In the wake of the tragic Newtown shooting, America's attentive parents denounced the violent content of all the video games and R-rated movies they let their children see. In a dramatic turn of events, the House of the 113th Congress lost all of its black Republicans... meaning one guy. And Harry Reid says the Senate will meet the day after Christmas, proving that while Tim Scott continues to fight the War on Christmas, the War on Boxing Day is lost. This is HUFFPOST HILL for Monday, December 17th, 2012:
DANIEL INOUYE PASSES AWAY AT 88 - The Senate pro tem and chairman of the Senate Appropriations committee passed away today after his emphysema, exacerbated by lung surgery he underwent in the 1960s, worsened. Inouye, who fought in World War II and received the Medal of Honor for his actions in the European theater, served in the Senate since 1963. According to his office, Inouye's last word was "Aloha."
Harry Reid took the Senate floor this evening with "a heavy heart" to announce Inouye's departure, a man, he said, "who has lived and breathed the Senate. If there were ever a patriot, Dan Inouye was that patriot." Reid said that he had spent more than an hour with him a little over a week ago. "I won't be able to do it again and he won't be able to do that again," said a visibly shaken Reid. "I wish I were capable of saying more. I -- that's all I can say." Reid said that he didn't think it was appropriate to hold a floor vote in the wake of the news, and asked that a set of judges be approved by unanimous consent.
@jamespmanley: I once asked sen inouye to do a partisan press conf with the dem leadership. He said ok- and then never showed, not his style. Classy man
INOUYE'S BRUCE-WILLIS LEVEL HEROICS - From Wikipedia: "As his squad distracted the third machine gunner, Inouye crawled toward the final bunker, eventually drawing within 10 yards. As he raised himself up and cocked his arm to throw his last grenade into the fighting position, a German inside fired a rifle grenade that struck him on the right elbow, severing most of his arm and leaving his own primed grenade reflexively 'clenched in a fist that suddenly didn't belong to me anymore.' .... As the German inside the bunker reloaded his rifle, Inouye pried the live grenade from his useless right hand and transferred it to his left. As the German aimed his rifle to finish him off, Inouye tossed the grenade off-hand into the bunker and destroyed it. He stumbled to his feet and continued forward, silencing the last German resistance with a one-handed burst from his Thompson before being wounded in the leg and tumbling unconscious to the bottom of the ridge." [Wikipedia]
Inouye's death means Patrick Leahy of Vermont is the Senate's new pro tem. Leahy is now third in line for the presidency, behind Vice President Joe Biden and Speaker John Boehner. Leahy would also be in line for the Appropriations chairmanship. If he stayed on Justice, Tom Harkin is next in line. If he stays on HELP, it goes to Barbara Mikulski, who would take it, we're sure. But if Leahy takes it, then Chuck Schumer can become chair of Judiciary.
'TALKING FILIBUSTER' INITIATIVE GAINING STEAM - As proponents of filibuster reform know, having a majority on your side doesn't guarantee you success in the Senate. But advocates of what's come to be called the 'talking filibuster' are closing in on the majority needed to reform the rules, according to a whip count compiled by The Huffington Post, based on interviews with Democratic senators and with reform advocates who have spoken with senators. Cross-checking the list with prior voting records and public statements indicates that Democrats could lock up as many as 52 votes by this week, when they are expected to introduce a rules reform package to be voted on in the new year. Nailing down at least 50 votes, however, doesn't guarantee success. Advocates worry that Reid may use the prospect of victory on the most ambitious reform to persuade Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) to cave and agree to a milder set of reforms. Those would likely include provisions that would speed up the pace of action in the Senate without altering the fundamental nature of minority rights. [HuffPost]
POLICY PRECIPICE COULD SPOIL FILIBUSTER REFORM - With Elise Foley: "Filibuster reform has a number of obstacles in front of it, but one that advocates didn't foresee could make the effort that much trickier come January -- the 'fiscal cliff.' In years past, the Senate opens its terms by swearing in new senators and then going into recess until the week of the inauguration. When the Senate returns, it is still considered to be in its first legislative day, a time ripe for rules changes. But the upper chamber probably won't have that luxury this year, because fiscal cliff negotiations will have jammed right up against the new year, and will need to be legislated in order to avert the automatic tax increases and spending cuts. That means advocates will need to have everything lined up for filibuster reform -- the legislative package and the votes -- much sooner than they would have otherwise." [HuffPost]
