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Why It’s NOT the Economy, Stupid
With growth up, unemployment down, voters are focusing on other issues

National Republicans are hoping the strong economy will boost candidates like Jim Hagedorn, their nominee in Minnesota’s 1st District, seen here campaigning Sunday at the Applefest parade in La Crescent, Minn. However, public polling shows the economy is not at the top of voters’ concerns. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

ANALYSIS — Last week, the National Republican Congressional Committee released a web video entitled “Better Off Now.” According to NRCC communications director Matt Gorman, who was quoted in the accompanying press release, “November comes down to one question: Are Americans better off now than they were two years ago?” That might be what Republicans want, but it is not likely to be voters’ sole motivation as they cast their ballots. 

According to Gorman, voters will “keep Republicans in the majority.” The economy certainly is good, and there is no reason to believe that will change before November.

Kavanaugh’s Fate Lies in Women’s Hands — As It Should Be
Female voters will also be judging how Republicans treat him and his accuser

Responses by some male Republican lawmakers to the allegations against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh show that many still don’t understand what it takes for a woman to come forward and tell her story, Murphy writes. (Sarah Silbiger/CQ Roll Call)

OPINION — This was the point. This was always the point of the “Year of the Woman,” in 1992 and every election year since then. To have women at the table, to have women as a part of the process in the government we live by every day. Women still aren’t serving in Congress in the numbers they should be, but it is at moments like this one — with a nominee, an accusation, and a Supreme Court seat in the balance — where electing women to office matters.

When Anita Hill told an all-male panel of senators in 1991 that Clarence Thomas had repeatedly sexually harassed her when she had worked with him years before, the senators on the all-male Judiciary Committee seemed to put Hill on trial instead of Thomas. Why didn’t she quit her job and get another one, they asked. Why did she speak to him again? Why didn’t she come forward and say something about Thomas sooner if he was such a flawed nominee?

Carbon Dioxide Isn’t Just a Problem. It’s a Lucrative Product
America needs to invest in the next big thing — direct air capture and storage

America should invest in technologies to suck carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere, Dorgan writes. Above, haze surrounds Valley Generating Station in Sun Valley, California, in 2017. (David McNew/Getty Images file photo)

OPINION — While some experts butt heads over how to slash global carbon emissions, others are experimenting with ways to suck already-emitted gas out of the atmosphere and either store it or roll it back into useful products.

This technology, called direct air capture and storage, is among several strategies that could revolutionize the energy industry and make cleaning up the environment an increasingly profitable enterprise.

Congress Has a ‘Lame Duck’ Shot at Fixing Retirement Security
Legislation to help Americans save more for retirement is already moving forward

The months after an election aren’t exactly prime time for legislating. But with a bill long championed by Senate Finance leaders Orrin G. Hatch, right, and Ron Wyden nearly through the chamber and a similar measure moving in the House, Congress could buck the trend and act on retirement security, Conrad and Lockhart write. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

OPINION — As the midterms approach, the American public’s expectations of any productive policy coming out of Washington are near rock bottom. The postelection “lame duck” session, particularly in the current partisan atmosphere, would normally be a lost cause.

Leadership by a group of lawmakers, however, has given Congress a rare opportunity: bipartisan legislation that would improve the retirement security for millions of Americans.

Flashback Friday: Staff a “Critical Burden”?
Sen. Alan Simpson said so in 1988

Former Sen. Alan K. Simpson, R-Wyo., came from a political family. (Tom Williams/Roll Call file photo)

In 1988, Sen. Alan K. Simpson didn’t hold back when revealing his opinion about congressional staffers.

“The point is we are elected senators, and we should try to do our business, occasionally, with ourselves and among ourselves and between ourselves. Even though the staff is critically important, it is also a critical burden upon us in many situations,” the Wyoming Republican said on the Senate floor.

How Committees Got Their Staffers
Ways and Means and Senate Finance were first panels to receive staff

House Ways and Means Chairman Kevin Brady, right, and Texas Rep. Sam Johnson during a markup of the GOP tax bill in November. In the background, David Stewart, the panel’s majority staff director at the time, and Karen McAfee, the minority staff director. The Ways and Means Committee was the first one in the House to receive staff. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Recent estimates have put the number of staffers in the House and Senate at about 15,000. In 1789, there was one. 

Frederick Muhlenberg of Pennsylvania had just been made speaker, and the second order of business was to elect Virginia lawyer John Beckley as House clerk, the first of 35 people who have served in the role. 

Midterms Show We’re Not Any Closer to a Post-Racial America
Racially charged language is a trademark rather than a flaw to many

Florida gubernatorial candidate Ron DeSantis, a staunch ally of President Donald Trump, warned state voters not to “monkey this up” by electing his Democratic opponent, who is African-American. Above, DeSantis and Trump appear at a rally in Tampa, Fla., in July. (Joe Raedle/Getty Images file photo)

OPINION — Remember the time when Trent Lott got in a heap of trouble for remembering the time?

It was 2002, and the Senate Republican leader representing Mississippi was waxing nostalgic for what he considered the good old days at a 100th birthday celebration for South Carolina Sen. Strom Thurmond. Carried away by the moment — and in remarks that recalled similar words from 1980 — Lott said: “When Strom Thurmond ran for president, we voted for him. We’re proud of it. And if the rest of the country had followed our lead, we wouldn’t have had all these problems over all these years, either.”

What’s Missing From Bob Woodward’s Book? Ask Ben Sasse
With McCain gone, the Nebraska Republican may be the closest thing left to a never-Trumper

Sen. Ben Sasse says he’s committed to the party of Lincoln and Reagan as long as there’s a chance to reform it. The true test would be a 50-50 Senate, Shapiro writes. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

OPINION — Bob Woodward’s book “Fear” — which might better have been called, Hunter Thompson-style, “Fear and Loathing in the White House” — is filled with revealing anecdotes that have gotten overlooked amid the incessant rounds of TV interviews and cable news panels.

One of my favorites comes from the early days of John Kelly’s White House tenure, as the new chief of staff briefly labored under the illusion that he could tame the erratic president.

Rep. Chris Smith Brought Up Orphanages After Same-Sex Parenting Question
High school senior asked if her gay sister would be less of a legitimate parent

Rep. Chris Smith, R-N.J. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Updated 7:27 p.m. | Rep. Chris Smith’s views on gay marriage were thrust into the spotlight again Wednesday after the New Jersey Republican brought up orphanages when asked about same-sex parenting, according to an audio recording of the exchange.

But Smith told Roll Call those comments were taken out of context.

Surprisingly, the Senate Is Now in Play
Despite heavy odds stacked against them, Democrats are in the hunt

Rep. Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz., must win her Arizona Senate race for Democrats to have a chance at winning back the chamber. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

ANALYSIS — I have argued repeatedly that while the House is up for grabs — and indeed likely to flip to the Democrats in November — the Senate is not in play. I now believe that it is, so I must revise and extend my remarks.

Only about three weeks ago, I reiterated my view that Democrats didn’t have a path to a net gain of two Senate seats, which they need for a chamber majority. But a flurry of state and national polls conducted over the past few weeks suggest Democratic prospects have improved noticeably, giving the party a difficult but discernible route for control.