POLITICS

HUFFPOST HILL - JUNE 8TH, 2010

06/08/2010 06:10 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

The Senate had a week to prepare for today's session and it still manged to screw the pooch. As Dianne Feinstein proposed a pointless Gaza flotilla probe and Lisa Murkowski tried to classify carbon as a non-pollutant, Chuck Schumer told reporters that the upper chamber won't pass an unemployment benefits extenders bill until next week. Speaking of swings and misses, Stephen Strasburg, whose heater is the sickest thing D.C. has seen since the Schumwich, makes his debut for the Nationals tonight. This is HUFFPOST HILL for Tuesday, June 8th, 2010:

BREAKING

JUST IN: OBAMA HEADING BACK TO GULF - White House press office: "On Monday, June 14 and Tuesday, June 15, President Obama will travel to Mississippi, Alabama and Florida to further assess the latest efforts to counter the BP oil spill. More details, including media credentialing information, will be released in the coming days."

MORE: Speaker Pelosi has set a "strict timetable for lawmakers to act on bills to cope with the Gulf oil spill and prevent similar disasters" -- House committees should have legislation ready by July 4, and the full House will act on the bills by the time of the summer recess on Aug. 9, Pelosi said after meeting with committee chairmen. http://huff.to/afmCo6

BP CEO TO TESTIFY BEFORE CONGRESS NEXT WEEK - Hey Tony Hayward: prepare for the folksy wrath of BART STUPAK. The Hill reports: "Embattled BP CEO Tony Hayward will testify before a congressional panel next Thursday examining the causes of the Gulf oil spill. The House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Investigations and Oversight will hear testimony from the executive who has found himself between the crosshairs of lawmakers and the president for his company's role in the spill." http://bit.ly/9Fx9v3

PRIMARY POLL CLOSINGS (EST) 7 pm: South Carolina, Georgia and Virginia. 8 pm: Maine and New Jersey. 8:30 pm: Arkansas. 9 pm: North Dakota and South Dakota. 10 pm: Iowa, Montana and Nevada. 11 pm: California.

Blanche Lincoln on her potential loss: "I'll always support the Democratic Party of Arkansas. I'm a Democrat," she told told CNN. http://bit.ly/a4uf9T

Check out HuffPost's wall-to-wall coverage of the election on our home page with up-to-the-minute returns, breaking news and more tweets than you can shake a stick at.

He'll be back. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's ballot was rejected after a polling official said he voted for two Senate candidates. http://huff.to/cD0fBo

FEINSTEIN (!) CALLS FOR FLOTILLA INVESTIGATION - Despite the fact that Israel botched the flotilla raid worse than Dianne Feinstein botched the inauguration ("2-4-6-8 open up the purple gate!"), the California Senator still wants an "impartial" investigation into the matter. From CQ: "The California Democrat, one of Israel's most dependable supporters on Capitol Hill, also urged Israel to 'reassess' its 'forced isolation' of the Gaza Strip and allow more humanitarian assistance and other materials to reach its beleaguered Palestinian population. 'There should be an impartial inquiry to determine exactly what took place,' Feinstein said in a statement." http://bit.ly/clia29

PAUL VOLCKER: DON'T EXEMPT BANKS FROM MY RULE - Reuters: "White House economic adviser Paul Volcker firmly opposes exempting banks from his proposal to ban them from hedge funds or private equity funds when they make only small investments, according to a letter obtained by Reuters on Tuesday. Big banks are seeking exemptions for small, or 'de minimis' investments, under the proposed rule. 'I absolutely oppose any such modification' of the U.S. Senate's Wall Street reform bill, Volcker wrote in the May 17 letter to Senate Banking Committee Chairman Christopher Dodd." http://bit.ly/9ZdfRt

EXTENDERS BATTLE EXTENDS ITSELF - Chuck Schumer said the Senate will finish the extenders bill sometime next week. Dems are reinserting FMAP -- aid to states -- and Ben Nelson is unhappy about the all the deficit spending. But he is glad Dems are weakening the payfor that raises taxes on investment fund managers, requiring them to count only 65% of their income as income. Meanwhile, hundreds of thousands of the long-term unemployed are missing benefits checks. Harry Reid, however, told reporters he'd get the bill done this week and thinks the House would have the votes to pass the bill with the additional state aid, known as FMAP. More on the extended extenders fail festival from Arthur Delaney: http://huff.to/bjIfAu

