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Category Archives: Legislation

Congressional Oversight of Intelligence: Background and Selected Options for Further Reform

EveryCRSReport.com – Congressional Oversight of Intelligence: Background and Selected Options for Further Reform, December 4, 2018: “Prior to the establishment of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence (SSCI) and the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence (HPSCI) in 1976 and 1977, respectively, Congress did not take much interest in conducting oversight of the Intelligence Community (IC). The Subcommittees on the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) of the congressional Armed Services Committees had nominal oversight responsibility, though Congress generally trusted that IC could more or less regulate itself, conduct activities that complied with the law, were ethical, and shared a common understanding of national security priorities. Media reports in the 1970s of the CIA’s domestic surveillance of Americans opposed to the war in Vietnam, in addition to the agency’s activities relating to national elections in Chile, prompted Congress to change its approach. In 1975, Congress established two select committees to investigate intelligence activities, chaired by Senator Frank Church in the Senate (the “Church Committee”), and Representative Otis Pike in the House (the “Pike Committee”). Following their creation, the Church and Pike committees’ hearings revealed the possible extent of the abuse of authority by the IC and the potential need for permanent committee oversight focused solely on the IC and intelligence activities. SSCI and HPSCI oversight contributed substantially to Congress’s work to legislate improvements to intelligence organization, programs, and processes and it enabled a more structured, routine relationship with intelligence agencies. On occasion this has resulted in Congress advocating on behalf of intelligence reform legislation that many agree has generally improved IC organization and performance. At other times, congressional oversight has been perceived as less helpful, delving into the details of programs and activities…

An oft-cited observation of the Commission on Terrorist Attacks upon the United States (i.e., the 9-11 Commission) that congressional oversight of intelligence is “dysfunctional” continues to overshadow discussion of whether Congress has done enough. Does congressional oversight enable the IC to be more effective, better funded and organized, or does it burden agencies by the sheer volume of detailed inquiries into intelligence programs and related activities? A central question for Congress is: Could additional changes to the rules governing congressional oversight of intelligence enable Congress to more effectively fund programs, influence policy, and legislate improvements in intelligence standards, organization and process that would make the country safer?..”

Federal Workers Warned Against Talk of ‘Impeachment,’ ‘the Resistance’

Reason.com: “Employees of the federal government were warned this week that both praising and criticizing the Trump administration while on duty may be considered illegal. Federal workers are specifically barred from “advocating” for or against impeachment and from expressing support for the so-called “resistance” to President Donald Trump. Such expressions could be considered violations of… Continue Reading

Guide – FDsys Retirement and Transition to govinfo

GovInfo FAQ: “govinfo is free U.S. Government information for all.” govinfo is a service of the United States Government Publishing Office (GPO), which is a Federal agency in the legislative branch. govinfo provides free public access to official publications from all three branches of the Federal Government. govinfo will replace FDsys GPO launched govinfo in… Continue Reading

A Sustainable Path Forward Report from the Task Force on US Postal System

United States Postal Service: A Sustainable Path Forward Report from the Task Force on the United States Postal System. December 4, 2018 – “On April 12, 2018, you [President Trump] signed Executive Order 13829, which established the Task Force on the United States Postal System to evaluate the operations and finances of the United States… Continue Reading

GPO Makes Documents Easy to Download and Repurpose in New XML Format

GPO news release: “The U.S. Government Publishing Office (GPO) makes available a subset of enrolled bills, public and private laws, and the Statutes at Large in Beta United States Legislative Markup (USLM) XML, a format that makes documents easier to download and repurpose. The documents available in the Beta USLM XML format include enrolled bills… Continue Reading

GPO to Retire the Federal Digital System Website 11/29/18

“The U.S. Government Publishing Office will officially retire its Federal Digital System (FDsys) website on December 14. The retirement will complete the transition to govinfo (www.govinfo.gov), the user-friendly, modernized site that offers a dynamic way for the public to discover and access information on the three branches of the Federal Government. “With the official transition… Continue Reading

How to Get Your Lawmakers to Listen

ProPublica – “In our final installment of the User’s Guide to Democracy, we asked a live panel of congressional experts to help you stay engaged in politics after the midterms have ended. Congress Works For You. Here’s How to Be a Better Boss.” [h/t Pete Weiss] “You did it! In this month’s midterm election, you… Continue Reading

15 state attorneys general back Maryland in challenging Whitaker’s appointment

The Hill: “The attorneys general from 14 states and Washington, D.C., are urging a federal district court judge to block Matthew Whitaker from continuing to serve as Acting U.S. attorney general. The state attorneys general filed a friend of the court brief in support of Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh’s request on Nov. 13 for… Continue Reading

New 136-page guide to House members

Via Axios – “Phil Singer and his team at Marathon Strategies are quick out of the gate with a 136-page guide to the House members, including these talkers: Katie Hill (R-CA-25): Rock climbing enthusiast Gil Cisneros (R-CA-39): Won $266 million in Mega Millions lottery Donna Shalala (R-FL-27): Former HHS Secretary Sharice Davids (R-KS-03): Former MMA… Continue Reading

Introduction to the Legislative Process in the U.S. Congress

Every CRS Report – Introduction to the Legislative Process in the U.S. Congress, November 15, 2018. “This report introduces the main steps through which a bill (or other item of business) may travel in the legislative process—from introduction to committee and floor consideration to possible presidential consideration. However, the process by which a bill can… Continue Reading

CRS Report – Types of Committee Hearings

Every CRS Report – Types of Committee Hearings, November 15, 2018 “Congressional committee hearings may be broadly classified into four types: legislative, oversight, investigative, and confirmation. Hearings may be held on Capitol Hill or elsewhere (e.g., a committee member’s district or state, or a site related to the subject of the hearing). These latter hearings… Continue Reading

The Pentagon’s Getting More Secretive and It’s Hurting National Security

Defense One: “At a time of rampant executive branch corruption and large increases in defense spending, Americans are rightly concerned about the need for governmental transparency. People deserve to know how their money is being used, and what life-or-death decisions the Pentagon bureaucracy is making in their names. As President Trump asks for more defense… Continue Reading