Congressional Update



Whither Tax Reform? Chasing the Great White Whale

Laura Blessing | February 7, 2016

Tax reform, particularly genuinely comprehensive tax reform, seems to be the great white whale of American politics.  Given that it tends to occur once a generation, the smart money is always on betting on the reform du jour failing.  And yet, confident rumblings have yet again surfaced–from Speaker Ryan and Ways and


What Does Congress Have on Tap in 2016?

Josh Huder | January 7, 2016

The 114th Congress was a whirlwind of activity compared to its predecessors. Accomplishments like trade promotion authority, a Medicare “doc-fix” solution, a two-year budget deal, and the highway funding act were legislative highlights in a productive first session. In all, the 114th Congress passed 115 laws, the most in a first year of Congress since


An Early Look at Prospects for the FY16 Budget

Kenneth Gold | March 31, 2015

On Wednesday last week the House passed its version of the FY16 budget resolution; and on early Friday morning the Senate passed its version. Modern budget resolutions are highly partisan vehicles, so one would assume that they’d pass easily in each chamber. And with one party in control of both the House and the Senate,


It’s not all Gridlock: What Republicans can accomplish in the 114th Congress

Can decades of dysfunction reverse course in a single Congress? No. But despite the general pessimism surrounding Congress there are several reason to expect the 114th to be more productive than its recent predecessors, which were historically bad on several fronts. Now that divided congressional control is over a sense of mild optimism


Obama Loses the Legal Battle, but the Battlefield Has Changed

The Supreme Court handed President Obama a defeat in NLRB v. Noel Canning  this week, declaring that Obama’s three appointments to the NLRB made during “recesses” between pro-forma sessions the Senate convened every three days were clearly unconstitutional.  If the Senate says it’s in session—even pro-forma—then it’s in session, and the president must obtain its


Earmarks and Eric Cantor’s Primary Loss

Ashley Parker and Jonathan Martin have an excellent piece in The New York Times on the changing demographics of voters in suburban districts and how that led to primary defeats of Sen. Thad Cochran in Mississippi (now in a runoff) and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor in Virginia. I think they underplay a critical


Assessing Congressional Productivity: Getting it Right

The Washington Post’s Wonkblog had a write up on congressional productivity not long ago. Its central thesis is Congress is more productive in election years than in non-election years. This is a good counter-intuitive point. Many pundits discuss congressional productivity only in terms of major bills passed. However, Congress often passes laws that fly under


Senatorial Courtesy, Blue Slips Caught in the Fallout

Ian Millhiser has a very good piece on judicial nominations and blue slips over at Think Progress. It covers a lot of ground and is a wonderful read. However, I do have some bones to pick with his take. At the core of Millhiser’s argument are blue slips and their place in Senate history.