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HUFFPOST HILL - Lawmakers Traveling On Someone Else's Dime Like A College Junior

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The Amanda Knox verdict kept reporters from covering the things that matter, like Chris Christie speculation. Once Republicans are finished undoing our nation's cement regulations, that dirty word you carved into the unset pavement will be the least offensive thing embedded in the sidewalk. And sticks and stones may break your bones, but names will never hurt you...unless the name is on a stone on Rick Perry's ranch. This is HUFFPOST HILL for Monday, October 3rd, 2011:

The Senate just voted to end debate on a bill that would impose sanctions on China for its ongoing currency manipulation. The bill has strong bipartisan support in the upper chamber but the House is iffy about it and the Obama administration is really nervous about the measure. We wonder if China can hear our indignation over the sound of their MASSIVE SOLAR-ENERGY PRODUCTION INDUSTRY.

LAWMAKERS STRUCK WITH BAD CASE OF WANDERLUST - Roll Call's Amanda Becker: "The amount of money spent in August sending Members of Congress on privately financed travel shattered previous monthly records, with outside groups spending more than $1.5 million to send lawmakers and their family members to locations in the United States and abroad, according to a Roll Call analysis of recently filed travel disclosure forms. Just four years after Congress tightened restrictions on privately funded travel, more than 100 lawmakers took trips financed by private organizations in August to locations that included Colorado, Mongolia, South Africa, Israel and Las Vegas, Nevada, with the most expensive excursions weighing in at about $30,000. The previous record was set in August 2003, when just more than $1 million was spent by outside groups on Congressional travel."

DEMS ON OFFENSIVE AGAINST WALL STREET - While demonstrators in New York are calling for an occupation of Wall Street, a new push by Democrats in Congress proposes a different tactic: Just walk away. Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin and Rep. Brad Miller are going on the offensive against Bank of America after the financial behemoth cited Wall Street reform in announcing a new five dollar monthly debit charge last week. Miller, a Democrat from BofA's home state of North Carolina, plans to introduce legislation that would make it easy for consumers to switch banks and swap their direct deposit, electronic bill paying and other automatic features that make moving money from one bank to another more hassle than it's often worth. Illinois Democrat Dick Durbin, meanwhile, is encouraging consumers to abandon the bank's debit card. "My word to consumers across America is talk with your feet, look for a debit card that doesn't charge the Bank of America fee," Durbin said. [HuffPost]

PARANOID SELF-LOATHING GOP LOBBYIST OFFERS BORED LAZY OVERPAID BUREAUCRAT A COMMONSENSE CONSERVATIVE SUGGESTION - When HuffPost Hill's Paranoid Self-Loathing GOP Lobbyist gives out unsolicited advice, it usually has something to do with the perils of mixing Zoloft with NyQuil. However, PSLGOPL emailed us out of the blue today with a heads up for HuffPost Hill's Bored Lazy Overpaid Bureaucrat (BLOB). "I'm wondering if BLOB has a pair of bedroom slippers she wears underneath her desk," PSLGOPL wrote. BLOB quickly responded: "They're actually fuzzy striped toe socks. It gets pretty cold in the bowels of the bureaucracy (on the days I actually go to the office). Slippers aren't a bad idea, though." Now that's bipartisanship! Thanks, PSLGOPL AND BLOB!

FOLEY FROWNER Maria Fernanda Cabello, an undocumented 20-year-old Texas resident, is attending Texas A&M with in-state tuition thanks to a law Rick Perry signed in 2001. She is appreciative of the law, but unsure what she will do afterward -- especially since Perry does not support any bills that would allow her to gain legal status and get a job using her degree. "That's what's a little upsetting about Rick Perry," Cabello said. "We're all very thankful that he signed the in-state tuition into law, but at the same time he says he does not support the federal DREAM Act. So we're kind of in limbo." [HuffPost]

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HOUSE REPUBLICANS TO TACKLE HISTORY'S GREATEST MONSTER: CEMENT REGULATIONS - Vilifying green energy is TOTALLY IN. House Republicans are already having a grand ole time portraying the Energy Department's Loan Program Office as a government organ from which money is distributed to wild-eyed coke fiends who blow taxpayer dollars on strippers, limos and copper indium gallium selenide thin-film solar cells. House Republicans this week will introduce bills to roll back E.P.A. climate regulations and limits on the production of cement. "We recently identified elements of your job creation proposals that we believe represent opportunities for common ground between Democrats and Republicans," members of the House Republican leadership wrote President Obama today. Naturally, nixing environmental reforms are something everyone can agree on, because you feel their impact later, and later isn't now, and politicians don't care about any legislation that takes longer to have an impact than a movie does to produce. "The federal government has a responsibility under the Constitution to regulate interstate commerce, and there are reasonable regulations that protect our children and help keep our environment clean. But there are also excessive regulations that unnecessarily increase costs for consumers and small businesses, and make it harder for our economy to create jobs." [Office of the Speaker]

