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Opinion: Virtually Safe? Not Until We Root Out Online Terrorism
As lawmakers grill tech CEOs on data, extremists still have their virtual safe havens

A policeman stands guard in Times Square not far from the site of a pipe bomb explosion on Dec. 11. Virtual safe havens make it harder to counter terrorism, Misztal and Michek write. (John Moore/Getty Images file photo)

The bomber who shut down Times Square last December reportedly found instructions online and read Inspire, al-Qaida’s digital magazine. One of the men who opened fire on a free-speech event three years ago in Texas had been in contact with terrorists abroad using Twitter and Surespot, an encrypted messaging application.

Terrorist groups are thriving online — recruiting followers, disseminating propaganda, planning attacks. While lawmakers are looking at the dangers that lurk on the internet, from Russian interference to Facebook data scrapes, they should be paying more attention to countering terrorism in the digital realm.

Opinion: Congress Needs to Hold On to Its Power of the Purse
Any rescission proposal from the White House should be acted upon quickly

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Speaker Paul D. Ryan at the Capitol in February. Congress should act quickly on any rescission proposal from the Trump administration to avoid relinquishing more control over the appropriations process to the executive branch, Hoagland writes. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Sixteen words in the U.S. Constitution have governed the federal government’s budget process for over 230 years: “No money shall be drawn from the Treasury but in consequence of appropriations made by law.” Presidents of all parties over the country’s long history, nonetheless, have sought to wrest from Congress more control over the Treasury than those 16 words allow.

During the Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln spent millions of dollars without congressional approval. While this was otherwise an unconstitutional act, Lincoln felt his actions were guided by the greater responsibility of his oath to “protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.”

Congress’ Ch-Ch-Changes
Retirements, resignations and deaths around the Capitol

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Congress is going through one of those times when everything seems to be changing, especially the personnel, and that’s not even counting the mounting pile of retirements and resignations among lawmakers. 

Opinion: When the World of Politics Collides With the Real One
New political forces may impact midterms

The March for Our Lives rally demonstrated that millennials and young people may be a force to be reckoned with in the midterms, Mary C. Curtis writes. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

It is months away from November 2018, but that doesn’t stop predictions not only for the midterms but also for President Donald Trump’s re-election chances in 2020. But while the world of politics is preoccupied with whether a blue wave is inevitable or a figment of hopeful Democrats’ imagination, events outside the bubble might shift the electorate in unpredictable ways.

My Roll Call colleague Walter Shapiro explains, with examples from recent history, how politically fraught these pre-election prognostications can be. It’s also wise to remember how life and politics can be determined by “moments,” despite what consultants who make a living steering candidates and campaigns may say. And right now, America is in the middle of moments that could challenge conventional electoral wisdom.

Opinion: A Message for Midterm Poll Jumpers
It’s not that political handicapping is worthless, but a little humility will go a long way

When soothsayers read the signs in April 2010, they thought Democrats might lose only two dozen seats in the midterms. John A. Boehner knows how that turned out, Shapiro writes. (Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The conventional wisdom creeps in on little cat feet.

Over the last few months, the political community has come to assume that the Democrats will take back the House in November. And with the impatience that defines our era, the smart money is already speculating on when the newly assertive House majority will try to impeach Donald Trump.

Congressional Leadership Fund Reserves $48 Million in TV, Digital Ads
Super PAC is aligned with House GOP leadership

Colorado Rep. Mike Coffman is among the beneficiaries of the Congressional Leadership Fund’s fall ad reservations. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The Congressional Leadership Fund, the super PAC aligned with House Republican leadership, is making $38 million worth of television reservations for ads in the fall, and an additional $10 million investment for digital ads.

CLF is the first outside GOP group to make early advertising reservations ahead of the November elections, and it is investing four months earlier than it did in the 2016 cycle. Locking in airtime early allows the group to make the reservations at lower rates.

Opinion: When the Party of Conscience Slinks From the Fight
What was supposed to be a power struggle for the ages has turned out to be more like a used-car sale

Principles abandoned. Lawmakers fleeing. If Sen. Barry Goldwater could see the Republican Party now, he wouldn’t recognize it, Murphy writes. (Courtesy the Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division)

Ever since Donald Trump won the Republican nomination for president, national headlines have predicted an epic fight for the heart and soul of the Republican Party sometime in the very near future. In this corner is the big-mouthed New York billionaire untethered to any particular policy besides winning. In the other are the conscience-driven, high-minded intellectuals of modern-day conservatism, who see themselves as the keepers of the party flame.

Two ideologies will enter the fight, but only one can emerge, and the good money up to now has been on the conservatives. After all, they have the experience, the knowledge and each other to count on, while Trump has only himself.

Bipartisan Bill to Protect Mueller Headed for Judiciary Markup
Trump dubs probe “Fake Corrupt Russia Investigation”

A bipartisan group of senators will mark up a bill to provide job protection for special counsel in the Russia investigation Robert S. Mueller III. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

A bipartisan group of senators unveiled a compromise bill Wednesday to give Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller III job protections, as renewed criticism from President Donald Trump adds more fuel to speculation that he plans to fire the man tapped to investigate connections between his campaign and Russian operatives.

Trump on Wednesday dubbed Mueller’s probe the “Fake Corrupt Russia Investigation” on Twitter, the latest in a series of statements sparked by the FBI’s search Monday of the office of his personal lawyer Michael Cohen. It is one of several times since June that Trump’s statements have prompted discussion that Mueller’s job was at risk.

Republicans Discount Paul Ryan Endorsement for Replacement
The speaker says he has a preference, but it might not matter

Speaker Paul D. Ryan, R-Wis., has said he has a preference for who will succeed him in the GOP pecking order. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Retiring Speaker Paul D. Ryan has a preference on which member of his leadership team should succeed him, but if he decides to endorse, its effect is debatable. 

Several House Republicans interviewed Wednesday in the hours following Ryan’s announcement that he would retire at the end of his term in January said his endorsement would not mean much.

Help Wanted: Must Lead GOP, Raise Money, Give Up Life
Paul Ryan knew a speaker’s job is never done, and time was short

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The spectacle of politics and how it fits, or doesn’t, into the nation’s culture. Subscribe to our newsletter here.

When the going gets tough, the tough … head back to Wisconsin to spend time with their kids in non-weekend situations.