The 113th Congress began with Joe Biden making inappropriate comments and John Boehner crying, so things are pretty much the same. Tim Geithner is so eager to get out of Treasury we're wondering if he's going to have a probation officer and work requirements once he is finally released. And two Republicans failed to make former Rep. Allen West speaker of the House, which is for the best as the lower chamber is probably not ready to replace district workdays with creeping sharia junkets. This is HUFFPOST HILL for Thursday, January 3rd, 2013:
BOEHNER REVOLT FIZZLES - Breitbart reporter Matt Boyle led the fever-brained speculation that Boehner's reelection as speaker would fail. Did Boehner go down in flames? Jason Linkins has the answer: "Nope! There was a brief, mad moment where the number of votes for other people combined with the number of people who hadn't voted hit the 17 mark, but in short order that number was brought down by late-in-arriving votes from Reps. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) and Scott Garrett (R-N.J.). As the National Review's Robert Costa, who tick-tocked the vote with succinct clarity, put it, 'To be clear, there were never 17 clear defections. That # included the no votes.'" [HuffPost]
CLASSIC TEARY-EYED BOEHNER - You better believe today is going to end with him rubbing his face against the merlot-stained beige carpet of his finished basement sanctuary. From his remarks, delivered with red-blooded Boehner Passion: "We meet again at democracy's great port of call. Every two years, at this hour, the Constitution brings a new order to this House. It is an interlude for reflection, a glimpse of old truths. To our new members and their families, welcome. You are likely feeling awestruck right about now. History runs through here. And now you are among a select few to share in this privilege."
God love ya, Congress: "Former Rep. Allen West (R-Fla.) is no longer a member of Congress, having lost his quest for a second term in November. But that didn't prevent some of his former Republican colleagues from voting on Thursday to have him lead the body as speaker of the House... When called on to announce their selection for speaker, Reps. Paul Broun (R-Ga.) and Louie Gohmert (R-Texas) -- two of the House's most outspoken conservatives -- gave West as their choice. Fifteen other Republicans took similar moves in opposition to Boehner, with seven voting for other lawmakers and eight abstaining from voting." [HuffPost's Nick Wing]
HuffPost has asked Allen West several times what he's gonna do now, but he won't say.
HEIDI HEITKAMP'S WONDERFULLY AWKWARD SENATE SWEARING-IN - One-third of HuffPost Hill spent the day with North Dakota's newest senator, who was lucky enough to endure a fantastically Joe Biden-y encounter with Joe Biden during her ceremonial swearing-in in the Old Senate Chamber. "Drop your hands to your sides," Biden said after the photographer's commanded Heitkamp's husband, Darwin Lang, to keep his arms straight. Biden continued: "You say that to somebody in North Dakota, they think it's a frisk. Drop your hands to your side, y'know?" Biden then turned to Lang, hoping he got the joke. "They think you're in trouble, right?" the person first in line for the presidency continued. " You drop your hands to the side..." Lang remained stiff and nodded his head ambivalently. Biden shrugged it off with a big smile. "Ahhh, I'm a little formal, I know." Later, during a reception honoring Heitkamp, HuffPost Hill asked Biden what he thinks of Heitkamp. The vice president responded with his typical zany uncle bravado. "I think she's incredible, I can hardly wait to work with her," he declared, surrounded by a crowd of admirers. "You know why? She and I both speak plain English." [HuffPost]
Biden then pulled a Seneca Falls suplex slam: "Senate Democratic leaders aren't the only ones thrilled about adding more female senators to their ranks in the new Congress. 'I think it's wonderful,' Vice President Joe Biden said to cheers at a reception for newly elected Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.). As of Thursday, the Senate became home to 20 female senators -- a record high...'The only thing that needs to change is get to the point where there are 51 women in the Senate,' Biden said. 'You know why? Not because you all are better or worse. Because everyone's going to figure out there ain't no difference, that everybody is qualified. It doesn't have a damn thing to do with gender.'" [HuffPost's Jen Bendery]
Joe Biden was an incredible ham with people's moms today -- TPM has a great mashup.
