HUFFPOST HILL - Judge Nixes Health Care Reform
If they're not closed down by Dennis Kucinich, the Capitol's cafeterias might be graced by Herb Kohl's sunny presence for another eight years. K Street revenues are down, forcing Patton Boggs to cancel its annual Helicopter polo tournament in St. Michaels. Evan Bayh is doing his best to identify with salt-of-the-Earth Americans by working a second job at a place that uses linen hand towels in the bathrooms. And Hosni Mubarak prepared his clip reel in case Two and a Half Men's producers are looking for a new lead. This is HUFFPOST HILL for Monday, January 31st, 2011:
JUDGE RULES HEALTH CARE REFORM PROVISION UNCONSTITUTIONAL, WHOLE LAW OVERTURNED - Grandmothers of America, rejoice! A panel of faceless federal bureaucrats won't be voting on your demise anytime soon! Federal district judge Roger Vinson ruled this afternoon that the individual mandate violates the Constitution and as such the whole health care reform package should be undone. "This is obviously a very difficult task. Regardless of how laudable its attempts may have been to accomplish these goals in passing the Act, Congress must operate within the bounds established by the Constitution," Vinson wrote in his ruling. The case will likely head to the Supreme Court, which is kind of a death panel in robes. Also, expect Vinson's face to be haphazardly plastered on a lot of "Don't tread on me" posters. [HuffPost]
David Axelrod in an interview with HuffPost's Sam Stein: "I'm not a lawyer, but I will tell you that I think that many lawyers are very dubious about that. The role of the courts is not to look for expansive opportunities to invalid an act of congress. It is to rule narrowly as possible and leave intact the intent of the legislation. So I'm sure that will be a matter of intense discussion and debate as this case moves forward in the courts."
@RepWiener: We know this: the public option is constitutional. #stillpissedwegaveuponthat
EGYPT UPDATE: ARMY PLEDGES NOT TO HARM PROTESTERS - The last Internet server in the country has gone down, which in a semi-autocratic regime limits communication among activists but in a democracy means no one can watch videos of panda cubs sneezing. With the opposition solidifying around Mohamed ElBaradei, the army announced today that it will not respond with force to demonstrators who have taken to the streets in defiance of a state-mandated curfew. Omar Suleiman, the newly-minted Vice President and intelligence chief said that he is ready to begin a dialogue with the opposition, although he did not elaborate on who that refers to. Laura Rozen is reporting that Suleiman and Defense Minister Hussein Tantawi are working together to facilitate a transition from Mubarak's government. [Politico]
Mark Blumenthal notes that Pew's Global Attitudes Project finds only 17 percent of Egyptians held a favorable view of the U.S. last year. Given the abundant supply of tear gas, receptive attitudes towards mosque construction in downtown urban areas and Miley Cyrus, we really don't know why they feel that way. [HuffPost]
HuffPost World compiled some interesting Mubarak protest posters from around the globe. We don't have an Arabic translator on hand so we'll just assume they say "legalize it!" and "free Mumia."
Reid gets tough on Social Security at an event with PCCC: "As long as I'm the majority leader, I'm going to do everything within my legislative powers to prevent privatizing or eliminating Social Security -- but simply say, 'It's off the table.'"
SENATE TAKING UP FAA REAUTH - The Senate is dealing with FAA reauthorization this week and aims to complete work after next week's retreat. Why we care some: There are some interesting labor fights inside the bill and others that'll play out on the Senate floor or in House-Senate fights. The Senate bill would give air-traffic controllers more collective bargaining rights and give flight attendants access to the Family and Medical Leave Act (how do they not have that already?). And then there's the Fed Ex-UPS fight, which has kept Hill papers in the black the past couple years.
The gentlemen's agreement is holding! The GOP allowed the Senate to move to the FAA bill tonight by unanimous consent and Dems will allow amendments. Last Congress, neither thing would've happened.
