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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Thursday, September 29, 2016

Ryan says House Reps will work with whomever wins - Could this affect our simulation??


Paul Ryan: 'I'm tired of divided government'
By NOLAN D. MCCASKILL 09/29/16 09:53 AM EDT

House Speaker Paul Ryan on Thursday promised to work with a Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump administration but acknowledged that he’s worn out from working in an ineffective, divided Congress.

“Look, we’ll work with whoever wins whatever office,” Ryan (R-Wis.) said during a moderated discussion at the Washington Ideas Forum. “Obviously, I think with a unified Republican government, we can get so much more done.”
Story Continued Below

Ryan’s ascent to House speaker from Ways and Means committee chairman was in part due to a faction of House Republicans who effectively ousted then-Speaker John Boehner last year, adding intra-party division from a conservative bloc of Republicans to the often hyperpartisan gridlock among congressional Republicans and Democrats.
“I’m tired of divided government. It doesn’t work very well,” Ryan said. “We’re just at loggerheads. We’ve gotten some good things done. But the big things — poverty, the debt crisis, the economy, health care — these things are stuck in divided government, and that’s why we think a unified Republican government’s the way to go.”
Earlier in the discussion, though, Ryan was challenged on whether he would support Trump’s proposal to “at least double” Clinton’s proposed $275 billion on infrastructure spending.
“Would you help a President Donald Trump pass a $550 billion or more infrastructure program? Would that be something that you would help him achieve?” The Atlantic’s Ron Brownstein asked, prompting a chortle from Ryan, who was eventually able to collect himself to note, “That’s not in the Better Way agenda.”
And when asked if he’s heard anything he could work with a President Hillary Clinton on, Ryan again found the questioning amusing, laughing before asking Brownstein, “How much time you got?”

Process IV


The politics of procedure

Motion to recommit


On the Senate side...

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

"I guess I'm having an Aleppo moment"

Gary Johnson stumbled once again in his third party bid for the presidency. After host Chris Matthews asked Johnson to name his favorite foreign leader, the candidate was unable to produce a single name. The moment was reminiscent of the 2008 campaign, when Vice Presidential nominee Sarah Palin struggled to name a single newspaper she read. Johnson perhaps furthered the gaffe with self-deprecating humor by referencing his "what is Aleppo" stumble earlier in the month.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Simulation Roles, Fall 2016

Armed Services


John McCain (AZ), chair..............Steph Wong
Kelly Ayotte (NH)........................Brittany Woods
Tom Cotton (AR)..........................Justine Gluck
Joni Ernst (IA)..............................Caroline Sunshine
Mike Lee (UT)...............................Kassidy Cuccia-Aguirre


Jack Reed (RI), ranking................Caroline Peck
Kirsten Gillibrand (NY)................Grant Newburger
Joe Manchin (WV)........................Ian Descamps
Claire McCaskill (MO),,,,.,,,,,.,,,,,,,,Joelle Leib



Chuck Grassley (IA), chair............Daniel Ludlam
Lindsey Graham (SC)....................Katherine DePalma
Jeff Flake (AZ)...............................Martin Sicilian
Ted Cruz (TX)................................Chandler Koon
Mitch McConnell (KY), R leader.... Skip Wiltshire-Gordon


Patrick Leahy (VT), ranking..........Bruno Youn
Dianne Feinstein (CA)...................Jenny Perez
Chuck Schumer (NY), D leader......Felipe Afanador
Amy Klobuchar (MN)....................Lizzie Carrade

For witnesses and administration officials, you might get in touch with last spring's class: click here.

Process III

Points of order: According to Jefferson's Manual, the count of members demanding a recorded vote is not appealable. 

