Government Affairs Institute at Georgetown University

Government Affairs Institute at Georgetown University Your Leading Experts On Congress. Take a course with us: GAI conducts most courses on Capitol Hill so that participants receive practical, on-site experience and analysis of the workings of Congress, including the opportunity to meet and interact with key players in the legislative policy process.

All GAI courses are planned, designed, and conducted by the Institute's senior fellows, who also conduct dozens of on-site classes each year in the Washington DC area and around the country.

Mission: The Government Affairs Institute believes that by better understanding the functions and organization of Congress, executive branch personnel and others with a direct interest in federal programs can more effectively plan, manage, and budget for those programs, and better represent those programs before Congress.

03/02/2015

EXECUTIVE ORDERS V. EXECUTIVE ACTIONS
By Susan Lagon, Senior Fellow

Article II of the Constitution begins, “The executive Power shall be vested in a President of the United States of America.” The extent of that “executive power” has been debated since the beginning of the republic—indeed, even earlier. The Founders were familiar with John Locke’s concept of “executive prerogative” (that certain circumstances call for the Chief Executive to act swiftly, subject to the eventual approval of the legislature) but the term is conspicuously absent from the Constitution.

With few exceptions, all U.S. presidents have exercised some form of prerogative. President Obama’s recent Deferred Action on Childhood Arrivals (suspending deportations of undocumented minors) is but one example. Presidential directives can take several forms but they are not interchangeable. The Executive Order is a familiar tool presidents use to act in the absence of legislation. It can’t replace or contravene statutes enacted by Congress, it can only “fill in the gaps.” In 1942, FDR issued an infamous one that allowed the internment of American citizens of certain nationalities in camps during WWII; Eisenhower famously used one to desegregate public schools in 1957; JFK used one to create the Peace Corps in 1961; and Obama just used one to set up a task force on policing in the 21st century. Here is the rest of the article.
http://gai.georgetown.edu/executive-orders-v-executive-actions/

01/30/2015

UNCERTAINTIES AHEAD FOR FEDERAL SPENDING
By Ken Gold, Director
For federal departments and agencies, the most important issue in the First Session of the 114th Congress will be the shape of the FY16 congressional budget resolution, which will set the discretionary spending levels for the Appropriations Committees. New House Budget Committee Chair Tom Price of Georgia recently told a Heritage Foundation Conference that he intends to write a House Budget Resolution that will achieve a balanced budget within a decade, and possibly sooner.
Here is the rest of the post:
http://gai.georgetown.edu/uncertainties-ahead-for-federal-spending/

01/09/2015

It's Not All Gridlock: What Republicans Can Accomplish in the 114th Congress
By Josh Huder

Can decades of dysfunction reverse course in a single Congress? No. But despite the general pessimism surrounding Congress there are several reason to expect the 114th to be more productive than its recent predecessors, which were historically bad on several fronts.

Now that divided congressional control is over a sense of mild optimism should overcome you. Plenty of ink will be spilled describing the impending dysfunction of a Republican Congress and a Democratic President. Divided government does depress legislative output, though probably not as much as most expect. However, research has shown that divided congressional control can actually be more debilitating. In her study on congressional stalemate, Sarah Binder found that the ideological distance between the chambers created more gridlock than divided government between the executive and Congress. Read the rest of the article on our blog, Revise & Extend:
http://gai.georgetown.edu/its-not-all-gridlock-what-republicans-can-accomplish-in-the-114th-congress/

01/07/2015

The 114th Congress was sworn in yesterday. Please join us for The New Congress course that will take place on January 22 on Capitol Hill. We will examine the implications of election outcomes with regard to congressional organization and leadership, the legislative agenda, and prospects for key legislative-executive branch issues.
http://gai.georgetown.edu/the-new-congress/

Specific topics may include:

Upcoming legislative agenda
Changes in the membership, leadership, and committee make-up of the new Congress
Defense versus domestic priorities
An examination of key legislative-executive branch issues
The outlook for budget politics and spending

10/31/2014

Desperate But Not Serious
By Katina Slavkova

“The situation in Iraq is grave and deteriorating. There is no path that can guarantee success, but the prospects can be improved.”

