113th Congress

Funding the Government, Defunding Obamacare, & Innovative Procedure

As Congress steps closer to the various fiscal cliffs over the next week, the pressing question for Republican leadership is how to defund Obamacare. Several Republicans have indicated they will not support any continuing resolution not tied to the defunding the ACA. The law goes into effect on October 1st and many see this as

Nuclear Showdown

Earlier this year a good faith, bipartisan deal was made in the Senate to put minor limits on the use of the filibuster on legislation. But this effort apparently did not tamp down the intense partisanship. In response, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is laying the rhetorical groundwork for much more aggressive reform later

What Congressional Recesses Mean for the Federal Agencies

According to a recent Gallup poll, congressional approval stands at 13 percent, just three percentage points above last year’s all-time low of 10 percent approval. With numbers like these, it’s no wonder that members of Congress are eager to leave Washington and head home to their states and districts. Congress officially began its annual Easter/Passover

Congress and the Ulysses Solution: When Tying Your Hands Can Work; And When It Doesn’t

The sequester is in place despite Congress providing itself an expedited process meant to stave off these indiscriminate and draconian across-the-board cuts. Back in 2011, when congressional Republicans insisted on substantial spending cuts as the price of increasing the debt ceiling, the President and Speaker Boehner tried to reach a “grand bargain”. After failing in

The Boehner Rule: A Minority of the Majority?

What do the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), the Hurricane Sandy Relief Act, and the fiscal cliff deal have in common? All passed the House this year over the objection of a majority of the majority party. In bringing these bills to the House floor, Speaker John Boehner chose to willfully violate the “Hastert Rule”

Filibuster Rules Changes Epitomize the Senate

The more things change… The Senate has spoken—at length—and the result is…not much. This sentence could characterize the 112th Congress as well as the changes agreed to in Senate Resolution 16, the first roll call of the 113th (86 yeas, 9 nays). After months of the majority’s frustration with constant filibuster threats, impassioned pleas for

The Assault Weapons Ban: Lessons about Congress

In the wake of the tragic massacre in Newtown, President Obama set forth a list of proposed gun control measures including a new assault weapons ban. An earlier ban expired in 2004. Regardless of how you feel about the proposal or how effective the previous ban was, its 2004 expiration illustrates four features of the

Prospects for a Government Shutdown

With the first fiscal cliff deadline now behind them, congressional leaders and the White House have already begun to position on the next series of fiscal showdowns, which include the expiring debt ceiling, that has reportedly already been breached, although the Treasury Department can creatively manage until mid- to late February; the postponed sequester, downsized

No Federal Pay Freeze in Fiscal Cliff Agreement, However…

Legislation passed by the House and Senate yesterday to avoid the fiscal cliff, the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012, postpones the sequester for two months, but does not contain a provision to extend the pay freeze on federal personnel. The only provision regarding federal pay prevents a cost of living adjustment to Members of

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