As the Senate bid farewell to Robert Byrd, whose eloquence and fealty to decorum recalled a bygone era, lawmakers reminded us why the late West Virginia senator was such a walking anachronism. Jim McDermott accused Republicans of engaging in class warfare, Lindsey Graham lashed out at the Tea Party and Chuck Schumer took a break from pickle hunting to remind air travelers that there's probably a tentacle in their chicken. Happy Canada Day, everyone, this is HUFFPOST HILL for Thursday, July 1st, 2010:
EXCLUSIVE: CANTWELL WILL BACK WALL STREET REFORM - Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) will vote for to end a GOP filibuster and to support final passage of Wall Street reform, her spokesman tells HuffPost Hill, giving Democrats the votes they would need even is Sen. Scott Brown (R-Mass.) holds out.
BREAKING: WHILE FUNDING THE WAR, LET'S LAY WASTE TO THE NEW DEAL WHILE WE'RE AT IT - In the House summary of the rule that governs tonight's war-funding vote is this gem: "Commits the House to vote on any Senate-passed recommendations of the bipartisan Fiscal Commission and that net savings from any Commission recommendations will go to deficit reduction."
KAGAN DAY FOUR: CAN I GET A WITNESS? - After delaying the hearing out of respsect for Robert Byrd, who had lain in repose in the Senate chamber earlier, the Judiciary Committee reconvened its confirmation hearing of Elena Kagan this afternoon. This time, the panel heard testimony from a range of legal experts and other witness testifying both in favor of, and in opposition to, Kagan's elevation to the high court. Lilly Ledbetter spoke favorably of her; Ledbetter's legal battle with Goodyear Tire helped provide the impetus for last year's legislation extending the statute of limitations for pay discrimination. "My case shows that it matters who's on the Court," she said. "If one more person like [John Paul] Stevens -- who knows what the Court's decisions mean for ordinary people -- was on the Court, I may have gotten my fair pay." Also testifying was Flagg Youngblood, an Army captain who has claimed in the press that Kagan did not favorably treat the Army while dean of Harvard Law. Follow the hearing with SCOTUSBlog's liveblog: http://bit.ly/cEMMNV
HOUSE WAR VOTE TONIGHT - In five steps, the House will vote to approve war funding this evening without ever voting to approve war funding. The first vote will be on the rule that allows this to happen. The vote on the rule is the key vote for or against the war -- unless you're a House Republican, in which case you'll vote against it because it's a bunch of hocus pocus proposed by Democrats. Next will come a separate vote on a Dave Obey-sponsored amendment to add social spending -- for teachers, Pell grants, jobs, border security, oil clean-up, disaster relief and $13 billion for Vietnam Vets exposed to Agent Orange. Because of other cuts, Obey's amendment shaves $493 million off the deficit. Next will come three votes that will give us a window into where the House is when it comes to ending the war in Afghanistan, which is now 104 months old: Jim McGovern's to create a timeline for withdrawal, another to strike military spending from the bill altogether and a third, sponsored by Barbara Lee, to only allow funds to be used for an orderly withdrawal. If all four of those amendments fail, the bill dies. But a Democratic leadership aide tells HuffPost Hill that they have the votes they need to pass Obey's amendment, so this thing's going through. It won't get to Secretary Bob Gates by his Fourth of July deadine, but the military has money to get itself into August, say Democrats.
The White House has threatened to veto the $75 billion supplemental spending bill if it includes an offset in the package that would cut funding from the Department of Education's Race to the Top program, part of the package of cuts Obey identified to pay for his amendment. "If the final bill presented to the President includes cuts to education reforms, the President's senior advisors would recommend a veto," reads the message from the White House. Well, it's gonna include it.