A CRS report on precedence of amendments:
Senate precedents set out three principles of precedence among amendments that are directed to the same text: 
1. A second-degree amendment has precedence over a first-degree amendment;
2. A motion to insert and a motion to strike out and insert have precedence over a motion to strike out; and
3. A perfecting amendment (and an amendment to it) has precedence over a substitute amendment (and an amendment to it). 
The first of these principles is axiomatic. A second-degree amendment is an amendment to a firstdegree amendment, and it must be offered while the first-degree amendment is pending—that is, after the first-degree amendment has been offered but before the Senate has disposed of it. The Senate also acts on an amendment to a first-degree amendment before it acts on the first-degree amendment itself. So this principle conforms to Senate practice under both meanings of precedence.
It may be helpful in understanding the second two principles to think about decisions the Senate needs to make about a text. Changing the text of an amendment, through a second-degree amendment, could “cure” a problem Senators may have had with the amendment’s original language. That could obviate the need to strike out the text entirely.

Creating an exception to the filibuster requires a filibuster-proof majority:  TPA

The basic amendment tree in the House:

Question and Amending Blunder re Women in the Draft

Hello All!

First, a question from the reading. The chapter on Irregular Order explains, "Amendments will be voted on in the reverse order that they were proposed; this allows for all second-degree modifications to an amendment to be considered before the first-degree base amendment is voted on." (Straus, 220). Why is that? Am I missing something, or does that seem illogical?

Second, a fun little piece about Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-CA). During the National Defense Authorization Act Markup (in the House Armed Services Committee) last spring, Rep. Duncan proposed a "gotcha" amendment to require women to register for the draft. He meant to point at the ridiculousness of such a proposal and damage Democrats in the committee. Unfortunately, he forgot to withdraw the amendment before it went to vote. (See Straus, 220: "Even after an amendment has been proposed and debated, the amendment's sponsor may withdraw the amendment, as long as there has been no action taken on that amendment") It actually passed through the committee. Rep. Thornberry, the chair of the committee, had to do some serious behind the scenes work to make it go away later.

Article Here: http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2016/05/the-unlikely-birth-and-unseemly-death-of-an-amendment-to-draft-americas-women/483599/

C-SPAN Video Here: https://www.c-span.org/video/?c4591105/rep-duncan-hunter-amendment-requiring-women-register-military-draft

Monday, September 26, 2016

Two More Dark Horses

This is a sequel to Daniel Ludlam's piece, "Dark Horses."

Missouri Senate

The RealClearPolitics polling average has Roy Blunt (Vice Chair of the Senate Republican Conference) up by 3.4 points. That's within the margin of error of many polls with a sample size of 600 or fewer.

Blunt's challenger, Jason Kander, released a well-publicized ad of himself assembling an AR-15 blindfolded while outlining his stance on gun control.

During Hillary Clinton's widest leads thus far in post-convention presidential polls, there was talk of Missouri becoming a swing state. Although Missouri will likely stay red in the presidential race, the down-ballot shock from a Clinton victory could knock Blunt out of his seat.

Florida's 26th District

Joe Garcia won a closely contested Democratic primary (fewer than 3 percentage points) against Annette Taddeo. Garcia represented the 26th District in the 113th Congress, but was unseated by Republican Carlos Curbelo in 2014. Curbelo has refused to support Donald Trump, even comparing him to Hugo Chavez.

Notably, Florida's 26th District was one of eight congressional districts redrawn in 2015 by order of the Florida Supreme Court. The suit, brought up by a coalition led by the League of Women Voters, claimed that Florida's district map was the product of unconstitutional political gerrymandering. Florida voters added an amendment to the Florida Constitution that requires congressional districts to be drawn in a manner establishing "fairness" and to use "city, county, and geographical boundaries."

Curbelo has far deeper pockets than Garcia. As House races go, though, it's close.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Dispensing Amendments, Points of Order

In the Straus book it is written that after the chair upholds or rejects a ruling on a point of order any member can appeal the chair's decision "in certain situations." What are these situations? Members cannot always appeal the chair's decision?

