Tom Coburn's goatee may shield him from the snow but it can't insulate him against the icy attitudes on the Hill. Irate progressive Democrats delayed the tax cut vote to late tonight so they could record their displeasure via electronic device. Capitol police were having a perfectly nice day until they had to apprehend some jerkwad with a gun. And absolutely no one was amused when wannabe Jerry Maguire Gene Taylor pulled a "WHO'S COMIN' WITH ME?" on the House floor. This is HUFFPOST HILL for Thursday, December 16th, 2010:
HOUSE VOTING ON TAX COMPROMISE TONIGHT - Late, late tonight (tomorrow?), the House will take up an amendment to slightly reduce the estate tax portion of the Obama-GOP tax cut deal. It could pass, depending on how hard leadership whips Blue Dogs. If it does, Republicans say the deal is broken and they'll bolt on final passage, meaning Democrats would need to pass it on their own. If they do, the game of chicken heads back to the Senate. If they don't, who knows what happens next. After several hours of recess, Rules Committee Chair Louise Slaughter said members will be allowed to vote against the underlying bill even if an amendment to the bill's estate-tax provision is approved. Previously, if the estate-tax amendment carried, the entire bill would have gone to the Senate immediately without another vote on final approval. Several Democrats who supported the amendment but not the overall package had objected to being forced to vote the same way on both items.
"I think the issue will be voted on tonight and I think hopefully before midnight," John Larson tells HuffPost Hill. "The question is whether it will pass amended or unamended -- that will be a very close vote."
CORE DEMOCRATIC PRINCIPLES - A Democratic member of Congress who opposes President Obama's tax cut deal with congressional Republicans says the deal is fundamentally unfair because it gives two years of tax cuts for the rich in exchange for just one year of extra help for the jobless. "The core concept is fairness. And it seems that fairness means an equitable matchup of the length of time in the tax proposal and the unemployment insurance proposal," Rep. David Wu (D-Ore.) told HuffPost on Thursday. "To me, it is a core Democratic value to have the benefits for folks who are trying to hold onto their apartments, or hold onto their car, or hold on to their health insurance, that they benefit concurrently with folks benefiting from the tax provisions."
RON WYDEN DIAGNOSED WITH PROSTATE CANCER - The Oregon senator announced this afternoon that he has been diagnosed with early stage prostate cancer and will be undergoing surgery this coming Monday. In a statement released by his office, Wyden made clear that while his doctors expect a "full and speedy" recovery, he will likely "be missing votes tomorrow and possibly next week while I prepare and undergo this procedure." In a Senate from another time, a member of the minority would pair his vote with Wyden and abstain so his cancer didn't influence the overall tally. Not only was that a different universe, but that was also before there was a firm 60 needed for everything, so a Republican not voting is now meaningless. Wyden's absence makes getting 60 for DADT or the budget that much harder.
VIRGINIA HEALTH CARE JUDGE BRAGS OF "20 YEARS OF ACTIVE SERVICE TO THE REPUBLICAN PARTY" A copy of Judge Henry Hudson's self-published (of course) memoir, called Quest for Justice, shows Hudson to be an unremarkable, media-chasing paleo-Tea Partier with a wildly outsized sense of importance who failed in Hollywood, radio and TV before settling on a judgeship. (Hudson is the federal judge who ruled the individual mandate in health care reform unconstitutional, while making an elementary logical error that undermined his decision.) When Ronald Reagan came to Virginia to speak, Hudson was one of the marginal pols on the side of the stage who got mentioned. In his book, which Media Matters scored a copy of and will publish a report on tomorrow, it becomes this: "President Reagan briefly explained how I had successfully used Virginia's obscenity laws to shut down all the adult bookstores in Arlington. Everyone nodded and smiled with apparent approval. He closed by commending me for my extraordinary work." When a seat on a pornography panel came open, Hudson writes: "My visceral reaction was to jump at the opportunity. It would undoubtedly be a high visibility post, giving me national exposure."
Harry Reid: "We are in session, if necessary, up to January 5th."
CUMMINGS WINS STEERING COMMITTEE VOTE FOR OVERSIGHT - Fans of crippling identity politics are getting a doozy this week. About two years after her Senate ambitions were squashed when a much less experienced (but much more upstate-y) Kirsten GIllibrand was named Hillary Clinton's replacement, Manhattan Rep. Carolyn Maloney (known to readers of yesterday's newsletter as "Cayolyn Maloney") is once again the victim of demographics. Democrats on the Steering Committee voted to name Elijah Cummings the panel's next ranking member, despite Maloney's seniority (she's the number two and has Ed Towns' backing; Cummings is the number three). A number of House Democrats were concerned that the current chairman, Ed Towns, wasn't up to going toe-to-toe with Darrell Issa. And the CBC didn't want to lose a gavel, while some Democrats objected to pushing a woman aside for another man, especially after Debbie Wasserman Schultz -- the heir-apparent to the DCCC -- was passed over for Steve Israel. The full caucus could still reverse Steering's vote to give it to Maloney, and a Maloney spokesman said she fully intends to take the fight to the entire caucus.