WHO'S MORE DESPISED, WALL STREET OR BIG OIL? - Easy: Big Oil. Fossil fuel lobbyists were furious today that the Senate reduced the investment fund manager tax hike and made up the gap by increasing taxes on Big Oil to fill up the Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund. The National Petrochemical & Refiners Association was fuming. "This tax increase will raise the cost of gasoline, diesel fuel and other products for American families, all in the name of giving more tax breaks to bankers and hedge fund managers," said the lobby's president, Charles Drevna. "This proposal amounts to an effort to pay Wall Street by robbing Main Street." While it's an awful good time to watch Wall Street and Big Oil battle it out, the oil folks do have the dynamic correct here. Dems are searching for ways to pay for the tax extenders bill and the investment guys out-lobbied petroleum -- today, at least.

OBAMA BACKS EXTENDING COBRA SUBSIDIES, WILL GET FLOOR VOTE - At a townhall, Obama told a questioner that Congress should extend COBRA subsidies "for at least another six months, because there's still a lot of folks who are out of work." The House extenders bill dropped the subsidy and the Senate one won't include it. But, said Harry Reid at his stakeout today, COBRA will get a floor vote and he'll support it. That's a helluva no vote to have to cast. (The amendment, reports HuffPost's Lucia Graves, will come from Bob Casey, who led the last effort to extend benefits.)

MURKOWSKI RESOLUTION GOING DOWN ONE WAY OR ANOTHER - A Lisa Murkowski resolution scheduled for a Thursday vote would declare that carbon is not a pollutant and should not be regulated as such by the EPA. (Why not also declare that pelicans love the scent of Quaker State in the morning?) Either way, Obama issued a veto threat today and the resolution would have a steep climb in Pelosi's House. Tom Carper, Carl Levin and Max Baucus said today they'll oppose it. "It's a science question. It's not a policy question," said Baucus, who then added that an alternative resolution from Jay Rockefeller that would delay regulation for two years was a more attractive policy option. Rockefeller, as far as we're aware, is not a scientist. The Senate vote will be close. "I've got my whip doing the numbers," said Reid. "It appears we're going to be OK, but we'll never know till the vote takes place."

DECISION ON ENERGY COMING NEXT THURSDAY - Green groups panicked when Chuck Schumer suggested that the Kerry-Lieberman climate change bill would be voted on as an amendment to Jeff Bingaman's energy bill. That'd spell the end of climate change lesgislation for the year. Schumer quickly backed off, saying he was just speculating. Reid slapped Schumer's suggestion down today "Any of the press reports that you saw yesterday, there's not a word that I said. It's all other people talking," Reid said, laying out the way forward: A Thursday meeting with the relevant committee chairs followed by a caucus-wide meeting next Thursday to chart the energy course forward. That gives greens a week and a half to make the case that humanity should not commit collective suicide.

GRAHAM WILL OPPOSE KERRY-LIEBERMAN-GRAHAM From Congress Daily: "Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., today said he would vote against a climate change strategy he helped develop with Sens. John Kerry, D-Mass., and Joe Lieberman, D-Conn., citing new changes that further restrict offshore oil and gas drilling and the bill's impact on the transportation sector. He said neither that plan nor any energy and climate strategy will get 60 Senate votes this year. http://bit.ly/bW6B7v

SENATE GOP LUNCHED ON OBAMA - During its weekly lunch today, the Senate GOP enjoyed this mashup of Obama being whacked on cable and the nets for his response to the BP spill, the weak jobs report and the growing deficit: http://bit.ly/aLKMnf

CREDIT UNION LOBBY FLY-IN THIS WEEK - Representatives from the Credit Union National Association, which represents the nation's credit industry, are participating in a fly-in today and tomorrow. A thousand industry officials will fan out across the Hill, lobbying lawmakers against a swipe fee amendment to the Wall Street reform bill that is about to enter conference committee. Just last night, the Senate's chief conferee Chris Dodd told reporters that the amendment will stay in the final version of the bill, though with changes. The credit unions argue it'll hurt small debit card issuers. http://huff.to/bz119B

TONIGHT IN ROLL CALL - Paul Singer on how the Office of Congressional Ethics is apparently investigating whether Members of Congress living at the "C Street house" -- a residence run by a shadowy religious organization -- have been receiving an improper gift in the form of below-market rent for their rooms.

