, Republicans' have swelled.
There are now 21 members of the House GOP Doctors' Caucus (not all of them are doctors, but they're all health care professionals), and some still practice. Rep. Bill Cassidy, who's challenging Sen. Mary Landrieu, still sees patients—many of them on Medicaid—when he's back in his district, a fact he has emphasized while attacking Landrieu for supporting Obamacare.
The exodus of experienced Democratic lawmakers also means a loss of experienced staffers, health care lobbyists noted. Some experienced health care aides cashed out after Obamacare passed, heading for lucrative lobbying and consulting jobs, and some of those who remained will likely follow suit next year.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Two Chambers, Two Branches, Two Parties

THE LENGTH OF STATE OF THE UNION ADDRESSES:  As mentioned in class, Clinton gave several that were longer than Obama's. See link

A second look at Federalist 51:
But it is not possible to give to each department an equal power of self-defense. In republican government, the legislative authority necessarily predominates. The remedy for this inconveniency is to divide the legislature into different branches; and to render them, by different modes of election and different principles of action, as little connected with each other as the nature of their common functions and their common dependence on the society will admit. It may even be necessary to guard against dangerous encroachments by still further precautions.
Size


The average size of a congressional  district based on the 2010 Census  apportionment population will be  710,767, more than triple the average  district size of 210,328 based on the  1910 Census apportionment, and 63,815  more than the average size based on  Census 2000 (646,952). Based on the  2010 Census apportionment, the state  with the largest average district size will  be Montana (994,416), and the state with  the smallest average district size will be  Rhode Island (527,624).
The House (and a Stag prayer from Fr. Patrick Conroy `72).



A pro forma session:



A real session:



  The executive view v. the legislative view:  ROBERT GATES ON CONGRESS

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

The Sonny Corleone Approach to Congressional Press Relations

NY1 reports that Rep. Michael Grimm (R-NY), at the end of an interview about the State of the Union, declined comment on a campaign finance investigation.
"So Congressman Michael Grimm does not want to talk about some of the allegations concerning his campaign finances," Scotto said before tossing back to the station. But as the camera continued to roll, Grimm walked back up to Scotto and began speaking to him in a low voice.
"What?" Scotto responded. "I just wanted to ask you..."
Grimm: "Let me be clear to you, you ever do that to me again I'll throw you off this f-----g balcony."
Scotto: "Why? I just wanted to ask you..."
[[cross talk]]
Grimm: "If you ever do that to me again..."
Scotto: "Why? Why? It’s a valid question."
[[cross talk]]
Grimm: "No, no, you're not man enough, you're not man enough. I'll break you in half. Like a boy."

Interesting Congressional Polarization Visual

http://www.economist.com/news/united-states/21591190-united-states-amoeba

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