CLIFF DEAL WOULD PROBABLY KEEP JOBLESS AID - If President Barack Obama and Republican leaders in Congress strike a deal to avoid the "fiscal cliff," extended unemployment insurance for the long-term jobless will probably be part of it. Democrats have loudly demanded that Congress not abandon the long-term unemployed next year. On Tuesday, Rep. Sander Levin (D-Mich.), the highest-ranking Democrat on the House committee that oversees unemployment insurance, will hold another press conference about keeping the benefits. Party leaders have been quiet, but no Republicans have said the benefits should be excluded from budget talks.... Another reason for Democratic optimism: The benefits have conservative support outside of Congress. James Sherk, a senior policy analyst with the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank, has said the long-term benefits should stay until the economy gets better. "In a down economy it's appropriate to extend the unemployment benefits," Sherk said during a recent NPR debate. "I think more than six months is certainly reasonable, given the state of the economy." [HuffPost]
DAILY DELANEY DOWNER - From our ongoing series PASTED: The Email of the Jobless: "Needless to say the stress of [unemployment] wore on our marriage. Each pointing the finger at the other and blaming each other for where we are. At one point the anger was so high, that I packed a bag and wanted to live in my car. Too ashamed to go to my son's house. How could I let him see his mother, who had always been the rock and responsible person, who had worked all her life, be at her worst? I relented and stayed a week with him and then came home." [Hang in there!]
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OBAMA, BOEHNER NEARING FISCAL CLIFF DEAL - CNN: "President Obama and House Speaker Boehner are discussing a $2 trillion framework on a deal to avert the fiscal cliff, that would include roughly a trillion in tax increases and roughly a trillion in savings from entitlement programs, multiple sources familiar with the talks tell CNN. Boehner and the president met in person on Monday, but sources familiar with the talks indicate that the framework under discussion is what Republicans are pushing to get to agreement, but it's unclear whether the make up of the $2 trillion framework could get support from Democrats. Democratic sources tell CNN part of the issue now is that the trillion in spending cuts comes from some changes to entitlement programs such as reforms to Medicare -- along with a discussion of raising the eligibility age. These Democratic sources say it is unclear if those Medicare changes could pass the House or Senate, because they may be too deep for many Democrats." [CNN]
The (far) right flank is not very happy: "House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio.) drew sharp criticism from conservative groups Club for Growth and Heritage Action for America on Monday over reports that he agreed to make concessions to President Barack Obama on the debt ceiling and tax rates in ongoing negotiations to avert the so-called fiscal cliff." [HuffPost's Sabrina Siddiqui]
@brettbaier: Per Cap.Hill Producer @ChadPergram:Reid says it "appears Senate will be coming back the day after Christmas" to work on the fiscal cliff
REID TO INITIATE GUN CONTROL DEBATE IN SENATE - Mike McAuliff: "Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) signaled Monday that gun control laws would be up for debate after the horror at Sandy Hook Elementary School, making him the highest-ranking pro-gun politician in the nation to hint that his mind may be changing... unlike with past shooting sprees, he said that coping will include considering what Congress can do about the devastating violence. 'In the coming days and weeks, we will engage in a meaningful conversation and thoughtful debate about how to change laws and culture that allow violence to grow,' Reid said. 'We have no greater responsibility than keeping our most vulnerable and most precious resource -- our children -- safe. And every idea should be on the table as we discuss how best to do just that.'" [HuffPost]