A select few foreign policy and Middle East experts will quickly recognize the origin of this sobering assessment, but for the most casual observers of world events this statement perfectly captures the latest crisis that is unraveling in Iraq today. In fact, the quote above is from almost eight years ago and it was the very first sentence in the Executive Summary of a slim volume called the Iraq Study Group report. Remember that Iraq?
Read the rest of the article here:
http://gai.georgetown.edu/desperate-but-not-serious/

10/09/2014

Director's Desk

Yesterday the Congressional Budget Office issued its preliminary deficit projection for FY 2014, estimating a deficit of under a half trillion dollars. The FY14 deficit of $486 billion would be $195 billion under last year’s deficit, and the fifth consecutive year that the deficit has fallen as a percentage of GDP since the FY09 record deficit of $1.4 trillion. The long-term outlook, however, looks somewhat less rosy, with CBO projecting that deficits will again begin increasing in FY16, and continue to rise in the years ahead.

In the short term, the current continuing resolution expires December 11, so the lame duck Congress that will meet after next month’s elections will need to do something about funding the federal government past that date. That something will depend in part on the results of the elections, especially whether Republicans win a majority in the Senate in the 114th Congress.

We will look at the federal budget outlook and other issues critical to federal departments and agencies in our New Congress classes, with the first class scheduled for December 16. I hope to be seeing many of you there.

09/05/2014

Director's Desk

It’s September in Washington (yes, I know it’s September elsewhere as well). We’ve just returned to work from the long Labor Day weekend, school buses are again making our nightmarish traffic even worse, and the Washington Nationals are in first place in the National League East. Congress has returned from their August recess, and we’re again speculating on whether the federal government will shut down. The good news is that this year we’re betting it won’t, although we’re again looking at a continuing resolution (CR), probably through early December. We can therefore focus our stress on whether Congress will be able to pass a bill to fund the government after the expiration of the CR, and if they manage that, on the need to again raise or suspend the debt limit in March. Welcome back.

08/01/2014

Yes, Democrats Can Win the House (Though Probably Not This Year)
By Josh Huder, Senior Fellow

Chris Cillizza wrote a piece titled, “Why it’s going to be hard for Democrats to win back the House this decade.” He makes the argument that with a declining share of competitive seats it will become harder for Democrats to retake the House. The declining number of competitive seats is a big problem. However, it’s not the reason Democrats won’t have the House majority in 2015.

There are a few points to discuss. First, Cillizza argues the decline in competitive seats is due to the redistricting process. He particularly points out 2001 and 2011 as important moments when seat competition declined. It’s important to note that redistricting does have an effect on House elections. The Monkey Cage estimated that redistricting cost Democrats roughly 7 to 10 seats in the 2012 election. Gerrymandering can make some seats safer and it can also alter seat totals in the House. Read the rest of the article here: http://gai.georgetown.edu/yes-democrats-can-win-the-house-though-probably-not-this-year/

07/10/2014
GAI On the Hill Newsletter

Our latest issue of GAI On the Hill newsletter is out.
Congress is running out of time as the House has managed to pass only 5 out of 12 spending bills and the Senate has failed to pass even a single appropriations bill so far. Read GAI Director Ken Gold's article to gain further insight into the current impasse over the appropriations process.

Prior to the start of this year’s World Cup, the United States had reached the semifinals only once, in 1930, at the first World Cup. The US team advanced beyond the round of 16 only one other time, when they beat Mexico in 2002, and reached the quarter finals.

06/09/2014
Director’s Desk: June 9, 2014 | The Government Affairs Institute

Will Congress manage to pass all 12 appropriations bills prior to the start of the new fiscal year? GAI Director Ken Gold analyzes the odds of that happening.

