congressional-operations

Merdon out at AOC, Thomas Carroll named new acting architect
Search continues for permanent Architect of the Capitol

Acting Architect of the Capitol Christine Merdon resigned, and Thomas J. Carroll has been named to lead the agency. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Christine Merdon is out as acting Architect of the Capitol, and Thomas J. Carroll has been named to lead the agency on an acting basis as the search for a permanent AOC continues.

In an internal notice to AOC employees, Merdon said she had accepted a job outside of the agency.

Chief administrative officer warns employees: Shape up or risk being outsourced
Congress is not looking to outsource CAO services — yet, Philip Kiko says

House Chief Administrative Officer Philip Kiko said Congress could be tempted to outsource CAO services to the private sector. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The House chief administrative officer struck an ominous tone in a staff meeting Wednesday, warning employees that Congress could eventually look to outsource many of their services to private sector vendors if they don’t step up and meet member demands.

In an all-hands meeting broadcast on YouTube, Philip Kiko focused on a set of recommendations approved by the Select Committee on the Modernization of Congress last week and his appearance before that same committee on July 11, both of which yielded criticism of his office’s performance.

So much for Whistleblower Appreciation Day; Capitol Hill workers still unprotected
Employees of legislative branch agencies don't have the same protections as other federal workers

Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., once cosponsored a whistleblower protection bill, but Capitol Hill staff remain unprotected. (Photo by Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call)

The Senate had declared July 30 as “National Whistleblower Appreciation Day,” but that apparently is for other people, since senators’ own staffers and other legislative branch employees are not protected equally compared to other federal workers.

The discrepancy has been in place for years, but legislation to expand protections for employees of the House and Senate, Library of Congress, Capitol Police and other agencies hasn’t moved forward.

Retiring page school principal honored by McConnell
After 26 years, Kathryn Weeden is leaving the job

Pages pose for a group photo on the Senate steps on April 24, 2018. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

A behind-the-scenes force on Capitol Hill is retiring after 26 years on the job. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell paid tribute Tuesday to Senate Page School principal Kathryn Weeden in a speech on the floor.

“For more than a quarter century, principal Weeden has been a constant anchor in a place where rotation and change are par for the course,” the Kentucky Republican said.

Modernization panel calls for staffer HR hub, mandatory cybersecurity training
Package of recommendations is ‘really a big deal,’ Graves says

Rep. Tom Graves, the top Republican on the Modernization Select Committee, applauded the bipartisan work to approve two dozen recommendations Thursday. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The Select Committee on the Modernization of Congress unanimously approved two dozen recommendations Thursday, urging lawmakers to create a centralized human resources hub for staffers, resurrect the Office of Technology Assessment and make cybersecurity training mandatory.

The recommendations, the second batch for the one-year panel, also included making permanent the Office of Diversity and Inclusion, updating the staff payroll system to semimonthly, creating a Congressional Leadership Academy to train lawmakers and reestablishing the OTA, which would advise Congress on technology matters.

Climate change protesters glue themselves together in tunnel to Capitol
17 arrested as votes go ahead as scheduled with House members finding other routes to chamber

Police block access from the Cannon House Office Building to the Capitol after protesters seeking congressional action on climate change glued themselves to a door Tuesday night, but House members found other routes to the chamber. (Doug Sword/CQ Roll Call)

Demonstrators seeking to get Congress to declare a climate emergency superglued their hands to each other and blocked entrances to the Capitol from House office buildings Tuesday to disrupt scheduled votes.

The protesters from the group Extinction Rebellion formed human blockades in the tunnels to the Capitol from Rayburn and Cannon House buildings, which along with the connected Longworth building are where members have their offices.

When congressional staffers are elected officials too
Staffers who wear two hats have to answer to their boss’ constituents — and their own

Connecticut state Rep. Sean Scanlon works for Democratic Sen. Christopher S. Murphy. (Courtesy Connecticut General Assembly)

Sean Scanlon caught the political bug when he was a kid growing up in Guilford, Connecticut. 

Many young people infected with the same passion for politics often face a choice: Do you want to run for office yourself and be a politician? Or do you work in politics behind the scenes?

With no evidence, Nunes warns that Democrats are colluding with Mueller to create ‘narrative’
It’s common for committee staff to be in touch with witnesses to schedule hearings, negotiate time limits, set parameters of questioning

Rep. Devin Nunes, the top Republican on the House Intelligence Committee, claimed without evidence that Democrats were working with former special counsel Robert S. Mueller III to create a “narrative” about his investigation into 2016 Russian election interference and whether President Donald Trump obstructed that probe. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Rep. Devin Nunes is raising concerns that Democrats are conspiring with former special counsel Robert S. Mueller III to create a “narrative” about his 22-month investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 elections that paints President Donald Trump and his associates in a bad light.

Nunes, the top Republican on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence that will interview Mueller on July 24, did not provide any evidence to support his claim.

Congress is Trump’s best hope for drug pricing action
But divisions remain between Republicans and Democrats, House and Senate

The administration will need congressional help to take action this year on drug prices. (File photo)

An upcoming Senate bill is the Trump administration’s best hope for a significant achievement before next year’s election to lower prescription drug prices, but a lot still needs to go right for anything to become law.

Despite the overwhelming desire for action, there are still policy gulfs between Republicans and Democrats in the Senate, and another gap between the Senate and the House. And the politics of the moment might derail potential policy agreements. Some Democrats might balk at settling for a drug pricing compromise that President Donald Trump endorsed.

Mueller hearing might be delayed and lengthened so more members can question him
Republicans and junior Democrats on Judiciary panel had grumbled at original 2-hour format

House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler had originally said Mueller’s testimony would be limited to two hours. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s testimony before Congress might be delayed until July 24, a week later than originally scheduled, to accommodate questioning from more members, multiple media outlets reported Friday.

Mueller and House Judiciary Chairman Jerrold Nadler have been negotiating the framework of the hearing for weeks and announced yesterday that the special counsel’s testimony, initially scheduled for next Wednesday, July 17, would last no more than two hours.