Folks are angry at Republicans for slashing domestic tsunami funds but, to be fair, the GOP doesn't really think California, Oregon and Hawaii are part of this country, anyway. Buddy Roemer's confusion about sexuality is reaching startling heights, even by Republican standards. Maryland, the setting for one of America's favorite drag-spectacles, "Hairspray," somehow isn't down with gay marriage. And we wish Joe Scarborough would reconsider running for Senate, because his chief-of-staff -- a well-positioned Starbucks cup -- could really help bring closure to the Capitol's Styrofoam dishware crisis. This is HUFFPOST HILL for Friday, March 11th, 2011:
COUNTDOWN TO NO KICKOFF - NFL labor negotiations have been horse-collar tackled as the clock runs out on the current Collective Bargaining Agreement today. NFL players don't feel like fumbling $800 million to the league's owners, who already maintain possession the first $1 billion of the league's revenues, and so the players union will decertify and probably sue the league to prevent a lockout. (We gave the NFL spokesman one minute to respond and he got back to us! He said a statement will be on NFL.com later.) [Business Insider]
UPDATE: New statement from the owners this morning: "At a time when thousands of employees are fighting for their collective bargaining rights, this union has chosen to abandon collective bargaining in favor of a sham ‘decertification’ and antitrust litigation. This litigation maneuver is built on the indisputably false premise that the NFLPA has stopped being a union and will merely delay the process of reaching an agreement." [Full statement]
AFL-CIO's Richard Trumka, in solidarity: "Unfortunately, the NFL and its 32 team owners, who have enjoyed the fruits of a 9 billion dollar industry in a devastating economy for working families, could not reach a fair deal with the men who risk their health and safety to play professional football. In light of this unfortunate situation, the players have decided to renounce the NFLPA's status as their exclusive bargaining unit. Working people stand shoulder to shoulder with the players and their right to protect themselves and their families through anti-trust laws that prohibit illegal and greedy corporate behavior."
DOC SHOWS OWNERS PLOTTED LOCKOUT - The owners have been preparing for this lockout for years. When negotiating with networks over the TV contract, the owners specifically sought a contract that would pay them even if there was no season and did so with the intent to ease their financial pain if they locked the players out. A document obtained by HuffPost Hill shows that the owners "decision tree," which has been cited in court cases but not published, cites "cash needs during lockout" as one of the "key factors" driving the negotiations for payment even without games. [PDF of the owners busted]
REPUBLICAN BUDGET INCLUDES CUTS TO TSUNAMI RELIEF - At this point, if a dark cloud of pure evil visited Earth and began to eat the souls of pensioners and children, we wouldn't be surprised if, somewhere, tucked away in an stopgap spending bill, you would find a line slashing funding for the "1996 Amorphous Malefactor Preparedness And Highway Improvement Act." You see, included in the GOP's proposed budget CR are cuts to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and other programs and organizations aimed at mitigating the effects of tsunamis both here and abroad. A report from Democrats on the Finance Committee said that the cuts "could result in the closure of up to 12 forecast offices that safeguard American lives and property. Each forecast office issues forecasts and warnings to an average population of 2.5 million people." Who cares, right??? Stupid coastal elites can drive their stupid Volvos away from stupid tsunamis. Right? [HuffPost's Sam Stein]
Marc Ambinder has a piece on the D.C. area's contingency plans for a tsunami-like event. The Last Ambinder reports the metro region is pretty well-equipped for such a catastrophe. And this from the city that can't keep its Metro escalators working for longer than .04 seconds. They know that Circulator buses aren't adequate emergency response vehicles, right?
