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A host of changes to politics over the last two decades, from redistricting and gerrymandering to modifications of campaign finance laws, have decreased incentives to govern effectively said  one current member and three former members of Congress at an event Wednesday at the George Washington University.

Those changes and their consequences have given rise to a series of never-ending purity tests, says former Rep. Al Wynn (D-Md.). “I came into politics with the understanding that you compromise to get things done….,” Mr. Wynn said. “As a result of redistricting, you end up with inter-party fights, and I view it as a fight between ideological members and pragmatic centrist candidates.”

Mr. Wynn added that SuperPACs and other outside groups made the changes worse with outsized spending and advertising campaigns that seek to nationalize every race, rather than focusing on local issues.

Mr. Wynn was among four panelists at the event co-hosted by GW’s Graduate School of Political Management and the U.S. Association of Former Member of Congress. Also on the panel were former Rep. Cliff Stearns (R-Fla.), B.S. ‘63, former Sen. Blanche Lincoln (D-Ark.)  and Rep. Charlie Dent (R-Pa.).

Read more at GW Today.

The ECHO is the newest component of our PEORIA Project social media monitoring and analysis research. With The ECHO, we're tracking the weekly ebb and flow of trending topics and individuals in politics.

This week our lead PEORIA Project researcher Prof. Michael Cohen found that Twitter was focused on the United States Capitol writing

The center of political discussion on Twitter moved to Capitol Hill this week as members passed a deal struck by the president and Democratic congressional leaders to extend the debt limit for three months and fund hurricane relief efforts for Hurricane Harvey (492,148 tweets) and ahead of Hurricane Irma (4,641,783 tweets). In the wake of the hurricanes, tweets about climate change were up 75 percent (721,677 tweets).

The shift in activity down Pennsylvania Avenue is reflected in the volume of tweets: President Donald Trump was down 47 percent while the tweets about the U.S. Senate (163 percent) and the House (229 percent) were both up by triple-digit percentages.

Check out the other insights at U.S News & World Report.

Now that the Senate vote to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, has been postponed until after the July 4th Congressional recess, our Prof. Matt Dallek takes a look at why repealing legislation is so difficult.

He finds that this is the case in part because of a paradox "Americans distrust the federal government’s commitment to the public’s welfare, yet Americans in the main are also opposed to fundamentally reforming the government’s costliest social programs."

Read his full post on Yahoo News.

By Michael Cornfield, GSPM Associate Professor and Research Director

This morning Senate Majority Leader McConnell said that “Today we’ll no doubt hear calls for a new investigation, which could only serve to impede the current work.” By current work McConnell meant that being conducted by the Senate Intelligence Committee.

That puts the now radioactively hot potato in the lap of the Committee’s chair, North Carolina Senator Richard Burr, a distant descendant of “Hamilton” star Aaron Burr.  (The House counterpart committee has no credibility left after the antics of Devin Nunes.)  Senator Burr, who has said this is his last term in Congress, said last night he was “troubled by the timing and reasoning” of FBI Director Comey’s firing last night.  Burr has thus far collaborated with the ranking Democrat on the Committee, Mark Warner of Virginia, who has said the investigation into Russian involvement with the Trump campaign and the 2016 election “may very well be the most important thing I do in my public life.”

All this heartens me, as do Warner’s law degree and tech cred.

I presume and hope that neither Senator retains any ambition for higher office, as Warner has in the past.  I presume and hope neither has any financial ties to the Trump Organization or the Russian state.

Their success also hinges on their capacity to summon and manage experts in financial and online data analytics and Russian studies, to withstand the pressures of authoritarian personalities and media exposure, to command respect from both political parties and FBI agents, and to follow the truth and the law in the spirit of patriotism.

Right now, Burr and Warner are the linchpin in the American republic.

L to R: House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady, R-Texas, and Ranking Member Richard Neal, D-Mass.

 

The Graduate School of Political Management, in conjunction with the Tax Foundation and the Archer Center at the University of Texas, recently hosted the Chairman and Ranking Member of the House Ways and Means Committee, the chief tax writing panel on Capitol Hill, to discuss possible ways forward for tax reform.

Both Chairman Kevin Brady, R-Texas, and Ranking Member Richard Neal, D-Mass., say there may be an opportunity for an overhaul, but any effort will have to be bipartisan.

Read more at GW Today.

All of our professors bring real-world experience into the classroom, and our Legislative Affairs Program Director Professor Steve Billet is no exception. Before coming to GSPM, Prof. Billet was the head of the AT&T PAC, the telecom giant's political action committee and set up the groups government affairs practice in the European Union.

The Associated Press recently asked Prof. Billet  about the telecom industry's successful efforts to defeat an online privacy regulation in Congress.

He said, "the telecom industry's willingness to spend big on lobbying marks 'the difference between them and the Electronic Frontier Foundation guys.'"

Read the full article here.

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