POLITICS
12/17/2010 06:37 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

HUFFPOST HILL - Saturday Votes Preview

What do Bangladeshi sleeping bags and Bob Corker have in common? Apparently a lot, as both are holding up votes in the Senate. While Jeff Sessions' fears about South Asian textiles stalled a trade bill, Corker threatened to sink DADT repeal and the DREAM ACT unless Democrats call off their START treaty vote. Over in the House, reps one-upped their 9-11-responder-screwing Senate brethren by voting down an anti-child marriage bill and asking if they can mail in their votes. Happy weekend...except for those of you in the Senate, in which case sorry!. This is HUFFPOST HILL for Friday, December 17th, 2010:

DREAM ACT VOTE PREVIEW - Elise Foley: "Going into the DREAM Act vote tomorrow, it still looks unlikely that the bill will squeeze past 60 votes. The bill has about 52 sure "yes" votes, including Republicans Richard Lugar and Bob Bennett. Advocates are hoping some as-of-yet undecided Dems and moderate Republicans will come around, too. Advocates are targeting senators from states with large Latino populations -- George LeMieux, that means you -- and Republicans who supported the bill before. Orrin Hatch, the bill's original sponsor, and 2007 advocate John McCain won't budge on their opposition. But Sam Brownback, Susan Collins, Kay Bailey Hutchison and Olympia Snowe -- all of whom supported the bill in 2007 -- theoretically could. Then Dems would just need to convince a couple more of their own...OK, fine, it probably won't pass."

DADT LOOKING STRONG - Democrats feel like they have the 60 votes to break a GOP filibuster of the Don't Ask, Don't Tell repeal. Watch the tally start to rise once they get to 60 and the desk asks, "Are there any members who haven't voted or who wish to change their vote to be on the right side of history?".... See what we did there?

HOUSE MEETING NEXT WEEK - Wah wahhhhhh. After the omnibus was unceremoniously killed yesterday, the House today passed a three-day CR to fund the government past tomorrow's cutoff. Reports from the House indicate that there were boos in the chamber when Steny Hoyer made the announcement (likely from lame duck Gene Taylor who was so jazzed to get the eff out of there that he actually went rogue and filed a motion to adjourn yesterday...a motion that practically no one voted for).

SENATE DEMS TALK FILIBUSTER REFORM - Senate Dems had their second major caucus on reforming Senate rules this afternoon. "It isn't like a vision is thoroughly laid out and everybody is ready to roll, but what had to happen now is a major conversation," Jeff Merkley, a leader in the effort, told HuffPost Hill. The pace had better quicken, however, because the reform vote must be the first of the next session or else it requires 67 votes. "The deadline is what's--otherwise everything gets pushed down the road." Merkley said Dems were in consensus that 51 votes would be enough to change the rules.

Amanda Terkel: "Tom Udall, who has been joining Merkley in the attempt to reform Senate rules, told HuffPost that three proposals for changes to Senate rules are gaining support: 1) No longer allow senators to filibuster the motion to proceed and instead allow a set amount of time for debate, 2) end secret holds, and 3) stop filibustering senators from hiding behind quorum calls and force them to speak up if they're blocking a bill. 'This is a two-step process,' said Udall. 'The first step is that we need to recognize that under the Constitution, we can...adopt rules with 51 votes and also cut off debate on rules that we want to adopt with 51 votes. ... The second step is building the consensus with 51 senators on what they want to actually be in the rules. ... And that's the tough business we're in right now.'"

OBAMA JOINED BY MCCONNELL FOR TAX BILL SIGNING, REID AND PELOSI NO SHOWS - This afternoon the president, flanked by top administration officials and a smattering of oh-hell-why-not types from Congress, signed the controversial tax cut/jobless benefits bill. Despite weeks of attacks from both sides of the aisle it ultimately passed by wide margins in both the House and Senate. In a not-too-subtle gesture of their disapproval, Harry Reid, Nancy Pelosi and John Boehner opted not to join the president. Obama was instead joined by, among others, Joe Biden, Mitch McConnell, Dick Durbin, Tim Geithner and Hilda Solis. Short of holding the signing in a row boat, accompanied only by Mike Enzi and and an empty paper towel tube, the photo op couldn't have been any lamer.