OBAMA OPEN TO THREE-WEEK BUDGET EXTENSION - The U.S. government continues to fund itself with a timetable typically employed by folks with not much time to live. The president today voiced his support for a short term budget proposal from House Republicans. The president has previously opposed such stop-gap proposals but, as it so often has in his administration, reality reared its ugly head. "Our expectation is we should be able to get this completed," the president said at a press conference today. "Now, because I think neither Democrats nor Republicans were in the mood to compromise until their 100 percent maximal position was voted down in the Senate, we have probably lost some time. [HuffPost's Elise Foley and Sam Stein]
DAILY DELANEY DOWNER - House Speaker John Boehner says he hasn't read the letter from Barbara Lee and Bobby Scott, who have offered to try and find $16 billion in budget cuts to fund 14 weeks of unemployment benefits for the long-term unemployed. "As Speaker Boehner walked to the House floor I asked him if he had seen the letter Reps. Lee and Bobby Scott sent to him on Wednesday, March 9th," reports Lauren Burke. "He said he had not seen the letter yet. When I asked him if there was any possibility he'd meet with Lee and Scott he simply repeated he hadn't seen the letter and walked on to the House floor for votes." [Crew of 42]
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DEMOCRATS RELEASE FIRST POST-VOTE AD IN WISCONSIN - It wouldn't be a full-blown political crisis if SOMEONE didn't release a political advertisement featuring obvious metaphors, zany sound-effects and accusations of hypocrisy. The the spot from the Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee, entitled, "We expect pins to get bowled over. Pies to get rolled. But we certainly don't expect our senators to get flattened," the announcer says while b-roll of -- yep, you guessed it -- bowling pins, pie dough and a steamroller are flashed on the screen. "Last month, Senator Olsen said eliminating collective bargaining is, quote, 'pretty radical.' But Olsen voted for Governor Walker's backroom deal to end collective bargaining. Now Walker is pushing a budget that will devastate public schools and health care. And Senator Olsen refuses to stand up to the Governor." Readers in Wisconsin eager to have HuffPost Hill garble thumbtacks should urge their local Democratic party to run an add featuring cows that calls for Scott Walker to MOOOOO-ve out of the governor's Mansion. [HuffPost's Sam Stein]
Today in House floor speeches BURN:
Steny Hoyer: My staffer--who is a lot more brilliant than I am--
Eric Cantor: The gentleman has a lot of those.
Hoyer: We both do.
MARYLAND HOUSE TORPEDOES GAY MARRIAGE BILL - The state known for Honfest, its acceptance of pastel boat-wear and a flag that Fox's Dancing Football Robot would wave if it attended LGBT pride parades SOMEHOW isn't down with gay marriage. The House of Delegates today sent a bill that would legalize gay marriage back to committee, effectively killing its chances of passing this year. Although Democrats control both chambers of the legislature -- the bill passed the Senate 25 to 21 last week -- some socially conservative lawmakers from rural districts and ones with African American-majorities objected to the bill. [WaPo]
Eric Schultz turned over the DSCC communications reins to Matt Canter this afternoon.
SENATE DEMS TAKE ON TEA PARTY - A Senate Democratic aide said that the party plans to start taking on the Tea Party directly as the budget battle rolls on. Frank Lautenberg got it going on the Senate floor today. "We need to gather together for birthday parties, school graduation and lots of smiles instead of their toxic tea parties. Let's reject the House Republican/Tea Party approach to funding our government," he said, among several references to the toxicity of the brew in the House.
FORECLOSURE DEAL PITS GOP AGAINST GOP - Zach Carter: "The congressional Republican attack on the nationwide foreclosure abuse settlement is sowing unrest among a key GOP constituency: Other Republicans. Several of the top state attorneys general leading the negotiations are Republicans, and feel a pressing need to provide restitution to wronged borrowers in their states. As Washington Republicans attempt to villify Elizabeth Warren and block hefty fines against Wall Street banks, they are alienating many top law enforcement officials from their own party, who say bank foreclosure practices have broken the law." [More from HuffPost's Zach Carter and Shahien Nasiripour.]
MICHELE BACHMANN SHOWING SIGNS OF PRESIDENTIAL RUN - The outspoken Minnesota congresswoman has been stepping up her activity in early primary states recently, reports CNN's Peter Hamby. While Bachmann's under-the-radar campaigning might be as much a publicity stunt as it is a wholehearted attempt to win her party's nomination, if Sarah Palin and Mike Huckabee opt out, Bachmann could easily become the prohibitive Tea Party favorite. Plus it would give Talking Points Memo something to write about for the next year or so. Writes Hamby: "Bachmann...arrives in New Hampshire on Friday for a two-day barnstorm of the first-in-the-nation primary state, her first foray there since floating her potential White House candidacy back in January...Bachmann has already met with prominent interest groups and well-placed officials in early caucus and primary states of Iowa and South Carolina...'She is leaning more toward doing it,' one Republican close to Bachmann told CNN." [CNN]
Jim Inhofe and Steve King introduced matching bills in the Senate and House this week to make English the official language of the United States, reports Elise Foley. The bill would protect English by requiring would-be citizens to prove they can read the Constitution, a skill possessed by a 12 members of Congress, at most.
