Author Archives: Sam Wice

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 […]

Waiting Until January 3 to Sign Tax Reform Would Not Have Delayed a PAYGO Sequestration

by Sam Wice — Saturday, Dec. 23, 2017

In an earlier post, I suggested that Republicans should wait until January 2018 to pass tax reform so that they can delay a Pay-As-You-Go (PAYGO) sequestration.  President Trump appears to have taken this idea to heart and decided that if Congress did not waive the PAYGO sequestration, he would wait until January 3, 2018 to […]

Recess Appointments Revisited

by Sam Wice — Thursday, Dec. 21, 2017

In January, I wrote that recess appointments would likely return this year because the same party controls the presidency, Senate, and House of Representatives.   With an upcoming recess, I thought now would be a good time to revisit the subject and figure out why I was wrong. The Constitution gives “[t]he President [the] Power to fill up […]

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Congress Just Allowed President Trump to Estimate the Official Costs of Tax Reform

by Sam Wice — Tuesday, Dec. 19, 2017

Republicans plan to pass a deficit increasing tax-reform proposal, but the Pay-As-You-Go Act (PAYGO) requires that legislation cannot increase the deficit within a five-year or ten-year window.  If legislation would increase the deficit in either window, an offsetting, automatic sequestration would kick in.  Although the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) and Joint Committee on Taxation (JCT) […]