KEYSTONE PIPELINE COMPANY HAS PULL IN THE STATE DEPARTMENT - The collective opposition to construction of the transcontinental Keystone Pipeline -- which has become a we're-getting-the-gang-back-together! moment for save-the-whales types -- is about to get more intense. Newly released emails between a lobbyist for TransCanada and State Department staffers suggest that the firm behind the pipeline might be inappropriately influencing the pending decision to greenlight the project. Tom Zeller: "The emails, part of a growing cache obtained by the environmental group Friends of the Earth, focus on the interaction between TransCanada lobbyist Paul Elliott, a former deputy campaign director for Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's failed 2008 presidential bid, and representatives of the State Department, which is currently weighing approval of the Keystone XL project...In one particular exchange from September of last year, [U.S. Embassy in Ottawa staffer Marja] Verloop is seen cheering for Elliott after he secured support for the pipeline from Democratic Montana Senator Max Baucus. 'Go Paul!' Verloop writes. 'Baucus support holds clout.'" State responding that the fact he was emailing Verloop shows he was hustled off to a low level staffer. Ouch! [HuffPost]

HOUSE GOP TO BREAK UP AMERICAN JOBS ACT - During a pen-and-pad session today, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor declared that he will offer up individual components of the American Jobs Act for votes but not present the bill in its entirety. "The president continues to say, 'Pass my bill in its entirety,' and as I've said from the outset, the all-or-nothing approach is just unacceptable, and I think from a purely practical standpoint, the president's got some whipping to do on his own side of the aisle," he said. [National Journal]

@jbendery: "We would accept that, although we would not be satisfied by that," Carney says of Congress only voting on pieces of Obama's jobs bill.

WHITE HOUSE IN TALKS WITH SUPER COMMITTEE - The White House has been in talks with super committee Democrats with an eye toward including components of the American Jobs Act in the panel's final proposal. Sam Stein: [S]enior administration officials said that the White House has been in talks with members of the super committee about both job creation legislation and their work in general. While the officials wouldn't go too far into specifics, they noted that this past summer the president and House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) had discussed including infrastructure spending, payroll tax cut relief and the extension of unemployment insurance in their proposed 'grand bargain.' Obama has already asked the committee to find budget cuts to help cover the $447 billion cost of his jobs package. If he were to push the committee to include the jobs act itself as part of its recommendations, that would up the ante significantly more." [HuffPost]

@mpoindc: How dorky is DC? Dorky enough to generate @FakeBarryBlack, a parody of the Senate chaplain.

JPMORGAN CHASE GAVE $4.6M TO NY COPS - About 700 anti-Wall Street demonstrators were arrested this weekend by the New York Pinkerton Police Department. Which makes this JPM statement all the more fun: "JPMorgan Chase recently donated an unprecedented $4.6 million to the New York City Police Foundation. The gift was the largest in the history of the foundation and will enable the New York City Police Department to strengthen security in the Big Apple. The money will pay for 1,000 new patrol car laptops, as well as security monitoring software in the NYPD's main data center. New York City Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly sent CEO and Chairman Jamie Dimon a note expressing "profound gratitude" for the company's donation. "These officers put their lives on the line every day to keep us safe," Dimon said. "We're incredibly proud to help them build this program and let them know how much we value their hard work."" [JPMC]

BREAKING: RICK PERRY MANDATED THAT SCHOOLCHILDREN EXERCISE - Jon Ward reports that in 2007, Rick Perry signed a bill mandating that Texas' schoolchildren engage in thirty minutes of exercise per day (not that they could lift their arms with the poisonous HPV vaccine coursing through their veins). Some conservative opponents of the Texas governor might cite this as an example of Perry hypocritically engaging in social engineering, but we're more surprised by Perry's blatant disregard for Texas' proud tradition of debilitating obesity. Have you been to Houston? Being shockingly out of shape is as central to Texas' identity as aggressively shunning pork barbecue, discarding one's SUV after three years of ownership and 16-lane highways. C'mon, governor.[HuffPost]

CAIN IS ABLE: HERMAN SURGES TO SECOND IN FLORIDA - Sorry, we REALLY wanted to use that headline. Anyway, a new poll from Republican-aligned War Room Logistics has Mitt Romney narrowly leading Herman Cain 28 percent to 24 percent in the Sunshine State. Newt Gingrich comes in a distant third with ten percent and Rick Perry is statistically tied with Gingrich (!) with nine percent. "Daddy, who is Rick Perry?" "Son, he was a guy who almost became the most powerful person in the world. But then there was this rock..."[St. Petersburg Times]

Another poll out of Massachusetts indicates that Elizabeth Warren and Scott Brown are neck-and-neck. Brown leads Warren 41 percent to 38 percent in the survey conducted and published by UMass-Lowell and the Boston Herald. Before Warren announced, she had trailed by double digits in speculative polling but has quickly caught up to Brown since making her candidacy official. If Warren keeps this up she'll have a grating will.i.am song in her honor. [Boston Herald]

Mark Blumenthal: "The Warren candidacy also may be contributing to another phenomenon that should give hope to Bay State Democrats: For the moment, Democrats are following the Senate campaign about as closely as Republicans are, a big difference from the national pattern." [HuffPost]

