House members read the Constitution on the chamber floor, but didn't get to the part where Dumbledore dies (gets us every time! ::sniff::). Earl Blumenauer's despair over Lance Armstrong's doping admission could only be deeper if the disgraced cyclist started wearing bow ties and plastic bike pins. And between Seamus Romney's exile in Canada and Rick Scott abandoning his dog Reagan, we're deeply concerned about the wellbeing of Barney Bush. This is HUFFPOST HILL for Tuesday, January 15th, 2013:
HOUSE SET TO PASS SANDY RELIEF BILL - Have no fear, tri-state area residents huddling around a burning tire inside the makeshift tarp tent many of you call home: Congress is here to rescue you from that awful, catastrophic, no good thing that happened nearly three months ago! WaPo: "The House is set to vote Tuesday on $50 billion in relief for victims of Hurricane Sandy, a package designed to speed aid to devastated communities in New York and New Jersey, and a vote that could provide an early test of the resolve of Republican deficit hawks... Tuesday afternoon, the House agreed to an underlying bill that includes $17 billion intended to cover immediate relief needs, including $5.4 billion for the FEMA fund that funnels aid directly to individuals and local communities to rebuild. The measure passed on a 327 to 91 vote. Later, the House will take action on an amendment that would provide $33.6 billion in additional money to cover a longer-term effort to rebuild. Splitting the bill into two pieces allows those Republicans who want to vote to provide immediate help to withhold their votes from the long-term effort." [WaPo]
ISSA INVESTIGATING DOJ OVER SWARTZ PROSECUTION With Zach Carter and Ryan Reilly: "House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) is investigating the Justice Department's prosecution of Aaron Swartz, the young Internet activist who took his own life Friday after fighting felony hacking charges for two years. Issa's inquiry comes amid bipartisan expressions of sympathy for Swartz on Capitol Hill, including a statement from Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.). Praising Swartz's work towards 'open government and free access to the people,' Issa told HuffPost that the government's case against Swartz is problematic enough to warrant further investigation. 'I'm not condoning his hacking, but he's certainly someone who worked very hard,' Issa said. 'Had he been a journalist and taken that same material that he gained from MIT, he would have been praised for it. It would have been like the Pentagon papers.' Issa told HuffPost he did not have enough information to comment conclusively on whether the Massachusetts U.S. Attorney's Office overprosecuted Swartz, and said he had dispatched an investigator to gather more facts."
@BloombergNews: BREAKING: New York legislature approves Cuomo bill to expand gun control
LANCE ARMSTRONG BUMS OUT EARL BLUMENAUER - Senior "Say It Ain't So" Correspondent Elise Foley sends along this demoralizing report: "Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.), wearer of colorful bicycle lapel pins and widely regarded as Congress's biggest cycling enthusiast, is very disappointed by Lance Armstrong's doping admission. 'It's just appalling,' he told HuffPost and Yahoo News. He said that he had already given up on Armstrong; he took the signed Lance Armstrong jersey down in his office years ago. It's not quite like when I found out there wasn't a Santa Claus, but it really is -- it just is really sad,' he said." Hang in there!