JUST IN: LINDA RICHARDSON (D-CALIF.) CLEARED BY HOUSE PANEL - CongressDaily: "The House Ethics Committee today announced it has cleared Rep. Laura Richardson, D-Calif., of allegations she received preferential treatment from her lender, Washington Mutual, relating to a purchase, foreclosure or loan modification relating to her home in Sacramento, Calif." http://bit.ly/bSB4WK
NRSC SCRUBS SHARRON ANGLE'S CAMPAIGN PLATFORM - Sam Stein on the Nevada Senate candidate's slightly less fringe-y internet portal: "In early June, Senate candidate Sharron Angle spoke emphatically on her website about abolishing the Department of Education, having Social Security 'transitioned out' to the private sector, and repealing legislation that prohibited offshore drilling. But today, if you visit the Nevada Republican's website, you'd have no indication that any of these positions were planks of her agenda. After three weeks of rewrites, the Angle campaign has released (with little publicity or fanfare) a new and improved campaign website. It was done with obvious care, and tailor-made to pitch the Tea Party favorite as a mellow-minded conservative alternative to her Democratic opponent, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid." http://huff.to/c5IZYZ
GEITHNER AND BERNANKE KNOWINGLY PUSHED JUNK ASSETS ON TAXPAYERS - Whoops! Bloomberg is reporting that back in 2008, when Tim Geithner was the New York Fed chief, he and Ben Bernanke testified before the Senate Banking Committee that billions of dollars worth of shaky Bear Sterns bonds the government agreed to purchase were "investment-grade." Turns out by the time the two appeared before Congress, at least $40 million of those assets had been downgraded and the Fed KNEW IT. http://bit.ly/cs3IEQ
The Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission (FCIC) convened today, insisting Goldman Sachs hand over information relating to its derivatives trading activities. "It's crazy. It doesn't make any sense," panel member Byron Georgiou said to Goldman's CFO David Viniar. "Goldman Sachs is, if not the most sophisticated investment bank, certainly one of the most sophisticated investment banks in the world -- and nobody here believes you don't know how much money you're making on various aspects of your business. It doesn't make any sense." Shahien Nasiripour: http://huff.to/dvNV4o
Scott Brown homefront FAIL: The Massachusetts senator should probabaly be worried when the Boston Globe runs a headline that concludes "GOP, Brown block unemployment extension." http://bit.ly/9wsJJ1
ANTIWAR DEMS: PAY FOR YOUR GUNS - Progressive Democrats challenged Republican and Blue Dog backers of the wars today to pay for the wars as long as they'll insist on paying for unemployment insurance and anything else. Raul Grijalva: "And here we are, prolonging a war that most of the American people oppose and not paying for it. That's the essential hypocrisy. We are required to offset anything for education, we are required to offset anything for jobs, and now this war is reaching $280 billion for taxpayers, all under an emergency supplemental category which doesn't require offsets of pay-fors. You know this, from the time of the Tonkin resolution to the end of the end of that conflict in Vietnam, 103 months. We are now at our 104th month in Afghanistan, right now, with no end in sight. So the people that have been going around that the sky is falling because of the debt and the deficit, we're asking them to put up." WATCH: http://bit.ly/bUGMbL
OBAMA SLAMS GOP FOR IMMIGRATION PLATFORM - In a speech on today, the president implied that Republicans are holding up comprehensive immigration reform, citing "political posturing and special interest wrangling" as roadblocks to overhaul. "It won't work," he said. "Our borders are just too vast for us to be able to solve the problem only with fences and border patrols." AP: http://huff.to/9UdgJF
This comes a day after the ACLU issued a travel advisory to individuals headed to Arizona. "American Civil Liberties Union affiliates in Arizona, New Mexico and 26 other states put out the warnings in advance of the Fourth of July weekend. The Arizona chapter has received reports that law enforcement officers are already targeting some people even though the law doesn't take effect until July 29, its executive director said." AP: http://yhoo.it/aZloZH
