115th Congress



Why Tax Reform Is Hard

As we noted in our last newsletter, September was, perhaps, the cruelest month.  A bevy of high stakes deadlines (and potential crises) loomed— many, but not all, were met.  But the real blow to the party in power was the failure to meet a parliamentarian-decreed deadline to repeal and replace


Republicans’ Inability to Do Routine Things Is Scuttling Their Big Plans

The 2016 election was a near universal shock. President Trump beat (nearly) all prognosticators. House Republicans only lost 6 seats, retaining their 4th largest House majority since 1930. Senate Republicans also beat the odds and held on to a 52 seat majority. Suddenly, the 2016 Election that was supposed to go bad for Republicans turned


Senior Fellow Mark Harkins in the News

GAI | August 24, 2017

Senior Fellow Mark Harkins was interviewed by CBS News to weigh in on a recent New York Times report about a widening rift between President Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. You can see the CBS News story here .


It’s more than just bad process. It’s harmful.

There’s a lot of ​talk about the broken processes in the House and Senate, particularly around the health​ ​care bill. Extraordinary secrecy has been employed to push the AHCA through the House and the BCRA through the Senate. ​In fact, t​here’s so much commentary about how “broken” the institution is that people are overlooking what


Secrecy in Lawmaking and What it Spells for the rest of the 115th

Josh Huder | July 24, 2017

The House and Senate efforts to repeal and replace versions of the Affordable Care Act have relied on an amazingly convoluted, opaque, and covert process. It was, and is, a stunning display of haste and hubris, well outside the norms of the modern legislative process. Speaker Ryan dropped the American Health Care Act (AHCA) practically


The Sequester Died on May 5

Mark Harkins | May 30, 2017

Sequestration put into place by the Budget Control Act in 2011 (BCA) is still on the books.  But Congress, with the acquiescence of the President, has found a way to make that point moot.  By invoking another section of budget law, section 251(b)(2)(A)(i) and (ii) of the Balanced Budget and Emergency Deficit Control Act of


The omnibus is here! And some things to clear up about congressional budget politics.

House and Senate leaders will push through an omnibus spending package this week. The bill combines 11 appropriations bills for the final months of the FY2017 calendar. Democrats walked away with some big wins in the omnibus. They struck over 100 policy riders, resisted non-defense cuts proposed by President Trump, managed to block funding for


Desperate Times Call for Desperate Measures: CR edition

Josh Huder | April 17, 2017

Next week, the government will run out of money to stay open. And in typical fashion, Congress has left itself an insanely small window to pass a continuing resolution (CR) to keep it functioning. (If the process plays out normally, the Senate will have approximately  5 hours to spare before the government shuts down. This


The legislative filibuster isn’t going anywhere any time soon

Josh Huder | April 5, 2017

It’s a nuclear week in the Senate. Majority Leader McConnell has hinted that he has the votes to go “nuclear” on Judge Gorsuch’s nomination to the Supreme Court. In effect, McConnell would invoke the same process then-Majority Leader Harry Reid used in 2013 to change the Senate’s interpretation of Rule XXII. The effect would reduce


Democrats’ Dilemma over the Federal Judiciary

Susan Sullivan Lagon | March 29, 2017

In all likelihood, Tenth Circuit Judge Neil Gorsuch will replace the late Justice Antonin Scalia on the Supreme Court. How he gets there is the question, not whether. If confirmed, Gorsuch will be a predictably conservative voice on the nation’s highest bench just like Scalia was. It’s the next vacancy that could shift the


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