AARP KINDA HATES CHAINED CPI - AARP CEO A. Barry Rand said during a speech today at the National Press Club that he's no fan of the "chained CPI" -- the alternate measure of inflation that would give Social Security recipients smaller cost-of-living adjustments and that is always standing in the corner of the room with a lampshade on its head, hoping nobody notices it. Rand called it "one of the worst" things Congress could do to Social Security. TEH WORST. (Upon followup, nobody will rule it out or anything....) [HuffPost]
DAILY DELANEY DOWNER - States will soon try to fulfill the Republican goal of making unemployed people pee in cups to prove they're not on drugs. Last February, congressional negotiators and the White House included reforms to the unemployment insurance system in a broader spending bill. One of the reforms will allow states to require drug tests for unemployment claimants in certain occupations. A bill in Wyoming will do just that, pending guidance from the U.S. Department of Labor on which occupations may be subject to testing. Republican State Rep. Michael Madden told HuffPost he introduced his drug testing law because constituents -- both workers and employers -- have complained that unemployed people were getting high instead of getting back to work. "If somebody's working and taking dope, that's their business," Madden said. "If somebody's on unemployment and using unemployment dollars at the expense of the taxpayer, then I have a problem." [HuffPost]
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WHITE HOUSE: OBAMA WANTS ASSAULT WEAPONS BAN - Eventually, the conference committee will whittle this down to restrictions on certain types of rubber bands being flicked from no. 1, 2 and 4 pencils. Life is hopeless. Jen Bendery: "The White House confirmed Tuesday that President Barack Obama will throw his weight behind passing an assault weapons ban, among other items, when he unveils his gun violence package on Wednesday. 'There are specific legislative actions that [Obama] will continue to call on Congress to take, including the assault weapons ban, including a measure to ban high-capacity [gun magazines], including an effort to close the very big loopholes in the background check system in our country,' White House press secretary Jay Carney said during his daily briefing. While it remains to be seen which, if any, of Obama's forthcoming gun violence proposals can pick up the GOP support necessary to pass in Congress, the president's commitment to pushing an assault weapons ban signals that he is prepared to take on even members of his own party, namely Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), who said earlier this month that he doesn't think an assault weapons ban can pass and signaled he wouldn't bring it up for a vote." [HuffPost]
Dey terk r jerbs, gerns edition: "Half of Americans support new gun control measures in the wake of last month's mass shooting at a Newtown, Conn., elementary school, including a ban on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines, two new polls show. Fifty-two percent - of those polled by The Washington Post/ABC News said the tragedy that left 26 dead, including 20 children, has made them more amenable to gun control. Though some Republicans, including Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., have said reinstating a nationwide ban on assault weapons would not pass muster in Congress, 58 percent of respondents said they would support doing so, and 65 percent said they would back a law banning high-capacity ammunition clips containing more than 10 bullets. The most overwhelming number, though, was the 88 percent who said they favor closing the loophole that allows people to purchase guns at gun shows without first passing background checks." [CBS News]
MCDONOUGH CLOSE TO BEING NAMED WHITE HOUSE CHIEF OF STAFF: REPORT - Looks like President Obama will once again have a head staffer who might be able to post up in the paint. Sorry, Jack. Bloomberg: "President Barack Obama is close to naming Denis McDonough as his fifth chief of staff, with an announcement coming as soon as this week, according to a person familiar with the matter. McDonough, if selected, would succeed Jack Lew, Obama's choice as the next Treasury secretary. Selecting McDonough would elevate one of the president's former congressional staff members whose loyalty to him is unquestioned, according to people familiar with the matter who requested anonymity to discuss personnel decisions." [Bloomberg]
In other chief of staff news, Rep. Ted Yoho's CoS, Kat Cammack, is the youngest on the Hill (she's 24). National Journal: "Cammack has been through enough in her life for the job to seem a bit less daunting. When she was 17, her mother--who Kat calls an incredible mom--went to jail for driving while under the influence, leaving her daughter to take care of the family headstone business and pay the mortgage on their 55-acre ranch. And shortly after she graduated from college, her family home was bought out from under her, forcing Cammack, her sister, and her mother (now out of jail) to move into a $179-a-week extended-stay home that they affectionately called 'the crack house.'... Yoho stood out with his very first vote as a member of Congress, when he cast his ballot for Eric Cantor to be House speaker rather than John Boehner. But if Cammack had her way, he may have stood out even more. 'The idea got kicked around the office that he should vote for himself as speaker,' she said." [National Journal]
MURKOWSKI BUCKS PARTY ON DEBT CEILING - Somewhere Joe Miller just experienced a rage blackout and ordered everyone in his immediate vicinity detained. Luke Johnson: "Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) became the first Republican senator to come out against using the debt ceiling as leverage for spending cuts, contradicting Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and other Republicans who favor such a tactic. In an interview with the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner published Tuesday, Murkowski said, 'If you incur an obligation, you have a responsibility to pay for that.' According to the paper, 'Murkowski said spending cuts are crucial but shouldn't be tied to the debt ceiling debate.'" [HuffPost]
SCHUMER BACKS HAGEL - The Senate's number-three Democrat made his intentions known after a 90-minute meeting with President Obama and the Defense nominee. We're guessing Schumer set Hagel straight by just flashing his dead eyes and slowly lifting up a "Snitches Get Stitches" t-shirt. Mike McAuliff: "[Hagel] raised red flags with strong supporters of Israel such as the New York Democrat. 'When Sen. Hagel's name first surfaced as a potential nominee for Secretary of Defense, I had genuine concerns over certain aspects of his record on Israel and Iran,' Schumer said in a statement Tuesday, a day after meeting with Hagel for an hour and a half at the White House in a private session to hash out Schumer's concerns...