HOUSE PASSES UNEMPLOYMENT BILL, CLASS WARFARE CONTINUES - After the House approved a moot measure to reauthorize lapsed benefits for the long-term jobless, bill sponsor Jim McDermott told HuffPost's Arthur Delaney that the Deficit V. Unemployment fight is "a class warfare issue." He said the GOP's obstruction amounts to an assault on the New Deal: "The Social Security Act of 1935 made these entitlements, Social Security and unemployment insurance and welfare," he said. "The Republicans have been after all three of those programs ever since 1935. They got welfare a few years ago, because that's poor people. They could jump on them. But unemployment and Social Security is middle-class people -- they haven't been able to get them, but it isn't because they're not willing to try." Story: http://huff.to/c3vUb5
Some Democratic lawmakers are bristling at the president's criticism of their insistence on an Afghanistan withdrawal timetable. Sam Stein reports: "On Wednesday, two of those Democrats -- Reps. Jim McGovern (D-Mass.) and Chellie Pingree (D-Maine) -- pushed back against the president's complaint that the July 2011 deadline for the beginning of troop withdrawals has become an 'obsession' among lawmakers. 'With respect to the president, it is not that we are obsessed we are just deeply concerned," said McGovern. 'I mean more and more of our men and women are dying in Afghanistan and with each passing day we read about the setbacks.'" http://huff.to/aA2UbZ
Ben Nelson announced today that he plans on running for reelection in 2012. "I'm raising money and at this point in time I think I'd have to say that I'm going to run," Nelson said on KLIN-AM radio this morning. VIA Political Wire: http://bit.ly/bMzPO4
Lynn Sweet outlines a curious court decision in Illinois that may force citizens there to vote in a two-tiered Senate election this November: "If the ruling stands, Illinois voters on Nov. 2 will have two Senate elections on the ballot: one for a new term starting in January, 2011, where the major contenders are Democrat Alexi Giannoulias and Republican Mark Kirk; the other for the 62 days left in Obama's original term. Since it takes a month to certify an election, the time in the Senate would probably be for about 30 days." http://bit.ly/dvTYgu
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ROBERT BYRD MAKES FINAL TRIP TO THE SENATE - The late West Virginia Senator's body lay in repose in the Senate today. After an honor guard carried his closed casket into the chamber, it was placed on the Lincoln Catafalque in the Senate well, where it was draped with an American flag. A bouquet of white roses sat on his empty desk, covered with a black cloth. Visitors filed in, paying their respects to the Senator and members of his family who were gathered in the chamber to receive guests. It was the first time since 1959, Byrd's first year as a United States Senator, that a deceased lawmaker received the honor. The proceedings caused the Senate to come to a screeching halt, canceling floor business and committee hearings including Elena Kagan's confirmation. Carl Hulse: http://nyti.ms/dCk872
Ed O'Keefe on some juicy procedural minutiae: "President Obama on Wednesday ordered all American flags to fly at half staff until the evening of Sen. Robert Byrd's burial, scheduled for next week. But in a twist of fate that the West Virginia Democrat -- a stickler for federal rules and procedure -- would likely relish, Obama's proclamation conflicts with elements of the Federal Flag Code. The code states that a president can order flags to half staff whenever he chooses, but it also says that Old Glory must fly at full staff on 14 specific days of the year, including Independence Day. Since Obama's proclamation conflicts with July 4th, he also ordered flags to fly at full staff on Sunday 'in honor and tribute' to Byrd, who he called 'a great patriot.'" http://bit.ly/d6Oxs2
OK, we'll bite: Chuck Schumer is going after the one cuisine even more disgusting than the Schumwich (seen here: http://bit.ly/bwG8Jz ). In an e-mail blast to reporters today, the New York senator announced his opposition to "Airline caterers that prepare food in roach-filled kitchens." He wants stiffer fines for airlines and catering companies that violate health codes and would revoke access to airports if airlines do so egregiously. Schumer's office, likely too busy tracking down pickles, did not respond to our request for comment.
