Hayden Would Be First Woman, African-American to Head Library of Congress

Carla D. Hayden is Obama's pick to head the Library of Congress. (Photo courtesy of Enoch Pratt Free Library)

President Barack Obama said Wednesday his nominee to head the Library of Congress would be the first African-American and the first woman to lead the 216-year-old institution.  

But first, Carla D. Hayden will need to rise to the top of a backlog of civilian nominations pending before the Senate Rules and Administration Committee — and then make it past the Senate floor.  

Winners and Losers in the Omnibus and Tax Bills

Lawmakers hope to get the Omnibus and tax packages passed in time to make it home for the holidays. (Al Drago/CQ Roll Call)

Both Democrats and Republicans won a few and lost a few in the $1.1 trillion spending bill and package of tax extensions that congressional negotiators agreed on late Tuesday.  

Here is a look at some of the winners and losers in the agreements:  

Honoring Veterans, One Story at a Time

The Veterans History Project has more than 99,000 collections. (Al Drago/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Americans will pause Wednesday to remember the nation's veterans. But one Library of Congress project is working to ensure veterans' stories are preserved for years to come.  

The Veterans History Project is celebrating its 15th anniversary this year. It was established on Oct. 27, 2000, by an act of Congress, and over the past 15 years the project has collected more than 99,000 stories of service members. Former Librarian of Congress James H. Billington touted the program at congressional hearings on the Library's budget, noting in his March testimony to the Senate subcommittee of jurisdiction it "is now the largest oral history project in America."  

Library of Congress Case Highlights Questions of Oversight

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The case of a fired Library of Congress staffer is prompting questions about whether the institution is being properly overseen by Congress and whether library employees have a fair process to appeal personnel decisions — including from members of Congress. Suzanne Hogan, 58, who worked as a special assistant to former Librarian of Congress James H. Billington for 11 years, was officially terminated in August. She is in the process of appealing her decision via a discrimination complaint, but is calling on Congress' own independent agency, the Office of Compliance, to intervene, alleging she does not have an avenue for due process.

"There is no pathway for me to have a fair and just hearing.” Hogan said in an Oct. 23 interview.

Congress' Selfish Reason for Not Sharing CRS Reports

"I could see Hannity having fun with this," Shays said. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Members of Congress are selfish.  

That's one reason Capitol Hill continues to resist bipartisan prodding to make Congressional Research Service reports public, speculated former Rep. Christopher Shays, R-Conn., during an Oct. 22 panel on transparency. "Members of Congress like getting access to information that wouldn't potentially be shared with their opponents. So if they sound brilliant from some well-written report, they're not eager that some candidate can get all this information and come to debates sounding just as articulate," Shays said. "That's a big reason."  

Congress Ponders Changes to Library of Congress Under New Leader

(CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The Library of Congress will have a new leader for the first time in nearly three decades, creating an opening for Congress to make some changes at the 200-year-old institution.  

Lawmakers aren't wasting any time. The day before James H. Billington retired as 13th Librarian of Congress on Sept. 30, after leading the library since 1987, the Senate put into motion a bill to limit the years of service for the next librarian .  

Senators Look to Term-Limit Librarian of Congress

Billington will retire on Sept. 30. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

A bipartisan group of senators is looking to limit the term of the Librarian of Congress to a decade, about a third the length of the outgoing librarian's tenure.  

James H. Billington, who has headed the library for 28 years, is set to step down Wednesday. It comes after making a surprise announcement last week that he would retire three months earlier than expected. The position is currently granted for life, but lawmakers hope to change that. According to a copy of the Senate bill introduced Tuesday by Senate Rules Administration Chairman Roy Blunt, R-Mo., and ranking member Charles E. Schumer, D-N.Y., the lawmakers want to establish a 10-year term of service for the Librarian of Congress. The three other senators who are members of the Joint Committee of the Library also signed onto the bill.

Billington Moves Up Retirement as Librarian of Congress

Billington will retire on Sept. 30. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Speaker John A. Boehner, R-Ohio, isn't the only high-ranking government official who announced an early retirement Friday morning.  

James H. Billington, the 13th librarian of Congress, announced his retirement would be effective Sept. 30. Billington, 86, had announced in June that he was retiring effective Jan. 1 after having served since 1987, when he was chosen by President Ronald Reagan.  “It has been the great honor and joy of my life to lead the Library of Congress for 28 of my 42 years of public service in Washington,” Billington said in a statement distributed by the Library of Congress. “I am grateful to God for the privilege of having served with so many selfless and dedicated colleagues in the ongoing search for knowledge and understanding made possible by this amazing American institution.”