Opinion & Analysis

Capitol Ink | Fightin' Joe

The PRO Act’s many cons
House expected to take up a bill that would hurt millions of small businesses and workers

The Democrat-controlled House is expected to pass the PRO Act this month — a bill that in its present form would hurt millions of small businesses and workers and upend the franchise industry, Cresanti writes. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

OPINION — In a divided Congress, Republicans and Democrats often pass legislation to signal what they’ll pursue if they gain complete control over the levers of federal power. That’s why the Protect the Right to Organize Act demands attention. The Democrat-controlled House is expected to pass the bill in the coming weeks, even though in its present form it would hurt millions of small businesses and workers and upend one of the most important parts of the American economy: the franchise industry.

The PRO Act, as it’s called, is a Frankenstein bill that cobbles together more than 20 dangerous provisions, some new and some rejected numerous times by previous Congresses. The trouble with each of these provisions is they tip the scales against small businesses in solution of a problem that doesn’t exist — employees already have the right to organize small businesses under federal law. One section mandates that companies provide workers’ personal information to unions; another would repeal state right-to-work laws by forcing all employees to pay union dues as a condition of employment. Across the board, the bill rolls back balanced protections for workers and employers while tilting the playing field decisively toward unions.

Asking the hard questions to implement the National Defense Strategy
Conversation on the changing role of America’s military needs to expand beyond Washington

Oklahoma Sen. James M. Inhofe is the chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

OPINION — Two years ago, the National Defense Strategy, or NDS, shifted America’s military focus to a new era of great-power competition, especially with China and Russia. Welcomed with broad bipartisan support, this groundbreaking document calls on us to make tough choices to reshape our military, reform the Department of Defense, and recommit to strengthening alliances and attracting new partners around the world.

President Donald Trump has committed to rebuilding the foundations of American military power. The NDS provides the blueprint to achieve that objective, and it must be fully implemented. That is why we have made it our priority on the Senate and House Armed Services committees to ensure that we turn the NDS from a strategy on paper into a strategy in action.

Double standards for 2020 Democratic hopefuls? You don’t say
Kamala Harris was tripped up by obstacles her white counterparts haven’t had to face

Sen. Kamala Harris’ presidential bid faced unique hurdles from the start, some of them personal, Curtis writes. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call file photo)

OPINION — There is a particular line that stuck with me in the just-opened film “Queen & Slim,” about a black couple on the run after an altercation with a white police officer goes awry in the depressing and terrible way you might imagine. During their perilous road trip, in a quieter moment, he (a retail worker) asks her (an attorney) if she is good at her job. “I’m an excellent lawyer,” she replies, to which he answers with a question that’s really a statement: “Why do black people always got to be excellent? Why can’t we just be ourselves?”

Since the pre-mortems were written a bit ago, it’s time for a post-mortem on the presidential campaign of California Sen. Kamala Harris, who never seemed to quite discover who she was or at least convey authenticity and excellence to enough voters or donors to make a difference.

Capitol Ink | World Class Enemies List

Capitol Ink | Impeachment Eye Test

Adam Schiff’s post-hearing review: He got nowhere
Half the country will reject his 300-page report as little more than a Democratic Party campaign document

Half the country will reject House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff’s 300-page impeachment report as little more than a Democratic Party campaign document, Winston writes. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

OPINION — Twenty years ago, after the impeachment of Bill Clinton and the departure of Speaker Newt Gingrich, I left my post as the speaker’s director of planning and opted to go into the business of survey research. My motivation wasn’t a great desire to enter the world of campaign politics. I was more policy animal than political consultant.

But I had learned a hard lesson during the months Republicans decided to impeach a sitting president. I learned that when either party tries to enact a major public policy initiative, which is what impeachment is, it takes more than partisan support and bravado to bring home the prize. It takes broad public support, a national consensus that the action, especially one as serious as overturning the results of an election, is truly in the best interests of the country.

The impeachment holiday gift catalog
John Bolton may be counting his book deal money, but he needs to think about future sales too

For John Bolton’s holiday gift, Shapiro has some free advice: Testify before the House Intelligence panel and watch your future book sales soar. (Win McNamee/Getty Images file photo)

OPINION — Flush with the holiday spirit, I have decided to hand out my presents early. Of course, given the economics of 21st-century journalism, I am offering the only gifts that I can afford — free advice.

Luckily, with the House Judiciary Committee kicking off impeachment hearings this week, Washington is filled with troubled and misguided souls in both parties who would benefit from my sage and selfless counsel.

Capitol Ink | Race to the Exit

American competitiveness requires a smarter Congress
Increasing science and technology advice would be an important first step

As technological innovations rapidly reshape the American economy, it’s time Congress took notice and brought itself up to speed, Grumet and Johnson write. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

OPINION — Technological advancements are rapidly changing the American economy and workforce. At the same time, lawmakers increasingly appear to lack the capability to understand and respond effectively to this transformation. Flip phone-wielding lawmakers may have been cutting edge in the 1990s, but not in today’s Congress, which routinely grapples with complex scientific and technological issues such as gene editing, cryptocurrency, facial recognition and digital privacy. Not to mention, they must oversee $150 billion in federal R&D funding that helps fuel future innovations.

Out of 541 members, the current Congress has only two scientists and eleven engineers. Most have backgrounds in law or business, which is obvious when hearings start to get technical. This gap has to be filled by congressional staff and support agencies. Yet only 15 percent of senior congressional aides themselves think staff have the knowledge, skills and abilities to support members’ official duties. And just 24 percent think staff have enough access to high-quality, nonpartisan expertise within the legislative branch, according to a 2017 survey.

It’s time to regulate olive oil
Half of all extra virgin olive oil on supermarket shelves still fails to meet accepted standards

An audit done between 2015 and 2019 found that half of all extra virgin olive oil on supermarket shelves still fails to meet accepted standards for the grade, Greenberg writes.. (Jeffrey Greenberg/Universal Images Group via Getty Images file photo)

OPINION — Everyone has to eat. Across all borders and cultures, we all rely on food. But this universal truth makes consumers vulnerable to unscrupulous food industry players who engage in unethical, if not illegal, labeling practices.

In the U.S., the federal government has developed hundreds of enforceable quality standards to protect consumers from contaminated products by requiring accurate ingredients lists and cracking down on false health claims. From meat to macaroni and canned prunes to canned tuna, consumers are protected against fraud in these categories because the government has stepped into the void.

Capitol Ink | Forked

Capitol Ink | The Trump Bus

Bloomberg, Biden, Buttigieg and the bunch apologize. Should black voters listen, forgive and vote?
Minority voters have settled on imperfect candidates before, but this time may be different

Michael Bloomberg, center, appears Sunday at the Christian Cultural Center in Brooklyn, N.Y., where he apologized for supporting “stop and frisk.” He’s not the only Democratic candidate expressing regret to minority voters, Curtis writes. (Yana Paskova/Getty Images)

OPINION — Of course, Michael Bloomberg went there — there being a black church to ask for forgiveness. As he tentatively dips his toe and his billions into the Democratic presidential race, joining a scrum that expands even as it shrinks, Bloomberg, perhaps realizing that the path to the presidency must include the enthusiastic support of black and brown voters, has rethought his enthusiastic support of “stop and frisk.”

“I got something important really wrong,” he told the congregation at the Christian Cultural Center in Brooklyn on Sunday. “I didn’t understand back then the full impact that stops were having on the black and Latino communities.”

Capitol Ink | Story Time