TONIGHT IN THE HILL - Lauren Victoria Burke and Bob Cusack report on The Hill's survey of the 25 hardest-working members of Congress.

CARL LEVIN UPSET WITH GITMO CLOSURE DELAYS - Sam Stein: "Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.), who chairs the Senate Committee on Armed Services, told the Huffington Post on Tuesday that engagement from the president and his team on the topic has been sparse. As has, he added, any type of political push to get Congress to help close Gitmo by appropriating money for an alternate facility in Thomson, Illinois."

WASHINGTON ABUZZ OVER STRASBURG DEBUT - Stephen Strasburg, the Nationals' best acquisition since that ex-cop who made sure Elijah Dukes didn't impregnate any teenagers, debuts his 102-mph fastball tonight against the AA Pirates. Tickets are sold out, meaning the Nationals have actually filled the stadium without the Red Sox or Mets being present.

A tipster writes in: "So just walked out of Rayburn on the horseshoe side. There is a whole "Remember the Fallen" wall for the Iraq war (but not Afghanistan, I don't think). It is almost entirely out of space."

Don't be bashful: Send tips/stories/photos/events/fundraisers/job movement/juicy miscellanea to huffposthill@huffingtonpost.com

TRENDING

PRIMARY DAY 4G - At long last it's here! If recent polling is at all prescient, Majority Leader Harry Reid will likely face Tea Party darling Sharron Angle in November. This could prove to be a political boon for the Nevada senator, who might be able to eke out a plurality victory against a doctrinaire Tea Party opponent and vote-siphoning third party candidates. In Arkansas, it might be all-she-wrote for Blanche Lincoln, who has been trailing Lt. Gov. Bill Halter in recent surveys. In California, GOP Senate candidate Carly Fiorina and Gov. contender Meg Whitman will probably buy their way into victory.

TPM has a great summary of the contests, including what may Nevada Gov. Jim Gibbon and South Carolina Rep.'s Bob Inglis's swan songs. http://bit.ly/8YNX2F

Pappa Bear Mike "Boo Radley" Allen reported this morning that Arkansas observers are forecasting a Lincoln loss by five or more points. http://politi.co/aOAySb

OBAMA WANTS COBRA SUBSIDIES EXTENDED - President Obama pressed Congress to extend COBRA subsidies during a town hall question and answer session. COBRA is a program that allows laid-off workers to continue to purchase their employer-provided health coverage. Without the 65 percent subsidy created by the stimulus, COBRA is often unaffordable, a reality Obama pointed to in pressing for the extension. Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) told reporters that the COBRA subsidy would not be in the Senate's version, either. http://huff.to/amZ2ui

GULF SPILL NOW MADE UP OF MANY SLICKS, NOT JUST ONE - AP: "The oil spill plaguing the states along the Gulf of Mexico isn't one slick - it's many. 'We're no longer dealing with a large, monolithic spill," Coast Guard Adm. Thad Allen said Monday at a White House news conference. 'We're dealing with an aggregation of hundreds of thousands of patches of oil that are going a lot of different directions.'" http://huff.to/bxNqA8

OBAMA PUSHING FOR MORE OFFSHORE DRILLING - Chase that dragon, boys. Chase that dragon. WSJ: "The Obama administration, facing rising anger on the Gulf Coast over the loss of jobs and income from a drilling moratorium, said Monday that it would move quickly to release new safety requirements that would allow the reopening of offshore oil and gas exploration in shallow waters." http://bit.ly/bwwcYK

