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HUFFPOST HILL - Senate Rules Reform Delayed

First Posted: 01/03/11 06:34 PM ET Updated: 05/25/11 07:20 PM ET

Huffpost Hill

Happy New Year! Our resolution to pen an anonymous biography of the president may have fallen by the wayside but that hasn't stopped us from reporting the news when we feel like getting around to it! Senate Democrats somehow delayed something that can only be done on the first day of a session. Outgoing Democrats can't seem to defend white collar criminals fast enough. And all the RNC debate taught us is that Michael Steele horse-canned his way through English Lit. This is HUFFPOST HILL for Monday, January 3rd, 2011:

GOP RULES EXEMPT COSTS OF REPEALING HEALTH CARE - House Republican rules for the 112th Congress exempt all sorts of tax cuts from any requirement that their deficit impact be offset -- including one they jarringly refer to as the "estate tax" (the wha??) -- but they specifically "exempt the budgetary effects of legislation repealing the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and the Health Care and Education Affordability Reconciliation Act of 2010."

SENATE RULES REFORM DELAYED - Sam Stein: Operatives leading the lobbying effort for Senate rules reform expect Democrats to delay consideration of the issue until late January in hopes of solidifying support for a package of fixes. It has been widely anticipated that Senate Democrats would make a dramatic attempt on the first day of Congress -- January 5 -- to reform filibuster rules. But in a brief interview with HuffPost, Shane Larson, the legislative director for the Communications Workers of America and a key principle behind the coalition pushing for rules reform, said that the date for that drama could be pushed back to the 24th. "We don't expect them to vote on this Wednesday or Thursday," said Larson. "They will not adjourn. They will recess so when they return on the 24th it will still technically be the first day of the legislative session." For technical reasons, the Senate can only amend its rules on the first day of the session and for reasons that defy science but not parliamentary rules of order, the Senate can reorder the space-time continuum to extend the first day as long as it wants. (HuffPost Hill suggests deeming that it's now February 2009 and sextupling the size of the stimulus.) [HuffPost]

STANTON ON THE HOUSE BEAT - "House Republicans are wasting no time making good on their campaign pledge to repeal President Barack Obama's health care reform law: Floor debate on repeal will begin Friday, with a final vote scheduled for Jan. 12." [Roll Call]

They're actually calling it the "Repeal of the Job Killing Health Care Law Act." Seriously.

That's the best they could do? "Law Act??" How about: The Repealing the Egregious Progressive Evil Act Law (REPEAL)...Act

LAME-DUCK DEMS SWITCH SIDES, REPUBLIC DIES A LITTLE ON INSIDE - Defeated Pennsylvania Rep. Patrick Murphy -- one of the strongest anti-DADT advocates in the 111th Congress -- will join Fox Rothschild as a partner in the firm's litigation shop. So what will this man of the people be working on at his new job? "White-collar criminal defense work," reports the Philadelphia Business Journal! Huzzah! [Philadelphia Business Journal]

Artur Davis is also getting in on this whole white collar defense thing!: The Alabama pol is joining SNR Denton as a partner in its White Collar and Government Investigations division. "Davis' focus at the firm will be on representing individual and corporate clients in criminal and civil fraud matters in a range of areas, including securities and financial crimes, public corruption and the Foreign and Corrupt Practice Act. Davis' practice will also include regulatory and governmental investigations," the firm announced in a statement.

Can a lame-duck member of the House of Representatives accept a job offer while still in office? According to the only person left in House Ethics Committee (whose primary job is to answer the phone): I can't help you. However, House Rule 27 -- created as part of the Honest Leadership and Open Government Act of 2007 -- says a congressperson may not "directly negotiate or have any agreement of future employment until after his or her successor has been elected." While the House Ethics Committee's website says it typically bars lame-duck members from "participating in matters affecting the financial interests of an entity with which the employee is 'negotiating or has any arrangement' concerning future employment," it doesn't consider "[p]reliminary or exploratory talks" -- like sending a resume -- as "negotiations." So defeated Congressman John Doe can send his resume to DLA Piper and then vote on an agreement extending upper-bracket tax cuts for two years while only extending unemployment benefits for one year. All right!

