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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.

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.

The Rules That Stopped Elizabeth Warren Are Waiting for Donald Trump, Too
Senate norms have never been more important in our democracy

Under Senate rules, President Donald Trump’s proposals will have to get through the chamber based on the merits of his policies, not the volume of his arguments, Murphy writes. Senators are seen here at the president’s inauguration last month. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Rule 19 had its close-up this week, didn’t it? To be specific, Section 3 of Rule 19, did, when Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell informed Sen. Elizabeth Warren that she had “impugned the motives and conduct” of her fellow senator, Jeff Sessions, when she read a letter that Coretta Scott King had written about him many years ago.

When Warren was told, “The senator shall take her seat,” she took the Coretta Scott King letter, marched a few feet off the Senate floor, and took a different seat in front of a Facebook Live feed that went out to millions. The standoff launched a battle cry for any woman who has ever felt marginalized, belittled or silenced — which, by the way, is nearly all of us. A thousand hashtags bloomed. #SheWasWarned #ShePersisted #LetLizSpeak. You get the picture.

A NewDEAL for Democrats — and the Nation
The way to win elections and drive the policy agenda

Cincinnati Councilman P.G. Sittenfeld, center, writes that Democratic messaging should start with policies implemented by pro-growth progressives across the country. (Photo courtesy Sittenfeld for Cincinnati)

November’s election ripped off the Band-Aid covering a long-worsening wound for Democrats. Control of the White House made it easier for members of our party to brush off dramatic down-ballot losses the past six years. Now it is clearer to everyone that the picture is bleak.

Fewer states are positioned to counter the agenda of a Trump administration and a Republican Congress, and we are in desperate need of new Democratic voices to rise up the political ranks and lead our party at all levels of government.

Sean Duffy’s an Embarrassment to Wisconsin’s 7th District
And he should apologize to everyone

Wisconsin Rep. Sean P. Duffy, seen above attending a House Financial Services Committee hearing last fall, made headlines after an interview on CNN on Tuesday. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Rep. Sean Duffy’s constituents and colleagues should be ashamed of him.

In an interview on CNN on Tuesday, the Wisconsin Republican applauded the “good things that came from” a white supremacist murdering nine black worshippers at a church in Charleston, South Carolina, in 2015.

Who’s in Charge in Trump’s Washington?
All three branches of government are answerable to the Constitution

Just like the president and members of Congress, federal employees are responsible to the Constitution, Murphy writes. (Spencer Platt/Getty Images file photo)

Did you know that the organizational chart for the federal government is the only one you’ll ever see that doesn’t have a person or group of people in the top box? Instead, the three branches of government, including President Donald Trump’s executive branch, sit equidistant from each other on a horizontal row below the top box. And inside the top box is the Constitution.

When a federal employee sent me the org chart during the 2016 campaign, I thought of it mostly as a piece of quirky trivia — hey, look, nobody’s in charge! But I’ve thought about that chart again and again in the last week as people in the federal government have either joined forces with the White House or acted out against it in ways we’ve never seen before.

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers an Unfair Target
Trump administration may review policies on tribal rights

Native American activists celebrate Dec. 4 after learning that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers announced that it will not grant an easement to the Dakota Access Pipeline to cross under a lake on the Sioux Tribes Standing Rock reservation, ending a months-long standoff. (Scott Olson/Getty Images file photo)

Several high-profile events in 2016 involving Native American tribes and private developers highlighted the confusing and sometimes conflicting processes for federal environmental permitting.

As a former commander of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Portland District, which often consults with tribes for projects impacting Native American tribal rights, I was dismayed to see commentators and even some elected officials unfairly target the Corps of Engineers with vitriolic and often tremendously unfair criticism.

Cory Booker’s Bear Hug
New Jersey Democrat shows Team McMahon love, until voting time

Linda McMahon did not get New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker’s vote, but he did express an interest in working out with her son-in-law. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Sen. Cory Booker could have asked Linda McMahon, President Donald Trump’s nominee to lead the Small Business Administration, pretty much anything.

At McMahon’s confirmation hearing on Jan. 24, he could have asked the former CEO of World Wrestling Entertainment about how WWE fudges attendance numbers at Wrestlemanias. That could have been interesting in light of Trump’s insistence that more people attended his inauguration than actually did, a provable falsehood.

Black History Month Lessons for ‘Trump World’
Fight for equality continues to be a few steps forward followed by pushback

Despite the success of “Hidden Figures,” we are still far from a time when people of color and women play more than token roles in the telling of the nation’s history, Curtis writes. (Courtesy Twentieth Century Fox)

Every year, when February rolls around, you hear the same questions: Why do we need a Black History Month? When is White History Month? (The answer to that second question is January through December, by the way.)

For the answer to the first, look no further than the movie that just picked up the top award from the Screen Actors Guild. “Hidden Figures” is about the African-American female mathematicians who helped propel the U.S. space program, and who were mostly left out of the history books and previous film accounts of NASA and the talents who made it soar. (John Glenn wouldn’t leave home without their trajectory equations.)