@streitfeldcnn: Pretty sure this is the big Schumer news of day MT@jccic2013: Watch as chef @ChuckSchumer makes Hudson Valley Apple Pie 1.usa.gov/Y7lvQR
Hagel tried to bury the hatchet with the LGBT community by apologizing for his existence prior to 2009. Amanda Terkel: "Defense Secretary nominee Chuck Hagel attempted to put to rest any doubt about his commitment to gay rights on Tuesday, saying he supported the repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell and would work to extend equal benefits to gay and lesbian military families. 'I fully support the Don't Ask, Don't Tell Repeal Act of 2010 and value the service of all those who fight for our country,' the former Republican senator from Nebraska wrote in a letter to Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.). 'I know firsthand the profound sacrifice our service members and their families make, and if confirmed as Secretary of Defense, I will do everything possible to the extent permissible under current law to provide equal benefits to the families of all our service members.'" [HuffPost]
David Dayen takes on the McCain-Levin filibuster reform proposal.
MARK SANFORD RUNNING FOR CONGRESS - America's most sad-eyed adulterer tells National Review the official announcement is coming tomorrow. Here's hoping his campaign signs are pithier than his admission of infidelity. National Review: "Mark Sanford, the three-term congressman and two-term South Carolina governor, is preparing his political comeback, running for the House in the district recently represented by Tim Scott. Sanford garnered national headlines in 2009 as the first governor to turn down President Obama's stimulus funds -- and then made even bigger headlines later in the year when it was revealed that he had departed the state to fly to Argentina to meet with his mistress." [National Review]
Sanford on the 2009 scandal that led to his resignation: "You have to, in essence, look under the hood. There's a larger philosophical question. In life we're all going to make mistakes, we're all going to come up short. The key is, how do you get back up and how do you learn from those mistakes? ... But I think that the bigger issue is, don't judge any one person by their best day, don't judge them by their worst day. Look at the totality, the whole of their life, and make judgments accordingly." [Ibid.]
Markey's to lose: "Rep. Michael Capuano (D-Mass.)... announced Tuesday that he would not run for the seat to be vacated by Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) upon his expected confirmation as secretary of state...Rep. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) is the only announced candidate for the special election to fill Kerry's seat, expected to take place in early summer. Markey has secured endorsements from Kerry, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee and other top Democrats." [HuffPost's Luke Johnson]
OBAMA STAFFERS GET THROWN UNDER THE AMERICAN RECOVERY AND REINVESTMENT ACT-FUNDED BUS - Back in November, a teary-eyed Barack Obama delivered a moving address to staffers at his campaign headquarters in Chicago. The mostly 20- and 30-something politicos, the president said, reminded him of himself as a young man. Apparently these staffers share another similarity with the commander-in-chief of yesteryear: They're going to be ignored by everyone. BuzzFeed: "In a sour footnote to President Barack Obama's sweeping electoral victory last November, many of his campaign staffers have been shut out of the inaugural festivities, more than a dozen of them complained to BuzzFeed Monday. 'We worked our butts off, and I'm going to watch it on TV instead of being there,' said one former staffer. 'It's a huge bummer.' Former staffers -- who spoke to BuzzFeed on the condition of anonymity to preserve their relationships, and possible jobs, in Obama's second term -- say they have grown frustrated by what they see as inadequate communication from the Presidential Inaugural Committee, the group responsible for the inaugural balls, and in particular by its restrictions on access to the official events." [BuzzFeed]
Love is dead: "Yet another Beltway power couple is calling it quits: Superlobbyists Heather and Tony Podesta."
