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tv   Washington Journal Brad Fitch  CSPAN  November 16, 2018 3:39am-4:06am EST

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and otherstinels discuss paul ryan's congressional career and his legacy as house speaker. be sure to watch c-span's washington journal, live at seven eastern friday morning. join the discussion. joining us, president and ceo of the congressional management foundation, talking about the orientation for new members of congress. remind people of your organization and what it does guest:. we've been around for 41 years, nonpartisan, nonprofit. what we try to do is improve trust between citizens and congress, trying to give them a good leg up on how to set up their offices, manage themselves, how to hire staff, build websites. all things that these small businesses called congressional offices need.
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we also train citizens on how to be better citizen advocates, the other part. comes to new members, how is this education done? through a seminar or class? guest: trial by fire, like you'd imagine. they come here if they are house members and get two weeks of to understand the rules they have to live by, a little bit about their jobs, and how to set up a congressional office. not the decisions they have to make. what people don't realize is, setting up the congressional office has all the difficulty of a small business, with the red tape of a bureaucracy. you have to do all the things that a small business does, but also comply with a significant and unusual group of rules and laws that apply only to members of the house and senate. is ethics education a large part of the process? is definitely a usual
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part, i wouldn't say large. many rules are different from normal corporate rules. you have to report on any stock transaction, for example. file your personal financial disclosure forms by april of next year, reforms for your -- file forms for your spouses. any time you spend taxpayer money, that has its own set of rules host: if you want to learn more about what new members of congress are learning as the 116th session comes, (202) 748-8000 for democrats, (202) 748-8001 for republicans, and (202) 748-8002 four independents . our signature publication is called "setting course," a 300 page handbook on how to be a
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member of congress from the management perspective. how do you create a strategic plan, set up the organizational chart in your office? what kind of member do you want to be, a legislator or ombudsman ? we are excited we just published the latest edition for the 116th congress. host: another one, the 90 day roadmap of setting up in congress. guest: it has checklists on what members need to do, little ,preadsheets in table format of what are the average salaries, average budget? bookdea was this 300 page that was a little hard to put in her pocket, you might want something a little more user-friendly. we took all the advice from our other research and put it into the checklist format. most commons the question that a new member of congress will ask your organization? hiring,ne of them is on the most difficult or important
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question. we are often asked, what is the most important position? we surprise them by saying, scheduler. you can have weak people in senior positions and they might phase out and the office will run ok. like the aircraft controller. either the planes are crashing or flying. also, the person who is the liaison to the family. theneed a person in position to understand the personal and official needs host:. host:coming into this congress, alexandria ocasio cortez talked about things like rent in washington, d.c. do those kinds of things get asked, and if a stipend is provided? guest: we get occasional questions like that. -- put abig fan of book on instagram. we do get practical questions. i lived in washington 32 years. ,eople ask, what are the good
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safe neighborhoods to go to? they actually don't get any stipends of any kind. they used to, in the 1800s, that is how they were paid, but now they are given a salary, and not given a lot of official advice on the personal living situation, except from colleagues, and that is where they really need to turn, to colleagues who have been here for a few years and how they transitioned. new member of congress is coming in, how much would that person make russian ? hostguest: $176,000 per year. get the samengress health benefits as any federal employee, similar to about half of all americans. your employer pays three quarters or little less and you pay the rest. and they also learn of how they pay their pension system, just like a federal employee pension system. you need to spend 20 years to get a really good pension.
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so you will learn that a lot of the myths they learned on television is that it is more like schoolhouse rock than house of cards. obamacareow did change that, or did it change that for members of congress? guest: they were required to go to individual exchanges. that caused headaches for the office of personnel management, who had to deal with it, but they worked it out. we've heard that generally, staffers were ok with making that transition, to going to the individual exchange for the district of columbia. so, their health care is a lot like everybody else that goes into the exchange. host: we are learning about this orientation process for new members. michigan, first call, independent line from roger. caller: i was wondering about the taxes that people are having to pay, and the president
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himself said in an interview or press conference that he didn't pay any taxes because he is too smart to pay taxes. won 300e guy who just million dollars or something in the new york lottery and he ended up with a lump sum of 125. host: thanks, roger. taxes. guest: that is a tough one because we are a non-policy organization, but from a congressional perspective, numbers of congress do get a special tax break of about $3000 per year, one of the only perks mostning, things that people don't get. the expectation is that they maintain two households in washington and their home district, which is why they get that small extra tax deduction. will be paid for
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congresspeople who have to travel back and forth to their home state? they get a budget between $1.3 million and $1.4 million, but it is taken up in salary, district rent, and travel back and forth. they are allowed to spend their money on travel back and forth. our research shows that about eight out of 10 members of congress go home more than 40 weekends per year. that's a lot of travel. that might sound like fun, but if you talk to members of congress, having to deal with airports and taxis 40 times per year, times two, it's rather arduous. for: when they take trips travel or congressional work, when it comes to disclosure, what do you teach them as far as how much they have to disclose? guest: we generally don't teach them, we send them to the house ethics committee or senate rules committee, they have