Less assertive language from the White House: "A day after President Barack Obama made an impassioned speech to the nation about now being the time to address the epidemic of gun violence, the White House, for now, is ducking specifics on what exactly Obama plans to do. During his daily briefing Monday, White House press secretary Jay Carney avoided one question after another about the types of legislative proposals the president could support, what kind of timeline he wants to take action within and whether he truly plans to make the issue of gun violence a priority, despite the fact that in four years -- and four shooting massacres later -- the only related bill Obama has signed actually expanded gun laws." [HuffPost's Jen Bendery]
Frank Lautenberg, trying to put the kibosh (or at least some kibosh) on guns: "Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.) will introduce legislation in the next Congress to ban the sale of high-capacity magazines, his office told The Huffington Post on Monday...The legislation would simply reintroduce the prohibition of high-capacity magazines that existed under the federal Assault Weapons Ban from 1994 to 2004. In Tucson, the shooter Jared Loughner was able to fire 30-plus shots without having to reload. During the shooting at a movie theater in Aurora, Colo., the alleged shooter reportedly had a 100-round magazine drum. At Sandy Hook Elementary School, the alleged shooter also had high-capacity magazines." [HuffPost's Sam Stein]
JOE MANCHIN SOFTENS GUN CONTROL OPPOSITION - The West Virginia senator, who famously shot a copy of the Affordable Care Act in a campaign ad -- and who was undoubtedly planning to shoot a copy of "Buckwild Season One" upon its DVD release -- wants increased gun control. Amanda Terkel: "Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), one of the strongest backers of the National Rifle Association (NRA) in the Democratic Party, said it is time to sit down and have a 'sensible, reasonable' debate about gun control in light of the massacre in Newtown, Conn., and expressed an openness to banning assault weapons. 'It's time to move beyond rhetoric. We need to sit down and have a common-sense discussion and move in a reasonable way. ... Everything has to be on the table,' Manchin said in an interview on MSNBC's 'Morning Joe' on Monday, adding that he had just come from deer hunting with his family. Manchin's comments are significant because he has an 'A' rating from the NRA for his pro-gun positions, and the organization endorsed him as recently as October 2012." [HuffPost]
Mark Warner has also withstood the piercing glare of the NRA's stink eye: "Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.) has an A rating from the National Rifle Association -- and a new perspective on gun control since Friday's mass shooting at a Connecticut elementary school. 'I've been a strong supporter of Second Amendment rights,' Warner said Monday outside the Virginia Capitol, where he was attending an unrelated meeting. 'I've got an A rating from the NRA. But the status quo isn't acceptable. I've got three daughters.'" [WaPo]
POLL: RECORD NUMBER OF AMERICANS SUPPORT GUN CONTROL - ABC News: "[The] ABC News/Washington Post poll also finds that 54 percent of Americans favor stricter gun control laws in general, numerically a five-year high, albeit not significantly different than in recent years. Fifty-nine percent support a ban specifically on high-capacity ammunition clips, a step on which partisan and ideological gaps narrow substantially and 'strong' support peaks..The public by 52-43 percent sees the atrocity in Connecticut as indicating 'broader problems in American society' rather than just the isolated act of a troubled individual...Notably, political and ideological differences are muted in this assessment: Half or more of Democrats, independents and Republicans alike see a broader societal problem (51, 52 and 57 percent, respectively). It's also about half both among liberals and conservatives." [ABC News]
REP. TIM SCOTT TO REPLACE JIM DEMINT - Scott will be the Senate's only African-American -- a role that Alvin Greene could just as well have filled, but oh well. Also, with Scott's departure and Alan West's defeat, the House GOP conference will not have a single African-American member. Mollie Reilly: "South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley (R) announced Monday that Rep. Tim Scott (R-S.C.) will replace outgoing Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) in Congress. 'This man loves South Carolina,' Haley said during a press conference at the state capitol. 'It was with that that I knew that he was the right person. I have no doubt that he will fly through 2014.'...Scott, who has represented South Carolina's 1st congressional district since 2011, will become the first black Republican to serve in the U.S. Senate since Edward Brooke (R-Mass.) left his seat in 1979. He will also be the state's first African American senator since the 19th century, as well as the only African American in the Senate." [HuffPost]
