congressional-operations

Kavanaugh Controversy and Violence Against Women Act Collide on Capitol Hill
Not the first time a Supreme Court fight and VAWA have been linked

Sen. Mazie Hirono, D-Hawaii, and Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., hold a press conference with Holton-Arms alumnae in support of Christine Blasey Ford in the Hart Senate Office Building on Thursday, Sept. 20, 2018. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Christine Blasey Ford’s sexual assault allegation against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh upended his confirmation process and brought sexual misconduct back into the spotlight on Capitol Hill. While the Senate Judiciary Committee digs into what happened more than 30 years ago, other lawmakers are working to extend and expand protections for victims under the Violence Against Women Act.

The competing claims from Ford and Kavanaugh have divided both the Senate and the country, with Ford accusing Kavanaugh of sexually assaulting her at a party when they were teenagers, and Kavanaugh issuing blanket denials and saying he welcomes the chance to “clear my name.” 

When Fried Pickles Lead to Better Policymaking
Ace program helps lawmakers build personal and working relationships

From right, Kentucky Rep. Andy Barr and California Rep. Jimmy Panetta visit a farm outside Lexington, Ky., during an exchange trip in June with the Bipartisan Policy Center. (Courtesy Bipartisan Policy Center)

OPINION — A California congressman, born in Mexico, introduces a Republican colleague in America’s heartland to traditional Mexican hibiscus water while attending a Cinco de Mayo festival, like the one he started in his home district. Within 24 hours, they receive a classified defense briefing nearby at U.S. Strategic Command headquarters. In ways both lighthearted and serious, that’s how relationships are built under the Bipartisan Policy Center’s American Congressional Exchange program, or ACE.

Relationships are foundational. Just as it is hard to trust someone you don’t know, it’s also difficult to disparage a person with whom you’ve broken bread — or shared hibiscus water, eaten fried pickles or tasted olive oil on ice cream. And experiencing the world through the eyes and perspective of another is frequently illuminating.

Biden Urges Senators Not to Treat Kavanaugh Accuser Like Anita Hill
Biden was criticized as chairman of Judiciary panel after senators grilled Hill in 1991 Clarence Thomas hearings

Former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. said Friday he regretted that Anita Hill was “villified” in her testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee that he chaired at the time and wished he had done more to prevent that . (Mark Wilson/Getty Images file photo)

Former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. urged his former colleagues in the Senate to treat Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh’s accuser better than they treated Anita Hill in 1991 as she testified about how then-Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas sexually harassed her when they worked together.

“Anita Hill was vilified,” Biden told NBC’s “Today” show on Friday. “I wish I could have done more to prevent that.”

Kavanaugh Accuser’s Schoolmate Clarifies That There Was Incident ‘Buzz’
‘That it happened or not, I have no idea,’ former schoolmate of Christine Blasey Ford says

Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh has denied claims that he sexually assaulted Christine Blasey Ford when they were in high school. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

A former schoolmate of Christine Blasey Ford, a California psychology professor who has accused Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of sexually assaulting her when they were in high school, clarified Wednesday that she has no first-hand knowledge of the alleged attack.

“I do not have first hand knowledge of the incident that Dr. Christine Blasey Ford mentions, and I stand by my support for Christine. That’s it. I don’t have more to say on the subject,” Cristina King Miranda tweeted Wednesday.

Russians Targeting Senate, Staff Personal Emails, Sen. Ron Wyden Warns
And the Senate sergeant-at-arms can do nothing to stop the cyber attacks — for now

Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., told colleagues that Russian hackers have been targeting senators’ and aides’ personal accounts and devices. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Sen. Ron Wyden implored his colleagues to enact legislation that would allow the Senate sergeant-at-arms to provide cyber protections to senators and staffers for their personal devices and accounts.

The Oregon Democrat warned Senate leaders that the state-backed Russian group responsible for hacking the Democratic National Committee before the 2016 election, “Fancy Bear,” has also tried infiltrating the personal communications networks of senators and their staffers, including Wyden’s own aides.

Public-Facing Congressional Research Reports Site Launches to Criticism
crsreports.congress.gov went live on time, but with a number of shortcomings

A new Congressional Research Service website with public reports is now live. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Congress’ in-house research division has moved to make more of its reports public, as required by law, but the new website is already drawing criticism.

Under the fiscal 2018 omnibus spending bill, the Congressional Research Service had to publish all nonconfidential reports on a public website operated by the Library of Congress. The website went live Tuesday, meeting the deadline set by appropriators.

Nunes Plans to Release House Russia Probe Interviews Before Midterms
Schiff, Democrats have been calling for release for months

Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Calif., plans to release interview transcripts from the House Russia probe by the midterm elections. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Rep. Devin Nunes, the chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, plans to release the transcripts of dozens of private interviews from the committee’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. election.

With midterms coming up, the California Republican said, he wants to work quickly in the coming weeks to make unclassified interviews from the probe public and have Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats declassify the others.

Rep. Clay Higgins Wants to Drug Test Congress
Lawmakers would be referred to Ethics Committee if they tested positive for drugs

Rep. Clay Higgins, R-La., a former sheriff’s department captain in Louisiana, has proposed legislation to drug test members of Congress. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Rep. Clay Higgins has an idea for how to get Congress to clean up its act: random drug screenings.

“I have observed some behavior that would cause one to wonder,” the Louisiana Republican told the USA Today Network in an interview, apparently joking.

Steny Hoyer Touts Oversight and Ethics Standards as Key to Trust in Government
Eyeing majority, Maryland Democrat and minority whip looks at transparency as winning issue

Hoyer layed out proposals to boost transparency, oversight and to strengthen ethics standards. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Efforts to boost transparency, ethics and oversight are among House Minority Whip Steny H. Hoyer’s strategies for restoring Americans’ trust in government if Democrats win the House majority for the next congress.

“Our people believe their government is rigged against them. This belief undermines trust in government and impedes our ability to govern,” the Maryland Democrat told a crowd Wednesday.

Good Government Groups Urge ‘Systematic Reform’ of House Rules
Demand Progress leads letter and white paper to Congress with recommended rule changes

Outside groups want the U.S. House of Representatives to overhaul its rules. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Twenty outside groups that seek to promote good government sent a letter to House lawmakers Wednesday morning, urging them to take back their individual power and overhaul the chamber’s rules. 

The letter, led by Demand Progress, outlines 10 principles that members should follow in crafting a new rules package