ELIZABETH WARREN'S WONDERFULLY TOUCHING SWEARING-IN - Another third of HuffPost Hill spent the day trailing Scott Brown's future Senate colleague. Barbara Mikulski barely came up to Elizabeth Warren's shoulder as the two embraced on the floor of the upper chamber. Mikulski, a Maryland Democrat, released Warren and attached an official Senate pin to the lapel of the incoming Massachusetts senator's all-black pantsuit. Think of it, Mikulski said she told her, "like the croix de guerre for all the battles we women have fought." "Congratulations," Mikulski told her, with her eyes watering as she beat her hand against her heart. "You stand here now in the footsteps of so many women who for so long would have liked to have been here, should have been here, but didn't get the shot. You've got the chance. You have a band of sisters. And we're going to not only make history, we're going to change history." [HuffPost]
Video of Mark Kirk returning to the Senate is pretty sweet, and should be played with the "Chariots of Fire" theme in the background for maxium effect.
TIME WARNER CONSIDERING KEEPING AL JAZEERA AMERICA ON AIR - Which is nice, since conservatives on Twitter have turned the new composite network into "Ground Zero Mosque TV" after it was announced that Al Jazeera would buy Current TV and create Al Jazeera America. Michael Calderone: "Time Warner Cable left the door open Thursday to the possibility of carrying Al Jazeera's new U.S.-based network, which is set to replace Current TVfollowing Wednesday's acquisition. 'We are keeping an open mind and as the service develops, we will evaluate whether it makes sense, for our customers, to launch the network,' Time Warner Cable said in a statement first reported by The New York Times. So while Time Warner Cable considers carrying the new network, tentatively called Al Jazeera America, what about Al Jazeera English, the Qatar media company's existing English-language channel, which has struggled to gain distribution in the United States? On Wednesday night, a Time Warner Cable spokesman told The Huffington Post that they already have "an agreement with AJE, though we have no plans to launch it at this time.' The company clarified Thursday that it's 'a long-term hunting license agreement,' or rather, an option to launch AJE if the cable provider chooses." [HuffPost]
DAILY DELANEY DOWNER - From our ongoing series PASTED: The Email of People on Social Security, our correspondent reacts to Congress mulling a less generous measure of inflation. The Bureau of Labor Statistics says the cheaper measure is more accurate because it accounts for the way people substitute goods when prices rise -- in its famous example, if pork gets expensive, people switch to beef. "The BS that there is comparison shopping on Pork vs Beef is utter nonsense. I can't afford to buy either pork or beef (indeed most meat) now. My truck sits because I can't afford the price of gas. I'm trying to pay a $300+ doctor bill off with $50 a month payments. My S.S. increase is practically nullified by the increase in the Medicare premium. You can tell Nancy Pelosi for me she doesn't know her ass from a hole in the ground when she talks about the COLA of senior citizens." [Hang in there!]
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JOBS REPORT TOMORROW - Signs point to "meh": "In the week ending December 29, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims was 372,000, an increase of 10,000 from the previous week's revised figure of 362,000. The 4-week moving average was 360,000, an increase of 250 from the previous week's revised average of 359,750." Labor Department
DROP VIOLENTLY THROW MIC TO GROUND - Bloomberg: "Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner plans to leave the administration at the end of January, even if President Barack Obama and congressional Republicans haven't reached an agreement to raise the debt ceiling, according to two people familiar with the matter. After giving in to Obama's previous entreaties to stay as long as needed,
OBAMA TO BEGIN IMMIGRATION PUSH THIS MONTH - Or, "Why Steve King's Reelection Might Just Keep Journalism For The Next Few Months." Sam Stein and Elise Foley: "An Obama administration official said the president plans to push for immigration reform this January. The official... said that coming standoffs over deficit reduction are unlikely to drain momentum from other priorities. The White House plans to push forward quickly... It remains unclear what type of immigration policies the White House plans to push in January, but turning them into law could be a long process. Aides expect it will take about two months to write a bipartisan bill, then another few months before it goes up for a vote, possibly in June. A bipartisan group of senators are already working on a deal, although they are still in the early stages. Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.) will likely lead on the Democratic side in the House. While many Republicans have expressed interest in piecemeal reform, it's still unclear which of them plan to join the push." [HuffPost]
