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6 takeaways from a liberal democracy reform scorecard of Congress

It's no surprise that Democrats in Congress rank better on democracy reform than their Republican counterparts, especially when progressive groups are keeping score. Over the last year, GOP members were largely opposed to Democratic efforts to get big money out of politics and expand access to the ballot box.

So the bipartisan chasm comes off as enormous in the first congressional scorecard produced by End Citizens United, a liberal political action committee that's focused mainly on shrinking money's influence over politics. And the report, released this week, suggests only rare and subtle degrees of disapproval for the blue team on Capitol Hill in 2019 — and only a few areas for faint praise of the red team.

All members were rated on whether they accepted contributions from corporate PACs. The 432 current House members were also scored on how they voted on the floor four times — including of course on HR 1, the comprehensive political process overhaul passed in March — and how many of five measures important to the group they cosponsored. Since the Senate took no votes on legislation connected to democracy reform, the senators in office last year were rated only on a quartet of co-sponsorships.

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The agency has lacked a quorum for 19 weeks, meaning it can't regulate money in the 2020 campaign.

Good-government coalition opposes restocking the FEC in an election year

Hitting the restart button on the Federal Election Commission during this campaign season is not the answer to better enforcement of the rules regulating money in politics, a coalition of good-government groups says.

Twenty-one such organizations declared their disagreement Monday with a proposal from a bipartisan collection of 31 prominent campaign finance lawyers. Last week the lawyers asked President Trump and the leaders of Congress to come up with an entirely new slate at the FEC to oversee campaign donations and spending in this year's presidential and congressional races.

Since the law allows half the commissioners to favor broad deregulation, because they're Republicans, lax enforcement and gridlock would be the end result of such an overhaul, the reform groups argued. Instead, they called for the confirmation of one or two new commissioners to create a quorum permitting at least minimal oversight through November.

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Judy Schneider’s Lessons on How to Succeed in Congress

Organizer: Congressional Management Foundation

There have been 45 American presidents, 54 Speakers of the House of Representatives, and ONE Judy Schneider! For more than four decades working at the Congressional Research Service, Judy has coached and trained thousands of congressional staff and Members on the intricacies of succeeding in Congress. Please join the Congressional Management Foundation in collaboration with the House Chiefs of Staff Association for this special training program to kick-off our 2020 senior manager training series.

Judy has been recognized by dozens of congressional affiliated groups, including Women in Government Relations, who in 2015 established the Judy Schneider Fellowship in honor of "the thousands of women she has mentored, developed, and trained.'' Two years ago, when Judy Schneider received the inaugural Staff Lifetime Achievement Democracy Award from the Congressional Management Foundation, the Roll Call article on the event stated that ''hundreds of members of Congress know how to legislate because Judy Schneider taught them.''

The event will include a special segment, "Questions I Always Wanted to Ask Judy Schneider...But Was Afraid To." In this session, Judy will answer written anonymous questions from the audience. (If you have attended a previous Judy Schneider event, you'll definitely understand the value of this segment.)

Location: 2075 Rayburn House Office Building, Washington, DC

Building a 21st Century Congress That Works

Organizer: R Street Institute

Less than one in four Americans have a favorable opinion of Congress. Many legislators and congressional staff feel frustrated that they cannot get things done. Yet, our Constitution deems Congress the first branch, and the source of all legislative power. How can we reform Congress so that it can better serve the public?

To answer that question, esteemed scholars of Congress were assembled to study what's going right in Congress, what's going wrong, and how our national legislature might be improved. Inspired by the creation and action of the House Select Committee on the Modernization of Congress (SCOMC), their analyses and recommendations were recently released in the Report of the Task Force Project on Congressional Reform. Many of the recommendations within the report relate to – and in some cases mirror – the recommendations and topics of discussion the SCOMC discussed and those that have been included in H. Res. 756. Some of the experts who contributed to this report will come to discuss their findings and recommendations at this event.

Location: The U.S. Capitol Visitor Center, First Street Northeast, Room 264, Washington, DC

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