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jurisdiction over that kind of thing. strict ingot more 2007 with the passage of the honest leadership and open government act. if members are traveling overseas, they have to put the agenda in advance as a number of public record so people can see their spending. these things are junkets, these things are vacations. the funds, because they are type a personalities, but they are work jobs, traveling for work. members of congress understanding international situations, learning from our allies and sometimes from people who are not our allies, but they aren't junkets, vacations. they are work. sometimes congress, part of your work is going to israel or italy or afghanistan. host: jamie from maine. caller: am wondering, as this new crop of freshmen come in, -- many of them are going to
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because they feel they are confronting a congress that has failed to take on putin? he has become an enemy of the state and it really does appear that some of our own representatives are becoming enemies of our own, by protecting food and and whatever he did -- protecting clinton and 2at hputin and whatever he did years ago. guest: there's a lot of challenge to orthodoxy and authority, and that is one of the things that the election results met. raising questions that had not been raised in previous congresses, and that is what you want with a new crop of freshmen members, people willing to take more risk. a lot of people think that really stale, but we get a lot of new ideas every two years. 90 members of congress are going
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to be freshmen, they will be looking to make their marks legislatively. one thing we try to coach members to do is identify those issues early on that they think are important to them and their constituents, and stick with them. hopefully, they will listen and follow that and have a more successful first turn then if they tried to do too much. members of congress have trouble saying no to people because they are politicians. what we try to coach them is you have got to say no to a few people. i think they will probably challenge authority and raise questions that jamie raised. host: when it comes to the office space, how is that doled out? is a quirky, old-fashioned system. members of congress later this month will go into a lottery and pull a ticket.
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either you are number one or number 90. number one, you get your first choice. i remember doing it in the 90's. back then, we didn't have cell phones or big pictures of the office. you had 15 minutes to make a decision. staffers,wo or three get a lottery number, find out which ones are left, then three or four staffers would literally run to those offices and make phone calls back, we've got to take this one in longworth, extra space with built-in cabinets. , butays it is less hectic the real estate on capitol hill is not like you've seen on house of cards and west wing. i really laughed when i see these videos of them having these mahogany rooms. in one west wing episode, a waiter in a white coat was pouring coffee in a silver pitcher. i was watching in saying at the time, i don't work in this congress, i work in the other
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one. it's not how it is portrayed on television. termsre great offices in of location, but they are kind of cramped. host: deborah on twitter says i'm all for congressional barracks and a town hall -- provided by taxpayer money? or food isousing provided by taxpayer money, though you aren't the first russian to come up with the idea. -- one of the most brilliant -- lars on congress would bring them together, but i don't think it would. shower, ito take a might be a little awkward, but you are the first person. host: you've talked about members going to the gym and not only working out, but talking about issues of the day. guest: members of congress, when
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they get together, they often do build bipartisan relationships with friends and colleagues and mentors. as you just heard delegate plaskett say a few minutes ago. it also happens on international travel. one of the downsides, of criticizing travel for members of congress, which the media has done. not c-span, but everybody else. bipartisan relationships have flowered. i can point to legislation that i know has occurred because of a long trip back from africa, a few members talking about the peace corps. they were democrats and republicans, and then we saw more money go to the program. that didn't happen in the 80's and 90's, in part because of the scrutiny they been getting on travel. host: steve from florida. our guest is brad fitch. pac's: wouldn't the super
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that go around helping these people get elected, would that not be considered an emolument? and number two, i am a disabled veteran and i would like to have people say what they think about the celebrations in france and the united states. your question.or not going to handle trump questions today, i hope you will give me a bye on that one. i'm not an expert on campaign funding, but i'm aware that it is illegal for members of congress to use their own campaign funds on personal activities. there are members of congress even now that are under scrutiny for doing that, it is a pretty big no-no when it comes to the commission. they don't really get that kind of perk. the perks that members get are smaller than you think. a parking spot at the national airport, certified parking for
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both the supreme court and u.s. congress. and i talked about the tax advantage they have. other than that, it's not like it is portrayed on television. host: of you are on twitter says each congressman gets a budget, how many staff members do they need to hire? the average in the house is 16. in the senate, it varies they stop the size of the state. that number has not grown since the 1970's. people think about all this growth in government, has not happened in the u.s. congress. to 2014, 1 institution cut their budget by 20%, the u.s. house of representatives. primarily serving constituents, answering constituent communications coming in primarily by email and social media, responding to requests and assistance with
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federal agencies, acting as ombudsman on behalf of their primarily working as customer service representatives for constituents. host: is the training different for members of the house and senate? a little bit. the senate has more of a mentoring system because it is a smaller class, they have more time to ramp up and will often team up with a more senior member, probably of their same party, same with the chiefs of staff. so training is different but the orientation is shorter. host: from nebraska, fred is next. caller: hello, sir. retired truck driver, and -- united states government in 1980.
