Previous posts have discussed the congressional lobotomy: the shrinkage of GAO and CRS, along with the defunding of OTA.
[Former congressional staffers Phil Schiliro and Phil Barnett] enlisted eight others with a combined 200 years of experience on Capitol Hill to form Co-Equal, a group intended to help Congress reassert itself as a force equivalent in power to the executive branch, not a subservient arm of it.
Among the resources the group has made available on its website, Co-Equal.org, is a guide to precedents showing how Congress has in the past pried documents from the White House and won the testimony of influential administration officials, including chiefs of staff, national security advisers and White House counsels.
“It is so that people have a factual resource to look at what has been done in the past so that when somebody makes these outrageous claims that their people should not have to testify you can say, ‘No, no, it is normal for people to have to testify before Congress,’” said Karen Lightfoot, a longtime congressional communications and policy expert who is part of the group.
Members of the group have also been providing training to lawmakers and staff members on that most essential of Capitol Hill skills: how to elicit meaningful information from well-coached hearing witnesses in five-minute rounds of questioning.
Mr. Schiliro noted that outside witnesses under scrutiny from Congress have most likely undergone hours of preparation by experienced lawyers and public relations experts — sometimes in faux hearing rooms to provide verisimilitude — while members of Congress might first be seeing their own questions prepared by staff as they take their seats at the hearing.