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You have 48 hours to become a tech expert. If only this office could help
Gingrich slashed the Office of Technology Assessment. It’s time to bring it back

When Newt Gingrich wanted to cut the budget back in the 1990s, the lowest-hanging fruit was the Office of Technology Assessment, Moss writes.

OPINION — Silicon Valley loves picking on Washington, D.C., for being inept and slow. But what our friends in the Valley do not acknowledge is that while they can indulge in the “move fast and break things” mantra, when D.C. moves fast and breaks things, precedent is set and Americans suffer for generations.

This is the problem at hand: How do we ensure that our lawmakers — the ones policing Silicon Valley — do so in a measured, thoughtful way instead of crippling emerging industry giants just because Congress can’t keep up with them? As a former staffer who now works at a think tank that focuses on technology policy and capacity issues in Congress, I struggle with this question every day.

A reporter’s homage to government auditors — unsung heroes of transparency
America needs information that presents an objective version of reality

Michael Horowitz, inspector general of the Justice Department, testifies before a Senate Judiciary Committee in the Hart Building in 2017. Government institutions such as inspectors general and the Government Accountability Office toil in obscurity but their work is critical for America, John Donnelly writes.  (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

OPINION — Whistle-blowers and internal documents are the lifeblood of journalism.

Without such sources, the full story of what’s happening in our country can’t come out.

What did the president do and when did he do it?
Russia investigation outcome approaches

President Donald Trump at the Capitol on the night of his State of the Union address earlier this month. Is Trump the political equivalent of Harry Houdini? Shapiro is skeptical. (Doug Mills/The New York Times POOL PHOTO)

OPINION — Both CNN and The Washington Post ran stories Wednesday stating that Robert Mueller will deliver his secret report to the Justice Department next week or soon thereafter. While prior predictions of Mueller’s schedule have had the accuracy of a Revolutionary War blunderbuss, the latest timetable makes intuitive sense.

Mueller must be keenly aware of the errors that James Comey made with his interventions during the 2016 campaign — and March 2019 is far from the 2020 Democratic primaries, let alone the presidential election. William Barr, whose work with Mueller dates back to the late 1980s, is now installed as attorney general. And, of course, Democrats are wielding the gavels in all House committees.

Brett Kavanaugh could decide how redistricting is done
Newest justice will be center of attention when court hears gerrymandering cases next month

Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, center, at the State of the Union earlier this month. His views on gerrymandering are a bit of a mystery. (Pool/Doug Mills/The New York Times file photo)

Voters keep voicing their frustration with the politically fraught way that state lawmakers redraw congressional districts every 10 years, and have approved ways to outsource the work with hopes of making fairer maps.

Colorado and Michigan approved ballot measures in November to create independent redistricting commissions to prevent one party from carving up a state in such a way as to entrench itself in office. Missouri approved a plan in which a state demographer and a statistical test will help determine lines. Utah approved the creation of an advisory commission.

Why politicians, and everyone, need to think about legacy
Anti-lynching bill should be a reminder of how history will judge the present

Visitors at the National Memorial For Peace And Justice in Montgomery, Ala., on April 26, 2018. The memorial includes over 800 hanging steel columns, each representing a county where people were lynched. (Bob Miller/Getty Images)

OPINION — At least the bill was approved on a voice vote. That was the bill that would make lynching a federal crime, passed in the Senate late last week — in 2019.

Let that sink in. The legislation still must be approved by the Democrat-controlled House, which is expected to happen with no problem, and be signed into law by President Donald Trump. But it would be unwise to take anything for granted since similar legislation has stalled for more than 100 years, held up by elected public servants who felt that taking a stand would be too politically risky.

New York City’s progressive elites gambled and lost over Amazon
Democrats’ unforced error on HQ2 deal delivered a gift to Republicans

Amazon pulling out of its second-headquarters deal with New York City represents a big loss for Democrats, Winston writes. (Drew Angerer/Getty Images file photo)

OPINION — “I think it’s a bluff, first and foremost.”

Those were the words of New York City Council deputy leader Jimmy Van Bramer to Fox News’ Neil Cavuto on Feb. 11. Cavuto had asked Van Bramer about the possibility of Amazon walking away from its historic deal to locate one of its second headquarters in Queens because of anti-deal efforts stirred up by Van Bramer and others, most notably Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and state Sen. Michael Gianaris.

There was just one thing missing from this voter reform hearing — a Republican
In a state like Georgia, the GOP will have to both acknowledge voter suppression and lead the effort to end it

When Stacey Abrams described a “systemic breakdown” in the electoral process, there were no Republicans around to hear her, Murphy writes. (Jessica McGowan/Getty Images file photo)

OPINION — What are the chances that Republican lawmakers will work with Democrats to make changes to restrictive voting systems in the United States that have benefited Republicans in recent elections, either deliberately or accidentally?

That’s going to be the question going forward for the House Administration Elections Subcommittee, which is holding a series of field hearings around the country to examine the 2018 elections and the fundamental question of whether all U.S. citizens have equal and unfettered access to the right to vote, no matter their income or ethnicity.

The dead earmarks society
Congress gave up pork years ago. Now it could be making a comeback

Steny Hoyer says he’s working to restore congressionally directed spending, with “reforms to ensure transparency and accountability.” (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

From the outside, they looked like a collection of political misfits akin to the characters from “The Breakfast Club.” This peculiar little crew of lobbyists, ethics watchdogs and government spending hawks included the likes of Public Citizen’s Craig Holman and former House member-turned-lobbyist Jim Walsh.

Instead of serving Saturday detention, like the high schoolers of the 1985 hit movie, they spent their meetings nearly a decade ago seeking compromise on one of Congress’ most politically fraught but powerful tools: earmarks. “It was a strange group, an eclectic group,” concedes Holman, whose liberal Public Citizen is best known for taking on K Street, not working with the lobbyists and lawyers in the sector. “We identified what the real problem with earmarks is — and earmarks do pose a serious problem with corruption.”

Senate confirms Barr amid questions about Mueller report
The Senate voted to confirm Barr as the next attorney general, mostly along party lines

William P. Barr, left, nominee for attorney general, greets former Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, upon arriving for his Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearing in Hart Building on Tuesday, January 15, 2019. Hatch introduced Barr to the committee. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

William Barr takes over the Justice Department on Thursday at a pivotal moment for the nation’s legal landscape, with his tenure closely tied to how he will handle the special counsel’s Russia investigation and any political pressure from the White House.

The Senate voted 54-45 to confirm Barr as the next attorney general, mostly along party lines. Senators have strong clues that he will continue the Trump administration’s conservative policies and legal arguments on immigration, civil rights enforcement and LGBT employment discrimination.

Sam Ervin took down Nixon. We’re still waiting for his heir
Maybe Nancy Pelosi needs to appoint a small select committee modeled after Watergate

Folksy North Carolina Sen. Sam Ervin, center, chaired the committee that destroyed Nixon’s strongest claim to power — his political popularity, Shapiro writes. (CQ Roll Call file photo)

OPINION — It is easy to imagine an undiscovered Samuel Beckett play entitled “Waiting for Mueller.” On stage, faithful Democrats vacillate between stubborn hope (“He should be here”) and fatalistic despair (“He didn’t say for sure that he would come”). In the end, they just wait, day after day.

Whatever Robert Mueller’s internal timetable (seers like Rudy Giuliani have so far been comically wrong in trying to predict it), the investigation will face new pressures with the virtually certain Senate confirmation this week of William Barr. For the first time, Mueller will be supervised by a legitimate attorney general — rather than an acting Donald Trump factotum — who has avoided any promises about releasing the full report.