Author Archives: Sam Wice

President Trump’s Elimination of the Federal COLA Is Likely Illegal

by Sam Wice — Tuesday, Sept. 4, 2018

President Trump recently wrote a letter to Congress explaining why he will eliminate the scheduled cost-of-living adjustments (COLA) for federal employees. President Trump argued that “[w]e must maintain efforts to put our Nation on a fiscally sustainable course, and Federal agency budgets cannot sustain such increases.” However, President Trump’s decision to withhold the COLA is likely illegal. […]

Proposed Reform of House Rules Would Not Be Enforceable

by Sam Wice — Saturday, Sept. 1, 2018

With many Democrats already opposing Nancy Pelosi as speaker and many Republicans having already opposed Kevin McCarthy as speaker, whichever party wins the House of Representatives could struggle to get the 218 votes required to win a Speaker of the House election. Seeing an avenue to exchange their votes for reform, the bipartisan Problem Solvers […]

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When to Refer to the U.S. Code Versus the Underlying Statute

by Sam Wice — Wednesday, July 25, 2018

In the spirit of Professor Nielson’s recent post on in-line versus footnote citations, I wanted to mention a personal pet peeve regarding references to the U.S. Code. The U.S. Code is roughly half non-positive law and half positive law. Even though there are important legal distinctions between the two types of law, attorneys often refer to titles […]

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How Democrats Could Fight the Senate Eliminating Its August Recess

by Sam Wice — Friday, June 15, 2018

Senator Mitch McConnell recently announced that he intends to eliminate much of the August recess so that the Senate has more time to confirm nominees and pass funding legislation. Senate Republicans want this extra time because even if Republicans have the votes (i.e., 60 for legislation and 50 for nominations), they still need 30 hours […]

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The Death of the Senate as a Deliberative Body

by Sam Wice — Wednesday, May 2, 2018

When the Senate lowered the threshold for nominees to a simple majority, it kept the 30-hour requirement to overcome a filibuster. While the Republican Senate has been willing to devote 30 hours to overcome filibusters on nominees to more important positions like cabinet secretary and circuit court judge, the floor time has added up quickly. […]

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Two Suggested Additions to the Proposed Balanced Budget Amendment

by Sam Wice — Wednesday, Apr. 11, 2018

The House of Representatives plans to vote this Thursday on a constitutional amendment to require a balanced budget. To ensure that a future Congress does not use budgetary gimmicks to avoid balancing the budget, I suggest including two additional provisions: (i) prevent the shifting of costs into future fiscal years and (ii) enshrine the independence of […]

How House Republicans Could Allow President Trump to Make Recess Appointments

by Sam Wice — Thursday, Mar. 15, 2018

President Trump has recently complained that Senate Democrats have prevented his nominees from getting confirmed.  Even though the Senate eliminated the 60-vote threshold to end a filibuster on a nominee, the Senate still requires 30 hours of debate before voting on the nominee.  While Republicans have been willing to devote 30 hours of floor time for higher-level […]

Eliminating the Filibuster on Appropriations Bills Would Not Prevent a Shutdown

by Sam Wice — Thursday, Feb. 8, 2018

The federal government recently shut down for three days because the Senate could not pass an appropriations bill with a filibuster-proof majority.  In response, President Trump and House Republicans suggested eliminating the filibuster for appropriations bills.  However, eliminating such a filibuster would likely have prevented the Senate from considering the failed continuing resolution that Republicans […]

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Why Some of President Trump’s Efforts to Mitigate the Shutdown Were Likely Illegal

by Sam Wice — Tuesday, Jan. 23, 2018

With the government reopening soon, I thought now would be a good time to examine some of President Trump’s actions regarding the shutdown.  To mitigate the immediate impact of the shutdown, the Trump administration did not shut down agencies that still had unused funds.  However, this decision likely violated appropriations law. The Constitution specifies that “[n]o […]

How President Trump Might Inadvertently Delay Paul Ryan’s Plan for Entitlement Reform

by Sam Wice — Wednesday, Jan. 3, 2018

Paul Ryan has proposed that in the new year he will tackle entitlement reform.  With Democrats likely to be united in opposition, Republicans again will have to turn to the reconciliation process to avoid a Senate filibuster.  As the reconciliation process is tied to the budget process, Republicans must wait before they may consider new […]