Opinion & Analysis

Opinion: Women Played a Key Role in Harassment Bill
In the #MeToo era, some lawmakers may be scurrying for cover

Rep. Susan Brooks, R-Ind., describes legislation aimed at helping victims of harassment on the Hill as “some of the most important work” she’ll ever do in the House. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

When people talk about women running for office, we hear a lot about numbers. X-number of women are running. Women make up y-percent of Congress or elected officials. When x and y are equal, then we’ll finally see a difference in our government.

But beyond the numbers, if you really want to see the difference it makes to have women from both parties at the table when legislation is drafted, look no further than the bill introduced last week to finally begin to change the way sexual harassment has been dealt with in Capitol Hill offices since the Congressional Accountability Act passed in 1995.

Capitol Ink | Shutdowner

Opinion: As Military Budget Grows, Civil-Military Divide Remains
Current defense policies risk alienating servicemembers and potential recruits

A boy sits on his veteran father’s shoulders during the New York City Veterans Day Parade on Nov. 11, 2016. Interest in military service is dropping among American youth. (Michael Loccisano/Getty Images file photo)

The most important resource for America’s military isn’t money. It’s the men and women who volunteer to serve.

But current defense policies risk alienating those very people who are now in the military and those we hope will join in the future.

Opinion: Now More Than Ever, Social Security and Medicare Need Their Public Trustees
Two key seats have been vacant for years; that must change

Four Cabinet members, including Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, sit on the boards overseeing Social Security and Medicare, which are currently without their public trustees. The vacancies could undermine public confidence, Blahous and Reischauer write. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Lost in Washington’s political cacophony is the alarming erosion of the financial foundations of Social Security and Medicare. Focused on more immediate crises and reluctant to touch this “third rail” of politics, today’s lawmakers, like many before them, have avoided even discussing the inevitable painful adjustments they will be forced to make.

Capitol Ink | First Trumpiversary

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Opinion: Welcome to S-Town
Congress should try fixing problems instead of creating them

Alabama Sen. Doug Jones won an election against an accused pedophile, only to find himself in the midst of Washington’s craziness, Murphy writes. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

You have to wonder what’s going through newly elected Sen. Doug Jones’ mind as he experiences his second full week in the Senate. Can you imagine winning an election against an accused pedophile, only to arrive in the one square mile of America that is crazier than the circumstances that brought you here?

What about Sen. Tina Smith, who replaced Al Franken after he voluntarily resigned for sexual harassment he said he mostly never committed?  Congress made even less sense on Tuesday, when the prevailing debate among senators was not about Korea or nuclear war or the economy or education, but over whether President Donald Trump had called Haiti and all of Africa a “shithole” or a “shithouse” in a meeting with senators last week.

Opinion: Forgetting What It Means to Be an American
Selective memory of president and supporters imperils the country

What President Donald Trump and his supporters choose to remember is selective and troubling, Curtis writes. (Win McNamee/Getty Images)

The 2004 romantic comedy “50 First Dates” offered a novel, though somewhat implausible, premise — and I don’t mean that Drew Barrymore would find Adam Sandler irresistible. The heroine of the tale, afflicted with short-term memory loss, woke up each morning with a clean slate, thinking it was the same day, with no recollection of anything that happened the day before.

Who knew the president of the United States, most members of a political party and White House staff would suffer from the same condition?

Capitol Ink | Dreamer

Opinion: White People in Norway? Who Knew?
Kirstjen Nielsen displays the rhetorical contortions necessary to serve under Trump

Kirstjen Nielsen might want to stay away from categories on Norway or basic geography if she ever appears on “Jeopardy” — especially if the answer is, “What’s a Scandinavian country with lots of white people?” (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

At the conclusion of more than four hours of testimony Tuesday before an often hostile Senate Judiciary Committee, Kirstjen Nielsen, the new secretary of Homeland Security, slowly gathered up her papers, shared a few laughing words with Arizona Republican Jeff Flake (the last senator in the room) and confidently exited surrounded by an armada of aides.

Depending on her level of self-awareness and the degree of flattery from her staffers, Nielsen may have nurtured the belief that she aced her Capitol Hill exam. After all, the loyal Cabinet secretary avoided saying almost anything controversial, even when pressed by Democrats over Donald Trump’s doubly confirmed reference to “shithole countries” during last Thursday’s White House immigration meeting that she attended.

Opinion: Groundhog Day in America
Sensationalism, not substance, drives the daily conversation

Washington politics feels a lot like waking up to “Groundhog Day” every morning, Winston writes. (Courtesy Columbia Pictures)

When it comes to Washington politics, it feels a lot like we’re all living in the comedy “Groundhog Day,” where every day starts the same way, over and over and over again. In the movie, Bill Murray wakes up every morning at 6 a.m. as the clock radio blares Sonny and Cher singing “I Got You Babe.”

America wakes up every day to the diatribe du jour from morning show anchors Mika and Joe, Chris and Alisyn, and from the “Friends” in the opposition. Soon after, the president sends out his first tweet of the day. Cable explodes, shrieking, “This time, it’s really Armageddon.”

Capitol Ink | The Trumpian Man

Opinion: Civil Liberties and Odd-Duck Congressional Coalitions
FISA debate a throwback to more bipartisan times

While the FISA bill amendment by Reps. Zoe Lofgren of California and Justin Amash of Michigan failed, it attracted bipartisan support from 58 Republicans and 125 Democrats. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photos)

For two hours last Thursday, the House held a debate that harked back to the heyday of Sonny and Cher and Butch and the Sundance Kid. Instead of lockstep polarization on Capitol Hill, throwback Thursday marked a brief return to the era when legislative coalitions crossed party lines.

The topic before the House was the intersection of civil liberties and national security — about the only issue that can still upend standard red-and-blue divisions.

Capitol Ink | POTUS Mouth

Opinion: The Women Who Could Take Back the House for Democrats
Trump presidency a catalyst for action

Pediatrician Mai Khanh Tran is vying to replace Rep. Ed Royce, R-Calif., who is not seeking re-election. (Courtesy Dr. Tran for Congress)

In a typical election cycle, EMILY’S List hears from 900 or so women who are interested in running for political office. As of this week, less than a year after President Donald Trump took office, more than 25,000 women have reached out to the group, whose goal is to help elect pro-choice Democratic women to office.

That unprecedented number tracks with what I’ve seen covering special elections for the House and Senate in 2017. Particularly in Alabama and Georgia, I kept seeing female voters showing up in huge numbers to work for Democratic candidates, even when the women themselves weren’t Democrats, or had never been particularly political at all.

Capitol Ink | Send Us Your Bricks