Newsletter: April 1, 2013

What Congressional Recesses Mean for the Federal Agencies
By Marian Currinder, Senior Fellow

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 recess on Monday, March 25; both chambers will reconvene the week of April 8. When members leave town, the pace on Capitol Hill slows, presenting the federal agencies with important opportunities to interact with otherwise unavailable, over-scheduled congressional staff.


Upcoming GAI Course(s):

Certificate Program in Legislative Studies

The Certificate Program in Legislative Studies is designed for professionals who are currently working or planning to work in an executive branch department or agency; in a congressional staff position; with an interest group, law firm, or news organization; or others whose business or organization is affected by federal legislative or regulatory activities.


Congressional Operations Seminar

April 15 – 19, 2013

This five-day course provides a comprehensive look at congressional processes and organization, and at how Congress affects the daily operations of every department and agency in the executive branch. Like most Government Affairs Institute courses, the Congressional Operations Seminar is conducted on Capitol Hill in order to provide a first-hand understanding of congressional processes and procedure, as well as the “culture” that is the United States Congress.


Director’s Desk

The sequester was, of course, never supposed to happen.  The indiscriminate cuts to spending would be so damaging that surely Congress would take some action to avoid it – except it didn’t.  With the exception of certain exempted programs – military salaries, veteran’s programs, Social Security, welfare and food stamps – everything else was supposed to be subject to the meat ax.  But then, predictably, one agency after another began to find ways to avoid or minimize the predicted furloughs that were to be the inevitable result of the sequester.  Still, there will be some furloughs, and there will be some level of impact on government services.  But not, however, on one function deemed too important to furlough even a single employee: Customs and Border protection?  Air traffic controllers? FBI agents? – no, meat inspectors.  After vigorous lobbying by the meat industry (including the chicken & turkey lobbies), the Agriculture Department’s meat inspection service received $55 million in new funding in order to avoid furloughing any meat inspectors for even a single day.  The meat ax will cut nearly everything, but not meat production.  This is not, I repeat, is not an April fool’s story – you can’t make this stuff up.
-Ken Gold


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