David Boaz of the Cato Institute and Author of the Libertarian Mind Discusses Liberty

David Boaz, author of the Libertarian Mind and Executive Vice President of the Cato Institute, joined us on Cloakroom for an Expert Q&A on to talk about the role of Libertarianism is Congress today.

@doug.stamperer: Hi David, thanks for doing this. Let's assume Clinton and Trump are our nominees. Whose worse for Liberty and what do you do to stop them?  (And what policies make them worse). That’s a really bad choice. But probably Hillary is a firmly statist politician, while Trump actually has no respect for constitutional and political norms. I fear him more as a threat to the republic than for his barely discernible policies. Do about it? Try to stop him (and her) in the primaries.

Bill Nye the Science Guy talks climate change with Capitol Hill

Bill Nye the Science Guy joined us on Cloakroom for an Expert Q&A about climate change policy and to introduce his latest climate science educational video: http://bitly.com/22OeNvc

@o_martell: Bill, thanks for doing this! I was wondering, as a Republican who believes in anthropogenic climate change, what do you think I should do (as a Hill staffer and just as an average individual) to raise the importance of climate action with fellow Republicans?My understanding is that a great many Republicans are ready to hold hands and jump on climate change. Right now though, they all have to wait for the convention or an election to slide past. If this is true, see if you all can get the presidential nominees to talk about it, sooner the better.

So far, the conservative candidates are, to a man (and perhaps when a VP is selected, to a woman) are climate deniers. After a candidate is selected, however, the conservatives may nail in a climate change plank in order to secure some millennial votes.

How do we feel about a carbon tax? It has the potential to encourage investment in renewables, discourage CO2 and CH4 production, and serve as a fair tariff- all at once.

Seamus Kraft of the OpenGov Foundation on digitizing legislative processes

 Seamus Kraft, Executive Director of the OpenGov Foundation, joined us on Tuesday, April 12, to discuss how to make legislatures work better in this digital age.

@record318: Hi Seamus! Do you think the Hill is technically challenged because the members just dont want learn new things? Or is it something else. I think it is something else. It's a paper-based workplace, w/ paper-based processes, and little incentive for long-term planning. In my experience, Members will use what works and what they can afford out of shrinking MRA.

@surging.santorum: Dear SeaMasterKraft, what are some awesome projects you're working on to make our lives easier? Building off last year's #Hack4Congress magic, we are now forming a team of some of the top technologists in the USA to work with you and current Congressional tech staff to help solve your problems using better tech, data, software and updated rules/procedures. Stay tuned….

We have right now software for you to create and crowdsource legislation called Madison. It gets more eyes, more exposure, more input on the bills you and your boss are working on. Plus, you can start to include constituents in your legislative work w/ minimal lift. If you want to take your bills and legislative work into the Internet Age w/ Madison, email me Seamus at opengovfoundation dot org. It's open source and $0 cost.

Expert Q&A: Benny Johnson of the Independent Journal Review on Viral Politics

Benny Johnson of the Indepedent Journal Review joined us on Thursday, March 31 to discuss how he makes politics go viral every day.


@dawes69: Hi Benny, can you give the "For Dummies" version of what IS making politics go viral? Virality is *not* defined by Justin Beiber or Kim K. Vitality is saturating your target market. If you know your audience, and they are clicking, you're viral. Here's an example: Every year we do the Running of the Interns. My target market for that piece is a greater Capitol Hill audience. Approx 100K people. That piece gets approx 100K clicks every year. Not the most click we will get on a piece that week, but our perfect target audience, so viral!

Expert Q&A: Casey Dreier of the Planetary Society on the Mission to Mars and Space Policy

Casey Dreier, Director of Space Policy for the Planetary Society, the world’s largest independent space organization, joined us on Tuesday, March 29 to discuss the mission to Mars, commercial space, and space politics!

@tester.jon: Hi Casey, thanks for taking the time to be with us. What kind of propulsion will get us to Mars? Initially, I think it will be a mix of standard chemical propulsion and newer tech, called solar electric propulsion (SEP). SEP is slow but very efficient, and can be used to pre-position cargo in advance of humans. Your question goes to an important point, though, which is that new tech is actually a very difficult and expensive proposition. It feel counter-intuitive, but most space hardware has decades of legacy, and is rarely on the cutting edge. That's because space is very unforgiving to hardware and to humans, so you want to be highly certain that your technology will work. The problem is like everywhere else, how do you get the R&D $$$ to fund proper tech development?

Expert Q&A: Eli Dourado of the Mercatus Center on Drone Safety and Aviation Innovation

 Eli Dourado, Director of the Technology Policy Program at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University, joined us on Wednesday, March 23 to discuss his research on consumer drone safety, drone policy, and aviation innovation.

@sam.ward: Hi Eli, welcome to cloakroom! Thanks, Sam!

@thomas.jefferson: Do you think a hobbyist with a drone or a bird is more able to see/sense avoid a plane? If a hobbyist's drone is less able to avoid a plane, doesn't that make drones potentially more dangerous (even if they are fewer in number)? Good question. If you're flying within appropriate guidelines, it's unlikely that you'll ever come across a plane. But it's true that visibility isn't good at 400 ft away. We need more 1) first-person view and 2) more smarts on board.

Expert Q&A: Scott Slesinger of the NRDC on Regulations and the Economy

Scott Slesinger, Legislative Director of the Natural Resources Defense Council, joined us on Thursday, March 24 to discuss the connection between regulations and the economy, and the need for a better regulatory system.

@javits.javits: Hi Scott! Thanks for coming to Cloakroom! It's been a rough few years for environmental legislation. Barring any major shifts in congress, where are you focusing your efforts to gain stronger environmental oversight and protections? Thank you, Javits. Without major changes in Congress, we will push the Administration to follow existing laws & put strong protections in place. For instance, we are working on stronger rules for toxics, a strong Clean Power Plan rule implementation, etc.

Congress seems to only get involved when EPA isn't doing their job or there is a screw up. E.g., there were hearings blaming EPA staff for not figuring out earlier that VW changed computer code to cheat energy efficiency  standards.We clearly need more compliance and enforcement staff, but Congress has been regularly cutting EPA's budget. Legislative changes to help the environment, as you note, are not in the cards.

Expert Q&A: James Hohmann on Trump's Mega Tuesday and SCOTUS Nom

James Hohmann of the Washington Post's Daily 202 joined us on Thursday, March 17 to discuss Trump's Mega Tuesday and Obama's nomination of Judge Garland to the Supreme Court.

@barryzuckercorn: Hey James! Love reading the 202 every morning! What are your thoughts on the likelihood of Trump getting to 1,237 before the convention? Hi Barry, Thanks for reading! I think the odds are greater than 50 percent that Trump gets the delegates necessary to  lock up the GOP nomination before Cleveland. He is very hard to stop at this point. But a convention is the only way to do it.

@dicksen: Piggy backing off the question above- what would happen to the Republican Party if Trump is denied the nomination in a floor fight? If Trump is denied the nomination in a floor fight, there will be mass chaos. Think about the thousands of Trump supporters in the arena at Cleveland. It's a security nightmare for Capitol Police. Considering the anti-Trump Members who will be there.