Opinion & Analysis

Capitol Ink | Bigly Winner

Getting Metro Safety Back on Track
New commission will be empowered to adopt tough safety rules

Democratic lawmakers from the District of Columbia, Maryland and Virginia are calling for Congress to approve the Metro Safety Commission promptly. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The Washington Metro system has its good days and its bad ones. On its best, it carries hundreds of thousands of commuters and visitors around our metro area. On its worst, maintenance and safety issues have caused enraging delays and even heartbreaking accidents. The people living in our region and those visiting our nation’s capital deserve to know that when they get on Metro they will arrive at their destinations safely.

That’s why we introduced legislation last week to establish a new Metro Safety Commission, putting Metro on a path to safer operations. And today, we are sending a letter to the Government Accountability Office, asking them to analyze the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority’s funding and governance structure and issue recommendations for changes. WMATA is distinct among transit agencies in that it is governed by four separate entities, creating unique challenges for collective action on fundamental questions such as how to fund the system. A GAO deep-dive on these questions could yield valuable and objective insight.

Town Hall Winners and Losers So Far
If lawmakers can’t meet with constituents, why do they have a job?

Voters don’t always need to be agreed with, but they always want to be heard — and Rep. Mark Sanford, R-S.C., delivered on that, Patricia Murphy writes. (Photo by Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

We’re halfway through the Presidents Day recess, the first during President Donald Trump’s first term in office. Coming after early stumbles from Trump, and with major legislative changes looming for health care and immigration, and the ascendance of a national effort to protest the president’s agenda, it’s no surprise that town halls would become a focal point for the anger swirling on the left. 

[It’s Not “AstroTurf” if the anger is real]

Capitol Ink | Age-Old Question

Opinion: Trump Is Neck and Neck With the Worst Presidents
Could he even make Warren G. Harding look good?

Even Warren G. Harding had a better first month than President Donald Trump, Walter Shapiro writes. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

DUBLIN — A long holiday weekend in Ireland proved to be less of an escape and more of a reminder of the omnipresence of the 45th president. The front page of the Sunday Independent featured a column by conservative writer and media personality Brendan O’Connor that began, “Ireland 2021. The country has been laid waste to after Donald Trump caused nuclear Armageddon.”

The Donald vs. Very Fake News
The president’s solo news conference went exactly the way he wanted

President Donald Trump, seen here during his press conference Thursday, has the media right where he wants them, Wetherbee writes. (Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

Donald Trump’s first solo press conference as president was a disaster. The 77-minute ramblings of an elderly man has both sides of the aisle worried. Reporters and pundits and supporters and the opposition are confused. What was that? 

It was what the president wanted.

Robbing the Poor to Pay Paul Ryan’s Pals
Speaker may have powerful ally for assault on Medicaid

Speaker Paul D. Ryan Ryan has another shot at Medicaid with longtime ally Tom Price running the Department of Health and Human Services, Jonathan Allen writes. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

House Speaker Paul D. Ryan wants you to know that he cares about the poor. He wants you to know that his deeply held Catholic convictions drive him to seek opportunity for those in poverty, particularly people of color.

He speaks in the compassionate tones of someone who means to help not harm, and I believe that these are his real values, even if I often don’t agree with his policy prescriptions.

Is There a Reward at the End of the Democrats’ Long Slog?
Hard work is vital but results are not always easy to see

North Carolina NAACP President William J. Barber II is playing a prominent role in what has been called the ‘Moral Movement’ there, Mary C. Curtis writes. (Al Drago/CQ Roll Call)

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — The HKonJ protest this past weekend in Raleigh, North Carolina, may have been the largest such event, but it wasn’t the first time that thousands, with causes as diverse as the citizen-marchers themselves, showed up. For 11 years, with messages for both Republicans and Democrats, the faithful gathering at Historic Thousands on Jones Street have persisted. 

There is a lesson for the dissatisfied, new to activism, who are now crowding town halls and filling the streets: Victories may never come, or may be incremental, at best. Each goal accomplished could be followed by a setback.

Capitol Ink | Kellyanne's Next Job?

It’s not ‘Astroturf’ if the Anger is real
Politicians should pay attention to protesters

Utah Rep. Jason Chaffetz says he “absolutely” believes that disruptions at a recent town hall meeting in his district were orchestrated by paid protesters. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

To town hall or not to town hall? That is the question Republicans are struggling with this week as they’re putting their recess schedules together. 

If they hold town hall meetings, they could risk a “Chaffetz,” like the moment last week when an angry crowd shouted Rep. Jason Chaffetz down in his Utah district with news cameras on hand. But refusing to hold town hall meetings could make a member look out of touch or scared to meet with their own voters. A “tele-town hall” feels like a happy medium, right? Members can say they’ve met with constituents, without actually having to meet with constituents.

Capitol Ink | Out Like Flynn

Make the U.S.-Israel Alliance Great Again
Meeting between Trump and Netanyahu should reaffirm shared values and interests

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addresses a joint meeting of Congress in the House chamber in 2015. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

On Wednesday, Israel’s prime minister will come to the White House to meet with President Donald Trump. The last time Benjamin Netanyahu was in Washington, he only spent time at the other end of Pennsylvania Avenue — delivering a controversial address to Congress urging it to reject then-President Obama’s nuclear deal with Iran, a tactic that riled Obama and his aides.

The final year of the Obama presidency included an agreement under which the United States will provide Israel with $38 billion in aid over the next decade. But that was the exception to the rule of Obama placing what he infamously termed “daylight” between his administration and Netanyahu’s Likud government.

NRA: Confirmation of Ryan Zinke a Sound Move
Gun rights group predicts an ‘end of an era of hostility’ towards hunters

Secretary of the Interior nominee Rep. Ryan Zinke, R-Mont., returns to his seat after greeting chairwoman Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, before the start of his confirmation hearing in the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee on Jan. 17, 2017. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The five million men and women of the National Rifle Association are eager to see Rep. Ryan Zinke confirmed as the 52nd secretary of the Interior. His confirmation will mark the end of an era of hostility toward hunters and sportsmen at the Interior Department.

As a native Montanan, Zinke has a deep appreciation for wildlife and conservation. In addition, he understands the importance of public land access for all hunters and outdoorsmen.

A New DNC Chair: This Time It Really Counts
Democrats have much to overcome

The choice of a permanent successor to Debbie Wasserman Schultz as Democratic National Committee chairman has taken on larger-than-usual significance, Walter Shapiro writes. (Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

BALTIMORE — Watching the Democratic Party’s regional forum here last week, my mind kept flashing back to that nearly century-old Will Rogers crack, “I am not a member of any organized party — I am a Democrat.”

In normal times, the selection of a Democratic chair is one of those topics that primarily interest political reporters in the postelection doldrums and consultants hoping for future contracts. But with the Democrats in their worst shape organizationally since the 1920s, the choice of a permanent successor to Debbie Wasserman Schultz takes on larger-than-usual significance.

Capitol Ink | Trump Selfie