SUSPENDED HOUSE ATTORNEY LANDS CUSHY NATURAL RESOURCES GIG - An Ethics Committee attorney attorney who had been suspended after being accused of mishandling an investigation of Maxine Waters. Morgan Kim, the former deputy chief-of-staff for the committee and one of two people accused of bungling the Waters case, has soft landed -- like a feather on 100 pounds of marshmellows -- at the Natural Resources Committee. As TPM's Susan Crabtree notes, Natural Resources Chairman Doc Hastings has become something of a halfway house for Ethics Committee Republicans. "For the last few years, Hastings and the Natural Resources Committee has employed Todd Ungerecht as either a personal staffer for Hastings or a Natural Resources committee aide at the same time Ungerecht was serving as a ranking member's counsel to the Ethics Committee...Committees and House offices can share staffers and many do...But the Ethics Committee is the only panel in which most staffers are considered non-partisan...The dual role on a partisan committee and the Ethics Comeittee poses conflict-of-interest issues or at least raise questions about his ability to pivot to a nonpartisan setting, Democratic aides said." Democrats really need to stop being government nannies and let the invisible hand of the ethics free market work its magic. [TPM]
Charles Boustany and John Larson yesterday introduced a bill that would allow people to withdraw and pay taxes on funds from their medical flexible spending accounts. The current framework requires the recipient to surrender the funds to their employer if they leave their job. So for all you folks that never got that mole removed but are aching for an iPad 2, you now have something to fight for. Go forth.
We noted this week that likely dark horse presidential candidate and former Louisiana Governor Buddy Roemer has a very confusing stance on gay rights. He doesn't have a problem with the gays. But they can't be around him. Unless it's his cousin. Which is great. But that cousin still can't hang around him. But he applauds their acceptance elsewhere. But he's a Methodist, so he really doesn't applaud their acceptance elsewhere. But he really does, because he said so. Anyway, HuffPost Politics was very confused and thankfully he clarified. "The issue of gay marriage is one on which I am clear," Roemer wrote in an email to Sam Stein. "As I said in the interview, I am a traditionalist on this issue as is my Methodist Church. A marriage is between a man and a woman. Gays will not be slandered by me or my church, but gay marriage is not an option." Well, that didn't help. Anyway, he says he's all for keeping the Defense of Marriage Act. OK. [HuffPost]
BECAUSE YOU'VE READ THIS FAR - Some people serve the public by becoming teachers or police officer. This guy dresses up like 1980s George Michael and plays the sax in public places (Via @kfarz).
JOE SCARBOROUGH SAYS HE WAS COURTED FOR SENATE RUN - The Hill's Bob Cusack reports that the "Morning Joe" host was contacted by NRSC Chief Jon Cornyn about a possible Senate run in his native Florida, an offer he says he denied. "John suggested last month that I consider running for the Senate against Bill Nelson," Scarborough said in an interview. "His intent was clear and unambiguous and echoed his quotes in The Hill. However, I love the job I have and have no intention of running for the Senate." Cornyn released a statement claiming Scarborough was interested in a New York Senate seat. Whatever. It's not happening. So let's all breathe a sigh of relief that Willie Geist won't be anywhere near the governing process. [The Hill]
Cornyn and the NRSC spent the morning saying The Hill piece was dead wrong -- until Scarborough himself confirmed the reporting.
