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New York City’s progressive elites gambled and lost over Amazon
Democrats’ unforced error on HQ2 deal delivered a gift to Republicans

Amazon pulling out of its second-headquarters deal with New York City represents a big loss for Democrats, Winston writes. (Drew Angerer/Getty Images file photo)

OPINION — “I think it’s a bluff, first and foremost.”

Those were the words of New York City Council deputy leader Jimmy Van Bramer to Fox News’ Neil Cavuto on Feb. 11. Cavuto had asked Van Bramer about the possibility of Amazon walking away from its historic deal to locate one of its second headquarters in Queens because of anti-deal efforts stirred up by Van Bramer and others, most notably Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and state Sen. Michael Gianaris.

There was just one thing missing from this voter reform hearing — a Republican
In a state like Georgia, the GOP will have to both acknowledge voter suppression and lead the effort to end it

When Stacey Abrams described a “systemic breakdown” in the electoral process, there were no Republicans around to hear her, Murphy writes. (Jessica McGowan/Getty Images file photo)

OPINION — What are the chances that Republican lawmakers will work with Democrats to make changes to restrictive voting systems in the United States that have benefited Republicans in recent elections, either deliberately or accidentally?

That’s going to be the question going forward for the House Administration Elections Subcommittee, which is holding a series of field hearings around the country to examine the 2018 elections and the fundamental question of whether all U.S. citizens have equal and unfettered access to the right to vote, no matter their income or ethnicity.

The dead earmarks society
Congress gave up pork years ago. Now it could be making a comeback

Steny Hoyer says he’s working to restore congressionally directed spending, with “reforms to ensure transparency and accountability.” (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

From the outside, they looked like a collection of political misfits akin to the characters from “The Breakfast Club.” This peculiar little crew of lobbyists, ethics watchdogs and government spending hawks included the likes of Public Citizen’s Craig Holman and former House member-turned-lobbyist Jim Walsh.

Instead of serving Saturday detention, like the high schoolers of the 1985 hit movie, they spent their meetings nearly a decade ago seeking compromise on one of Congress’ most politically fraught but powerful tools: earmarks. “It was a strange group, an eclectic group,” concedes Holman, whose liberal Public Citizen is best known for taking on K Street, not working with the lobbyists and lawyers in the sector. “We identified what the real problem with earmarks is — and earmarks do pose a serious problem with corruption.”

Senate confirms Barr amid questions about Mueller report
The Senate voted to confirm Barr as the next attorney general, mostly along party lines

William P. Barr, left, nominee for attorney general, greets former Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, upon arriving for his Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearing in Hart Building on Tuesday, January 15, 2019. Hatch introduced Barr to the committee. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

William Barr takes over the Justice Department on Thursday at a pivotal moment for the nation’s legal landscape, with his tenure closely tied to how he will handle the special counsel’s Russia investigation and any political pressure from the White House.

The Senate voted 54-45 to confirm Barr as the next attorney general, mostly along party lines. Senators have strong clues that he will continue the Trump administration’s conservative policies and legal arguments on immigration, civil rights enforcement and LGBT employment discrimination.

Sam Ervin took down Nixon. We’re still waiting for his heir
Maybe Nancy Pelosi needs to appoint a small select committee modeled after Watergate

Folksy North Carolina Sen. Sam Ervin, center, chaired the committee that destroyed Nixon’s strongest claim to power — his political popularity, Shapiro writes. (CQ Roll Call file photo)

OPINION — It is easy to imagine an undiscovered Samuel Beckett play entitled “Waiting for Mueller.” On stage, faithful Democrats vacillate between stubborn hope (“He should be here”) and fatalistic despair (“He didn’t say for sure that he would come”). In the end, they just wait, day after day.

Whatever Robert Mueller’s internal timetable (seers like Rudy Giuliani have so far been comically wrong in trying to predict it), the investigation will face new pressures with the virtually certain Senate confirmation this week of William Barr. For the first time, Mueller will be supervised by a legitimate attorney general — rather than an acting Donald Trump factotum — who has avoided any promises about releasing the full report.

3 Things to Watch: ‘Trump Show, Shutdown II’ heads to climactic scene
Will he or won’t he? Not even GOP lawmakers, WH staff seem to know

President Donald Trump delivers his State of the Union Address to a joint session of Congress in the Capitol on Feb. 5, during which he delivered hardline border security remarks. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

If Yogi Berra, the New York Yankees hall of fame catcher, was around to gaggle with reporters at the White House or in a Capitol hallway about the ongoing border security spending and government shutdown drama, he would likely note that it feels “like déjà vu all over again.”

Washington has entered a time warp of sorts as President Donald Trump and his top aides tiptoe up to the edge of declaring he will sign a bipartisan compromise package that would hand him $4.3 billion less for his proposed U.S.-Mexico border wall than he has for months demanded. By Wednesday morning, it became increasingly difficult to be sure whether it was December 2018 or February 2019.

How Ralph Northam is spending his Black History Month
The African-Americans of his state have done a whole lot of forgiving since the first enslaved people were brought there centuries ago

Virginia Governor Ralph Northam has been doing a lot of learning this month — about blackface, apologies and redemption. African-Americans who believe he should stay in his post are used to making political compromises to survive, Curtis writes. (Alex Edelman/Getty Images)

OPINION — The lessons of this February’s Black History Month commemorations have already veered far beyond the usual ones that begin and end by quoting a snippet of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech — the part about judging folks not by the color of their skin but by the content of their character. A new curriculum is being written in real time, affecting real-life politicians and their constituents. And Virginia is hardly the only state not ready for the big exam.

Of course, the politician in question, Gov. Ralph Northam, has been learning as he goes — about blackface, about apologies and about redemption.

Note to Ocasio-Cortez and Green New Dealers: The economy is not the government
Like old New Deal, plan promises much and will produce little

Massachusetts Sen. Edward J. Markey, center, New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and others hold a press conference on the Green New Deal outside the Capitol on Feb. 7. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

OPINION — In the final debate of the 2010 British general election, Conservative Party leader David Cameron told his Labour Party rival, Prime Minister Gordon Brown, that “Labour seem to confuse the economy with the government.” A month later, Cameron had Brown’s job. 

Given the proposals in the Democrats’ Green New Deal — whose bungled release last week made for some sorely needed comic moments in an otherwise grim Washington — their leading economist, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, could learn something important from Cameron’s spot-on observation about what drives a successful economy. A hint: It isn’t government.

Trump on border deal: ‘I can’t say I’m thrilled’
Special panel’s leaders have said only they ‘hope’ president would support agreement

President Donald Trump is joined by Rep. Steve Scalise (R-LA) in the Rose Garden of the White House on Jan. 4. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

President Donald Trump showed his first cards Tuesday about a bipartisan border security deal that falls well short of his $5.7 billion funding demand for a U.S.-Mexico border barrier.

“I can’t say I’m happy,” Trump told reporters during a Cabinet meeting. “I can’t say I’m thrilled.”

Hillary Clinton is running again, sort of
Another double bind for women in 2020? The more of them there are, the less they’ll stand out

It’s not fair to compare female candidates exclusively to one another, Murphy writes. But Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand and Elizabeth Warren haven’t exactly distanced themselves from the last woman to run for president. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

OPINION — Democrats have four qualified, tough, smart, female senators running for president. And that might be a problem, because they just tried that against Donald Trump and it didn’t work in 2016.

It’s not that Sens. Kamala Harris, Elizabeth Warren, Amy Klobuchar and Kirsten Gillibrand wouldn’t each make an excellent president. Like Hillary Clinton, it’s clear that they have all put a great deal of thought into how they’ll run and how they would lead.