How bummed was Wasserman Schultz after not getting the DCCC gig? "The Speaker made her choice," says her flack Jonathan Beeton.
SHULER SCORES LEADERSHIP VICTORY, IF NOT TOUCHDOWNS - Heath Shuler may not have been able to take down Pelosi in his race for minority leader, but the one-time middling quarterback won election to represent his area of the country on the steering and policy committee. Rosa DeLauro and George Miller will co-chair again in the 112th, with Wasserman Schultz and Henry Cuellar as vice chairs. The regionally elected members joining Shuler: Linda Sanchez, Mazie Hirono, Betty McCollum, Bobby Rush, Rick Larsen, Sheila Jackson Lee, John Barrow, Jim Moran, Marcy Kaptur, Jerry Nadler and Niki Tsongas. Appointed: Robert Andrews, Bruce Braley of Iowa, Kathy Castor of Florida, Mike Doyle of Pennsylvania, Keith Ellison of Minnesota, Gabrielle Giffords of Arizona, Zoe Lofgren of California, Gwen Moore of Wisconsin, Jared Polis of Colorado, Collin Peterson of Minnesota, Allyson Schwartz of Pennsylvania, Jackie Speier of California, and Tim Walz of Minnesota.
DAILY DELANEY DOWNER - Here's a letter from an unemployed person whose benefits just lapsed thanks to congressional dithering. The person asked her name not be used. I have been unemployed since January of 2010, laid off from a job I held for 15 years. I am in my last week of unemployment benefits in Washington State. I was supposed to have EUC until January 15, but Washington State apparently miscalculated my benefits and they are gone two weeks before Christmas. This is one time in my life that I am glad that my husband and I don't have children. We have no Christmas Tree and no presents. I can't bring myself to dig out any decorations, or listen to Christmas music. I am unable to purchase any presents for our nieces and nephews, parents or siblings. I cried when a friend sent us a $100 grocery gift card, it will feed us for almost a month if I stretch it and combine it with pantry goods. I can't watch television, it all makes me cry, every time I see a Lexus commercial I just want to scream. I don't want to go out anywhere because I feel resentful of all the people spending money and buying Christmas gifts. A trip to Target just about sent me over the edge the other day. That's what unemployment has done to my Christmas.
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SENATE REACHES 60 VOTE MARK FOR DADT REPEAL - Pro repeal activists now say they have mustered the votes necessary to pass the standalone Don't Ask, Don't Tell repeal green-lit by the House yesterday. Whether or not Joe Manchin votes against the measure (he did so when it was attached to the defense authorization bill) and even if Ron Wyden misses the vote due to his surgery, Democrats have the votes. Lisa Murkowski, Susan Collins, Olympia Snowe and Scott Brown have all signaled their support. Scott Brown said the other day that he needed time to scrutinize the bill, the language of which was directly lifted from the authorization bill. Apparently he found some time. At a press conference today Harry Reid said he doesn't know whether he will bring the bill up before Christmas.
You've come a long way from "man on dog," Pennsylvania Republicans: @FixAaron: GOP Sen.-elect Pat Toomey says he supports DADT repeal.
GENE TAYLOR CAN'T TAKE IT ANYMORE: MOVED TO ADJOURN HOUSE - The veteran Mississippi rep, who lost his bid for reelection to Republican Steven Palazzo last month, today offered a motion to adjourn the House for the year. It failed. Had the vote passed (and although our eyes weren't turned to C-SPAN for the vote, we're pretty sure the final tally was 14 for, 4,253 against...or there abouts), the House would not have voted on any number of last minute pieces of legislation including the tax cut compromise. HuffPost Hill spotted a rather despondent looking Taylor at the Tune Inn the other night so perhaps the Senioritis was just becoming too much to handle.
Four of the 38 judges on the Senate calendar were cleared today: Catherine Eagles, Kimberly Mueller, John Gibney and James Bredar.