SOUTH CAROLINA GOP SETS PRIMARY DATE, BASICALLY GUARANTEEING EARLY IOWA AND NEW HAMPSHIRE DATES - Because the state of Florida just HAS TO mess with the electoral process every so often (whenever Mercury is in retrograde, we guess), the South Carolina Republican party today was forced to announce that its Republican primary will be held on January 21st, ten days before Florida's moved-up date of January 31st. This will likely result in an Iowa caucus date shortly after the New Year's Day and a Granite State primary a week or two later. This sets up a potentially nasty confrontation with Nevada's Republican party, whose primary might be squeezed out of its traditional fourth spot by the recent scheduling changes. "We're not happy with them, period," Nevada GOP Chairwoman Amy Tarkanian told Politico. "We have what, 28 delegates? They have 99. So what do they care if they lose some? They didn't have to be bullies about this." [HuffPost's Jason Linkins]

Chris Christie something something something something, the media reports.

Michele Bachmann recently thanked a caller to a talk radio program she was appearing on for saying he'd vote for Charles Manson over President Obama. "Hey, thank you for saying that," she replied to the caller's commonsense conservatism. This is actually Bachmann's second serial killer-related gaffe, the first of which occurred when she accidentally said she wanted to mimic the style of John Wayne Gacy. Now, before you get all bent out of shape over this, we've heard that Manson has said some really interesting things about infrastructure banks ...... No he hasn't. [ThinkProgress]

BECAUSE YOU'VE READ THIS FAR - Dog plays basketball and volleyball.

JEREMY'S WEATHER REPORT - Tonight: Really really cold. Please, don't be that guy (me) and forget your jacket. It's going to be in the 40s, which is closer to "freezing" than "comfortably cool." There will also be scattered showers coming around. Tomorrow: Much closer to comfortable. Mid to high 70s and partly sunny skies. So while you're freezing tonight, just think, "tomorrow it will be better." Thanks, JB!

COMFORT FOOD

- Ninja nuns are the new Seal Team Six. Or at least the subject of Quentin Tarantino movie. [http://huff.to/pQqKuRTION]

- The cast of "Arrested Development" reunited for the New Yorker Festival where it was announced there would be a short run of new "AD" eps. They all did their famed and flawed chicken impressions. [http://huff.to/njnP4W]

- As this video of a guy driving a wrecked car demonstrates, we don't need FEMA. Stuff works fine after it's been utterly decimated by nature. [http://huff.to/oakXRS]

- Absolutely gorgeous time-lapse videos of the rotating night sky above the ALMA observatory in Chile. [http://huff.to/qYH7av]

- Cute Italian child responds favorably to Led Zeppelin music ... and nothing else. [http://huff.to/qyWiQv]

- Koala bear helps timid baby koala bear climb a tree. A tiger koala mom wouldn't coddle her kid like that. [http://huff.to/oKsQmS]

- An Ikea catalog from 1965 looks much more American than the very Scandinavian products offered by the furniture company today. [http://huff.to/pLl6oL]

- Someone mounted a camera atop a helicopter blade. Prepare to get queasy. [http://huff.to/qXhjXj]

TWITTERAMA

@ElBloombito: No me gusto los contracts- yo prefero to spit in mi palmo y shaken los hands.

@FakeJimVandeHei: I'm hearing rumblings of an #OccupyRosslyn movement burgeoning in the newsroom. I have one word for you: Tiananmen.

@FakeAPStyleBook: It's October, which means you get your one allotted Bill Buckner reference for the year. Make it count.

ON TAP

TONIGHT

7:00 pm - 8:30 pm: Forgive us for stereotyping, but we can't believe the location of Rick Berg's D.C. fundraiser. Zengo? A Republican from North Dakota is going to cozy up in a restaurant that looks like a location from a Beverly Hills Cop movie. [Zengo, 781 7th St NW]

TOMORROW

5:30 pm - 7:30 pm: Dutch Ruppersberger is scheduled to have a fundraiser on the terrace of Willard Office Building. The forecast calls for evening highs of low 60s. Expect guest Steny Hoyer to be furiously working on a beer jacket. [1455 Pennsylvania Ave NW]

6:00 pm: Allyson Schwartz makes like a lawmaker from a depressed post-industrial state and attends a swanky fundraiser at an oyster restaurant. [Johnny's Half Shell, 400 North Capitol Street NW]

6:00 pm - 7:30 pm: If you are willing to cough up $2,500 for 90 minutes at a Chinese restaurant, then boy does have just the thing for you! [Hunan Dynasty,
215 Pennsylvania Ave SE]

6:30 pm: Kay Granger hosts a BBQ fundraiser at Oyamel, a Latin fusion restaurant (?). Also noteworthy are the donor levels: At $1,000 you'd be a "Cowboy" and at $5,000 you'd be a "Rancher." Pretty sure anyone involved in either of those professions couldn't afford four-figure political contributions. [Oyamel Restaurant, 401 7th 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

Filed by Eliot Nelson
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