SHELBY AND THE TITLE CO. - Our blurb this week on Sen. Richard Shelby's opposition to the settlement being negotiated between state attorneys general and banks over the foreclosure mess has raised some hackles. "Naturally, Shelby owns a title company that could be affected by the settlement," we wrote. Now, to clarify, we didn't mean that Shelby is corrupted by his ownership of a title insurance company. We mean that Washington is a place where, of course, one of the key policymakers involved in the debate owns a company in the affected industry. According to his financial disclosure forms, Shleby earns him between a million and $5 million a year from his holdings. We doubt that Shelby is basing his position on the settlement on that. Now, if the settlement exposes a bunch of deeds as fraudulently transferred, that could harm title companies who'd have to fight with banks over whose responsible for the clean up. But at the same time, it would tend to leave title companies of fthe hook, because they're not responsible for insuring fraudulently obtained deeds. And if the settlement he opposes ends up boosting the housing market his company would benefit from the extra business. So Shelby might be advocating a public policy position that could work against his own business interests. Title companies are watching the mortgage mess closely, and whatever results from court decisions and settlement negotiations with banks, Shelby's personal financial interests could be affected by the outcome, one way or the other. Or the settlement will have no effect at all on his company. Jeff Daniel, an Alabama foreclosure attorney who works frequently with title insurers, said that the effect of the foreclosure fraud debacle on title companies is uncertain. "That's a gray area now--right now you don't know what banks are actually filing claims" against title companies, Daniel told HuffPost's Zach Carter. "You're not playing on a baseball diamond anymore. You're trying to play baseball on a hockey rink...The question's going to be whether or not there was any fraud on the banking side that would relieve the title underwriters from any of their liability. That will be a case-by-case question."
JEREMY'S WEATHER REPORT - Dry yet?: Okay, the strong winds mostly kept away from the area, but I can tell you that the massive drenching received was certainly no fun. Well, that's over and done with, and now Tonight while we may see some showers, they will be brief. It's all made up for tomorrow, as sunny skies and 60 degrees should make it better. Thanks, JB!
Huffpost Hiccup: Bill Keller's bad juju must have sapped us of our reporting skillz. Yesterday we said that Keith Ellison is the only Muslim in Congress when we meant to say (we swear) that he was the first Muslim in Congress. Indiana's Andre Carson is the second. As a token of our contrition, here's a video of Boo, the "Cutest and most fluffiest Dog EVER."
- He heard about squashing workers' rights before you even heard of union busters: Hipster Scott Walker [http://bzfd.it/dIUHbw]
- Drunk guys do more than dance to bad music, make asses of themselves in public and ruin marriages. They also foil robberies. [http://bit.ly/hhYn0l]
- Life imitating art imitating life imitating art imitating...The actress who played Snoop in The Wire was arrested as part of a drug sting in Baltimore. [http://bit.ly/eIk7lE]
- Students from HuffPost Hill's alma mater filmed a video in support of Planned Parenthood where dozens of students each hold up a sign that reads "I have sex." No one ever told HuffPost Hill this while attending...d'oh. [http://bit.ly/fkMwGF]
- The Troll Doll, one of the few remaining things that a girl can play with these days that doesn't make her feel bad about her appearance, has been Barbie-ized. Way to go, zeitgeist. [http://bit.ly/h1oRZ2]
- We can either try to appease this two-headed, five-legged turtle or we can let it destroy us. THE CHOICE IS OURS. [http://bit.ly/i0cYyO]
- Remember that iconic scene from American Beauty with the garbage bag dancing about in the breeze? Well apparently this mini-tornado was inspired by it. [http://bit.ly/ge2TFm]
- We're not sure how a blind person would be able to load, much less use this iPhone app that identifies the denomination of a particular dollar bill, but we appreciate the effort. [http://gizmo.do/eX8cGH]
- Hey, children of the 90s: College Humor created a spoof, "Fantastic Mr. Star Fox." [http://bit.ly/fQkuyT]
@pourmecoffee: Dalai Lama retiring. I'm going to be disappointed if he takes a consulting gig with a robe manufacturing company.
@samsteinhp: are we allowed to rt? RT @nytimes: New York Times journalists active on Twitter: http://nyti.ms/MZzFC #FF
Meet the Press: Chuck Schumer, Mitch Daniels, Michele Norris, Dan Balz, Ed Gillespie, Anita Dunn.
Fox News Sunday: Mitch McConnell, John Warner, Saxby Chambliss.
Face the Nation: Nancy Pelosi, Joe Lieberman.
State of the Union: Dick Durbin, Kevin McCarthy, Jon Kyl.
Tonight - Sunday: Tom Price ferries his benefactors to what we think is a pretty awesome fundraising retreat: Braves spring training. Appropriate, too, as Washington officials might be the only group of people in history to dress worse than Greg Maddux. [Omni Champons Gate, Orlando, Florida].
Sunday, 3:00 pm: Mike Quigley is back in town for an "Afternoon of Old Time Hockey," whatever that is, at the Verizon Center (apparently the Blackhawks are playing the Capitals, still don't get why it's old time, though). [Verizon Center, 600 F Street NW].
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