INCOMING ENERGY AND COMMERCE CHAIR HOSTS INDUSTRY FUNDRAISER - We understand that "lawmaker in position of influence attends fundraiser hosted by organization with agenda at odds with the public interest" stories have an in-one-ear-out-the-other effect on you insider-y types. We get that these pieces have about as much impact on you as "don't give your kid that pancake/sausage corn dog" and "placing a laptop on your groin will render you impotent" ones do on the public at large. Still: "All but a couple of the 30 hosts listed on the invitation to Fred Upton's, R-Mich., "Friends of Fred Happy Hour" are lobbyists with interests before the committee. Five of the hosts (Gregg Hartley, Tim McKone, Charlie Black, Daniel Mattoon and Tim McGivern) lobby for AT&T; four lobby for Comcast (Jeff MacKinnon, Susan Hirschmann, Ken Duberstein and Sam Lancaster); and three more (former deputy energy secretary Kyle McSlarrow, MacKinnon and Hirschmann) count the National Communications and Telecommunications Association (NCTA) as a client. All of these groups are key players in the net neutrality debate." [Sunlight Foundation]
Upton today announced his deputies and subcommittee chairs who will help him carry out his nefarious agenda to limit your browser access to the GO network and monsanto.com's addictive flash games. Sue Myrick will serve as vice-chair. Greg Walden will chair the communications and technology subcommittee (see Twitterama). Joe Pitts will chair the health subcommittee. Mary Bono Mack will chair the commerce, manufacturing and trade subcommittee. And Cliff Stearns will chair the oversight and investigations subcommittee. Upton also announced that he is splitting the energy and environment into two separate committees. The energy and power subcommittee -- which we're guessing will advance issues detrimental to the environment -- will be chaired by Ed Whitfield and the environment and the economy subcommittee -- which we're guessing will advance issues even more detrimental to the environment -- will be chaired by John Shimkus.
PORKING FROM THE GREAT BEY-O-O-O-ND - You can have your honeybee research centers and French horn museums. Save for a last-minute allocation of funds for the Casper Foundation For Reanimation, this is the most novel earmark we've heard of recently. "The John P. Murtha Foundation, initiated after the 18-term appropriator's Feb. 8 death, is in line to get a $10 million earmark for the Murtha Center for Public Service at the University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown...The earmark's sponsors, according to Fox News with an h/t to PoliticsPA, are Rep. Mark Critz (the former district director for Murtha who now holds his seat), Philly Reps. Chaka Fattah and Robert Brady, longtime fellow defense appropriator Rep. Jim Moran, D-Va., and Rep. Tim Ryan, D-Ohio, a neighbor and regular in Murtha Corner." [Post-Gazette]
'The Maple Syrup Research Industry Fires Back At John McCain': "The syrup-research expenditure made ranked fifth on McCain's list of the ten most egregious wastes of money in the omnibus bill -- a surefire example of the pure backwardness of the appropriators in Congress. 'This is a lifeline,' Tim Perkins, the director of the Proctor Maple Research Center at the University of Vermont, told The Huffington Post, 'not only for Vermont, but for all of the maple industry.'" [Primetime Sam Stein]
WELCOME TIM O'BRIEN - Tell us pretty things, Michael Calderone: "The Huffington Post, which recently hired New York Times economic correspondent Peter Goodman, has returned to the Gray Lady to poach another veteran journalist: Sunday Business editor Timothy L. O'Brien. O'Brien joins The Huffington Post in the newly created position of National Editor, where he'll oversee a team of reporters across politics and culture. He'll also work with Goodman, the site's Executive Business Editor, in business coverage and plans to write features and columns." Hooray! [Yahoo]
HUFFINGTON POST UNVEILS HUFFPOST HILL PRO - The Huffington Post today announced the launch of HuffPost Hill PRO, a daily subscription service for beltway insiders. "HuffPost Hill PRO will revolutionize the way business is done on Capitol Hill," Huffington Post Executive Editor Nico Pitney said. "Subscribers will receive an evening alert featuring the latest dog fart videos, misinformed weather reports and unmatched reporting on marijuana legalization initiatives in Lakewood, Washington." Added Vice President for Media Relations Mario Ruiz: "While HuffPost Hill subscribers will still enjoy the no-cost service at 6:44 pm every evening, HufPost Hill PRO subscribers will receive stream-of-consciousness satire of, and occasional updates on, mildly fascinating parliamentarian minutia, legislative deal-making and insights from schizophrenic GOP government relations professionals slightly earlier. In a city where news travels at the speed of now, HuffPost Hill PRO's somewhat clever team of reporters will provide readers with news a little before they would normally feel like it. We are very excited for this new product."
@llerer somehow finagled an invite to Mayor-For-Life Marion Barry's Holiday Bash tonight. If you're looking for a good time, it'll be at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Catholic Church (Panorama Room)
The Capitol complex was temporarily locked down this morning when an armed man was detained near the Capitol building. The lockdown lasted only a minute and reports indicate the individual was apprehended by the time the lockdown order was given. Thankfully everyone was alright and we will make sure to completely exaggerate our involvement in this story for our relatives over the holiday.
