| June 20, 2014, 5 a.m.
As President Obama’s nominee for secretary of Housing and Urban Development begins his confirmation process in the Senate this week, San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro has the opportunity to bring a fresh perspective and embrace policies that save money, improve services and set a positive example for the entire federal government.
| June 19, 2014, 8 a.m.
To the next Majority Leader,
| June 18, 2014, 5:08 p.m.
In 2014, the World Wide Web hit its 25th anniversary. For the past 25 years, communications have been moving, changing and evolving at warp speed. Congress has struggled to find footholds, and many offices have found themselves in over their heads. In the rush to take advantage of new communication tools, many members of Congress (and staff) merely adapted the old rules to the new century. Websites were simply the new billboards. Facebook became the new delivery system for press releases. And Twitter was just an updated version of bumper stickers. Rather than change their styles and practices for the new media, they merely wrapped old media methods in new technology.
| June 17, 2014, 4:07 p.m.
There have been a lot of questions and finger pointing in the aftermath of Majority Leader Eric Cantor’s historic loss to the little-known Dave Brat. People have been asking: How did it happen? How did so many people not see this coming? As the polling firm that conducted the lone independent survey during the final weeks of the election, Vox Populi Polling has become part of that story.
| June 16, 2014, 5 a.m.
There is a shell game currently underway on Capitol Hill. The House Republican Leadership are trying to use the elimination of essential postal services as a means to pay for temporarily extending the exhausted Highway Trust Fund. Unfortunately for taxpayers and postal customers, the game is rigged. The reality is that all the shells are empty.
| June 13, 2014, 5 a.m.
It was good to see that a bipartisan group of members of Congress came together to introduce a bill to ensure that artists are fairly compensated for their recordings made before February 1972. As one who has worked with some of America’s iconic stars, as well as today’s promising talents, and as a member of a music community coalition trying to fix a glaring inequity, I hope Congress acts promptly to help our legacy artists.
| June 13, 2014, 5 a.m.
The U.S. Constitution invests the power to spend money in the legislative branch. Per the Constitution: “No money shall be drawn from the Treasury, but in Consequence of Appropriations made by Law . . . ” Endowing Congress with the “power of the purse” has a two-fold purpose. It allows members of Congress to respond to the needs of their constituents; to direct spending to relieve the concerns of the people. In Federalist Paper No. 58, James Madison described the power of the purse as “the most complete and effectual weapon with which any constitution can arm the immediate representatives of the people, for obtaining a redress of every grievance, and for carrying into effect every just and salutary measure.” The power to spend money provides Congress a check the power of the executive. Combining the power of the purse with the power to make war, the founders reasoned, was dangerous, creating the conditions for executive tyranny.
| June 12, 2014, 5 a.m.
A debate is raging in the halls of Congress about the future of TV. And an unholy trinity of the pay-TV industry, the Consumers Electronic Association, and companies obsessed with broadband are fighting to disadvantage broadcast television providers and consumers in the reauthorization of the Satellite Television Extension and Localism Act, all for their own financial gain.
| June 11, 2014, 2:17 p.m.
Approving tax treaties with other nations used to be relatively routine business on Capitol Hill, but that’s no longer the case.
| June 9, 2014, 6:43 p.m.
Many psychoanalyses of the United States Senate will be published in the coming months. All of them will conclude that the Senate is broken. They will offer new rules and schemes for controlling individual senators’ rights. They will be wrong. Any prescription asking for more controls on the right to offer amendments and debate hasn’t looked carefully enough at the Senate and its record of successfully handling the most difficult problems throughout the history of our republic.
| June 9, 2014, 6:41 p.m.
Congress is once more setting itself up for a last-minute funding crisis, set to hit right before lawmakers take off for their August recess.
| June 9, 2014, 6:41 p.m.
Last December, House and Senate Republicans uniformly said they would not consider an unemployment insurance extension unless there was a bipartisan compromise that was fully paid for, contained some unspecified reforms to the program and created jobs. In early April, after three months of negotiations and numerous false starts, they got just that: The Senate finally approved a bipartisan bill that met every one of those demands, while paying benefits through the end of May.
| June 8, 2014, 11 a.m.
Our economy is facing a long-term unemployment crisis, which new evidence suggests is made worse by the five-month expiration of federal unemployment benefits.
| June 6, 2014, 3:49 p.m.
It’s been 22 years since the last amendment to the Constitution took effect, but Senate Democrats are hoping to alter the nation’s founding document once again.
| June 3, 2014, 10:54 a.m.
Imagine if, 20 years ago, Congress had passed a law limiting each car manufacturer or retailer to spending no more than a certain amount per year on research and development or expanding its operations. Large, established institutions like General Motors or Walmart might have done just fine. But startups like Tesla and Amazon.com would never have been able to make the capital-intensive investments to get off the ground, and consumers would have been worse off for it.
| May 30, 2014, 5 a.m.
Americans have a funny penchant for “fixin’ things that ain’t broke.” American voters, in particular, really like to “fix” things. We regularly vote elected officials out of office who are doing a fine job in favor of someone else who seems newer and shinier only to find later that we have chosen badly and have to live with the grim results.
| May 27, 2014, 5 a.m.
Two critical economic issues that could easily be resolved through legislation — patent litigation and energy efficiency and supply — are needlessly damaging our nation. Anti-oil activists (as well as the Hollywood stars they attract) and patent trolls — lawyers who produce no economic value, yet extort billions from legitimate U.S. businesses — are displaying their uncanny ability to halt rational government action. Whether by drumming up star-studded support or papering Washington with cold hard cash, these special interest groups are persuading government leaders to kowtow to vocal minorities, rather than listen to the majority of voters and enact laws to help our nation.
| May 22, 2014, 10:19 a.m.
By nature, we as Americans don’t think very much about how we receive the goods and services we need. And yet so much relies on water transportation — the nation’s safest and most environmentally friendly mode. American maritime helps deliver our bounty of agricultural products, coal that generates our electricity, and gas that fuels our vehicles, for example. This uniquely American industry is as deeply interwoven into the fabric of our country’s history as the U.S. flags that fly above the 40,000 vessels operating on our inland and coastal waterways. As President John Adams noted, “No group . . . did more for establishing our country than the American Merchant Seamen . . . [and] their record speaks eloquently of their devotion and sacrifices.” This proud service continues today and is helping make our nation safer, stronger and more secure.
| May 22, 2014, 5 a.m.
With the Johnson-Crapo housing finance reform bill making its way through the Senate Banking Committee on a 13-9 vote, some may feel the time is finally right for housing finance reform. But a closer look at the dismal housing finance policy in the United States suggests that lawmakers have yet to learn from the mistakes of the past.
| May 21, 2014, 3:12 p.m.
“She came out of the house today with her hands full of food,” Sean Bartlett, a spokesman for Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, said of an early morning car ride during which his boss attempted to ply her staff with bites of banana-packed this and cinnamon-spiked that.