SO WHY DID ALL THOSE REPUBLICANS BLOCK THE 9-11 RESPONDERS BILL, ANYWAY? - Amidst all of the hubbub over DADT repeal, the tax cut compromise and the omnibus bill (RIP), very few outlets paid much mind to the fact that Senate Republicans FREAKING TORPEDOED A BILL GRANTING HEALTH BENEFITS TO 9-11 RESPONDERS ARE YOU %@#$#@ SERIOUS???? Anyway, we've been curious as to why exactly these trailblazing that-guy-at-the-Thanksgiving-tables voted down the thing that ranks with non-binding resolutions honoring the contributions of Jackie Robinson and IHOP to American society on the scale of congressional no-brainers. "I signed a letter saying we need to be focusing on what we're doing right now. "Plus that was more spending that was not offset," John Ensign said, referencing a pledge not to pass anything until the tax cut bill was voted on. "I wanted to get to other items," said Sam Brownback, before adding that he was out of town. Orrin Hatch, God bless him, didn't even remember how he voted. [HuffPost]

Then there was this delightful exchange between Jake Tapper and Robert Gibbs today: "TAPPER: Can you talk about the failure of the legislation for the 9/11 First Responders to pass? That was held up in the Senate, and I haven't really heard the White House say much about it. GIBBS: Well, look, we -- look, I think the -- if I'm not mistaken -- is this for a vote today or a previous vote? TAPPER: A previous vote. GIBBS: Yeah, I think, if I'm not mistaken, Senator Reid has filed cloture on a number of things to vote on before the end of the year and before the end of the session. Obviously he filed a cloture on "Don't Ask, Don't Tell." TAPPER: Right. GIBBS: That will be tomorrow, as will the DREAM Act, and, I believe, also the 9/11 bill. And the White House is supportive of all those pieces of legislation. TAPPER: If I could just follow up -- GIBBS: Mm-hmm. TAPPER: -- with you. I haven't really heard the White House say much about it, though. I know you've had a lot of other things that you're pushing in terms of the new tax deal, the omnibus bill, "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," but is it -- GIBBS: I think -- let me check it out. I mean, I think we've set up a statement of support, a prior administration position, and we are supportive of the legislation." Ouch [ABC News]

MCCAIN COMPLAINS SENATE IS "FOOLING AROUND" BY TAKING UP FIRST-RESPONDER BILL, DREAM Act - John McCain on the floor Friday evening, employing the same indignation he does when one of his grandkids tapes over his "stories": "This is one of the really seminal aspects of whether the United States Senate is going to ratify this treaty or not. To have a time agreement after all of the fooling around that we've been doing on DREAM Act, on New York City, on all of these other issues that's taken up our time." Frank Lautenberg was quick to call McCain's remark "shocking," demonstrating that Frank Lautenberg has not been listening much to John McCain on the floor lately. Schumer, too, lit up McCain: "With all due respect, when these first responders rushed to Ground Zero without any concern about their personal safety, they weren't 'fooling around.' When Senator Gillibrand and I push this bill so that protect our heroes who have fallen ill, we aren't 'fooling around.' All we're asking is that the medical problems--the cancers and other illnesses that came about because of the glass and debris that lodged in their lungs when they rushed to service--be treated. Just as we treat our veterans."

PARANOID SELF-LOATHING GOP LOBBYIST'S NEW YEAR'S RESOLUTION FOR THE PROFESSIONAL LEFT - Our favorite Paranoid Self-Loathing GOP Lobbyist, tired of steel-reinforcing his gingerbread house, has a resolution for the Professional Left in today's installment of PSLGOPL's New Year's Resolutions For Other People. On the sixth day of Christmas, PSLGOPLNYRFOP said to me: "The Professional Left should keep pissing in Robert Gibbs' Wheaties. Absolutely nothing gives me more pleasure than watching them piss him off." And a partridge in a pear tree! And a Merry Socialist Solstice to you, PSLGOPL!

