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Opinion Archive

Security for Intermodal Cargo Facilities and Operations | Commentary

Soon after the 113th Congress convenes next week, the Department of Homeland Security Appropriations Act FY2015 (S2534) is expected to be raised in the Senate for debate and vote. This important piece of legislation addresses funding programs to sustain our nation’s critical national transportation infrastructure’s facilities and operations. In particular, this legislation authorizes $100 million for the Port Security Grant Program (PSGP), and an additional $10 billion for multimodal freight grant programs for rail, highway and port projects needed to ensure the efficient movement of goods across the country. Some of these funds are to be allocated via the Department of Transportation’s Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) competitive grants program.

Protecting Insurance Policyholders | Letter to the Editor

In the commentary “Congress’ Obligation on Structured-Settlement Fraud” (Roll Call, Sept. 2, 2014), the author makes inaccurate statements about the protections provided by the state life and health insurance guaranty associations (GAs) to payees under structured settlement annuities issued by Executive Life Insurance Company of New York (ELNY). Those misstatements need to be corrected.

How to Bridge the Centrifuge Gap With Iran | Commentary

One of the major sticking points in the P5+1 negotiations with Iran is the number of centrifuges Iran should be permitted to have as part of a domestic uranium enrichment capability. It currently has approximately 20,000 IR-1 centrifuges, about 9,000 of which are currently installed. The Rouhani administration has reportedly been negotiating for upward of 50,000 and the Supreme Leader of Iran, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, recently stated that Iran would need 190,000 in the coming years as it expanded its ostensible civilian nuclear power program. The Obama administration has reportedly maintained the position that Iran must reduce this number to the hundreds or low thousands.

Congress: Seniors With Diabetes Deserve Medicare Coverage for Life-Saving Technologies | Commentary

Since being diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes in 1961, Chris Stiehl has witnessed every innovation in care over the past 50 years. Yet, with all the great medical and technological advances, he lives each day — like everyone with diabetes — with the threat of dangerous low blood sugar levels. And he fears that in two years, he will no longer be able afford the device that has helped him easily manage his glucose levels because it’s not covered by Medicare.

Now Is the Time for Congress to Enact Comprehensive Mental Health Legislation | Commentary

As Congress returns next week from the summer recess, it’s time to finally take action on comprehensive mental health reform. Nearly two years after the Sandy Hook Elementary School tragedy in Newtown, Conn. focused attention on the nation’s broken mental health system, there has been much discussion in Congress about how to improve mental health care but very little resolution.

Congress' Obligation on Structured-Settlement Fraud | Commentary

Thirty years ago, Congress changed the federal tax code to encourage the use of structured settlements by accident victims needing long-term financial security. Since then, structured settlements have seemed the ultimate success.

What the Religious Right Doesn't Get About Religious Freedom | Commentary

As Congress gets ready to reconvene, there’s a renewed sense of urgency in the Middle East. The Islamic State is wreaking havoc across Iraq and Syria with a frightening mission to wipe out religious minorities. This sectarian violence highlights why international envoys focused on religious freedom must become a priority in Washington.

Taking Out-of-State Drivers for a Ride | Commentary

Labor Day marks the unofficial beginning of fall with back-to-school season, cooler temperatures and, for some, the long-awaited return of football. The National Football League season kicks off on Sept. 4 in Seattle with a rematch of the infamous 2012 “Fail Mary” game between the Seahawks and the Green Bay Packers. Believe it or not, this game holds a lesson for students of transportation and tax policy — both teams are known for their superstar…

President Obama’s 'Flexible' View of the Law: The DREAM Act as Case Study | Commentary

Since 2001, immigration advocates have pushed Congress to enact the DREAM Act. The bill would give lawful permanent residence status and work authorization to anyone who arrived in this country illegally as a minor, has been in the country for at least five years, was in school or has graduated from high school or served in the military, and was not yet 35 years old. Some version of the bill has been introduced in each…

Divestment-Investment Can Break Congressional Gridlock on Climate Change | Commentary

Once the lone province of climate scientists, the chorus warning of the costs of inaction on climate change grows larger daily, from former United States Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson, who warned Washington this summer of the coming climate bubble, to Desmond Tutu, who has urged institutions to divest from fossil fuels. Even the U.S. Congress, the week before August recess, introduced two big climate-related bills (in the House) and held four hearings on climate change. The tide is clearly shifting.