Women of Congress - Sen. Warren takes on Wells Fargo CEO (and a throwback to Rep. Duckworth)

Senate Banking Committee in action! Elizabeth Warren calls for the resignation of the Wells Fargo CEO. "This is about accountability. You should resign. You should give back the money that you took while the scam was going on, and you should be criminally investigated by both the Department of Justice and the Securities & Exchange Commission." Watch the video here. Start at 7:00 here!

It reminded me of another hearing, in 2013. Rep. Duckworth (Purple Heart war veteran, first female double amputee during the conflict in Iraq) destroys Braulio Castillo - who got contracts based on his "status as a disabled veteran" (30% disability). He actually twisted his ankle in prep school. "It is because cases like you have poisoned the public opinion on these programs." Watch the video here. Start around 4:30 for this one.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Simulation, Fall 2016

Armed Services


John McCain (AZ), chair
Kelly Ayotte (NH)
Tom Cotton (AR)
Joni Ernst (IA)
Mike Lee (UT)


Jack Reed (RI), ranking
Kirsten Gillibrand (NY)
Joe Manchin (WV)
Claire McCaskill (MO)



Chuck Grassley (IA), chair
Lindsey Graham (SC)
Jeff Flake (AZ)
Ted Cruz (TX)
Mitch McConnell (KY) majority leader, added for simulation purposes


Patrick Leahy (VT), ranking
Dianne Feinstein (CA)
Chuck Schumer (NY), Democratic leader
Amy Klobuchar (MN)

For witnesses and administration officials, you might get in touch with last spring's class: click here.

Process II

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Second Paper, Fall 2016

Choose one:

1.   Pick any bill from the 113th (2013-15) or 114th Congresses (2015-present).  Explain its fate. Instead of giving a mere chronology, tell why the measure moved or stalled. What happened to previous versions? Which groups or blocs backed and fought it? Which strategies and tactics did its friends and foes use? Even if it failed or stalled, did it prompt the passage of a similar measure in a different form? Look at parliamentary strategies, major amendments, and roll calls.  Again, you should explain the outcome, not just describe the process.

2.  Analyze a proposed reform of congressional procedure (e.g., Rand Paul's Read the Bills Act).  Carefully explain arguments for and against the reform.  Would it achieve its goal?  Would it improve the operation of Congress? (The two questions are not necessarily the same.)

3.  Pick pending legislation that has not yet passed either house.  Write a memo to its prime sponsor detailing a plausible strategy for securing its passage at least in one chamber.  In your answer, consider all phases of the legislative process and take account of the influence of interest groups and the administration.

Get background from a source such as Congressional Quarterly Weekly Report, where you may find the partisan breakdown of roll-call votes. (Use the hardcopy or the online version at http://library.cqpress.com).   You may also find a key-votes database at The Washington Post.

Other possible sources include:

  • Essays should be typed, double-spaced, and no more than five pages long. I will not read past the fifth page. 
  • Cite your sources with endnotes in standard Turabian format. 
  • Watch your spelling, grammar, diction, and punctuation. Errors will count against you. Return essays (as Word documents, not pdfs) to the Sakai dropbox by 11:59 PM, Friday, October 7. Papers will drop one gradepoint for one day’s lateness, a full letter grade after that.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Dark Horses

In keeping up with polls, I've noticed a few races that deserve a little more love from the pundits.

-North Carolina Senate (Incumbent Sen. Burr vs challenger State Assemblywoman Ross)
While polling has shown a single digit advantage for Burr since January, Elon's poll released on Thursday shows Ross up by one point. Burr is riding the coattails of McCrory, who is not popular. Burr got an easy election year in 2010 when the Democratic party was more interested in mitigating their losses than picking up Rep seats, but 2016 is almost definitely going to be a better year for Democrats than 2010 was, and North Carolina's demographics are quickly shifting toward big cities and non-white voters - two advantages for Democrats. Incumbency and fundraising may yet save Burr, but I don't imagine he's sleeping well at night.