IS BOBBY JINDAL BACK? - In the wake of Kenneth-gate, most observers counted the Louisiana governor and exorcism-buff a no go for 2012. The oil spill may have changed that. AP: "Since the drilling rig operated by BP PLC exploded in April and unleashed a gusher of oil into the Gulf of Mexico, Jindal has taken pains to rattle off all the state is doing to keep the oil from ruining a way of life. He ticks off lists of projects, how much oil-soaking boom is being used, where barges are being sent." http://huff.to/dtCtjP

POLL: GOVT SHOULD ENACT ENERGY REFORMS - A new poll commissioned by the League of Conservation Voters finds Americans overwhelmingly support green energy initiatives in the wake of the BP oil disaster. Lucia Graves: Sixty-six percent of the 800 voters surveyed by Obama pollster Joel Benenson agreed with this statement: 'British Petroleum must pay for the damage they've done. But our addiction to oil threatens our security and we need more than a band-aid for that. Senators need to pass real reforms to hold polluters accountable and invest in clean American energy.'"

Read about how BP has been a catalyst for political unrest, death, destruction and probably Justin Beiber. http://huff.to/9BNqsJ

Only 23 percent agreed with this statement: "We need to ensure that British Petroleum pays every last dime of the damages they've caused, but Senators would be wrong to try to use this tragedy to pass some huge new Washington program and job-killing energy tax."

Anthony Weiner: Everyone from BP with a British accent is lying. http://huff.to/9FhOqh

THE CIA DOESN'T HAVE AN INTERNAL WATCHDOG - Because an agency that operates on the precipice of legality doesn't really need someone monitoring its behavior. AP: "More than a year after the CIA's inspector general stepped down, frustrated members of Congress are urging the White House to fill the internal watchdog position that was central in uncovering abuses inside the spy agency...The government's inspectors general root out corruption, fraud and other abuses that rarely surface otherwise." http://huff.to/cMwM4D

IRAN'S GREEN MOVEMENT, ONE YEAR LATER - With the one-year anniversary of Iran's turbulent election which birthed the opposition Green Movement, Foreign Policy asked a number of Iran experts to weigh in on the uprising's impact and the prospects for reform. http://bit.ly/aDdxme

ROB BLAGOJEVICH BANNED FROM TWEETING IN COURT - "Rod Blagojevich has been all for letting the public know every detail of his legal woes, and today--just before opening statements begin in his federal corruption trial-- Judge James B. Zagel put his foot down, banning Blago from courtroom tweeting. The former Illinois governor and his wife Patti have recently taken to Twitter to proclaim Rod's innocence (and promote his radio appearances.)." http://huff.to/9lsh6h

JEREMY THE INTERN'S WEATHER REPORT - "It's going to be beautiful tonight; humidity will stay low, causing the temperature to stay in the upper 70s. Enjoy it while you can, because you can expect rain all day tomorrow..."

But JB, wouldn't low humidity mean temperatures cooler than high-70s? "Yes, but in Washington's summer, where airless days with temperatures in the upper 80s are the norm, high 70s is low in comparison. It's all relative." Thanks, JB!

COMFORT FOOD

- A study finds that gamers have the reflexes of fighter pilots but the bodies of 60-year-old smokers. http://bit.ly/aTyWV9

- The smallest cars in the world. http://bit.ly/aQfqsE

- The Boston Globe is tailoring its coverage to its remaining 3 readers. http://bit.ly/bkFleq

- 40 desserts that can kill you. http://bit.ly/aaB1Zw

- A woman was struck by lighting and killed as her boyfriend proposed to her. http://bit.ly/8Y7w6H

- A Swiss elephant escaped from the zoo. http://bit.ly/9BHn6t

TWITTERAMA

@maxsilvestri: Why does the Wikipedia entry for "Man cave" have so many citations? Who is second guessing this information? http://bit.ly/aLGptl

@GregMitch: Too bad about Helen Thomas but Robert Novak also lost his job for outing valuable CIA agent. Uh, right? http://bit.ly/bBWznn

@FakeAPStyleBook: When writing about prominent public figures, keep them unnamed so readers can guess who you're talking about. People love that. http://bit.ly/bwcCZc

@fineout Crist says FL at war with spill and is Normandy invasion coming to "our coasts." Does this mean oil will win? http://bit.ly/chZ4ms

THE TUBE

TONIGHT

Mary Landrieu discussed the oil spill on Ratigan. Charlie Melancon does the same on Hardball. Bill Halter makes a last minute pitch for his candidacy on Ed Schultz. Charlie Melancon comes back for Chris Matthew's second live hour. Broadcasting live from Alabama, John King has Drew Brees and Sean Payton.