As LNG Export Applications Languish at DOE, Time to Embrace Congressional Action | Commentary

Following the Department of Energy’s finalization of its updated procedure for reviewing applications to export liquefied natural gas to countries without free trade agreements, the DOE now will only consider applications that have met the requirements under the National Environmental Policy Act before rendering a final decision.  Energy Secretary Ernest J. Moniz noted to Roll Call that any further changes to the regulatory oversight of LNG export applications would have to come from congressional action. Acknowledging…

President Obama's "Flexible" View of the Law: The DREAM Act as Case Study | Commentary

Since 2001, immigration advocates have pushed Congress to enact the DREAM Act. The bill would give lawful permanent residence status and work authorization to anyone who arrived in this country illegally as a minor, has been in the country for at least five years, was in school or has graduated from high school or served in the military, and was not yet 35 years old. Some version of the bill has been introduced in each Congress, but has usually kicked up such a firestorm of opposition that even its high-level bipartisan support has proved insufficient to get the bill adopted.

Taking Out-of-State Drivers for a Ride | Commentary

Labor Day marks the unofficial beginning of fall with back-to-school season, cooler temperatures and, for some, the long-awaited return of football. The National Football League season kicks off on Sept. 4 in Seattle with a rematch of the infamous 2012 “Fail Mary” game between the Seahawks and the Green Bay Packers. Believe it or not, this game holds a lesson for students of transportation and tax policy — both teams are known for their superstar quarterbacks and rabid fan bases, but there is a significant difference in how they chose to finance their stadiums. Lambeau Field’s renovations were partially funded by a sales tax paid by those who benefit the most from the team and the stadium — the citizens of Green Bay, Wis. CenturyLink Field, on the other hand, was built using money collected from discriminatory taxes on car rentals paid by visitors to Seattle.

As LNG Export Applications Languish at DOE, Time to Embrace Congressional Action | Commentary

Following the Department of Energy’s finalization of its updated procedure for reviewing applications to export liquefied natural gas to countries without free trade agreements, the DOE now will only consider applications that have met the requirements under the National Environmental Policy Act before rendering a final decision. Energy Secretary Ernest J. Moniz noted to Roll Call that any further changes to the regulatory oversight of LNG export applications would have to come from congressional action. Acknowledging that export applicants have already been subjected to a moratorium on review, the compilation of multiple economic reports, two public comment periods, the creation of an “order of precedence” and now a full scale change in approval policy, several members of Congress have been spurred into action to address the regulatory process at the DOE.

Divestment-Investment Can Break Congressional Gridlock on Climate Change | Commentary

Once the lone province of climate scientists, the chorus warning of the costs of inaction on climate change grows larger daily, from former United States Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson, who warned Washington this summer of the coming climate bubble, to Desmond Tutu, who has urged institutions to divest from fossil fuels. Even the U.S. Congress, the week before August recess, introduced two big climate-related bills (in the House) and held four hearings on climate change. The tide is clearly shifting.

Is the United States In or Out on Globalization? | Commentary

When Michigan Repulican Rep. Dave Camp’s comprehensive tax reform plan died earlier this year, so too did the hope that Congress would tackle America’s economic competitiveness problem anytime soon.

The United States Can’t Wait Until Central America Is Fixed Before We Secure Our Borders | Commentary

The relentless surge of illegal aliens pouring across our southern border is leading to the inevitable calls for the United States to take a lead role in fixing the economic and social problems that provide the impetus for many people to leave their homes in Central America (“U.S. Must Help Attack the Root Causes of Border Crisis,” Roll Call, Aug. 20).

Congress Take Note: 29 Million Diabetic Americans Wonder 'Who is Minding the Diabetes Supply Store?' | Commentary

You see the small, handmade signs at the intersections of streets across the country, touting “CASH PAID FOR DIABETES TEST STRIPS.”  Signs of the times? Perhaps, as ad hoc resellers of medical supplies provide a secondary market to someone in need of a few quick dollars while possibly flouting pesky safety laws. But it’s also an indicator of a larger-scale issue: the difficulty faced by federal policymakers in regulating a multifaceted industry crucial to the…

How Unnecessary Data Reporting Requirements Turned a $44 Theft into a $10,000 Federal Headache | Commentary

In June 2008, a thief entered a custodial room at the University of Nebraska at Kearney and took a bag of Ruffles chips, some Little Debbie Nutty Bars, and a set of two-way radios — a combined value of $44.88. Six years later, the same incident is costing the university $10,000, all because of a dispute with the U.S. Department of Education over whether the space where the theft took place was a closet or an office.

The Tea Party Grows Up | Commentary

The gleeful speculation of the “demise” of the tea party amidst disappointing 2014 primary results is giving way to a very different reality.

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