Jobless saved or screwed by tax deal? - Advocates for the jobless are divided on whether a deal reauthorizing emergency benefits for a full year has saved or screwed the unemployed. "This legislation will push struggling American families off their last lifelines during the worst recession since the Great Depression just to give tax breaks to the super rich," said Jim McDermott. More succinctly, from David Wu: "Screwed again." [HuffPost]

Here's how House leadership settled on the estate tax for the only amendment to the tax cuts deal: [HuffPost]

DAILY DELANEY DOWNER - Republican obstruction of the omnibus bill is bad news for child care and Head Start programs, which received $1 billion each from the stimulus bill in 2009. The omnibus had a $681 million increase for child care and a $841 million increase for Head Start. "If we lose this money it's just a disaster for kids and families," said Helen Blank of the Children's Defense Fund. HuffPost Hill is surprised that money made it through the Summerslam Slaughter of Programs for Poor People, which saw the demise of a welfare-to-work program, subsidies for laid off workers to continue their health insurance, $25 a week from every unemployment check, and future funds for food stamps. :(

DUNCE CAP FOR ORRIN HATCH - Orrin Hatch said this week that extended unemployment insurance "is well over 100 weeks now," making him the latest millionaire member of Congress to publicly demonstrate that he does not understand the unemployment legislation he obstructs. Jesus Christ, Congress. Hatch also made the following unintentionally glorious statement about why Democrats have such an advantage on the unemployment insurance issue: "They know they have an advantage because nobody wants to have people suffer, or continue to suffer, and unemployment insurance is one way we alleviate that suffering." Thanks, Orrin! [HuffPost]

Our very own Jason Linkins has a short play being featured in this year's Klecksography. It's a collection of short plays depicting holiday horror stories. At Flashpoint tomorrow at 7 and 9 and Sunday at 3 and 5

Chris Matthews, after gushing over Kirsten Gillibrand, told Jared Polis tonight: "You're so cool."

Don't be bashful: Send tips/stories/photos/events/fundraisers/job movement/juicy miscellanea to huffposthill@huffingtonpost.com. Follow us on Twitter - @HuffPostHill

CORKER: VOTE ON START AND DADT AND DREAM ARE DUNZO - The Republicans are running a really principled offense this lame duck, no? Greg Sargent: "In an interview with me just now, Senator Bob Corker doubled down on his contention that if Dems move on DADT, Republicans will be less likely to support START. 'I felt like momentum was growing for START,' Corker said, adding that since Reid announced he was holding votes on DADT and DREAM it has had a 'chilling effect.' 'I'm watching support for the treaty erode, because of highly partisan political issues being brought up solely because activist groups in the Democratic Party want this done,' he continued." [WaPo]

MOODY'S THROAT-PUNCHES IRELAND - Zach Carter: "As rating agency moves go, this was pretty big. Even as the European Union worked out a long-term bailout facility and cheered Ireland's draconian austerity efforts, Moody's savaged the country's debt rating with a five-notch downgrade. Ireland is now just a couple of notches above junk. Nobody really believes in rating agencies anymore, but nobody really believes in the Irish economy, either. On the plus side, creditors of failed Irish megabanks still haven't lost a dime. Traders would have freaked out about it, but they were all in Bermuda, kicking it with their environmentally toxic fake Christmas trees.

LIEBERMAN TO MEET WITH DSCC CHAIR - National Journal is reporting that Patty Murray, chair of the Democrats' Senate campaign operation, is already starting to make recruitment moves. Who is she reaching out to? A charismatic, multiracial district attorney? An enthusiastic, reform-minded freshman or sophomore House member? A veteran of the Afghanistan war who has channeled his frustration about the government's misguided policies into positive social change? Oprah? Errrr...Joe Lieberman. "Sen. Joe Lieberman (I) said he plans to meet with DSCC chair Patty Murray (D) 'at her request.' Lieberman said he and Murray had a brief conversation early on 12/15. Lieberman: 'She said, 'I want to sit down and talk with you soon.' ... We just had that exchange earlier today.'" Or maybe she's telling him to screw off? [National Journal]

