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Governing ‘Mandates’ Are Usually Phony. This One Is Real
By opting for a divided Congress, voters were sending a clear message

With voters embracing divided government in last month’s elections, congressional leaders have an obligation to work toward a meaningful and realistic policy agenda next Congress, Grumet writes. Above, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi at a Congressional Gold Medal ceremony in October 2017. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

OPINION — Over the past several election cycles, political parties, pundits and activists have proclaimed governing “mandates” based on the support of only a slim majority of voters who represent just a small fraction of the actual population. The mandate hyperbole has fueled careening and brittle policy agendas that have undermined economic progress and national cohesion.

In the recent midterms, our divided country has forcefully deprived both parties of the fantasy that they can govern without compromise. The question now is whether congressional leaders can develop a pragmatic agenda to lead a divided nation.

The Youngest Victims of the Opioid Crisis Deserve Better
Policymakers must extend services for infants beyond the first weeks of life

A new law that improves care for infants with neonatal abstinence syndrome is a step in the right direction, Smith writes. Above, Energy and Commerce Chairman Greg Walden, who introduced the bill, and ranking member Frank Pallone Jr., a co-sponsor, put their heads together in 2017. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

OPINION — The opioid epidemic has hollowed out communities across the country and touched the lives of Americans of all ages. But we know disturbingly little about the youngest victims of this crisis: babies born with a type of opioid withdrawal called neonatal abstinence syndrome, or NAS.

One in five pregnant women fills a prescription for opioids, and while not all their babies will be born with the syndrome, all are at an increased risk. Just how prevalent is NAS? One government fact sheet noted that more than 21,000 babies were born with it in 2012 alone, and a study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found the incidence of the condition spiked dramatically between 2000 and 2012. But from there the trail seems to go cold.

This Former GOP Rep Says Nothing Wrong With Confronting Politicians in Public
‘It is who we are as Americans,’ ex-Florida rep says

Rep. David Jolly, R-Fla., attends a House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere hearing in Rayburn Building, October 1, 2014. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Former Florida Republican Rep. David Jolly has no problem with Americans confronting their elected officials in public.

In fact, he thinks they should do it more.

One Way to Fix the Child Care Crisis? Look to the Tax Law
‘Opportunity Zones’ incentive can help close the early childhood gap

A Chicago teacher works with kids as part of an early childhood education program. The “Opportunity Zones” incentive could help expand such programs across the country, Smith and Shaw write. (Tim Boyle/Getty Images file photo)

OPINION — America faces a mounting child care crisis. Too many families lack access to safe, affordable and high-quality care for their infants and toddlers. But a small but important provision in last year’s tax law, designed to spur investment in under-resourced communities, could provide an unlikely solution.

That solution comes in the form of a new economic development incentive known as Opportunity Zones. Under the tax law, investors will receive a steep reduction in taxes on their capital gains in exchange for substantial and long-term investment in low-income communities designated as Opportunity Zones. This tax incentive could be combined with others in the economic development toolkit, such as the New Markets Tax Credit and historic building preservation tax credits, to support a wide variety of investments in real estate and businesses.

46 Million Voted in Primaries This Year. That’s Not Enough
Our primary process isn’t as open as it can be and remains confusing to many

Voter turnout in primaries was up this year among both Democrats and Republicans, but it could have been even higher, Fortier writes. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

OPINION — Forty-six million voters cast ballots this year in primaries for federal office. It’s an impressive number, and represents a significant increase from 2014. But to strengthen our political parties and our democracy, we must — and can — do better.

First, the good news. Those 46 million votes represent 19.9 percent of eligible voters, up from 32 million or 14.3 percent of voters who participated in federal primaries four years ago.

Congress Has a ‘Lame Duck’ Shot at Fixing Retirement Security
Legislation to help Americans save more for retirement is already moving forward

The months after an election aren’t exactly prime time for legislating. But with a bill long championed by Senate Finance leaders Orrin G. Hatch, right, and Ron Wyden nearly through the chamber and a similar measure moving in the House, Congress could buck the trend and act on retirement security, Conrad and Lockhart write. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

OPINION — As the midterms approach, the American public’s expectations of any productive policy coming out of Washington are near rock bottom. The postelection “lame duck” session, particularly in the current partisan atmosphere, would normally be a lost cause.

Leadership by a group of lawmakers, however, has given Congress a rare opportunity: bipartisan legislation that would improve the retirement security for millions of Americans.

What Would Pete Domenici Think?
Current lack of fiscal discipline would’ve alarmed late Senate Budget chairman

Senate Budget Chairman Pete Domenici, second from right, celebrates a budget deal with the White House on July 29, 1997, along with, from left, Speaker Newt Gingrich, House Ways and Means Chairman Bill Archer, Senate Finance Chairman William V. Roth Jr. and Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott. Surrounding them on the House steps are tour groups of Boy Scouts and schoolchildren.(Scott J. Ferrell/CQ Roll Call file photo)

OPINION — One year ago this week, we lost a great statesman and legislator. Pete Domenici’s storied career in public service, most notably as a U.S. senator, spanned more than three decades. He will forever be the longest-serving chairman of the Senate Budget Committee.

Equally remarkable, he was a Republican from traditionally blue New Mexico — and its longest-serving senator. That says something about his personal and policy appeal to the public, regardless of party.

What John McCain and That Thumbs-Down Meant to One Family
After covering the Arizona senator for years, one vote stood out more than others

As a reporter, Megan Scully, right, covered Sen. John McCain for years, but it was one vote in particular she will remember him by. (CQ Roll Call)

OPINION — I have spent so much time chasing Sen. John McCain around the Capitol that I joked my kids could recognize his voice from the womb. I regularly grabbed him in the Senate basement or outside the chamber to ask about overruns on the F-35 fighter jet or progress on the massive annual Pentagon policy bill.

He was usually more than happy to oblige. My beat, after all, was his sweet spot: oversight of the country’s massive security apparatus.

Between Bubbles and Dissonance, Your News Diet Is Brutal
Our brains are wired to beat back dangers — and today, information is the biggest one of all

House Democrats hold a press conference on the president’s performance in Helsinki near a television tuned to CNN. Filter bubbles are a danger of consuming news today, Shearer writes. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images file photo)

OPINION — After President Donald Trump said he believed Russian President Vladimir Putin rather than U.S. intelligence agencies on Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. elections, the news media had a united front on reporting the outcome and its meaning — a rare moment in recent times.

From Fox News through CNN, from The Washington Post to The Wall Street Journal, the facts reported were that Trump had made a serious foreign policy blunder by deferring to the Russian autocrat over his own government’s analysis.

Bob & Elizabeth Dole: 7 Ways to Practice Good Leadership and Preserve Democracy
Those who say compromise is a sign of weakness misunderstand the fundamental strength of our democracy

President Ronald Reagan and Democratic Speaker Tip O’Neill shake hands in the Oval Office in 1985. (Courtesy the National Archives and Records Administration)

During more than 50 years of public service in the House, Senate, five presidential administrations and the nonprofit sector, it has been our privilege to witness the essential role good leadership and bipartisanship play in preserving our democracy.

America’s standing as the world’s only superpower and the preeminent model of a free society has always relied on our policymakers to act as servants of the public, true leaders who stand ready to make the hard decisions and live with the consequences.