POLITICS
03/08/2012 05:20 pm ET Updated May 08, 2012

HUFFPOST HILL: Senate Had A 'Good Week,' All Tuckered Out Now

Rick Santorum wants Newt Gingrich to step aside for the good of the party, while Newt Gingrich wants everyone to step aside for the good of Newt Gingrich. Rush Limbaugh spent International Women's Day locked in his bedroom crying and listening to Fleetwood Mac's "Landslide." And tonight at the Newseum, Hollywood unveils a blockbusting biopic of a former half-term small-state governor who tweets a lot. This is HUFFPOST HILL for Thursday, March 8th, 2012:

TRANSPO BILL LATEST - The Senate spent Thursday afternoon plowing through some of the 30 amendments to the transportation bill, none of which have much to do with transportation but were enough to get Republicans to give the green light to at least debate the overall measure. All eyes were on one GOP amendment that would have stripped the State Department of its authority to approve the Keystone pipeline and handed that power to Congress -- something President Obama was quietly lobbying Democrats to oppose on Wednesday, Jen Bendery and Mike McAuliff tell us. The amendment ultimately failed, 56-42. It needed 60 votes. "We have a locked-in set of amendments now. There's no reason to work into the night," Harry Reid said. "We've had a good week. We'll have a good week next week, and I wish everyone a good break." Don't pull a hammy, Senate.

DEMS INTRODUCE MAGNA CARTA - Mike McAuliff: "A pair of lawmakers on Thursday offered a bill that would repeal laws that allow the indefinite detention of Americans and others by the military without trial. The power of military authorities to arrest and jail people as long as they want stems from Congress' 2001 joint resolution authorizing the use of military force against terrorists, but was explicitly codified into law last year after President Obama signed the National Defense Authorization Act on New Year's Eve. While allowing military detention of anyone, the act mandated that certain terrorist suspects had to be held by the armed forces. Civil libertarians on the left and right were sharply critical of the law, even though the president promised not to grab Americans. 'On the books, we have a law that gives the executive branch the power to indefinitely detain people here in the U.S., even U.S. citizens, and we believe we should take that off the books,' Rep. Adam Smith said at a Capitol Hill news conference." [HuffPost]

REMEMBER THE MENENDEZ BROTHERS? "Congressional candidate Hayden Rogers (D) does," writes Roll Call's Joshua Miller. "Rogers, retiring Rep. Heath Shuler's former chief of staff who is running to succeed his ex-boss in the Tar Heel State, lived in the same suite as Lyle Menendez for a time at Princeton University. Rogers worked for Menendez at a restaurant he bought after receiving money from his parents' life insurance policy. And Rogers was in the car with Menendez the day Menendez was arrested in 1990." THAT IS ODD. [Roll Call]

DAILY DELANEY DOWNER - Arizona State Sen. Steve Smith (R-Maricopa) would have introduced legislation to drug test the jobless anyway, but the payroll tax cut deal Congress cut last month gave him additional aid and comfort. "It strengthens our position," Smith said. "If Congress sees that it's a problem, and Congress doesn't want to keep shelling out money to all the bankrupt states for their unemployment, and they see a problem as it is, well then, apparently there must be a problem." It doesn't matter to him that he's not doing it the way Congress intended, or that his legislation, which passed the Arizona State Senate this week, will almost certainly trigger a big fat lawsuit. "Well, Arizona's no stranger to lawsuits," he said. "We've got everybody from the president on down suing us." [HuffPost]

@ariannahuff: Why not drug testing for those getting corporate welfare?

DOUBLE DOWNER - New unemployment claims went in the wrong direction (up) last week, after they'd gone down sharply over the past several months. "In the week ending March 3, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims was 362,000, an increase of 8,000 from the previous week's revised figure of 354,000. The 4-week moving average was 355,000, an increase of 250 from the previous week's revised average of 354,750." [DOL]

D.C.'S LONE BILLIONAIRE On HuffPost DC: The nation's capital has just one billionaire according to Forbes' new list of the richest people in the world. (Cue evil laughing.)