IS JON KYL ON HIS WAY OUT? - Manu Raju and John Bresnahan are reporting that the Senate's most railroad tycoon-y member might not run for reelection in 2012 (seriously, just look at the guy, we feel like he'd be more at home in a grainy daguerreotype, wearing a brass-buttoned three-piece suit, hand firmly tucked in-between the buttons of his pinstriped vest), leading to a potential shakeup in the party's leadership structure. "Back home, the current head of the Arizona Republican Party doesn't think Kyl will run again, and there are few signs on the ground that he is gearing up for a fourth term. Kyl has not yet activated his political organization, and he hasn't initiated major fundraising efforts. Kyl reported just $620,000 in cash on hand in his campaign fund at the end of September, according to Federal Election Commission records. But GOP senators and party operatives caution that Kyl would easily win if he runs and could very quickly raise the millions of dollars he would need." [Politico]

HOUSE VOTES DOWN ANTI-CHILD MARRIAGE BILL - Amanda Terkel: "On Thursday, the House took up the International Protecting Girls by Preventing Child Marriage Act of 2010. The bill would ensure that child marriage is recognized as a human rights violation, and develop comprehensive strategies to prevent such marriages around the world. The legislation seemed likely to garner strong bipartisan support in Congress, and in the Senate, it did. But last night, the bill was voted down (on suspension) in the House by Republicans who argued the bill is too costly and could lead to increased abortions -- gripes the measure's supporters say have no basis in reality and are just excuses to kill the popular bill." [HuffPost]

BECAUSE YOU'VE READ THIS FAR - A hippie dad decided to play some Bon Jovi for his baby. Baby kinda freaked out. [http://bit.ly/gI6L1g]

His filter must have been located in that mullet he chopped off: "Outgoing Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty didn't even hesitate...'If I would have known then what I know now,' the Republican lamented, and 'given what I've been through and hoped to accomplish, but that (the DFL-controlled Legislature) blocked. But you can't predict the future. And of course, I made my decision after the 2008 election when President Obama and the Democrats swept everything. I looked at that and (decided against) having to go over there and ram heads with (DFL Sen. Larry) Pogemiller and (DFL Rep. Margaret Anderson) Kelliher and their like. (There was a) high probability of that. Hindsight is 20/20.'" [Duluth News Tribune]

POLIFACT LIE OF THE YEAR: "GOVERNMENT TAKEOVER OF HEALTHCARE" - Sleaziest adult film producer. Most disruptive Microsoft Windows illegal operation. Most self-indulgent tweeter. Worst choreographer in Branson, Missouri. Every segment of American society has its own dubious superlative. The fact checker run by the St. Petersburg Times has just unveiled the political lie of the year and this year's champion, no surprise, is the health reform package passed earlier this year constitutes a "government takeover of healthcare." Bill Adair and Angie Drobnic Holan: "PolitiFact reporters have studied the 906-page bill and interviewed independent health care experts. We have concluded it is inaccurate to call the plan a government takeover because it relies largely on the existing system of health coverage provided by employers. It's true that the law does significantly increase government regulation of health insurers. But it is, at its heart, a system that relies on private companies and the free market. Republicans who maintain the Democratic plan is a government takeover say that characterization is justified because the plan increases federal regulation and will require Americans to buy health insurance. But while those provisions are real, the majority of Americans will continue to get coverage from private insurers. And it will bring new business for the insurance industry: People who don"t currently have coverage will get it, for the most part, from private insurance companies." [PoliFact]

Parliamentary FAIL: Speaker pro tempore: For what purpose does the gentleman from Washington rise? Jim McDermott: Mr. Speaker, my question is, if we take one of these green cards and sign it and have it sent back by certified mail, would that be acceptable as a vote in the house? it's more than 1,000 miles from the capitol. Speaker pro tempore: the gentleman has not stated a parliamentary inquiry.