The House read the full Constitution today, a tradition started at the beginning of the 112th Congress. Almost no one showed up.
BILL CLINTON POSSIBLY A PORN ADDICT, MAYBE: DAILY CALLER - If this doesn't end with a Freedomworks chapter staging a Boston Tea Party reenactment but with VHS copies of "Naughty Co-Edz 5" in place of the tea, we'll be super upset. Daily Caller: "In an attempt to shed light on this little-known perk of being a former commander in chief, The Daily Caller -- through a Freedom of Information Act request filed last year -- has obtained thousands of pages of emails and documents from the government detailing how taxpayer money is spent on former presidents each year... Clinton also used the funds to wire at least 10 televisions in his offices to a premium suite of content from DirecTV... That entertainment package, according to DirecTV's website, includes premium channels like Cinemax, HBO and Showtime. Cinemax, for example, plays hit movies like 'Aliens' and '50 First Dates,' according to a recent listing. Late at night, the premium channel earns its 'Skinemax' nickname with a turn toward adult programming, offering shows titles like 'Busty Coeds Vs. Lusty Cheerleaders,' 'Sex Games Cancun 01: Last Temptation of Hank' and 'Hotel Erotica Feature 05: Bedroom Fantasies 2.'" [Daily Caller]
@ryanjreilly: Report claims DOJ.gov was hacked. Worth pointing out DOJ.gov never existed http://bit.ly/ZNIGLM
BECAUSE YOU'VE READ THIS FAR - "Rocky XVII: Beagle Versus Orange"
Seamus-lite: "Shortly after winning the GOP nomination in 2010, Rick Scott announced to the world through Facebook that his family had rescued a Labrador retriever. And, with help from his Facebook friends, Scott gave it a name: Reagan...But where is Reagan today?... So the Scotts gave the dog back to his prior owner, Scott said, about a month after the family moved to Tallahassee. The governor's office on Monday told the Times it was trying to find Reagan and its new family." [Tampa Bay Times, via Jason Linkins]
- "I can explain!" - Every movie character ever. [http://huff.to/WXrbWV]
- Fight waste, use this device that maximizes the output of ketchup packets. [http://bit.ly/ULOinM]
- No ice! No ice! Behold the world's largest snowball fight. [http://bit.ly/WXY6dZ]
- While we're on the subject of world records, here's footage of 138 people jumping out of planes. [http://bit.ly/WrK0Sg]
- A quick primer on renown architects and their iconic structures. [http://bit.ly/ZSoo3F]
- Bird hell is having to sing dubstep. [http://chzb.gr/X1pBTW]
- Good news for all you Treaty of Westphalia fanatics: photos from Europe's borders. [http://on.ft.com/UoHCRC]
@byrontau: Oh, I see. Now that Obama has to walk down a D.C. street, he's gonna get all into voting rights.
@meredithshiner: Really afraid that with this flu epidemic spreading, the Dirksen salad bar might be cultivating the bubonic plague.
@benjysarlin: It's the dog isn't it. RT @ppppolls: Rick Scott also trails one of the hypothetical primary challengers we pitted against him...
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