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Second Verse, Same as the First: 2024 Appropriations Watch

After a chaotic and historically unproductive first session, the 118th Congress appears to be off to a more hopeful start in the new year. Recent news indicating congressional leaders have finally secured an agreement on the top-line numbers for funding the federal government for the remainder of FY24 is certainly


The Debt Ceiling and the Appropriations Process

The partisan and intra-branch posturing on the debt ceiling, on display since January, has finally yielded actual legislative text.  Last week Speaker Kevin McCarthy successfully shepherded his conference to pass a debt ceiling bill, accurately characterized as a “bare-minimum victory on a doomed bill.” This description of the House GOP’s initial bargaining offer perfectly


A Very Busy Lame Duck?

Why walk when you can fly?  As the 117th Congress pushes into its lame duck session, party leaders consider an ambitious array of bills, and historically, it’s not unusual for such sessions to feature major legislative items.  While lame ducks of the past decade or two have typically been marked by


The Defense Budget: Current Status and Core Issues

Defense officials are already busy making the obligatory annual rounds on Capitol Hill in support of the President’s preferred spending priorities. The current steady pace of congressional hearings might suggest that Congress is methodically working its way towards a timely passage of the defense budget. But this burst of activity on the


The End-of-Year Appropriations Crunch

Congress is back from its Thanksgiving recess only to face another round of demanding deadlines, the most pressing of which is averting a government shutdown once the current short-term continuing resolution (CR) expires on December 3.  All this within the whirlwind of other activities: the just-passed infrastructure bill, the ongoing Build Back Better


The Importance of the Congressional Calendar

Halfway through its first session, the 117th Congress finds itself in familiar territory, one that past Congresses know all too well. The crush of ambitious and unfinished legislative business is threatening to overwhelm Capitol Hill’s notoriously tricky and fickle schedule. Call it the tyranny of the congressional calendar. Here we’ll consider


Outlook for the NDAA in the 117th Congress

The 116th Congress wrapped up its final days in a dramatic fashion by delivering the first and only veto override of the Trump Administration on New Year’s Day. It was probably fitting and not terribly surprising that this strong bipartisan legislative rebuke


Hearings Oversight in a Time of Covid

At the end of season one of the popular HBO comedy series Veep, a panicked staffer from the Vice President’s office hurriedly solicits advice from a lawyer during a fundraising event. The staffer dreads being asked to testify before Congress because of his role in a series of hilariously incompetent crises. He urgently queries the


National Security Oversight: Still a Man’s World

Women’s representation has made significant gains in politics. Women are major contenders for the Presidency and are increasingly winning office at the national, state, and local levels. Women comprising a quarter of Congress may be small in an absolute sense, but it is truly historic. Yet within the legislative branch, that influence is not felt


In Search of Good Intelligence Oversight

After a moment of pomp and circumstance to accompany the swearing-in of the new Congress, the 116th Congress quickly pivoted to the less glamorous work of legislating. The most immediate concern for Democrats, who now control the House of Representatives, is to end a partial government shutdown that has dragged on for


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