GOVERNMENT SPIED ON CHRISTOPHER HITCHENS - It's not as interesting/drunk as we were hoping. "Whilst a student at Oxford, HITCHENS was a member of the International socialism (Cliff) Group of Trotskyites and the Oxford Revolutionary Socialist Students...He took an active part in several demonstrations and was arrested and fined on two occasions." And so forth. [Raw Story]

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

GOP LAWMAKERS RECOGNIZE HOLIDAY IN TRAGICALLY IRONIC FASHION - This is even worse than that time a bunch of Republicans passed a resolution denouncing Post-it Notes on Administrative Professionals Day: "Thursday, March 8 is International Women's Day, and Republicans in Congress are celebrating by debating a new bill that would restrict abortion rights. The House Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution held a hearing on Thursday to discuss the Child Interstate Abortion Notification Act (CIANA), which is sponsored by two Florida Republicans, Marco Rubio in the Senate and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen in the House. The bill would make it illegal for anyone but a parent to accompany a young woman across state lines to seek an abortion -- even if her parents are absent or abusive." [HuffPost's Laura Bassett]

REPUBLICAN ESTABLISHMENT TORN BETWEEN ROBOTIC ALLEGIANCE TO PARTY PROCESS AND INTENSE DISLIKE OF JIM DEMINT - Roll Call: "Sen. Jim DeMint is set to become the top Republican on the Commerce Committee -- a promotion that could cause heartburn among GOP leaders but one they appear unlikely to block. The conservative South Carolina Republican maintains a sometimes antagonistic relationship with Conference leadership and some of his rank-and-file colleagues. Republican leaders thwarted DeMint's bid to join the Finance Committee when a seat opened in 2009, and there is speculation among some Capitol Hill observers that he could be passed over for the top GOP spot on Commerce despite the usually sacred treatment of Senate seniority -- particularly if Republicans win the majority and the slot becomes a chairmanship. But Republican operatives who follow the Senate predicted that GOP leaders would not stand in the way of DeMint becoming the ranking member or chairman of the committee. One GOP insider said it wouldn't be worth antagonizing conservative grass-roots activists and interest groups that would take offense. And Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) would no doubt be pilloried by tea party activists for the move -- a scenario the would-be Majority Leader can't afford if he wants to avoid a primary in 2014 as well as repair relations with conservatives who are angry with his backing of now-Sen. Rand Paul's (R-Ky.) primary challenger in 2010." [Roll Call]

DEMOCRATS PROPOSE BILL EASING CAMPAIGN RESTRICTIONS ON DEMOCRATS FEDERAL WORKERS - The Hill: "Democrats in the House and Senate on Wednesday proposed legislation that would ease penalties that federal workers face for engaging in partisan political activities such as campaigns or other overt actions. Federal workers are restricted from engaging in partisan political activity under the Hatch Act of 1939, a law that grew out of complaints that federal workers were helping collect votes for the Democratic Party. Under current law, employees who violate the Hatch Act are required to either be removed or suspended for at least 30 days without pay. Suspensions can only take place if the Merit Systems Protection Board votes unanimously to take this step. But under legislation introduced by Sen. Daniel Akaka (D-Hawaii) in the Senate and Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) in the House, the Board would have flexibility to choose from a menu of penalties. These include not just removal, but "reduction in grade, debarment from federal employment for a period not to exceed five years, suspension, reprimand or an assessment of a civil penalty not to exceed $1,000." [The Hill]

REPUBLICAN TURNOUT DOWN - National Journal: "Average Republican turnout has been lower through Super Tuesday than in those same states' primaries in 2008 and 2000 -- a trend that could point to lower turnout in November, a new study shows...The Bipartisan Policy Center and the Center for the Study of the American Electorate released the study on Thursday. It found that final results from the 13 primaries, seven of which were held on Tuesday, showed just over 7.8 million people voted out of 68.1 million eligible citizens -- amounting to an 11.5 percent turnout. That percentage is lower than 2008 and 2000, when voter turnout hit 13.2 percent and 12.2 percent, respectively." [National Journal]

SANTORUM TO GINGRICH: GTFO - It's 2:00 am in the Republican Primary Pub and Rick Santorum would have his pick of stragglers if Newt Gingrich would just stop spitting game. "Rick Santorum delivered a confident message to Mississippi voters on Wednesday, plotting a course to win the state and force rival Newt Gingrich out of the race, before continuing on to the White House. 'Mississippi is going to show how inevitable the inevitable is. We're going to take Mississippi,' Santorum said to a Jackson, Miss. crowd. In another speech in Tupelo, Miss., he predicted that a win would narrow the GOP field. 'If you deliver a victory for us on Tuesday, you will make this a two-person race,' Santorum said. 'And once it's a two-person race, the conservative will be the nominee. You can change it all, Mississippi.' Later, he took that conjecture further, telling a cheering audience, 'If we nominate a conservative to the presidency of the United States, we will win this election in the fall.'" [HuffPost]

