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May 07, 2021

Henry Burke

Blog Post

Criminal JusticeDepartment of JusticeGovernment Capacity

The DOJ's Civil Rights Division is Perilously Unstaffed, Slowing Biden Goals on Police Oversight and Reform

Throughout the 2020 campaign, in the wake of nationwide protests over the murder of George Floyd and other unarmed black people by police officers, Joe Biden committed himself to reforming law enforcement and combating police violence. But significant challenges loom in Biden’s quest for police reform. The federal government’s role in state and local law enforcement agencies is limited, and Biden’s ability to shepherd police reform legislation through Congress will be hampered by Republican opposition and disinclined moderate Democrats. Despite these obstacles, however, Biden is not powerless to make strides towards his campaign goals. Through his Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division, he holds a significant power over local policing.

April 29, 2021 | The New Republic

Eleanor Eagan

Op-Ed

2020 Election/TransitionGovernment Capacity

Trump Holdovers Are Dragging Down the Biden Agenda

During his campaign, Joe Biden repeatedly held out the promise of an FDR-size presidency—the better to counter the misrule of the Trump administration. It can be said that he has already made some admirable strides in that direction with the passage of the American Rescue Plan. As Biden reaches his 100th day in office, however, he may soon find that comparisons to his self-identified North Star don’t quite measure up. Roosevelt, after all, famously signed 15 major bills into law during his first 100 days, compared to Biden’s one (which isn’t to diminish the size or importance of that single accomplishment). Biden and his allies can, of course, point to considerable obstacles that Roosevelt didn’t need to surmount, such as the Democratic Party’s slimmer margins and the fact that the president does not literally control Congress.

April 14, 2021

Henry Burke

Blog Post

2020 Election/TransitionGovernment Capacity

Biden’s Build Back Better is Behind Schedule

On the campaign trail, Biden was reluctant to criticize any aspect of the “Obama-Biden” administration’s record. Since taking office, however, he has made perfectly clear that he is aware of, and has learned from, many of its mistakes. Having watched how an anemic stimulus package in 2009 delivered a slow, faltering recovery and political carnage, the Biden administration chose to go big with its economic response. This initial, consequential departure has earned Biden accolades and prompted a “growing narrative that he’s bolder and bigger-thinking than President Obama” (a narrative Biden reportedly loves). But while Biden may be surpassing Obama legislatively, he is lagging behind him when it comes to the pace of nominations, delaying policy implementation and preventing his administration from reaching its full potential.

April 14, 2021 | The American Prospect

Henry Burke Sion Bell

Op-Ed

Government Capacity

Biden’s Budget Should Build Back Even Better

President Biden’s inaugural annual budget request, which encompasses only discretionary spending (about a third of the federal budget), is a $1.52 trillion proposed investment in the federal government. The rest of the request, to be released later this spring, will include tax reforms and mandatory spending (which includes programs like Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid) and provide a fuller picture of the administration’s priorities.

April 02, 2021

Henry Burke

Blog Post

Government CapacityLabor

Biden's Budget Must Strengthen OSHA

Faced with a monumental workplace safety crisis in the form of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has largely failed to protect workers. Decades of declining staffing levels left this critical agency unable to adapt to extraordinary conditions and support workers across the country when they most needed it. During his campaign, Joe Biden vowed to be the “strongest labor president you’ve ever had.” As he prepares to release his budget proposal for his first full financial year in office, the opportunity is fast approaching for Biden to put federal money where his mouth is. Biden must follow through on his pro-worker promises by expanding funding and employment levels for OSHA and OSHA state affiliates (among a slate of other sorely needed pro-labor policies) so that they have the capacity to safeguard workplace safety in times of crisis and otherwise.

March 31, 2021

Newsletter

2020 Election/TransitionGovernment CapacityIndependent Agencies

They’re Building Back Better; We Still Urge Faster!

Jockeying to shape the upcoming infrastructure package is well underway. Our attention, however, is on an important deadline this Sunday. April 4 is the last day for lawmakers to introduce Congressional Review Act resolutions to strike eligible Trump rules from the books. If they don’t meet this deadline, the Biden administration will have to undertake a lengthy administrative process to reverse those regulations. By forcing Biden to dedicate resources to these rollbacks and delaying the start of new rulemakings, failure to act now could set this administration back on everything from civil rights and financial regulation to housing and environmental regulation.

March 17, 2021

Newsletter

2020 Election/TransitionGovernment CapacityIndependent Agencies

The Financial Conflicts Lurking Around the Corner

Almost two months after he took office, Biden’s Cabinet is nearing completion. Nearly all of the six remaining spots seem set to be filled in relatively short order. Now, with the senior-most leadership in place, more permanent hiring for other political roles is likely to accelerate. And with that in mind progressives and good government groups are engaging in another push to ensure that public interest-minded officials populate all levels of political leadership. On Thursday, 46 groups sent a letter to Chief of Staff Ron Klain asking that new hires at the Justice Department not hail from BigLaw and that those with connections to firms who have already been hired recuse from policy and personnel decisions that could impact former clients. When asked whether the Biden administration would heed that call, White House spokesperson Jen Psaki was noncommittal. That’s disappointing — demanding recusals from BigTech and BigLaw tied hires should be a no-brainer (and, in fact, it’s already a step down from our preferred solution, which is not to appoint them at all) — but, if there’s one thing the administration should know by now, it’s that we’ll not be letting them off the hook when it comes to conflicts of interest.

February 12, 2021 | Talking Points Memo

Mariama Eversley

Op-Ed

Department of JusticeGovernment Capacity

Resignation of Trump-Appointed US Attorneys Is Just The Start Of DOJ’s De-Trumpification

In the Reconstruction era following the Civil War, the Department of Justice was created in part to deliver and oversee equal rights to formerly enslaved Black men and women. This corrective institution was a major step toward building a federal government that protects the civil rights of all its citizens. In the wrong hands, however, the department can be weaponized. Whether through inaction or outright hostility on issues ranging from white-collar crime to mass incarceration, the values animating the nation’s top law enforcement agency matter.

February 08, 2021

Press Release

Government Capacity

Impeachment Just the Start: Lawmakers Must Reverse Trump's Damage to the Civil Service

This week, the Senate begins its historic second impeachment trial of former President Donald Trump centered on his attempt to overthrow the 2020 presidential election results by inciting an insurrection on the US Capitol that ultimately resulted in five deaths. Yet, rather than a singularly heinous act unmoored from the rest of his presidency, Trump’s attempted coup was the culmination of years of attacks on the federal government. Today, the Revolving Door Project released a memo, “Existential Threat to the Civil Service: Politicization Under Trump,” which charts Trump’s long war on the people and agencies that constitute the backbone of our country.

January 29, 2021

Miranda Litwak

Press Release

2020 Election/TransitionGovernment Capacity

Progressives Vehemently Object To Cass Sunstein’s Plans To Return To Government

The American Prospect reported today that Cass Sunstein, the former Administrator of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA), is telling colleagues he is in line for a job in the Biden Administration. Environmental, labor, consumer advocacy, and progressive economic groups are united in their disdain toward Sunstein for his attacks on common-sense regulation throughout his time in the Obama Administration.