nationwide

A new era for the ERA?
Equal Rights Amendment measures gain traction in Congress and beyond after #MeToo

Rep. Jackie Speier, D-Calif., right, and Carolyn B. Maloney, D-N.Y., attend a June 2018 news conference in the House Triangle on the need to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

In a moment of reckoning for women’s equality, lawmakers and investors are teaming up to push for change in corporate boardrooms, executive suites, and across the country — and that’s generating renewed interest in an Equal Rights Amendment.

Propelled by the #MeToo and Time’s Up movements, women are flexing their power to confront everything from gender pay disparities and harassment to the lack of legal protections and corporate diversity.

Can Bernie Sanders change his luck in the South?
The stakes are higher than ever, and the game has changed from 2016

Bernie Sanders is courting black voters in the South after stumbling there in 2016. But his competition this time is even stiffer, Curtis writes. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call)

OPINION — Bernie Sanders spent the weekend on a Southern swing, which makes sense. The Vermont senator’s failure to connect with enough core Democratic voters the last time around — in the South, that means black voters, and black women in particular — stalled his campaign for the party’s presidential nomination. He hit a wall in the early primary state of South Carolina, losing badly to Hillary Clinton, and he never recovered.

Sanders’ trip South took him through North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia and Alabama, to large rallies and more intimate town halls, focusing his message on “justice.” At a time when Trump-appointed judges are declining to declare their support for the landmark Supreme Court decision that ruled segregated public schools unconstitutional — and are winning Republican approval nonetheless — Sanders in South Carolina on Saturday, 65 years after Brown v. Board of Education, unveiled his “Thurgood Marshall Plan for Public Education and Educators” to reform the K-12 education system, with a focus on reversing racial and economic segregation.

Get used to talking about Pennsylvania
Political Theater, Episode 74

Hello, Pennsylvania! Air Force One arrives with President Donald Trump for a rally at the Williamsport Regional Airport in Montoursville, Pa., on Monday, May 20, 2019. The perennial battleground state will go a long way to determining the next president. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

For pure Political Theater, it will be hard to beat Pennsylvania during the 2020 campaign. The Keystone State will be, well, key to an Electoral College victory. President Donald Trump knows it. That may be why he has visited it six times since taking office, including to Montoursville in the north central part of the state on May 20.

He won’t be alone, though, because the current Democratic frontrunner, former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., was born in Scranton, represented neighboring Delaware in the Senate for decades and opened his official campaign headquarters in Philadelphia on May 18. Pennsylvania has long been a swing state in presidential politics, and Democrats’ ability to flip several Republican seats in 2018 paved the way for them retaking the majority in the House.

Federal money hasn’t reached disaster victims
Long after hurricanes, red tape leaves relief aid unspent

A man rides a bike in Loiza, Puerto Rico, after Hurricane Maria in 2017. The island’s nearly $20 billion in aid from a Department of Housing and Urban Development program has been mired in a clunky bureaucratic process. (Alex Wroblewski/Getty Images file photo)

It’s been more than a year and a half since Hurricane Maria laid waste to Puerto Rico in September 2017, killing roughly 3,000 people and causing an estimated $90 billion in damages.

But federal money for any long-term rebuilding has yet to reach those in need in the U.S. territory, which was also battered by Hurricane Irma that same month.

Senate, House start to chip away at ‘kiddie tax’ hike
Increase for low-income children was an unintended consequence of 2017 tax overhaul

Sen. Bill Cassidy, R-La., is leading the Senate effort to repeal the “kiddie tax” increase for military survivors in Gold Star families. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Both chambers are moving to reverse tax law changes that unintentionally subjected investment earnings of low-income children to the same tax rates paid by wealthier households.

The House, which under the Constitution must originate revenue bills, plans to act later this week on a broader retirement savings bill that would eliminate the full set of changes to the so-called kiddie tax made by Republicans in the 2017 tax overhaul.

The politics of abortion surge to forefront of 2020 debate
Georgia, other states move polarizing topic to front burner with new laws

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., a Democratic presidential candidate, traveled to Atlanta last week to rally for abortion rights in the wake of the state passing a law restricting them. The issue has returned to the political fore as several states pass laws to restrict abortion. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

OPINION — It’s the worst day of your life. You’ve been told that your unborn baby is dying inside of you and you are presented with two horrible options: medically induce labor to deliver her early or carry the dangerous pregnancy to term, when your baby will suffocate outside of your womb.

At that gruesome moment, your state representative, a 63-year-old part-time farmer, walks into the exam room and tells you what he thinks you should do. If you choose anything else, you and your doctor could both be prosecuted for murder.

For 2020 Democrats, a bull market for bashing Wall Street?
Sanders, Warren hope bashing big banks still resonates with voters

Sens. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., and Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., are among the Democrats running for president who made curbing Wall Street excesses cornerstones of their campaigns. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

In 2016, a New York City real estate developer who inherited hundreds of millions of dollars managed to win the presidency after convincing thousands of Rust Belt voters that the daughter of a textile salesman was an untrustworthy elitist because she gave a few paid speeches to a Wall Street investment bank. Four years later, some of the nearly two dozen Democrats running for president are retreading the populist path that runs roughshod over Wall Street.

The candidates hope bashing big banks still resonates with voters, but they’re also broadening the message to include other economic issues that divide the haves from the have-nots. “The last three presidential elections have all been Main Street versus Wall Street, and — increasingly — about the Rust Belt versus Wall Street,” said Andy Green, managing director of economic policy at the Center for American Progress.

Abortion politics: Will Doug Jones’ opposition to Alabama ban hurt him?
Jones is a top GOP target, but state ban with no rape exception could also fire up Democrats

Sen. Doug Jones has spoken out against a bill in Alabama that would essentially ban abortion. It could both hurt and help his election chances, strategists say. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Abortion politics could put pressure on endangered Alabama Democratic Sen. Doug Jones as his state pushes the strictest limits in the country, while presidential contenders seek to use new state abortion bans to rally core supporters.

Conservative state legislatures around the country have pushed curbs on abortion this year in an effort to turn back the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision guaranteeing a national right to abortion.

North Carolina redo sets stage for copycat campaigns in 2020
Battle of the Dans offers a test of how far loyalty to Trump will take you

The race between Republican Dan Bishop, left, and Democrat Dan McCready in North Carolina’s 9th District will serve as a preview of GOP attempts to win back seats they lost last year, Curtis writes. (Courtesy Bishop for Congress and Jeff Siner/The Charlotte Observer/AP file photo)

OPINION — After an election fraud scandal, North Carolina Republicans lost a House candidate. After an indictment and questions about possible bribery, the state GOP lost its chair.

But all that didn’t stop a gaggle of Republicans from vying for the chance to run for a House seat that, thanks to gerrymandering, still favors their party — that is, of course, if voters stay interested in a special election that now will be decided on Sept. 10, if everything goes as planned.

Election assistance agency pleads for more money ahead of 2020
“What we are working on is the infrastructure of our democracy”

Senate Rules Chairman Roy Blunt noted Wednesday that budget cuts at the Election Assistance Commission came during the Obama administration. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Officials from the Election Assistance Commission, a federal agency responsible for overseeing voting machines used in thousands of jurisdictions across the country and helping states adopt good election administration practices, pleaded with lawmakers for more money to do their jobs ahead of the 2020 elections.

The federal agency is working with a staff and budget that are about half what they were 10 years ago, officials said Wednesday as lawmakers grappled with how to beef up the agency.