LINDSEY GRAHAM PROFILE RAISING EYEBROWS - Totally not gay Senator Lindsey Graham has reiterated that he is totally not gay. In a New York Times magazine profile running this weekend, the South Carolina senator dismissed rumors about his sexuality. "I know it's really gonna upset a lot of gay men -- I'm sure hundreds of 'em are gonna be jumping off the Golden Gate Bridge," Graham said, "but I ain't available. I ain't gay. Sorry." Entire NYT story: http://nyti.ms/dmeOQQ
Graham is catching flak for saying in the Times piece that the Tea Party movement will die out. "The problem with the Tea Party, I think it's just unsustainable because they can never come up with a coherent vision for governing the country. It will die out," Graham said. Sam Stein: http://huff.to/af4fhI
If you think we're flip, check out this classic Pete Stark clip, where the California Dem sarcastically tells some Minutemen at his town hall meeting to get more guns so they can go down to the border and kill everyone. http://bit.ly/cPk2oE
Mike Huckabee will debut a new TV show on July 26th, set to air on Fox affiliates. "The Huckabee Show" will run a six-week test in seven markets including New York, Dallas and Boston. The former Arkansas governor will continue his hosting duties at his weekend program "Huckabee." http://bit.ly/bHfn4H
The federal government today launched HealthCare.gov, which aims to help citizens make sense of the new health insurance framework. Christian Science Monitor : "The website is mandated by the new law, as is its July 1 start date. It is intended to be both a one-stop-shopping site for individuals looking to see what their insurance options are, and a central repository for news and information about the health bill's rollout. 'Healthcare.gov will take some of the mystery out of shopping for health insurance,' said Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius on the White House blog Thursday morning." http://bit.ly/b5OttC
TOMORROW'S PAPERS TODAY - The Hill: Jared Allen and Bob Cusack interview Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.), who in many ways is following in the footsteps of Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.). Washington Post: Eugene Robinson on the Republican Party which, with a worldview an ant could love, should employ a slogan for November that reads: "It's all good. Except for that Obama guy. And Nancy Pelosi."
JEREMY THE INTERN'S WEATHER REPORT - I feel like I'm in Southern California. Tonight: Good luck finding a cloud (no, vapor trails don't count). High 60s. Tomorrow: It'll barely touch the 80s. This might be the most pleasant week we've seen in a long time. Thanks, JB!
- The 100 greatest movie insults of all time. http://bit.ly/9Fklx7
- This prehistoric whale was SO HUGE that it ate other whales. http://n.pr/c06N9D
- Cruel and unusual: BP's offices will be serenaded by 100 Vuvuzelas in protest of the company's activities. http://bit.ly/cmORCc
- The department of redundancy department proudly presents: A collection of (especially) geeky Star Wars costumes. http://bit.ly/dBhSof
- A volcanic eruption from space. http://bit.ly/ubFXG
- From the makers of Guitar Hero... Vuvuzela Hero. http://bit.ly/cVYGAJ
- Some retro products that never quite caught on. http://huff.to/9RzE10
@carriedann: Thanks, Draper & Sen. Graham, for prompting me to spend time today mentally assigning Star Wars characters to members of Sen. Armed Services
@chrislhayes: BREAKING: Obama positions himself in the sensible center of contentious debate, acknowledges arguments on both sides.
@StephenAtHome: if you google "google" do you go into an infinite loop? is there something about it on yahoo answers?
@kingsthings: There are lots of things I can do now, but at the top of the list is getting a tattoo & a motorcycle. What's something you'd never do?
@AndrewWK: HAPPY CANADA DAY! In all my adventures, I've been shown over and over that NO ONE PARTIES HARDER THAN CANADIANS!
TONIGHT: Xavier Becerra discussed President Obama's immigration initiative on Ratigan. Jack Kingston and Richard Trumka appear on Hardball. Debbie Stabenow , Chris Van Hollen and Brian Bilbray talk to Chris Hays, who is subbing for Schultz. Arianna discusses health care with Olbermann. Our own media watchdog Jason Linkins talks to Maddow.
6:30 pm: Even with Strasburg, a Nationals game isn't worth $1,500. Wally Herger (R-Calif.) and Tom Price (R-Ga.) host a campaign function at the Nats versus Mets game [Nationals Park, 1500 South Capitol Street SE].
6:30 pm: The Phillips Collection will stage a dramatic reading of "Art," Yasmina Reza's Tony award winning play about the tyranny of subjectivity... or something [The Phillips Collection, 1600 21st Street NW].
8:00 pm: Islands, who we love, perform at Black Cat. They are joined by Active Child and the Steel Phantoms [Black Cat, 1811 14th Street NW].
8:00 pm: Brooklyn alt-pop group Sleigh Bells performs at Rock and Roll Hotel. They are joined by Nerve City and Po Po [Rock and Roll Hotel, 1353 H St NE].
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