Boehner today named Kerry Kircher as general counsel for the U.S. House of Representatives; he has served as deputy general counsel for the House since 1996. If there's any bipartisan point of agreement in the House, it's that the House, the Marty McFly of the federal government, doesn't like to be pushed around.

RNC CHAIRMAN DEBATE SHOWCASES MIND-BOGGLING DOGMATISM, LITERARY IGNORANCE AND CURIOUS DRINKING HABITS - The five candidates vying for the chairmanship of the Republican National Committee assembled in Washington today to recite canned answers to disgustingly soft questions from Tucker Carlson and some other dude who for the purposes of this blurb will refer to as Pasty McWonkface to debate the merits of their candidacies. Incumbent Chairman Michael Steele defended his record and repeatedly cited Republican gains in the midterms as evidence of his executive prowess. The other candidates mostly alluded to their own accomplishments in the GOP's ranks while making vague statements about their managerial style and plan for the party. "The bigger issue is saving our country," Wisconsin Republican Party Chairman Reince Priebus said. "We can save our party along the way." The silliest moment came when the candidates were asked about their favorite books. Former Missouri Republican Party Chairwoman Ann Wagner mistakenly answered that her favorite bar is her kitchen table. She was quickly made aware of her mistake. Steele replied that Tolstoy's War and Peace is his fave and then said "it was the best of times; it was the worst of times." That's Dickens. Sam Stein has more: [HuffPost]

Politico's number-crunching indicates that a majority of RNC members oppose Steele's candidacy.

Oh yeah, the candidates were also asked how many guns they own. It got weird.. "Well I may surprise y'all," Wagner said, "but we just got new guns today for Christmas and I think there are 16 in there. Everything from pistols and a glock to shotguns, rifles..."

SCOOP!: @chucktodd Ex-Clinton Commerce Sec. Bill Daley has met w/Pres. Obama in last month and is under consideration for WH CoS. No offer has been made...Acting CoS Pete Rouse, according to sources, is also still under consideration to have the "acting" tag dropped

UNSCOOP! @chucktodd Daley news first reported by one of my favorite colleagues in the press corps, @juliannagoldman.

DAILY DELANEY DOWNER - Barbara Lee and Bobby Scott use a Jan. 1 op-ed to push their bill to give 99ers additional weeks of unemployment benefits. Valiant crusade or cruel charade? "While some may call this bill an empty gesture, in our view there is nothing 'empty' about helping hard-working Americans," they write. "We plan to push for passage of our '99er' bill into the 112th Congress. We know we have a tough road ahead, but after all, it is the season of miracles. With your support, we can help these conservative 'Grinches' grow hearts and vote to help these hard-working Americans get back on their feet. Extending unemployment benefits to buy a little more time for the '99ers' and other exhaustees is the least we can do." [Richmond Times-Dispatch]

Consumer bankruptcies up 9 percent in 2010 :( [WSJ]

BANK OF AMERICA WILL LIVE FOREVER UNTIL IT DIES - Zach Carter: "BofA has taken the foreclosure fraud reports harder than many of its brethren (oops we bought Countrywide!), but trumpeted some good news this morning: a $3 billion charge for losses on bad loans the bank sold to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. The bank spun the settlement hard (http://bit.ly/ieXDLU) as the end of all legal risks from Fannie and Freddie, and the stock market rewarded them with a 6 percent gain. It'd be big news, if it were true. GSEs have a much easier time getting their money back from megabanks than private-sector investors do, and a $3 billion GSE tab on foreclosure fraud will barely dent bonuses, much less threaten bank stability. But behind the 'nothing to see here' quotes from CEO Brian Moynihan, the bank was clearly hedging its bets. Today's deal only concerns some Countrywide loans, has nothing to do with just about anything that bank could have done wrong after selling the loans, and is loaded with enough boilerplate for the bank to take a bazillion dollars in future GSE charges. Other causes for concern? The bank has started a 'counter-espionage' effort to combat the upcoming WikiLeaks dump."