DAILY DELANEY DOWNER - After two years of occasional part-time work, Andrew Machlis said he finally landed an accounting gig at an L.A. startup firm in December. But that long period of underemployment is catching up with him: He said he's got a huge pile of debt and will soon have to use retirement money to maintain the mortgage. The 65 percent federal subsidy that allowed him to keep his previous employer's insurance via the COBRA program expired in October, meaning the family policy would now cost more than $1,200 -- too much. Machlis, 57, said he's shaken by how difficult it's been just to get by after 24 years as an accountant. "I'm a very diligent hard worker but for some reason other people don't want to have older workers around. I just don't have the stability I had when I was younger," he said. "I don't feel that stability, I don't feel that security, so I'm scared."
AP follows up with Bud Meyers, subject of the Jan. 14 Downer.
TONIGHT IN ROLL CALL: K STREET REVENUES STAGNANT - From Bennett Roth and Alex Knott: "For the first time in almost a decade, total lobbying revenues did not increase last year, with the recession pinching K Street budgets and major legislative initiatives such as health care reform winding down. Some of the change may be attributed to a quirk in accounting practices under which lobbying expenditures are reported, but it is also indicative of several major players scaling back their Washington influence spending last year. Total lobbying expenditures were $3.5 billion in 2010, which was a decrease of $104 million, or 2.9 percent, from the previous year, according to filings made by lobbying entities under the Lobbying Disclosure Act."
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EVAN BAYH TAKES ANOTHER SELL-OUT JOB -- YES, A SECOND SELL-OUT JOB - You know who we hate? Monopoly sore winners. You know, the people who control 90 percent of the board but STILL build hotels even as you, Baltic Avenue and the B&O Railroad slowly descend into family-friendly insolvency. Evan Bayh, it turns out, is a Monopoly sore winner. He just piles it on. Fresh off accepting a job at Apollo Global Management, the former Indiana senator has accepted a partnership at the law firm McGuireWoods LLP. Bayh will advise the firm and its consulting subsidiary as a "strategic adviser" on energy and financial regulatory issues. According to the Wall Street Journal, the firm's clients include Bank of America, Wells Fargo, BB&T, Fifth Third Bancorp, Dominion Resources and Progress Energy. "When we saw he was going to retire we knew right away that there would probably be nobody coming out of government ... who had both the breadth and depth of experience he had," the firm's Chairman Richard Cullen said to the Journal. That's some Park Place nonsense right there. [WSJ]
That Richard Cullen is indeed the other Richard Cullen's pop, if Politico or Cantor folks were wondering.
Evan Bayh's career move raises the intriguing question of whether it's even possible for him to sell out. We figure if traders can short commodities they don't own, then Bayh can short himself.
THIS IS HOW POLITICS WORKS: ETHICS OFFICE KEPT ALIVE FOR APPEARANCES' SAKE - In an interview with the Mobile Press-Register, Alabama Republican and Ethics Committee Chair Jo Bonner claimed that the Office of Congressional Ethics, created in 2008 by then-Speaker Nancy Pelosi, hasn't been disbanded for fear of appearing soft on corruption. Don't get him wrong, corruption is the worst. But a third-party operation tasked with monitoring congressional behavior is WORSER. The backstory here is that OCE has spent its time working the media to build up the capital it knew it would need to stay alive and that led it to push some flimsy investigations. "If [Speaker John Boehner] had disbanded OCE, he would have instantly become the target of criticism, from both the far left and the far right, that he was not serious when he said that we were going to have zero tolerance on ethical violations," Bonner told the paper. The OCE is a bipartisan panel of eight non-lawmakers that has the power to recommend investigations to the ethics committee. "I voted against creating it, because I didn't think it was necessary, but the fact is that we have OCE, and I'm now committed to working to try to build a more functional relationship with OCE," Bonner said. [The Hill]
Jon Tester: "If Taco Bell needs to beef up, they can give their customers the highest quality meat around by using Montana beef."
