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Commerce watchdog will monitor efforts to keep 2020 census secure
GAO and lawmakers have raised security concerns over Census Bureau’s IT systems

The Commerce Department inspector general will be monitoring the Census Bureau’s efforts to keep the 2020 census secure. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The Commerce Department’s internal watchdog will take a look at the Census Bureau’s efforts to keep the 2020 census secure, the inspector general said in a letter Thursday.

The announcement follows a trail of security concerns about Census Bureau systems for next year’s count from the Government Accountability Office and members of Congress. Next year’s census will allow an online response option for most of the country for the first time, along with traditional mail and phone response.

Elijah Cummings, a man of character and the best of Baltimore
Late Maryland lawmaker leaves an example of moral clarity and courage for others to follow

The late Maryland Rep. Elijah E. Cummings was a fighter for justice and a leader with a sense of right and wrong, even when there was a price to pay, Curtis writes. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

OPINION — In the summertime, Baltimore can be hot as blazes with humidity to match. Trying to cool off in a public pool would be quite an ordinary outing for an 11-year-old boy. But for young Elijah Cummings in 1962, it turned into a nightmare in the still largely segregated city. White adults and children resisting integration yelled, “Go back to where you came from” — sound familiar? — to children and, over the heads of a police line, threw rocks and bottles, one of which caught young Elijah in the face.

That day taught Cummings he had rights, he later said, and it made him determined to become a lawyer despite teachers who dismissed his dream as impossible. With strong parents and supporters such as his boss at a drug store, who paid his college admission fee, Cummings fulfilled that dream and so much more.

Can church ever be separate from state at a Franklin Graham rally?
Spiritual leader’s message of love and unity isn’t reaching all backers of the president he supports so strongly

“We live in a political world, so we can’t avoid politics,” the Rev. Franklin Graham said at a recent Charlotte, N.C., rally. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images file photo)

[OPINION] CHARLOTTE, N.C. — After the Rev. Billy Graham became less a counselor of presidents and more a political player, particularly in the unfortunate case of Richard Nixon, he learned a lesson. The Rev. Franklin Graham, heir to his father’s legacy, has chosen a different path, arguably becoming as well known for his politics as for his role as a spiritual leader.

Considering his remarks as he brought his “Decision America” tour to his hometown this past weekend, it’s a box Graham the younger is not exactly comfortable being placed in. But for the preacher who credited the “God factor,” in part, for Donald Trump’s 2016 win, that narrative is set. Vocal support of the president pre- and post-election exists right alongside his philanthropic and mission outreach — such as recent efforts in the Bahamas — through the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association and Samaritan’s Purse.

Census Bureau seeking driver's license info, admin records
Effort will help officials comply with president‘s order to publish citizenship data on U.S. residents

Protesters hold signs at a rally in front of the Supreme Court in June after a ruling on the citizenship question in the 2020 census. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The U.S. Census Bureau wants even more details on American residents, requesting states to provide driver’s license and administrative records to add to a trove of federal data being collected by the agency in its census count.

Officials plan to use the administrative information to help record people who might not otherwise respond to next year’s decennial survey, as well as to comply with President Donald Trump’s order to publish data on the citizenship of U.S. residents.

The most important document you may ever read
Senate Intelligence report on Russian interference should chill Americans who value our democracy

Russia is far from done with destabilizing our democracy, Murphy writes. The Senate Intelligence Committee, led by Richard M. Burr, right, and Mark Warner, made that clear in its latest report on 2016 election interference. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

OPINION — On the day that special counsel Robert Mueller’s report on election interference came out, cable news anchors strained to race through its 448 pages and describe the findings, all in the same breath. Computer sleuths hacked the document’s setting to let users search for “Trump,” “president,” “collusion” and “Russia.” Talking-head lawyers feverishly opined that Volume I contained less incriminating information than Volume II.

But around the country, voters mostly gave an “Is that all there is?” shoulder shrug and went back to their corners. Many members of Congress admitted they didn’t even bother to read it.

Democrats need to stop playing politics with our nation’s pipeline safety
Reauthorization bill should not be a partisan issue

Sections of steel pipe lie in a staging area in June before being inserted underground as part of the ETP-Sunoco Mariner East 2 pipeline in Exton, Pa. Reauthorizing the pipeline safety bill is something both parties can get behind, as they have done in the past, Upton writes. (Robert Nickelsberg/Getty Images file photo)

OPINION — In 2012, as chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, I worked with my good friend and fellow Michigander, the late Rep. John Dingell, to reauthorize our nation’s pipeline safety laws. This was in response to a pipeline burst that spilled 20,000 barrels of oil into the Talmadge Creek, a tributary of the Kalamazoo River near my district.