In a past life, Mitt Romney was a rich guy who won the lottery. Sam Stein: "Mitt Romney's presidential campaign announced on Thursday that it had ended the month of February with roughly $7.3 million, all without the former Massachusetts governor having to make a personal loan or contribution to his campaign. The number is welcome news for Romney backers, who fretted that the candidate was running out of cash after spending heavily in January. But in February, he raised $11.5 million in primary funds. And it appears that small donors (those giving less than $250) are starting to pick up. Since the beginning of the campaign, 83 percent of all donations have been through these types of donors -- though in terms of actual cash, that amounts to about 12.4 percent of what Romney has raised. But not all news was positive on the campaign finance front. Romney's campaign is still spending more than it is taking in. At the end of January it had $7.7 million cash on hand, meaning that it spent $11.9 million throughout February." [HuffPost]

NEBRASKA SENATE NOMINATION ALL BUT ASSURED FOR POT-FRIENDLY FORMER NEW SCHOOL PRESIDENT - Super majority to follow? Omaha World-Herald: "University of Nebraska regent Chuck Hassebrook dropped out of the race for the U.S. Senate Thursday and endorsed former Nebraska Gov. Bob Kerrey, a fellow Democrat. Hassebrook, who heads the Center for Rural Affairs in Lyons, Neb., jumped into the race when Kerrey initially said he would not run, citing family considerations. But Kerrey reversed himself last week and filed for the Senate. Hassebrook said after getting word of Kerrey's reconsideration that he would remain in the race no matter what, and he suggested Kerrey's 'integrity' was at stake." [OWH]

Hmmmmmmm. Politico: "Harry Reid made Democrat Bob Kerrey a special promise if he'd jump into the Nebraska race for his old Senate seat. So what was it: a chance to reclaim his senatorial seniority? A plum committee gavel? Campaign cash for his race? Nobody will say, but one thing is certain: Questions swirling around Kerrey's arrangement will dog the two-term former senator until he or the majority leader come clean. Republican critics are hammering Kerrey from Washington to Lincoln for cutting a 'backroom deal' with Reid. And some Democrats are lamenting that Kerrey's moment of candor -- acknowledging a proposition he said would benefit Nebraskans -- has reinforced his image as a Washington insider in a state that's become synonymous with political wheeling and dealing... During what was widely viewed as a clumsy campaign rollout last week, Kerrey said in a TV interview that Reid had made "important" promises to him before he committed to jumping in the race." [Politico]

Because it's just too cool for school, the Obama campaign released a trailer for a forthcoming (and very long) campaign ad. If you ask us, it needs more Don LaFontaine.

BECAUSE YOU'VE READ THIS FAR - A kitten and a baby monkey play tag.

GIRAFFE FOR ANC COMMISSIONER - HuffPost DC: "Yes indeed, that was a giraffe outside the Newseum earlier today."

COMFORT FOOD
By @bradjshannon!

- Political ads are just confusing these days. [http://bit.ly/wlIJC2]

- BatmanRunningAwayFromShit.tumblr.com [http://bit.ly/x61BFU]

- Neil DeGreatest Tyson shares the fact he finds most astounding about the universe. [http://bit.ly/w7EBVJ]

- This 1957 news segment on roller skiing (?) is so stereotypical that we thought it was fake. [http://bit.ly/xL6XFH]

- The best ad filmed by a helicopter you'll see today. [http://bit.ly/z994SE]

- This cool dude in Brooklyn makes violins. [http://bit.ly/yuEqfE]

- "Don't call it 'the ball thing.' Call it 'pure being.'" [http://bit.ly/ygqFC7]

- A Case Study In How Infographics Can Bend The Truth [http://bit.ly/A86qoT]

TWITTERAMA

@TERKELRAGE: It's International Women's Day, the day when we recognize half the people on Earth with a day.

@JakeSherman: For @speakerboehner, @lukerussert has no name besides "Loudmouth."

@mccarthyryanj: "When do the SXSW tweets start?" said no one ever

ON TAP
By @christinawilkie

TONIGHT

5:30pm - 11:00pm: The National Council of La Raza's awards gala is livelier than most, but it's still an awards gala, so it's pretty boring. [National Building Museum]

6:30pm: In case you haven't heard enough blather about "Game Change" for the past 2 years, it's being screened at the Newseum. And yes, everyone will be there. [555 Pennsylvania Ave. NW]

TOMORROW

6:30pm - 9:00pm: People who are rich enough and/or preppy enough to live in Georgetown convene to pat each other on the back, toast Georgetown, air-kiss. [The Dumbarton House]

7:30pm - 12:00am: Journopalooza's slogan is "1 night. 1 stage. 7 bands." Which adds up to a Level 9 hangover to ring in St. Patty's Day. [600 14th St. NW]

All weekend: John Thune heads to sunny Naples, Fla., to work on his tan and raise some cash. In that order. [Naples, Fla.]

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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