opinion

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: 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: Where Science Goes, So Goes Our Nation
Investing in research and innovation pays off big

A scientist tracking tornadoes in Oklahoma in May looks at radar on his smartphone as part of a project that gets funding from the National Science Foundation and other government programs. Rep. Paul Tonko  writes that federal funding has had a direct impact on technology such as Doppler radar, GPS and smartphones. (Drew Angerer/Getty Images file photo)

A recent opinion column “Science That Leads” by my colleague, House Science Chairman Lamar Smith, argued that certain kinds of science, especially social and behavioral sciences, are not worth public investment. As an engineer, I take special care when I say: The facts disagree.

In 2014, the world’s foremost doctors and medical experts were working furiously to manage the rapidly growing threat of Ebola. Anthropologists, representing a field of behavioral science, understood the funeral practices in Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone and were able to act as mediators to intervene in ways that slowed the spread of the illness and saved countless lives. The full economic and public health value of this contribution is impossible to quantify but the lives and resources they saved are very real.

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: One Year Later — Why 21st Century Cures Still Matters
Help underway for diseases that impact virtually every family

Rep. Fred Upton, R-Mich., left, and Rep. Diana DeGette, D-Colo., hold thank you signs made by Max Schill, who’s diagnosed with Noonan Syndrome, a rare genetic condition, after the U.S. House of Representatives voted in favor of the 21st Century Cures Act on Capitol Hill in Washington in 2015. Upton and DeGette spearheaded the act. (Al Drago/CQ Roll Call file photo)

 

 

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: 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.

Opinion: Bipartisanship Still Exists and Financial Reform Is Proof
Senate bill isn’t perfect, but it can have a lasting effect

The Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee will mark up a bipartisan bill this week. From left, Chairman Michael D. Crapo, Republican Sen. Jerry Moran, ranking member Sherrod Brown and Democratic Sen. Brian Schatz prepare for a hearing in July. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

As U.S. politics descends ever further into partisanship, there are still signs that old-fashioned legislating is not dead. This week, the Senate Banking Committee will mark up one of the first significant pieces of financial regulatory legislation in years with real bipartisan support. That means an opportunity for lasting, incremental progress that we should welcome.

The proposed bill, which has 10 Republican and 10 Democratic co-sponsors, would not revolutionize the U.S. financial regulatory system, and that’s a good thing. The Dodd-Frank Act and other post-financial crisis reforms have made the financial system and Americans safer overall, but like most major reforms, they have also created unintended consequences. The Senate bill would address some of these, while retaining the overall post-crisis framework that is generally working.