Opinion & Analysis

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.”

Capitol Ink | The Awwws Have It

Capitol Ink | Remembering Barbara Bush

Opinion: We Can’t Afford Not to Pay Interns
This issue is too important to ignore, Sen. Chris Van Hollen writes

Sen. Chris Van Hollen, D-Md., who represents much of the D.C. suburbs, says the city is one of the most expenses places to lives in the country. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Capitol Hill interns have been an institution within an institution since I first worked for Congress in the late 1980s — and long before. From answering phones, to helping constituents, to legislative research, they are a vital part of any congressional office. I know my team could not function without them, and we are thankful for their tireless work.

But our thanks aren’t enough — we need to provide compensation for these hardworking young people.

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.

Capitol Ink | Bold Prediction

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.

Opinion: When the Survey Says the Holocaust Is Fading Away
When we see data like this, it says something is terribly wrong

A Polish Holocaust survivor from Dallas attends a survivor memorial service at the Holocaust Memorial Museum in 2011. Data released last week suggests there’s something terribly wrong with history education in America, Winston writes. (Chris Maddaloni/CQ Roll Call file photo.)

Just a few days ago, on April 12, the world commemorated International Holocaust Remembrance Day. Much of the news this year focused on a new national survey, conducted by Schoen Consulting for the Claims Conference, to assess just how much Americans, especially young Americans, know about the Holocaust today.

The results were disheartening and disturbing. People are beginning to forget.

Capitol Ink | Rub A Dub Dub

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.

Capitol Ink | Reality TV

Opinion: How Much Longer Can the Trump Coalition Hold?
New study confirms demographic trends remain tough for Republicans

While demographic trends favor Democrats, white voters without college degrees — a key part of President Donald Trump’s base — will remain crucial to both parties’ electoral chances, Fortier writes. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

After Mitt Romney’s defeat in 2012, establishment Republicans, citing unfavorable demographic trends, called for the GOP to improve its performance with growing ethnic minorities. Donald Trump, seemingly poking his finger in the eye of this establishment, pursued the opposite course, attracting more support from white voters without college degrees whose ranks were shrinking but becoming more Republican.

Demographic trends remain tough for Republicans, and a new study released Monday by a coalition of think tanks confirms this. The GOP would benefit from boosting support among new immigrant groups and doubling down on the white working class. But going forward, the Trump strategy of increasing support among non college whites over expanding its vote share among immigrant groups has advantages in both the popular vote and the electoral college, and will likely be at least a part of future GOP election game plans.

Capitol Ink | Public Enemies List

Opinion: Who Will Spur the Next Energy Revolution? Not Private Industry
Some say the government can no longer afford to invest in energy research, but we say it can’t afford not to

Solar panels are seen from the air on approach to Indianapolis International Airport on April 2. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

In just a decade, America’s energy landscape has been transformed. Wind and solar units have cropped up across the country, quadrupling their output. Our oil production has nearly doubled over the same period, while natural gas has swelled by a third, due in large part to drilling and seismology advances that ushered in the shale revolution.

Who developed those technologies? Researchers at America’s national labs, thanks to decades of federal funding.