It’s been thirty-six years since Affirmed won the Triple Crown, horse racing’s greatest challenge. With California Chrome’s defeat on Saturday, twelve horses have won the first two legs of the Triple Crown since 1978, only to fail in the 1½-mile Belmont Stakes, the longest and most demanding of the three races. Some observers believe that winning the Triple Crown in the current horse racing environment is impossible.

It’s been only twenty years since Congress passed all the individual appropriations bills prior to the start of the fiscal year, a feat that has become Congress’s greatest challenge. Yet I still think California Chrome had a better shot at winning at Belmont than Congress has at passing all 12 bills this year or in the foreseeable future. Some observers believe that passing all the appropriations bills on time in the current congressional environment is impossible.

05/08/2014

A little history on Congress’s own record in #Benghazi is instructive here: http://buff.ly/1kYKVc7

Speaker Boehner's announcement that he would appoint a select committee to further investigate the Benghazi terrorist at...
05/07/2014
A History of Violence

Speaker Boehner's announcement that he would appoint a select committee to further investigate the Benghazi terrorist attacks sparked a new round a partisan rhetoric.

A little history on Congress’s own record is instructive here: http://reviseandextend.com/history-violence/

Last Friday Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) announced that he would appoint a select committee to further investigate the September 11, 2012 terrorist attacks o

The Supreme Court is hearing Lane v. Franks. The case asks whether the rights of American citizens also apply in their r...
04/30/2014
Fed Workers and the First Amendment

The Supreme Court is hearing Lane v. Franks. The case asks whether the rights of American citizens also apply in their roles as public employees.

The Federal Diary's Joe Davidson explains that the Supreme Court is currently hearing a case that may have implications for the federal workforce. Lane v Fr

Senior Fellow Charles Cushman talks with Voice of Russia on the uncertain future of Rep. Grimm (R-NY). Grimm has said he...
04/29/2014
Analyst: The Future Is Grim For Staten Island Congressman Charged With Fraud

Senior Fellow Charles Cushman talks with Voice of Russia on the uncertain future of Rep. Grimm (R-NY). Grimm has said he will not resign and will fight the fraud charges against him.

Dr. Cushman breaks down the congressional process and electoral implications of this story.

By Kells Hetherington WASHINGTON (VR) — Charges against Congressman Michael Grimm (R., N.Y.) are "very serious", according to Chuck Cushman, a Senior Fellow at Georgetown University’s Gov

A bipartisan bill, heralded by transparency advocates, is on its way to the President’s desk.
04/29/2014
DATA Act Moves On

A bipartisan bill, heralded by transparency advocates, is on its way to the President’s desk.

The Washington Post reports that a bipartisan bill, heralded by transparency advocates, is on its way to the President's desk. The bill would "require federal

Who will succeed Henry Waxman as the top-ranking Democrat on the House Energy and Commerce Committee?Contenders will nee...
04/28/2014
Follow the Leader (and the money!)

Who will succeed Henry Waxman as the top-ranking Democrat on the House Energy and Commerce Committee?

Contenders will need to win the support of their committee colleagues. Marian Currinder looks at how the two top contenders will attempt to do just that:

http://reviseandextend.com/follow-leader-money/

The race to succeed Henry Waxman (D-CA) as the top-ranking Democrat on the House Energy and Commerce Committee began within days of Waxman announcing that he wo

Will Congress engage a new conversation about the Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) legislation?http://revi...
04/25/2014
“Tell Me How This Ends”

Will Congress engage a new conversation about the Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) legislation?

http://reviseandextend.com/tell-ends/

“Tell me how this ends.” This is what former CENTCOM Commander and CIA Director David Petraeus asked journalist Rick Atkinson back in early 2003 when he

Which 2014 candidates are gunning for a fight? Expect to hear and see the results of millions of dollars that will be sp...
04/18/2014
Gunning for a Fight?

Which 2014 candidates are gunning for a fight?

Expect to hear and see the results of millions of dollars that will be spent to define candidacies and shape the gun policy debate.

http://reviseandextend.com/gunning-fight/

Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg recently announced plans to spend $50 million this year to fight gun violence. Bloomberg will bring together th

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