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TEAM OBAMA RESTRUCTURING FOR 2012 - Christina Bellantoni: "The Democratic National Committee's Organizing for America has started laying off staff in multiple states as the first phase of a restructuring before the official kickoff of President Barack Obama's re-election bid. A Democratic source told Roll Call that party officials started notifying employees Sunday night and that the layoffs are mostly a handful of field staffers in some states as Democrats assess where they want to fight 2012 battlegrounds. 'This is likely the first wave in a series of staff reductions as we transition for the re-elect,' the Democrat said. It was unclear how many staffers would be laid off or where they are from, but OFA had staff in all 50 states. The cuts were expected, but officials had told aides before Thanksgiving that they would all be kept on the payroll through the holiday season. OFA, which began in 2009 as a way of boosting Obama's policy initiatives at a grass-roots level across the country, will be an organization in transition this year. It is anticipated that the leaner OFA will morph into the president's re-election campaign, which is highly likely to be based out of Chicago." [Roll Call]

Find the made-up word in today's HuffPost Hill. Do it.

Craig Brownstein has a new side project: "Because DC (and America) have suffered for much too long without a gay hockey fan site - we are pleased to announce PuckBuddys. Finally a destination for boys who like boys who like hockey."

RORY REID MULLING CONGRESSIONAL RUN - If success were measured by abandoned faux-stucco McMansions and congressional representation, these would be boom times for Nevada. Even as Carolyn Maloney and Gary Ackerman suit up in the American Gladiators arena to determine who will keep their spot in New York's dwindling congressional delegation (Maloney excels at jousting but Ackerman mans the ball cannon like a champ) Rory Reid is considering a bid for the Silver State's newly-allotted third congressional district. The Las Vegas Review Journal reported this morning that the failed gubernatorial candidate, outgoing Clark County commission chairman and product of Harry Reid's loins won't confirm or deny his intentions but sources close to him believe he is strongly considering a run. [Review Journal]

@mattduss: Not The Onion: Judith Miller Criticizes Assange... For Not Verifying His Sources http://bit.ly/dI1d6H

Looks like someone wants to be labeled a "pugnacious liberal folk hero" in a New York Times profile!!!: "As Republicans prepare to take control of the House in January, Rep. Raul Grijalva is ready to fight. The 62-year-old Tucson native and unrepentant leftist was re-elected this month as co-chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, the most liberal group of lawmakers on Capitol Hill...'I'm not coming back to Congress with a new sense of caution,' said Grijalva, who survived a surprisingly close re-election campaign to win a fifth term in November. 'I haven't changed.'" [Arizona Republic]

The original "pugnacious liberal folk hero."

JERRY BROWN SWORN IN AS 39TH GOVERNOR OF CAH-LEE-FORN-YA. We still haven't internalized why someone keeps their sequential number if they serve two consecutive terms (George W. Bush was not the 43rd and 44th president) but not if they serve non-consecutive terms (Grover Cleveland was the 22nd and 24th president). Still, congratulations are in order for the 34th and 39th governor of California...or whatever he is.

"In the waning hours of his term, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger commuted the prison sentence Sunday of the son of a political ally, former Assembly Speaker Fabian Núñez, in connection with the fatal stabbing of a college student from Concord. Schwarzenegger reduced Esteban Núñez's sentence from 16 years to seven years, calling it excessive because the young man -- who pleaded guilty to charges including voluntary manslaughter -- did not personally stab the victim and had no prior criminal record." [Chronicle]

@aterkel: Rep. Mike Kelly on Fox -- asked to name spending cuts, can't pinpoint anything specific.