HERB KOHL RUNNING FOR ANOTHER TERM - Herb Kohl, the 75-year-old Wisconsin senator and friendliest dude ever to waddle into the Dirksen Senate cafeteria by himself *, will reportedly run for a fifth term in the upper chamber. National Journal's Quinn McCord and Jeremy Jacobs are reporting that Kohl, who owns the Milwaukee Bucks and the eponymous grocery store chain, has loaned his campaign $1 million last quarter. The donation, obtained from FEC filings, indicate that Kohl is ramping up his campaign operations. [National Journal]
* Really. It's cute.
MORMON GUY WHO WORKED FOR OBAMA AND MAKES NICE WITH CHINA WILL TRY TO IMPRESS REPUBLICAN BASE - Former Utah Governor and current U.S. ambassador to China Jon Huntsman is planning to step down early this year to mull a presidential run. At his press briefing today, Press Secretary Robert Gibbs confirmed earlier reports that Huntsman informed the White House of his intention to step down (that'll be a PHENOMENAL resignation letter: "It has been an honor serving you and your Godless, tax-and-spend, military-hating agenda, Mr. President."). According to ABC News, an administration aide reportedly joked that the president "just did an interview with the Tea Party Express about how integral he has been to the success of the Obama administration." Woo, doggie: Someone get the oven mitt and put that narrative on the windowsill because it is PIPING HOT. [ABC News]
It's Rachel Weiner's first day at the Fix! Huzzah! Shut your trap, Eddie Vale!
FORMER PRO-SCOTT BROWN GROUP SWITCHES SIDES - A prominent but financially small-potatoes organization will oppose Massachusetts Senator Scott Brown's renomination next year. The National Republican Trust PAC, which spent nearly $100,000 on Brown's January 2010 election, will work on behalf of a primary challenger, should one emerge. Scott Wheeler, the group's leader, didn't mince words in an interview with National Journal: "We believe the Democrats' policies are destroying the country. Why let them take a Republican vote with them? If we're not going to have at least a symbolic vote against some of this garbage, then let's make the Democrats take the blame for it. It's their policies." "I say, no more Republican hostages." HuffPost Hill is frankly conflicted as to whether we want Brown to stick around for another term. As much as we'd like to see a Senator Elizabeth Warren, watching Brown's floor speeches is like watching a drunk guy try to describe the Holy Ghost. His relationship to abstractions is...well...fascinating. [Double National Journal blurbs, all the way]
The world's oldest person died today. The new one isn't John McCain.
GOV. QUINN SIGNS ILLINOIS CIVIL UNION BILL - Illinoisans, who have spent the week celebrating the readmission of Rahm Emanuel into the Chicago mayoral race by making out with strangers, conceiving children, overturning automobiles and severing their middle finger above the knuckle in commemoration, will now be able to channel their euphoria in a new, exciting way. Governor Pat Quinn just signed into law a bill granting gays and lesbians in the state the right to enter into civil unions. The law doesn't grant full marriage rights or federal recognition but does allow entrants to "make medical decisions for each other, file a lawsuit for a partner's death, receive pension benefits if a partner dies, dissolve the relationship in court and be considered legal parents of their children." Baby steps, we guess. [Sun-Times]
SENATOR BLUMENTHAL IS PROUD TO HAVE SERVED DURING TODAY'S SENATE SESSION - Richard Blumenthal drew the short straw and had to preside over the Senate this afternoon -- as he'll be doing over and over, as one of only three Democratic freshman. This absurdly monotonous task usually involves sitting at the dais for hours on end while some senator thanks his good friend from New Jersey but just has to register his concern about this job-killing bill, or some such. And those are the fun times. Job requirements include showing up and repeating after the parliamentarian. According to David Eldridge, Blumenthal was running late, forcing Harry Reid, the only senator in the chamber, to take to the dais and oversee the Pledge of Allegiance and the morning prayer. At one point the majority leader actually had to propose a motion as a senator and then approved it as the body's president. Finally, when Blumenthal showed up, Reid put his hands on his colleagues shoulders and -- we kid you not -- said, "You can't do this, I need you here." He then went to his desk, made an opening statement, and walked out. [TWT]
C-SPAN video of Reid approving his own request.