@MatthewGagnon: Epic take down by the cops outside Dirksen. 5 seconds before officer had gun drawn. http://twitpic.com/3gh3z4
BECAUSE YOU'VE READ THIS FAR - A turtle returns to his rightful place in nature...as an alpine sports enthusiast [http://bit.ly/gPKrYr]
RICK SCOTT'S SUPER SWEET INAUGURATION - Christmas came early this week for Florida's political press as the price tag for Governor-elect Rick Scott's inauguration grew. Compounding the bad visuals are the not quite Main Street-y private benefactors who are bankrolling the thing, many of which Scott criticized during the campaign. According to the Miami Herald, Scott has $2 million stored away as of Tuesday. Top contributors include Blue Cross Blue Shield, the biggest insurer in the state and U.S. Sugar, whose nearly $200 million deal with the state for Everglades preservation Scott lambasted only months ago. [Miami Herald]
DAVID PATERSON'S ERRATIC EXIT INTERVIEWING CONTINUES - We've been OD'ing on the outgoing New York governor this week but, no matter how hard we try to stop, we can't help ourselves. First a depressed-sounding Governor Paterson told a local affiliate that the question isn't if but when New York state will run aground due to legislative gridlock. Then he perked up for Don Imus and told the shock jock that Eliot Spitzer's stealthy connoisseurship of call girls didn't interfere with his gubernatorial duties. Now the governor is insisting that Mike "No Labels" Bloomberg urged him to appoint himself senator. "I don't think that was just a private conversation. He was pretty open about that," Paterson told radio host John Gambling. "But here is what I told the mayor: Of the last ten governors who appointed themselves to the Senate, all of them lost the next time there was an election except one." [Observer]
Joe Biden: Yes, Jim DeMint, there is a Santa Claus and he wants you to shut the hell up: "Don't tell me about Christmas. I understand Christmas. I've been a senator for a long time. I've been there many years where we go right up to Christmas." [NBC News]
JEREMY THE INTERN'S WEATHER REPORT -Tonight: Everyone enjoy their dusting? Finally cone to the conclusion that no, the world will not end just because it's snowing again? Good. You all had me worried there. Expect some more of the white stuff to come through tonight, though, with a chance that it gets a bit heavier. But it still won't be that much. Tomorrow: The snow clears out, yet it will remain pretty cold. It's 50-50 whether or not we'll break freezing by mid-afternoon. Thanks, JB!
- Some people pass the time by reading. This guy dresses up in a bra, panties and Santa hat and does The Bird in public [http://bit.ly/fSzWp2]
- Yesterday we gave the wrong link to a video of Mark Whalberg establishing that he is, in fact, not you. Thanks to @torrmoz for the catch. [http://bit.ly/eKwwhp]
- Some days you feel like a nut. Some days you don't. Some days a meth head falls through the ceiling of an emergency room. Some days they don't. [http://bit.ly/gvdTpQ]
- A disgruntled ex-employee of a British department store hijacked the controls to the facade Christmas lights and made them spell out "F*ck Off." Happy Christmas! [http://bit.ly/gt1Cad]
- We've yet to determined whether "Trololo" is more or less creepy when performed by a children's choir in masks [http://bit.ly/eyNwdv]
- Putting a Dairy Queen receipt on your car windshield is not a suitable replacement for a parking stub. [http://bit.ly/fUd3Ka]
- About as do-it-yourself a bird feeder as you can find on the market[http://bit.ly/g69yKu]
- Eight candies we wish didn't exist. [http://bit.ly/huBn7T]
@Todd_Zwillich: BREAKING: White House announces mayor of Vladivostok backs ratification of #START treaty
@repgregwalden: .-- .. .-.. .-.. / -.-. .... .- .. .-. / -.-. --- -- -- / .- -. -.. / - . -.-. .... / ... ..- -... / --... ...-- ... / .-- --... . --.- ..
@TomCoburnsBeard: @chucktodd please tell white house that I do not like today's soup of the day; chili sticks to me.
6:00 pm - 8:00 pm: Third Way's holiday party will feature good, moderate fun. Not too much one way or the other. Just a pleasant time [Sonoma, 223 Pennsylvania Ave SE]
7:00 pm - 9:00 pm: iConstituent, which provide communications services for Congress, provides a different kind of service with its open bar holiday soiree [L2
Lounge, 3315 Cadey's Alley NW].
6:30 pm - 9:30 pm: The Center for American Progress holds its annual holiday fete at the 9:30 Club. Word is no one dances until John Podesta dances. Words to live by [9:30 Club, 815 V Street NW].
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