It didn’t matter that I had an ‘R’ next to my name and John had a ‘D’ next to his. What mattered was getting a final bill that could advance through a Republican House and a Democratic Senate and be signed by a Democratic president — a dynamic similar to the one we face today, with a Democratic House, a Republican Senate and a Republican president. Back then, we needed legislation that would make critical safety improvements to our nation’s vast pipeline infrastructure — and that’s exactly what we did, cutting down on incident reporting times and increasing financial penalties for violations.

When celebrity luster gives cover to how America judges its own
Jessye Norman and Diahann Carroll remind us of the unfair burden placed on icons of color

People who hold up the late Jessye Norman, left, or Diahann Carroll as exemplifying America’s promise, that hard work will inevitably lead to reward, ignore the women’s own struggles , Curtis writes. (Gregg DeGuire/WireImage/Getty Images file photos)

OPINION — I am not one of those folks who see celebrities as larger-than-life icons to be worshipped and admired. Usually. But the recent deaths of Jessye Norman and Diahann Carroll hit me in the gut because those two amazing women were at once larger than life and so very real. The reactions to their accomplishments also illustrate an American or perhaps universal trait — the ability to compartmentalize, to place certain citizens of color or underrepresented citizens on a pedestal, at once a part of and apart from others of their race or gender or religion or orientation.

It allows negative judgment of entire groups to exist alongside denials of any racist or discriminatory intent. There are a lot of problems with that way of thinking. It places an unfair burden on the icons, a need to be less a human being than a flawless symbol. And it uses them as a rebuke to others who never managed to overcome society’s obstacles.

Texas Democrat Eddie Bernice Johnson says she’ll run for one final term
Longtime lawmaker chairs House Science, Space and Technology Committee

Texas Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson is running for one final term in Congress. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Longtime Texas Democratic Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson is running for one final term in Congress. Her decision was first reported by the Dallas Morning News on Wednesday.

“I fully intended to retire after my current term, but with much pressure and encouragement, I have agreed to one more term,” Johnson told constituents in a voicemail this week paid by her campaign, the newspaper reported. Her chief of staff confirmed the decision to CQ Roll Call.

Local newspapers wait anxiously for pension funding relief
Crucial retirement savings package appears stuck in the Senate

Washington Sen. Patty Murray blames Republicans for holding up the retirement savings package that includes pension relief for local newspapers. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call)

Local newspapers serving communities from Tampa, Florida, to Walla Walla, Washington, say they’re under the gun from a pension funding “cliff” they face next year that will make them have to rapidly catch up on required contributions, exacerbating their well-documented financial decline.

When relief for some 20 publishers passed the House in May on a 417-3 vote as part of sweeping retirement savings legislation, it seemed like a slam dunk that lawmakers would ride to the rescue in time.

The women trying to impeach Trump — and the men making it so damn hard
From Lindsey Boylan to Nancy Pelosi, women are proving to be the president’s most formidable obstacles

New York Democrat Lindsey Boylan, left, with her spirited primary challenge likely pushed House Judiciary Chairman Jerrold Nadler into publicly supporting an impeachment inquiry, which Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced last month, Murphy writes. (Mike Coppola/Getty Images for Women's Forum of New York, Tom Williams/CQ RollCall)

OPINION — Not all heroes wear capes, but lots of them wear high heels. If you’re a Democrat watching the impeachment saga unfolding in Washington right now, nearly all of your superheroes are wearing heels today. That’s because when you look carefully at the pressure points in the widening impeachment inquiry against the president so far, women have been at the center of nearly all of them.

First, there was Lindsey Boylan, 35, a mom and former public housing advocate in New York City. Her name is probably unfamiliar to people outside New York, but Boylan is challenging Rep. Jerry Nadler in a Democratic primary next June. Not only has she absolutely hammered Nadler for what she says has been his failure to produce results for their district, she’s been relentless in calling for President Donald Trump’s impeachment since February and criticizing Nadler, who chairs the House Judiciary Committee responsible for drafting articles of impeachment, for not doing more sooner to remove him from office.