GOV. CUOMO TO FREEZE STATE WAGES - "New York state public employees would have their salaries frozen for one year under a deficit-cutting plan Governor Andrew Cuomo is expected to soon propose, according to Monday's New York Times. The Democratic governor in a statement said he is reducing his pay and that of some of his top aides by 5 percent." [Reuters]

BECAUSE YOU'VE READ THIS FAR - A cat dresses up as a rabbit

Nothing to see here! Everything is fine! Go back to that job you don't have! "The Dow Jones Industrial Average jumped 110 points, or 1%, to 11687. The measure hit 11695.19, its highest intraday level since August 2008, and putting it on track for its fourth gain in the last five sessions." [WSJ]

"'There's a really good chance you're going to be offended,' U.S. Navy Capt. Owen Honors (who was then his ship's executive officer) says at the start of a video shown to the 6,000 men and women of the aircraft carrier USS Enterprise. Given that the XO Movie Night video he produced included anti-gay slurs, simulated masturbation, the simulated eating of human excrement, a discussion of profanity and sexually-themed shower scenes, his prediction was pretty safe." [NPR]

JEREMY THE INTERN'S WEATHER REPORT - Alright, raise your hand if you were in New York last weekend. I I was and it was awesome. I'll grant you, snowstorms are like playing with toddlers; it's really fun while it's going on, but when you're done, the cleanup stinks. Yes, the city was at a standstill (mostly due to the fact that high winds left roads virtually unplowable, but also due to the major screwups by the sanitation department), but was it worth it to see blinding snow, whipping winds and heavy accumulation? Oh yes! Tonight: A bit boring and routine for a D.C. winter. Temperatures dip down to freezing, but otherwise clear. Tomorrow: A nice day, with temperatures in the high-40s. Thanks, JB!

COMFORT FOOD

- A beautiful photo taken from space of Western Europe at night [http://bit.ly/fMFxIt]

- A very odd, very low-affect, very misanthropic man recorded a 110-minute review of Star Wars Episode 3: Revenge of the Sith (the movie itself is 140 minutes, according to IMDB). [http://bit.ly/ihtIBh]

- Antarctic ice caves! Also a pretty fair representation of our offices. [http://bit.ly/h3btoL]

- Dog plays guitar. Audience sounds are piped in. But you stopped reading after "Dog plays guitar," didn't you? [http://bit.ly/gNBzeZ]

- "Lost Springs, Wyoming. Population: 1" [http://bit.ly/gs4eoN]

- A half dozen highly intelligent animals (including "Willow the Literate Dog!"). [http://bit.ly/hJWQv6]

- A seven-minute montage of dogs being awesome. No kidding. [http://bit.ly/gRggWK]

TWITTERAMA

@jeffmuskus: Easily the most disgusting thing I saw or ingested in Afghanistan was a Chinese energy drink infused with nicotine. Right now, I want one.

@mindyfinn: I'm telling you guys, close your eyes and Preibus is all Dana Carvey as Bush '41. #rncdebate

@pourmecoffee: For next Chief of Staff, my choice would be someone tough - either Alien or Predator. "Predator will see you now."

ON TAP

TOMORROW

7:30 pm: The GOP House leadership is inivited-- John Boehner, Eric Cantor, Kevin McCarthy and Pete Sessions -- celebrate their impending control of everything, ever. Word is Boehner isn't coming (being held in the most Republican place in the Universe: The W Hotel). Leann Rimes performs at the gala benefiting America's New Majority [W Hotel, 515 15th Street NW].

8:30 pm: Black Cat screens The Breakfast Club, the 1980s John Hughes classic depicting the only people in the universe more self-involved than our politically-inclined readership (joke!) [Black Cat, 1811 14th Street 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 Arthur Delaney (arthur@huffingtonpost.com). Follow us on Twitter @HuffPostHill (twitter.com/HuffPostHill). Sign up here: http://huff.to/an2k2e

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Filed by Eliot Nelson  |