-New Hampshire's 1st Congressional District (Incumbent Frank Guinta vs challenger Carol Shea-Porter)
Round 4 of Guinta v. Shea-Porter (Fun fact, these two went head-to-head in 2010, 2012, and 2014, and each time the challenger won) is looking dim for Guinta. While Guinta's prospects have undoubtedly improved from the bleak 19-point-deficit he faced in late August (the peak of Clinton's polling against Trump), the swing alone probably isn't big enough for him to hold on to his seat. Nevertheless, New Hampshire is both 33% rural (well ahead of the national average) and 93% white (FAR ahead of the national average), the district is also very anti-incumbent (ousting incumbents is routine for NH-1) and has no clear advantage for either party in voter registration.

-Maine and Nebraska Presidential Election (Trump vs Clinton)
Maine and Nebraska are the only two states to award two of their electoral college votes to the winner of the popular vote and the rest by congressional district. Both Maine and Nebraska have a Congressional district that have strong possibility of breaking from the state's popular vote.
-Maine 2nd is nearly 3/4 rural, and all of the most recent polling shows Trump ahead - in the two latest polls, Trump leads by double digits. While the 1st congressional district is quite solidly in Clinton's camp, a wide enough margin in the 2nd could put Maine's two statewide votes in play.
-Nebraska 2nd, unlike the rest of the state, is concentrated in urban Omaha. While Pres. Obama won the 2nd in 2008, 2010 redistricting moved Bellevue, a more liberal South Omaha suburb, into the highly conservative 1st Congressional district in exchange for highly conservative North Omaha suburbs. Despite the redistricting, NE-2 is represented by a Democrat first elected in 2014, a strongly Republican year. Fivethirtyeight gives the edge to Trump, but also notes that neither candidate is likely to obtain 50% of the vote at this point.

Legislative Process I


  Bill Drafting (Straus ch. 2)
The Name Game

A recent example: The HANGUP Act

Do They Read The Bills? No.  

A recent example

John Conyers:

The fiscal cliff -- search for "algae"
The committee system

Friday, September 16, 2016

Lobotomy on the Hill

Frank Baumgartner and Lee Drutman write at Vox that Congress is working fine ... for some.
So who are these select few? They are indeed a small group, but not an inconsequential one. They include party leaders who benefit from centralized control of policy and personnel resources, lobbying groups withpolicy capacity to lend, and anybody who doesn't want Congress to be able to produce new legislation or know much about it if it does. That's about it.
Congress has given itself a lobotomy over the past three decades. It has eliminated thousands of staff positionseviscerated its ability to carry out policy analysis, and generally has such low pay and difficult work environments that it relies on inexperienced and overstretched 20-somethings for the vast bulk of its work.

Before puzzling why any institution would do something so self-destructive and attributing the cause to irrationality or worse, we should consider perhaps that the system is now working just as many people would prefer.
Congress would significantly improve its problem-solving capacity under a reempowered committee system, with more and more professional staff to conduct policy analysis. Under such a system, committees have both the resources and the breathing space to tackle public problems. Congress would get more discovery on a range of problems, more information about potential policy solutions, and more capacity to solve problems.
By contrast, centralization of resources in party leadership means that information sourcesare tightly controlled, limited, and drawn into the zero-sum nature of partisan conflict. It's no wonder Congress is frequently incapacitated.

But change is hard.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Leadership and LBJ

Committees and the Simulation

Hill leadership
Edmund Burke:
 In all bodies, those who will lead, must also, in a considerable degree, follow. They must conform their propositions to the taste, talent, and disposition, of those whom they wish to conduct: therefore, if an assembly is viciously or feebly composed in a very great part of it, nothing but such a supreme degree of virtue as very rarely appears in the world, and for that reason cannot enter into calculation, will prevent the men of talent disseminated through it from becoming only the expert instruments of absurd projects!
Speakership Elections (see Straus p. 45)

Factions and Member Organizations

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

LBJ in Frank Underwood's office

The moment that made Newt

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.