"Sen. Jeff Sessions on Friday continued to block passage of a key trade law over his demands that the bill include an earmark that would only help an Alabama sleeping-bag company compete with Bangladeshi manufacturers." [Roll CAll]

Le Pwn3d: "It was meant to be an effort to plug Twitter users into the conversation at the summit of European power. Instead it ended in very public embarrassment.
European Union officials fell into a trap after scrolling tweets from the social networking site on big screens at a meeting of EU leaders in Brussels this week. Twitter users saw opportunity and used keywords to post tweets Thursday mocking scandals involving Italy's Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi. The tweets quickly disappeared from the screens, though appeared again Friday. An EU official said scrolling the tweets is a pilot project, one of the EU's many Twitter-related projects." [AP]

JEREMY THE INTERN'S WEATHER REPORT - Tonight: Crisp and clear. From a high of about 25, it'll fall to about freezing. Saturday: Crisp, but cloudy, above freezing. A small chance of snow showers in the late evening Sunday: Cloudy, with rain possible in the morning. Temps still cold. Sweater-weather! Thanks, JB!

COMFORT FOOD

- This Muppet video espouses love and goodwill toward men. Now say "STD" to yourself and then watch it. [http://bit.ly/eqqOTe]

- This dude wears inflatable latex clothing. This dude found a wife. What a wonderful world. [http://bit.ly/hy2G7T]

- So we're going to share this video for the iPad app Flipboard not because it's funny but because it isn't. Is it just us or does this feel like an SNL digital short if the entire crew had been lobotomized? [http://bit.ly/hkBBY9]

- Cat eating a cupcake. Thank you, Internet, [target="_hplink">http://bit.ly/eMKPyN]

- Marching band forms a stick figure that kicks a marching band football through a marching band [target="_hplink">http://bit.ly/eMKPyN]http://huff.to/fu76Tr

- "Sharks Wary of Drunk Serbs" [http://bit.ly/hOdh8m]

- In the 1980s everyone thought Japan would overtake the U.S. as the world's greatest economic power. Then it started directing its attention to this urinal-themed arcade game and everything when south. [http://bit.ly/aOpMrU]

- It also went south when it tried to turn this guy's face into a drumkit [http://bit.ly/fsdrVr]

- Thing you would do with a billion dollars #5234 "[http://bit.ly/eog7qd]

TWITTERAMA

@dceiver: Huff Post Hill thanks The Exchange for their wifi in our time of fire-alarms. http://yfrog.com/h0ynzdvj

@aburnspolitico: now will @HughJidette give the race another look? RT @jmartpolitico As expected, fmr RNC Chair Mike Duncan will NOT run for chair.

@mikedebonis: E-mail says enhanced security at tomorrow's Hoyas game! Does Obama REALLY want to see Loyola Baltimore?

THE TUBE

TONIGHT: JULIAN ASSANGE (bum bum BUMMMM) is interviewed by Katie Couric on Evening News. James Clyburn, Sherrod Brown and Dennis Kucinich are on The Ed Show.

SUNDAY SHOWS

Meet the Press: Joe Biden, Cory Booker.

Face the Nation: Carl Levin, Lindsey Graham, Jeff Sessions, Amy Klobuchar.

This Week: John Kerry, Richard Lugar, Rajiv Shah.

Fox News Sunday hosts Sen. Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Minority Whip Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.) and Gov. Bob McDonnell (R-Va.).

ON TAP

All Weekend, 6:00pm - 8:30 pm: Experience a national treasure doing its best Light Brite impression. The National Zoo is adorned with thousands of LED lights. Go now while snow is still on the ground for extra seasonal magic [National Zoo, 3001 Connecticut Ave NW].

TONIGHT

6:15 pm - 7:15 pm: Arlington Cinema and Drafthouse screens It's A Wonderful Life featuring oodles of holiday-themed drink deals and costume contests (4 free movie passes to anyone dressed in holiday or IAWL attire) [Arlington Cinema and Drafthouse, 2903 Columbia Pike, Arlington].

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