DAIRY CLIFF DEADBEATS - Stacy Dean, on Congress cutting from food stamps to pay for milk: "When, in the new budget deal, Congress needed $110 million to extend current dairy programs, lawmakers looked not to savings from bipartisan reforms to farm subsidies that the House and Senate Agriculture Committees had crafted as part of their pending farm bill proposals. Instead, Congress cut a nutrition education program that promotes healthy eating habits and physically active lifestyles for people of limited means." CBPP.org
HOUSE FAILS TO PASS VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN ACT - Twenty bucks says the forthcoming gun control debate ends with all the Capitol complex's hand sanitizer dispensers being replaced with gun racks. Jen Bendery and Laura Bassett: "Despite a late-stage intervention by Vice President Joe Biden, House Republican leaders failed to advance the Senate's 2012 reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act, an embattled bill that would have extended domestic violence protections to 30 million LGBT individuals, undocumented immigrants and Native American women... In April, the Senate with bipartisan support passed a version of VAWA that extended protections to three groups of domestic violence victims who had not been covered by the original law, but House Republicans refused to support the legislation with those provisions, saying the measures were politically driven. Instead, they passed their own VAWA bill without the additional protections. In recent weeks, however, even some House Republicans who voted for the pared-down House bill have said they would now support the broader Senate bill -- and predicted it would pass if Republican leaders let it come to the floor for a vote." [HuffPost]
HOUSE REPUBLICANS: NO HOMO - Sure, they didn't have time to allocate funds for emergency shelters for homeless families in Far Rockaway but it's more important that two displaced dudes in the tri-state area don't go marrying one another. Jen Bendery: "House Republicans may have complained loudly during the 'fiscal cliff' debate about the need to rein in government spending, but that didn't stop them from agreeing Wednesday night to sink even more money into defending the federal ban on recognizing gay marriage. A GOP source told The Huffington Post that, during a closed-door meeting of the House Republican Conference, lawmakers gave a green light to including language in the 113th Congress rules package that authorizes the House legal team, known as the Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group (BLAG), to keep paying outside counsel to defend the Defense of Marriage Act in court. The proposed House rules package also states that BLAG continues to "speak for" the House in its defense of DOMA." [HuffPost]
@jbendery: WH pic of Bo Obama being humiliated. pic.twitter.com/prcDJYKR
BOB BENNETT IS THE USAIN BOLT OF SELLING OUT - That doesn't mean he strikes a distinctively Boltian bow-and-arrow pose every time he compromises one of his values for a client. Christina Wilkie: "Former Sen. Bob Bennett plans to register as a corporate lobbyist on Thursday, marking the end -- to the day -- of the two-year period during which the Utah Republican was banned from lobbying Congress by federal law. He's one of 15 former senators, eight Republicans and seven Democrats, who retired or lost their reelection bids in 2010 and will be eligible Thursday to begin lobbying Capitol Hill... As Bennett last month prepared to register, he had harsh words for the congressional lobbying ban, telling the Salt Lake Tribune that it infringed upon his constitutional right to free speech... In 2007, Bennett co-sponsored the extension of the ban from one year to two for former senators, but he changed his tune after he was defeated in the 2010 Utah GOP primary by Tea Party-backed candidates...Within days of leaving Congress in January 2011, Bennett joined Arent Fox" [HuffPost]
Mortgage one for the Gipper: Ronald Reagan's home from his "General Electric Theater" days is up for sale.
BECAUSE YOU'VE READ THIS FAR - Pug climbs stairs like a rabbit.
- Solipsism test! Does the "Scandinavian Prison or American Office?" quiz make you wish that we had better prisons or that you had a better office? [http://bit.ly/Uc4DY0]
- Cyber stalking isn't OK... unless the stalker is a cat. [http://bit.ly/ZdsE2f]
- Fireworks in reverse is what we hope death looks like. [http://chzb.gr/UlgptH]
- Golden era stars with their faces swapped. It's as if the America of yore was much more into gender experimentation. [http://bit.ly/TIE3lB]
- A bloopers reel from "Star Trek: The Next Generation." Watching Patrick Stewart laugh is positively delightful. [http://huff.to/UaW7Z8]
- Why do dogs eat their own, ermmmm, excrement? This helpful video explains. [http://bit.ly/ZVFuDk]
- Someone made a "Jurassic Park" video game. [http://bit.ly/RtnfAk]
@pourmecoffee: Everyone pay tribute to the expiring 112th Congress today by doing absolutely nothing with occasional bursts of great harm.
@elisefoley: Read this as "partying" at first. Would have been better. RT @foxnation: PATRIOTIC GROUP TOLD TO STOP PRAYING IN JESUS' NAME
@delrayser: "Eh, it's 5:00, I don't need to put my tie back on after the gym." *gets into elevator with Undersecretary of Commerce*
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