Highlight from pg. 52 of Straus...

Tom Delay was extremely skilled at counting votes, but he was also successful because he had built a reservoir of goodwill by doing small favors, like providing barbecue chicken when the House met late in the evening (Baker 2000, 45).

FYI this is an open invitation to provide barbecue chicken or ribs from Freddy's BBQ Joint ;) during the simulation.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016


I need a clarification from the reading. What are the ambitions of most LAs working for members? Do they eventually want to specialize and work for committees?

Party at Home and in Washington

Party at Home
Party Committees

Republican... RNC NRCC NRSC 
Democratic.. DNC DCCC* DSCC*

*Chair appointed by party leader

Paying your dues ... literally  (No formal dues for Senate committees)

Hill leadership

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Politico: Trump expands House battleground map

In class we've brought up the likelihood of the Democrats retaking the Senate, or at least the apparent likelihood of it happening; even though Dems need about 30 seats in the house to retake it, Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi thinks it's possible--and of course Trump is a major factor.

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Christian Dominance in Congress and Younger Voter Turnout

On the note of the discussion of religion in Congress last class, the Christian dominance of Congress does not reflect that Christian affiliation is declining.

Each successive generation is increasingly secular. Younger voters have a lower turnout rate, especially in midterm elections. Low turnout might account for part of this congressional lag behind the downward trend in religious affiliation.
Public Service Announcement: Aleppo is in Syria and it is kind of a big deal


Two Parties, Two Chambers, Two Lives


Two Parties, Four Postures

Four Strategic Postures Since 2000 (House, by election year)

                                                Majority                      Minority

            Pres Party                    Dems 08                      GOP 06
                                                GOP 00, 02, 04           Dem 10,12,14
            Out Party                    GOP 10,12,14             GOP 08
                                                Dem 06                       Dem 00, 02,04

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.

From the Census
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).
One major difference between the chambers is that few House members run for president, and seldom get far when they do (see Ron Paul, Michele Bachmann, Duncan Hunter and Dennis Kucinich). But a fairly large fraction of senators have gone for the White House:
  • Lamar Alexander (R-TN) 1996, 2000
  • Ted Cruz (R-TX) 2016
  • Lindsey Graham (R-SC) 2016
  • Orrin Hatch (R-UT) 2000
  • John McCain (R-AZ) 2000, 2008
  • Rand Paul (R-KY) 2016
  • Marco Rubio (R-FL) 2016
  • Bernard Sanders (I-VT) 2016

And of course remember President Obama, Vice President Biden, and former Secretary of State Clinton.

"What you have to understand about my people is that they are a noble people. Humility is their form of pride. It is their strength; it is their weakness. And if you can humble yourself before them they will do anything you ask."  -- Frank Underwood

Home Style:  John McCain and little old ladies in 1993:

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

First Paper, Fall 2016

Pick one:
  • Compare and contrast the “Hill style” and “home style” of any current member of Congress. That is, how the "presentation of self" at home either resemble or differ from the member's Washington persona? 
  • How well would LBJ's Senate leadership style work in 2016?  In your answer, consider differences in the composition of the Senate, along with changes in the formal and informal "rules of the game."   
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. see The Almanac of American Politics either in hardcopy at Honnold or via the library website. Consult other sources as well. See: http://www1.cmc.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, Friday, September 16. Papers will drop one gradepoint for one day’s lateness, a full letter grade after that.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Double Lives

In the Davidson reading Herrnson writes, "members of Congress almost lead double lives." Can we tease this out more? I think it is an interesting statement. I've never heard it phrased like that. Does he mean members of Congress are like Hannah Montana and James Bond? I'm kidding of course. Thoughts? 

Video: Keepin' It RealClear: Senate Battlegrounds


Congress: The Institution

(POTUS enters at about 32 minutes.)

The president is both head of state and head of government. In the UK, the monarch is the head of state.


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