opinion

Opinion: Al Franken and the Long Goodbye
Minnesota Democrat handled difficult speech about as well as he could

Minnesota Sen. Al Franken and his wife, Franni, leave the Capitol on Thursday after he announced on the Senate floor that he will resign his seat “in the coming weeks.” (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Claiming the distinction of being, at 6 feet 9 inches, the tallest senator in history and ignoring the pesky detail of having lost an Alabama Republican primary to Roy Moore, Luther Strange delivered his farewell address Thursday morning.

It was a good-humored speech filled with predictable references to “this hallowed institution” that was in keeping with Strange’s short-lived Capitol Hill career as the appointed fill-in for Jeff Sessions, now the attorney general.

Opinion: Bottom of the Ninth
Republicans must deliver on tax reform

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Speaker Paul D. Ryan can’t afford another failure like the attempt to repeal the 2010 health care law, Winston writes. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

“Something has to change. The middle class is shrinking and this is our last chance. This is the bottom of the ninth and there are two outs.”

These were the sobering words of a middle-aged man in a postelection focus group conducted for the Congressional Institute in one of the swing Rust Belt states that tipped the scales for Donald Trump. In all the focus groups I did during and after the last election, this man, more than any other, captured the underlying emotions that drove so many voters to cast their ballot not only for Trump but for a Republican Congress who together, they hoped, would deliver dramatic change.

Opinion: Bipartisanship Still Exists and Financial Reform Is Proof
Senate bill isn’t perfect, but it can have a lasting effect

The Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee will mark up a bipartisan bill this week. From left, Chairman Michael D. Crapo, Republican Sen. Jerry Moran, ranking member Sherrod Brown and Democratic Sen. Brian Schatz prepare for a hearing in July. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

As U.S. politics descends ever further into partisanship, there are still signs that old-fashioned legislating is not dead. This week, the Senate Banking Committee will mark up one of the first significant pieces of financial regulatory legislation in years with real bipartisan support. That means an opportunity for lasting, incremental progress that we should welcome.

The proposed bill, which has 10 Republican and 10 Democratic co-sponsors, would not revolutionize the U.S. financial regulatory system, and that’s a good thing. The Dodd-Frank Act and other post-financial crisis reforms have made the financial system and Americans safer overall, but like most major reforms, they have also created unintended consequences. The Senate bill would address some of these, while retaining the overall post-crisis framework that is generally working.

Opinion: Fiscal Order Goes Way of the Dinosaur in Tax Debate
Latest actions show Congress isn’t serious about debt and deficits

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell speaks at a press conference Thursday on small-business taxes. Pay-as-you-go requirements do not apply to the current tax reconciliation bill. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

There was a time when members of Congress expressed concerns over the country’s level of debt and deficits. Laws were enacted to create speed bumps and stop signs to establish fiscal discipline. That now seems like a distant memory. Exhibit A is the current tax reform effort.

The permanent pay-as-you-go law is in effect, as is the Senate’s pay-as-you-go rule. The requirement that increased federal spending or tax cuts be matched by reduced spending or revenue increases to avoid expanding the budget deficit dates to the Reagan administration.

Opinion: Alabama and the Culture of Victimization
Trying to understand Roy Moore’s enduring appeal after sexual misconduct allegations

Supporters of Alabama Republican Roy Moore stressed the importance of keeping the Senate seat in GOP hands, Shapiro writes. (Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

CULLMAN, Ala. — This white working-class town (population: 15,000), roughly midway between Birmingham and Huntsville along Interstate 65, is Roy Moore country.

“There could be a blizzard coming and the roads would be closed and people around here would still walk to the polls to vote for Roy Moore,” said Neal Morrison, a former state representative and, more recently, a member of ousted Republican Gov. Robert Bentley’s cabinet.