TOMORROW

Peter King, Bruce Braley and HuffPost's Sam Stein are on Morning Joe. Robert Menendez stops by Morning Rundow.

ON TAP

TONIGHT

The three-day America's Future Now! conference debates progressive strategy in the Obama era, argues over how to curb Wall Street power and wonders about the rise of random exclamation points in progressive political nomenclature. Former aides to HCAN! will be in attendance. The schedule of speakers: http://bit.ly/bCtF9s

6:00 pm - 7:00 pm: The conference's award show kicks into full swing with a reception at the Regency Ballroom Foyer.

7:00 pm: Lights, camera, activism: the awards show itself.

TOMORROW

America's Future Now! continues...

8:30 am - 9:00 am: Alan Grayson (D-Fla.) headlines a panel called "Speaking Frankly." Need we say more? Regency Ballroom.

9:10 am - 10:10 am: "The Congressional Fix: Can Congress Work in Polarized Age?" features a talk by Tom Udall (D-N.M.).

9:10 am - 10:10 am: Keith Ellison (D-Minn.) discusses progressive national security policy.

10:45 am - 12:30 am: Barbara Lee (D-Calif.) speaks at the closing event.

Congress is back in town and it's making up for lost time with a boatload of fundraisers...

TONIGHT

5:30 pm - 7:00 pm: Peter Welch (D-Vt.) hosts a reception. $500 to be the Ben to his Jerry [Phoenix Park Hotel - 520 North Capitol Street NW].

7:00 pm: Diana DeGette (D-Colo.) will scalp you a ticket to the James Taylor concert for a paltry $2,500. So will John Hall (D-N.Y.) [Verizon Center, 601 F Street NW].

7:00 pm - 10:00 pm: Now this is a fundraiser we can get behind. Dutch Ruppersberger (D-Md.) joins donors at the Orioles-Yankees game [Oriole Park at Camden Yards Park, 333 West Camden Street, Balitomore].

TOMORROW

8:00 am: Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) hosts a reception in his own honor at Charlie Palmer Steak...for breakfast [Charlie Palmer Steak, 101 Constitution Ave NW].

8:30 am: Ready for a lot of names? Join Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.) at Akin Gump Strauss Hauer and Feld [Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP, 1333 New Hampshire Ave NW].

8:30 am: Mark Souder (R-Ind.) would have hosted a breakfast fundraiser at the Capitol Hill Club had he not resigned in hypocritical disgrace. Unclear if donors can still show up and get eggs. [Capitol Hill Club, 300 First Street SE].

8:30 am - 9:30 am: Ahhh the sweet, savory taste of Congressman Joe Pitts (R-Pa.). Join the Republican Rep. for his "Taste of Joe" event. At the Capitol Hill Club...Champagne Room [Capitol Hill Club, 300 First Street SE].

12:00 pm: Mike Rogers (R-Mich.) convenes a "Telecom Lunch." Michigan sure could use some of that industry's business [Sonoma Restaurant and Wine Bar, 223 Pennsylvania Ave SE].

12:00 pm: Tim Murphy (R-Pa.) succumbs to the pro-electricity lobby at his "Edison Electric Institute Lunch" [Edison Electric Institute, 701 Pennsylvania Ave. NW].

Got something to add? Send tips/quotes/stories/photos/events/fundraisers/job movement/juicy miscellanea to Eliot Nelson (eliot@huffingtonpost.com), Ryan Grim (ryan@huffingtonpost.com) or Nico Pitney (nico@huffingtonpost.com). Follow us on Twitter @HuffPostHill (twitter.com/HuffPostHill). Sign up here: http://huff.to/an2k2e

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