BECAUSE YOU'VE READ THIS FAR - A wild eagle decided to start hanging out alongside a captive bald eagle. That's just....mean.
NEW YORK STATE SENATOR'S TIPS FOR SNOOPING ON YOUR KIDS - In response to a shooting near his Brooklyn residence, New York State Senator Eric Adams shot a video in his own home informing parents how they can better monitor their children's behavior and detect drug use or gang activity. It crosses the line. "There is no Fourth Amendment or First Amendment or any amendment right inside your household," Adams, a former New York City police officer, says. "Parents write the constitution for what rights are in their homes, and one right they must understand is the right to protect all members of their household." He then begins to look through a jewelry box (there was a gun), a backpack (crack pipe), behind picture frames (bullets), a baby doll (drugs), a pillow (another gun) and a bookshelf (more drugs). Compounding the video's dreariness is the string-heavy, minor chord score, which sounds like it was ripped straight from the Do The Right Thing soundtrack. That said, this video really could have benefited from a Ruby Dee cameo. [Daily News]
Says Adams about finding a crack pipe in your kid's backpack: "This evokes conversations." Uh-huh.
JEREMY THE EXPERT AT NATURAL RESOURCES (MINORITY SIDE) THAT FALL FROM THE SKY'S WEATHER REPORT - The only thing that matters : While the DC area will be on the southern edge of the storm system, it looks like we may be spared. If you're a Federal Employee, you don't have to go into work tomorrow. Furthermore, a winter weather advisory has been issued for the area. We're going to see some sleet turning into freezing rain during the evening commute and overnight hours. It's not going to be a good commute. Basically, if you can stay off the roads, try and do that. Tomorrow The freezing rain turns into watery rain, but it will still be messy in the morning. The moral of this story is, if you can work from home or can commute in without driving, do that. If you're going to be flying, expect delays and cancellations. If you're in New York or the Midwest, get ready, because it won't be fun. Thanks, JB!
- Egyptians are desperately striving to know the taste of freedom. This list of ridiculous frozen foods might be a good place to start. [http://bzfd.it/fuk3HT]
- What if movie posters for this year's Oscar contenders cut all the BS and told it like it is. [http://bit.ly/fEhxIV]
- People love .GIFs. We love .GIFs. Who doesn't love .GIFs? Here are a bunch of .GIFs. [http://bit.ly/ajYKRA]
- In honor of the weed catapult, our colleagues at the World vertical compiled a list of [http://huff.to/dVFTEt]
- You've had a long day. Who didn't? It's Monday, for chrissake. Enjoy this list of great beach destinations. [http://bit.ly/eG4axE]
- These retro photos of a burlesque performer are weird. But oddly compelling. But weird. But also compelling. But also weird. [http://bit.ly/gC1fry]
- We just discovered that 1994 video of The Today Show hosts trying to figure out what the Internet is. We look forward to someone uncovering a HuffPost Hill edition [http://bit.ly/f2zBlc]
- Getting married soon? Why not honeymoon in the romantic, no longer Taliban-controlled Swat Valley in Pakistan? The skiing is sublime. [http://aol.it/gMx231]
@aterkel: Parker Spitzer Huntsman Bayh Hastert Sanchez Summers Mubarak
@jeremyscahill: Mubarak's "new" cabinet ceremony shown on State TV looks like occupational therapy day at the nursing home #Egypt
@albertemartinez: Judge Vinson surges ahead of Romney and Huckabee in GOP 2012 polls.
6:00 pm - 7:00 pm: The always politically vulnerable John Kerry starts to refill his campaign coffers for what will no doubt be a hotly contested reelec...anyway: he's having a fundraiser [Johnny's Half Shell, 400 North Capitol Street NW].
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