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they deregulated trucking and started a recession. one company was 10,000 employees. they put them guys on the street, out of work. but nobody ever approaches this government, took around, i don't know, 20 billion, $39 billion , andf a pension fund somebody juggled the books and they know that they took the money, and it's been investigated, sir, and been proven it's wrong. ernst,rassley, joni young from iowa. host: got your call, comment if you wish. back to policy issues, we try to stick to the practicality, i'm sorry i can't speak to that. host: bill from alabama on the democrats line. matter i think it is a
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of qualified versus disqualified , you know, in their dealings. that weend to us , ourise our training discipline, so that we won't be disqualified, so to speak. host: thank you for calling. bradford, you said that part of the work of the organization is educating the consumer and taxpayer. guest: under a program we called the partnership fund for a more perfect union, through the various nonprofits they joined, to understand how congress works . that is a win-win for everybody, because citizens come to meetings prepared and understanding what members are
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looking for, they will make more informed public policy decisions. we do a lot of work with food banks through the nonprofit, feeding america. giving those food bank people communication on the impact in their community, and what would happen if they were not there for the taxpayer. that is what members of congress are looking for. is a system this driven by special interest or campaign contributions. research is showing that they listen to constituents. one member of the house and senate staff -- has not arrived at a firm decision on an issue, how much influence might the following advocacy strategies directed to the washington offices have on their decision? of congressional staff said that in person visits from constituents was the answer. the number one question i get is how do i talk to freshman lawmakers who don't have offices or emails setup? one of the best ways is social
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media. in the first quarter of the year, they will still be active on social media, looking at their feeds. our research shows they are constantly looking at what people are saying about them on social media. it's wonderful, almost a narcotic for members of congress. a you want to build relationship with a freshman lawmaker, one of the best ways to do it is with twitter and facebook. freshman lawmaker comes to washington to get trained, did they get trained about the role of lobbyists and influence of them, and how to deal with them? they will get advice from senior members, and if they hire staff in washington, we encourage them to do that. they will get general guidance. it is not as nefarious and tricky as you might think. is just a good truth teller, good deliverer of the facts. what a lobbyist cannot do, a
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citizen is the only person that can tell their story. a professional advocate cannot do that. our training programs, we are coaching individuals on how to tell their story and how it relates to a public policy question. host: john from michigan, go ahead. can, tell meu , mr. the health care plan president obama signing the waiver for the social plan. there's a lot of misunderstandings about members of congress and their health care plan. most very similar to what americans have. 50% of americans get health care from their employer and their employer pays about three quarters of that. that's the exact same plan members of congress are given, from their employer, which in this case is the united states
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congress. it contributes about 73% of their premium, and the member of congress pays the other part. we also have a situation, because it is a big campus, some people bring up the physician's office and nurses office. in the have those office, but so does google. a lot of people think congress is different, but it's not, it's just like any other large employer. the employees in this case just happen to be members of congress. host: keith from ohio. caller: i understand that each one of the congressman and senators get $174,000. now, they have a budget that they work through that is $1.3 million, $1.4 million. what is that detail? what do they get in that budget? they have got to have their staffing, travel.
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i don't feel sorry for their travel. they should be there on the job instead of traveling home every weekend, they waste a lot of time. guest: thank you very much. generally, i agree with you. toily getting moved washington, they might have better relationships with their colleagues, but this is a very personal decision on where your kids go to school, so we don't quibble with that. their salaries, as united and, most of their budget goes to staff, 60%-70%. next is the rent for district offices, depending on the district a are in. in a metropolitan area, it would be harder. that a smallthings business would spend money on, computer hardware, computer software, reimbursing staff for travel. they use their own cars, we don't have any government issued cars. you've got to lease your own own cars, andr
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they get reimbursed by the government at whatever the rate is. host: insurance? guest: something like $.40 or $.50 per mile. they get paid back, usually enough to cover the cost. host: what is going to be the most important take away for new members of congress? impugn upony to them that the higher process is the most important thing. don't hire someone you can't fire. if someone says, talk to my cousin's nephew, that's not someone you want because you can't work with them. take of the washington staff. we need people in d.c. to help you get started, great, talented people. host: brad fitch is with the congressional management foundation, resident
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>> the midterm election of 2018 change the balance of power in congress with democrats taking control of the house and republicans holding the majority in the senate. members now prepare for the new congress in january. new congress, new leaders. watch the process unfold on c-span. >> c-span's washington journal live every day with news and policy issues that impact do you. coming up friday morning, the milwaukee journal sentinel's craig gilbert and the weekly standard's charlie sykes discussed paul ryan's congressional career and his legacy of house speaker. be sure to watch washington journal live at 7:00 eastern on friday morning. joined the discussion. live friday on the c-span networks, the hou


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