Opinion & Analysis

Time for Republicans senators to override the shutdown
A genuine national emergency — not the kind you have to declare — is taking root

Passengers wait in a TSA line on Jan. 9 at JFK airport in New York City. With TSA agents going unpaid during the partial government shutdown, many are forced to call in sick to work hourly jobs elsewhere to pay the bills. (Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

OPINION — It’s Day 25 of the longest government shutdown in American history and there’s only one end in sight.

It’s not a compromise between Democrats and President Donald Trump. White House aides say the president is “dug in” on his demand for $5.7 billion for a border wall. Speaker Nancy Pelosi has called the wall “immoral.” There is very little hope for a breakthrough between “dug in” and “immoral,” especially between two sides that both think they’ve got the moral high ground — and voters — on their side.

Government’s data policies enter the 21st century — finally
Recently passed reforms hold hope of more evidence-informed policies

Before he gave up his speaker gavel and retired from the House, Paul D. Ryan had a final hurrah in December when Congress passed a package of comprehensive data reforms that he and Washington Sen. Patty Murray had introduced a year earlier. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

OPINION — It might be 2019, but our government’s data infrastructure is largely stuck in the 20th century.

That’s a big problem in the era of the information age. Failing to use data to improve government’s programs and services means taxpayers may not be getting what they pay for. It also means our public discourse suffers when figuring out what problems should be addressed and the best ways to do so.

Congress ignored its election duties for years. That ends now
With HR 1, House Dems have laid out a blueprint for voting reform

As House Democrats push voter registration reforms, there may be heartburn at the state level. But the conversation they’re starting is a crucial one, Weil writes. Above, Democratic Caucus Chair Hakeem Jeffries approaches a “For the People” podium. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

OPINION — House Democrats have waited eight years to regain the speakership, and now that they hold the gavel, they will clearly seek to move on pent-up priorities. For their first act out of the gate, they rolled several into one.

The “For the People Act” — or H.R. 1 — runs just over 500 pages and includes proposals the Democrats have pursued during their time in the minority, such as ethics reforms, campaign finance changes, and a well-publicized section requiring presidential candidates to hand over their tax returns.

Capitol Ink | Character Witness

Youth, anger, impeachment and the 1970s
Strengths of freshman Democrats lie more in dramatizing ignored issues than fleshing out policy details

If Bernie Sanders could get through the entire 2016 primary season without coherently explaining how he would pay for “Medicare for all,” why is Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez expected to be an ace number cruncher, Shapiro writes. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

OPINION — In the 1970s, as a 25-year-old history graduate student at the University of Michigan, I ran for Congress without family money or even owning a car. In my passion (the Vietnam War was raging) and in my belief that college students deserved representation in Washington, I had much in common with the history-making Democratic Class of 2018.

Unlike, say, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, I lost the Democratic primary to the floor leader of the Michigan state House, although I did carry anti-war Ann Arbor by a 5-to-1 margin. (Many more details on request). But I came close enough to nurture a few fantasies about my arrival in Washington as the nation’s youngest congressman.

If Trump is looking for a national emergency, he should try these ones instead
Voter suppression, gun violence — those are worth fighting against

As the president fixates on the border, Democrats are trying to make headway on guns, Curtis writes. Above, Dominic Gregoire, 10, holds a picture of a shooting victim while attending an event at the Capitol last year. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

OPINION — Dueling teleprompter speeches and a high-drama walkout: This is what it looks like when our country’s leaders debate the best way to meet the challenges at the border and whether shutting down the government is the best way to settle it.

If no one budges this week — and the way talks have been going so far, optimism is not particularly warranted — the next step could be a national emergency, declared by the president. But first Donald Trump seems intent on diluting the word “emergency” to mean whatever he wants it to mean on a particular day or hour.

Capitol Ink | Government Shutdown Wall

The real toll of the volatile stock market: Americans’ retirement
It’s not a Washington crisis yet, but the impact is coming faster than you think

A monitor displays the day’s final numbers after the closing bell on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange on Dec. 27. (Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

OPINION — “I’m taking a beatin’ on my retirement funds. I’m sure I’m not the only one.”

Those feelings expressed by a 70-something retiree in a recent Midwestern focus group reflect a growing concern among average Americans about their ability to retire — and retire comfortably — in the aftermath of one of the worst Decembers in stock market history.

As Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez flies high, eyes are rolling on the ground
We all know who she is. But is that good for her agenda?

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is bringing star power back to the Democratic Party, but in Congress, as in life, fame can be both a blessing and a curse, Murphy writes. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

OPINION — The knives are out for Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the freshman phenom who unseated Rep. Joe Crowley in the summer primary and went on to make history as the youngest woman ever elected to Congress.

Why did I even mention that part? We all know who the congresswoman is, and that is both her biggest asset and her greatest danger as she begins what could be a lifelong career of impact or a two-year experiment in modern, celebrity legislating.

Capitol Ink | Trump’s Wall

House Republicans came back from being written off before. They can again
Close 2018 midterm losses show a path for the GOP

The House Republican leadership team for the 116th Congress speaks to the media on Nov. 14, 2018. From left, Tom Emmer, R-Minn., Gary Palmer, R-Ala., Jason Smith, R-Mo., Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., Steve Scalise, R-La., and Mark Walker, R-N.C. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

OPINION — Through much of 2018 and especially in the weeks following the midterm elections, many opinion writers and other political pundits enthusiastically declared the Republican Party dead or at least relegated to life support.

The commentary was eerily reminiscent of the post-2006 declarations that the GOP was finished … over … no longer a viable political party.

Dear new Congress: Bottle this feeling and carry it with you
We took the oath 38 years ago — but this isn’t a call to go back to the way things were

Newly elected lawmakers pose for their incoming freshman class photo on the East Front of the Capitol in November. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

OPINION — On Jan. 3, 1981, we raised our hands on the floor of the House of Representatives and solemnly swore to support the Constitution of the United States, and we are watching today with pride, hope and a tinge of jealousy as 100 of you take that oath.

Like it was yesterday, we recall the intoxicating mix of optimism and excitement as a new member walks the hallowed halls of Congress for the very first time. We hope you never let go of that feeling and the energy that propelled you to this moment.

Trump’s reading list: Start with dictionary, look up ‘wall’
President should take a page from Obama’s book

Former President Barack Obama likes to read his way into the new year. President Donald Trump should do the same — but he may need to start with the basics, Curtis writes. (Bill Pugliano/Getty Images file photo)

OPINION — Though his two terms have ended, it is a tradition that former President Barack Obama has continued: providing his year-end list of favorite books (and films and music). This year, not surprisingly, his book of the year is Michelle Obama’s “Becoming,” already a best-seller. That makes sense, since she is not only his wife and one of America’s favorite first ladies, but also, according to Gallup, the “most admired” woman in the country. Plus, can you imagine the troubles at home if another title topped his list?

But what of our current president?

The most penny-ante government shutdown since, well, ever
In the grand scheme of the budget, $5.6 billion is a rounding error

If Shapiro were Nancy Pelosi (and he is not), he’d let Donald Trump have his trompe-l’oeil presidency and walk away with something to show for it. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

OPINION — There have been notable examples of persistence in modern politics, from Joe Biden planning to run for president more than three decades after his first attempt to Jerry Brown becoming California governor after a 28-year hiatus.

But ranking right up there is Nancy Pelosi’s return as House speaker eight years after the 2010 tea party uprising confiscated her gavel. Never before in American history has there been more than a four-year gap between terms as speaker.

Capitol Ink | Trumpty Dumpty