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Opinion: The Big What-If Question Hovering Over 2018
What about Alabama? The president’s campaign is still under investigation

President Donald Trump holds a rally at Freedom Hall in Louisville, Ky., in March. (George LeVines/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Election Night 2018:

TV Anchor (in an excited, making-history voice): “We now project that the Democrats have won the House of Representatives with a minimum of 219 seats and Nancy Pelosi will regain the speaker’s gavel after eight years in the minority.”

Opinion: The Commandments According to Roy Moore Take a Hit
Pride goes before a political trouncing — and the more humble man goes to Washington

A sign outside the Living Ways Ministries church in Opelika, Ala., after the words “Vote Roy Moore” were removed shortly before the Alabama Senate election. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

In the Alabama Senate race, both sides went to church — Republican Roy Moore and Democrat Doug Jones took their appeals to their faithful, which, for the most part, worship the same God but came to wildly different electoral conclusions.

On Tuesday, Jones won. The miracle of a Democrat winning a statewide race in deep-red Alabama actually happened. It was not the divine intervention Moore had prayed for, perhaps pointing out the danger when you so shamelessly use the word of the Lord to divide.

Opinion: Trump’s Alabama Attitude Adjustment
Even voters in the Deep South are figuring out who’s behind the bile

Alabama Democrat Doug Jones celebrates his victory over Judge Roy Moore. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

“Because something is happening here But you don’t know what it is Do you, Mister Jones?”

That 1965 Bob Dylan lyric qualifies as half right. Doug Jones certainly figured it out. After all, Jones is now the first mainstream Democrat to be elected to the Senate from Alabama since New Dealer Lister Hill.

Opinion: Issues Matter in Elections Even More Than You’d Think
Both parties need to recognize that the electorate has a clear set of priorities

A street car passes a voting station along St. Charles Avenue in New Orleans during the Louisiana Republican primary in March 2012. (Sean Gardner/Getty Images file photo)

Deciphering what happened in the 2016 election has become a predictable exercise in misinformation for too many people seeking either exoneration or vindication — neither a good pretext for objective analysis. A lot of people got the election wrong before Nov. 8, and even more since.

For most people, the election wasn’t about the Russians or Clinton’s emails. It wasn’t that voters were uneducated or didn’t understand the issues. Quite the opposite. Issues, not party or demographics, drove the 2016 vote.

Opinion: The Real Year of the Woman
Female lawmakers are playing outsize role in sexual harassment debate

Rep. Trent Franks, R-Ariz., resigned after he reportedly suggested that a female staffer carry his child for $5 million and then retaliated against her when she balked. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

It takes a special kind of depravity for a congressman to suggest to a female staffer that she carry his child for $5 million and then retaliate against her when she declines the offer, as former Rep. Trent Franks reportedly did last year.

Nobody is winning a profile in courage award for asking female staff members to cuddle with him in his apartment and then firing them after they refuse, as former Rep. John Conyers Jr. was accused of doing before he resigned in disgrace. And you’d think that voters would somehow weed out a senator who apparently had a groping habit before he was ever in politics, but former Sen. Al Franken proved that conventional wisdom wrong.

Opinion: Why a DACA Fix Next Year Would Come Too Late
It takes months for the government to ramp up a new program

Republican Rep. Carlos Curbelo, right, here with Democratic Rep. Seth Moulton, broke with his party this fall when he announced he wouldn’t support any bill funding the government beyond Dec. 31 until the DACA issue is resolved. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

As Congress speeds toward its year-end pileup of “must pass” legislation, a legislative fix for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA, remains in the balance. President Donald Trump insists it should not be tied to the annual appropriations scramble. But many Democrats — and a few Republicans — are calling for the issue to be addressed this year, with some threatening to withhold their votes to fund the government if legislation for so-called Dreamers is not attached.

Beyond the political posturing and jockeying for leverage, there is a pragmatic reason why any fix, if that is what both parties really want, should happen this year: it takes months for the government to ramp up a new program.

Opinion: How Debt Limit Drama Gets Resolved Is Up in the Air
Policymakers have always extended limit just in time — but the script is now flipped

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin is resorting to so-called extraordinary measures to pay the government’s bills after the debt limit suspension ended Dec. 8. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

In the first year of the Trump administration, Capitol Hill has specialized in drama. From health care to taxes, decisions affecting large swaths of the economy have come down to the last minute. Months of wrangling over the repeal of the Affordable Care Act culminated in an ignominious defeat. Tax reform also came down to the wire in the Senate, narrowly squeaking through in a middle-of-the-night roll call. Next up, a debt limit drama could be on the way.

The debt limit’s suspension quietly ended on Dec. 8, the same day policymakers chose once again to punt on negotiating a budget agreement. In what has become ordinary practice over the past seven years, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin announced the implementation of so-called extraordinary measures — accounting maneuvers that temporarily give Treasury extra borrowing room (and thus, cash) to pay the government’s bills while operating at the debt limit. BPC’s projection is that those measures would last until March, although tax reform, spending cap adjustments, and additional disaster relief could shorten the time frame.

Opinion: Al Franken and the Long Goodbye
Minnesota Democrat handled difficult speech about as well as he could

Minnesota Sen. Al Franken and his wife, Franni, leave the Capitol on Thursday after he announced on the Senate floor that he will resign his seat “in the coming weeks.” (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Claiming the distinction of being, at 6 feet 9 inches, the tallest senator in history and ignoring the pesky detail of having lost an Alabama Republican primary to Roy Moore, Luther Strange delivered his farewell address Thursday morning.

It was a good-humored speech filled with predictable references to “this hallowed institution” that was in keeping with Strange’s short-lived Capitol Hill career as the appointed fill-in for Jeff Sessions, now the attorney general.

Opinion: The Need for a Royal Distraction on This Side of the Pond
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle offer relief from White House and congressional dysfunction

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle announced their engagement on Nov. 27 and will marry at St George’s Chapel, Windsor Castle in May 2018. (Chris Jackson/Getty Images)

Though it was heresy in some quarters at the time, I cared not one whit when Prince Charles took Lady Diana Spencer as his bride — and yes, it was pretty much him choosing her as a suitable spouse. I did not indulge in the ritual some Anglophile friends bragged about, setting clocks to wake up to view the 1981 spectacle in real time while nibbling on some British-like snack.

I did not care about the carriage, the bridal party or the design of the wedding dress. These were folks with a guaranteed income, home and life, and I had more serious concerns.

Opinion: Bottom of the Ninth
Republicans must deliver on tax reform

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Speaker Paul D. Ryan can’t afford another failure like the attempt to repeal the 2010 health care law, Winston writes. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

“Something has to change. The middle class is shrinking and this is our last chance. This is the bottom of the ninth and there are two outs.”

These were the sobering words of a middle-aged man in a postelection focus group conducted for the Congressional Institute in one of the swing Rust Belt states that tipped the scales for Donald Trump. In all the focus groups I did during and after the last election, this man, more than any other, captured the underlying emotions that drove so many voters to cast their ballot not only for Trump but for a Republican Congress who together, they hoped, would deliver dramatic change.