Opinion: Will Tax Bill Open Church Doors Wider Still for Politics?
Knocking down the Johnson Amendment would cheapen America’s pluralism

Rep. Robert Pittenger’s new heavy-handed ad makes one wonder which constituents the North Carolina Republican will serve, Curtis writes. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

A place of worship has never been completely clear of politics in America. But that physical and spiritual space for contemplation and reflection may grow smaller still, and moments without intrusion from the bitterness and division in the world could grow shorter.

Tucked into the House version of the tax plan that Republicans dearly crave as “a win” is a provision that would remove a check on places of worship — churches, synagogues and mosques — and some nonprofits. The in-danger Johnson Amendment of 1954, one with more intent than teeth, supposedly prohibits pastors and other faith leaders from endorsing or opposing political candidates from their perches of religious authority or risk losing their tax-exempt status.

Opinion: Science That Leads
The National Science Foundation needs to get its priorities straight

The Titan supercomputer at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Oak Ridge, Tenn. The U.S. is falling behind China in key science and technology areas, Smith writes. (Courtesy Oak Ridge National Laboratory)

This past summer, Chinese scientists used quantum technology to teleport a single photon from the Earth’s surface to an orbiting satellite. Although Star Trek fans will be disappointed that teleportation of human beings is a long way off, teleporting a photon into space is an amazing achievement — and an example of China’s all-out effort to dominate quantum information science and other emerging technologies.

China now has the world’s fastest supercomputer and has just passed the U.S. for the first time to lead the world in the number and total performance of supercomputers. As of this month, China has 202 supercomputers on the TOP500 ranking, its largest showing to date, compared to 143 for the U.S., an all-time low.

Opinion: Ensuring We All Count
If we don’t act fast, many people will be uncounted in 2020 census

From left, Census Bureau Director Robert M. Groves, acting Deputy Commerce Secretary Rebecca Blank and Commerce Secretary Gary Locke in December 2010 at an event announcing the U.S. population. (Scott J. Ferrell/CQ Roll Call file photo)

When the Founding Fathers drafted the Constitution, they knew that for our country to be the true democratic republic they envisioned, it must reflect the ever-changing makeup of its people.

To meet this need, they enshrined, in Article I, Section 2, the decennial census. This exercise stands alone as the only constitutionally mandated task of the federal government, required by the framers to be renewed every ten years, to make sure each and every person living in the United States is counted.

Opinion: Roy Moore, ‘Kinky Boots’ and 2017’s Most Important Election
All it needs is the bumper sticker: ‘Vote for the Democrat. It’s Important.’

It was folly for Republicans to believe Roy Moore could have been coaxed into exiting the Alabama Senate race, Shapiro writes. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — The stay-at-home moms and retirees who watch the second soft hour of Tuesday’s “Today” show on local NBC affiliate WVTM were treated to a rare sighting of a Roy Moore commercial. Outspent by lopsided margins, the Moore campaign charged that the beleaguered Republican’s “40 years of honorable service” were threatened by smears from “a scheme by liberal Democrats and the Republican establishment.”

Set aside the implausibility that Nancy Pelosi and Mitch McConnell (both pictured in the Moore ad) would cooperate on anything. Forget for a moment that the detailed on-the-record charges about Moore’s unseemly interest in young girls have been viewed as convincing by the likes of Jeff Sessions and Ivanka Trump.

Opinion: Ethics Committee Investigation for Harassment Is Not ‘Zero Tolerance’
Referring sexual misconduct allegations to panel is as good as doing nothing

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi’s touting of the Ethics Committee was more disturbing than her defense of Rep. John Conyers Jr. on “Meet the Press,” Murphy writes. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi had a profoundly terrible appearance Sunday on “Meet the Press,” when, among other things, she defended Michigan Rep. John Conyers, the longest-serving Democrat in the House, in the face of multiple sexual harassment allegations against him from former female staffers.

First, Pelosi made a call for due process, which is always important, of course. But then she got into the weeds. “Just because someone is accused — and was it one accusation? Is it two?” she said to NBC’s Chuck Todd. “I think there has to be — John Conyers is an icon in our country. He has done a great deal to protect women.”