@aseitzwald: "The greatest minority under assault today are Christians. No doubt about it." -- New SC Sen. Tim Scott bit.ly/12kYv0A
Sanford for Congress: Hiking the Appalachian Trail to victory: "Former South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford is being approached by local conservatives to run for Republican Rep. Tim Scott's soon-to-be-vacant House seat -- and is considering it -- according to two sources in the state. Sanford previously occupied the same Charleston-based seat in the 1990s." [Roll Call]
GOP WORKING TO SIPHON ELECTORAL COLLEGE VOTES AWAY FROM DEMS - It's like the Republican Party is piggybacking off of the Democrats' WiFi (undoubtedly named "BoehnerQuitSmokingItsStinkingUpOurLivingRoom"). National Journal: "Republicans alarmed at the apparent challenges they face in winning the White House are preparing an all-out assault on the Electoral College system in critical states, an initiative that would significantly ease the party's path to the Oval Office. Senior Republicans say they will try to leverage their party's majorities in Democratic-leaning states in an effort to end the winner-take-all system of awarding electoral votes. Instead, bills that will be introduced in several Democratic states would award electoral votes on a proportional basis... Republicans are able to contemplate such a bold plan because of their electoral success in 2010, when the party won control of state legislative chambers and the governorships in [Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania], giving them total control over the levers of state government." [National Journal]
Not sure how Martin Scorsese will incorporate copious amounts of swearing and Rolling Stones songs into this (seriously, who can forget "Age of Innocence"??), but we're excited: "Bill Clinton and Martin Scorsese will team for a new documentary about the 42nd President of the United States. The film, which will air on HBO, was announced via press release on Monday...The film will have the cooperation of Clinton, who said he was 'pleased' to work with Scorsese and HBO." [HuffPost]
BECAUSE YOU'VE READ THIS FAR - Boston terrier puppy is so hungry it forgets to balance itself.
- Meet Basse Andersen, the most frightened man in the world. He's actually a very good-humored man. [http://bit.ly/SFDpYU]
- Fire... in slow motion. It looks like the opening to "Terminator 2: Judgement Day" in some British guy's backyard. [http://chzb.gr/T2LJQD]
- Every movie from 2012 in one very confusing trailer. [http://bit.ly/XRkRGF]
- A map of the internet, whatever that means. [http://bit.ly/RzWDiu]
- The toilet controlled by your smartphone. There's an app for that. And by "app" we mean something that rhymes with "app." [http://vrge.co/ZCD0Zl]
- Take care the next time you think about spiking a football. You might break a bystander's glasses. [http://bit.ly/WfByLu]
- Because you haven't had enough heartbreak over the last few days, here's a mashup of 50 heartbreaking cinematic moments. [http://bit.ly/U4xiey]
@delrayser: Senator Joe Manchin open to new laws on guns so long as it doesn't prevent him from firing guns at laws.
@msbellows: If only he'd been armed. RT @BuzzFeedBen: This just keeps happening MT @DRUDGE_REPORT: World's oldest person dies at age 115
@daveweigel: Drudge, soon: "Reid hints at putting gun owners in gulag." RT @mkraju: Reid: "Every idea" on table in dealing with guns/public safety
6:30 pm: Mitch McConnell is the beneficiary of a fundraiser co-hosted by practically every interest group under the sun except for -- lucky him -- the NRA. [R B Murphy & Associates, 220 E Street NE]
7:00 - 11:00 pm: Nancy Bagley, Soroush Richard Shehabi and Washington Life throw their "Young And The Guest List" party. Attire is "glamorous cocktail" and attendees are pretending to still be young. Valet will be provided. [Arena Stage, 1101 Sixth Street SW]
5:30 pm: Deck the halls with boughs of lobby, fa la la la la la la la la. The NRSC hosts its annual holiday party. Remember, if you're caught under the mistletoe, you have to either write a check or kiss Jerry Moran. [NRSC, 425 2nd Street NE]
6:30 pm: Mitch McConnell blows off steam with some Koch. The Senate minority leader continues to take out Ashley Judd insurance with a fundraiser co-hosted by Koch Industries PAC. [R B Murphy & Associates, 220 E Street NE]
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