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Opinion: Why a DACA Fix Next Year Would Come Too Late
It takes months for the government to ramp up a new program

Republican Rep. Carlos Curbelo, right, here with Democratic Rep. Seth Moulton, broke with his party this fall when he announced he wouldn’t support any bill funding the government beyond Dec. 31 until the DACA issue is resolved. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

As Congress speeds toward its year-end pileup of “must pass” legislation, a legislative fix for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA, remains in the balance. President Donald Trump insists it should not be tied to the annual appropriations scramble. But many Democrats — and a few Republicans — are calling for the issue to be addressed this year, with some threatening to withhold their votes to fund the government if legislation for so-called Dreamers is not attached.

Beyond the political posturing and jockeying for leverage, there is a pragmatic reason why any fix, if that is what both parties really want, should happen this year: it takes months for the government to ramp up a new program.

Opinion: How Debt Limit Drama Gets Resolved Is Up in the Air
Policymakers have always extended limit just in time — but the script is now flipped

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin is resorting to so-called extraordinary measures to pay the government’s bills after the debt limit suspension ended Dec. 8. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

In the first year of the Trump administration, Capitol Hill has specialized in drama. From health care to taxes, decisions affecting large swaths of the economy have come down to the last minute. Months of wrangling over the repeal of the Affordable Care Act culminated in an ignominious defeat. Tax reform also came down to the wire in the Senate, narrowly squeaking through in a middle-of-the-night roll call. Next up, a debt limit drama could be on the way.

The debt limit’s suspension quietly ended on Dec. 8, the same day policymakers chose once again to punt on negotiating a budget agreement. In what has become ordinary practice over the past seven years, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin announced the implementation of so-called extraordinary measures — accounting maneuvers that temporarily give Treasury extra borrowing room (and thus, cash) to pay the government’s bills while operating at the debt limit. BPC’s projection is that those measures would last until March, although tax reform, spending cap adjustments, and additional disaster relief could shorten the time frame.

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: 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: Defense Spending Approaches Moment of Reckoning
Big hike unlikely as defense hawks face off against deficit hawks

Senate Armed Services Chairman John McCain, center, and House Armed Services Chairman Mac Thornberry, left, arrive for an NDAA conference committee meeting in October. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Recent budget and tax proposals on Capitol Hill threaten to pit defense hawks against deficit hawks, which could result in defense spending that leaves the military unable to meet all its requirements.

A virtual freeze in defense spending has been in place over the past four years, and it appears unlikely that a big increase will get through for fiscal 2018.

Opinion: Low-Income Housing Tax Credit Boosts Health Policy
Better integration of health and housing policy should be a bipartisan goal

Activists attend an April rally in New York City calling on the Trump administration to abandon proposals to cut the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s budget. (Spencer Platt/Getty Images file photo)

Despite partisan fights continuing to play out over various pieces of the tax code, the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit, or LIHTC, has enjoyed decades of strong bipartisan support. This $8 billion in annual federal funding provides incentives for investors to develop, construct and rehabilitate affordable rental housing. It has helped finance more than 3 million affordable rental units serving about 7 million low-income households since it was created in 1986.

Both the House-passed tax bill and the plan approved by the Senate Finance Committee continue LIHTC. Robust evidence links LIHTC investments to positive economic growth for communities, social and educational benefits for families and reductions in homelessness. 

Opinion: Realizing the Vision of Evidence-Based Policymaking
Congress should act quickly to pass new Ryan-Murray legislation

House Speaker Paul D. Ryan and Washington Sen. Patty Murray recently introduced legislation that implemented many of the recommendations of the Commission on Evidence-Based Policymaking. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Recently, amid the political turmoil over tax reform and other controversial issues, Congress set aside partisan differences to convey an important message to the American public: Better use of evidence in our policymaking process is necessary and possible.

Regardless of their politics, the American people want a government that operates effectively and transparently. The federal government spends billions on programs, yet often lacks the evidence needed to determine whether these programs are working as intended or how they could be improved. Evidence-based policymaking  — making better use of data and rigorous program evaluation to inform government decision-making —holds the key to driving government programs to be more effective.