HUFFPOST HILL, sponsored by America's Health Insurance Plans - Marco Rubio's Water Addiction, Day 2: America Tries To Understand

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Today is Valentine's Day, when Washingtonians pretend to care about someone other than themselves. President Obama doesn't want to mint pennies anymore, but don't expect liberals to rally around some kind of #MintThePenny campaign. And patrons of Smith Point are doing some serious soul-searching tonight after John Boehner blew Luke Russert a kiss and called him "honey." This is HUFFPOST HILL for Thursday, February 14th, 2013:

SENATE SENATES: HAGEL NOMINATION FILIBUSTERED - Failing with a percentage that would grant most Major League Baseball teams a wild card berth, at minimum, the filibuster of Chuck Hagel's nomination to be the next Defense secretary was sustained 59-39 (the final vote was 58-40 after Harry Reid had to switch to "no" for procedural reasons). Sabrina Siddiqui: "Republican Sens. Mike Johanns (Neb.), Susan Collins (Maine), Thad Cochran (Miss.) and Lisa Murkowski (Alaska) voted with Democrats in their failed effort to end debate. Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) voted present. The nomination is hardly dead. In fact, it looks increasingly likely that Democrats will be able to muster the needed votes to confirm Hagel's nomination after a 10-day recess... Republicans insisted they were waiting on requests for more answers on Hagel's finances, as well as specific intelligence on the attacks in Benghazi, Libya. The White House said it sent a letter that answered all of their questions, but GOP senators maintained they needed more time and would be ready to proceed with an up-or-down vote when the Senate reconvenes after recess." [HuffPost]

@ryanjreilly: "If mama is happy, everybody is happy. So do right man." -- Obama on Valentine's Day

SEQUESTER: CONGRESS WANTS TO MAKE YOU FEEL IT - The old frog-in-a-pot-of-boiling-water approach. Looove it! Jon Ward: "High level sources on Capitol Hill expect the sequester to happen at this point. Some leading Republicans have said this. But Hill aides also say they expect, essentially, two failed votes and then a possible negotiation after the impact of the sequester is actually felt. The two votes would come the week after next. Congress is out on recess next week, and will have four days when they come back before the sequester hits on March 1. The negotiations over a potential replacement will be guided, in part, by the public response to the sequester's impacts. If it is dramatic, that could force Republicans to come to the table. If the public reaction is not overwhelming, Republicans are likely to just let the sequester stay in place." [HuffPost]

PRESIDENT OBAMA PROBABLY WON'T PAY FOR YOUR KIDS' PRE-K - During an appearance in Georgia today, the president declared said, "Let's make it a national priority to give every child access to a high-quality early education," a reference to his proposal first unveiled during his State of the Union address Tuesday night. The thing is... not so much. Joy Resmovits: "According to a blueprint circulated by the White House, the new program would only guarantee federal funding to states for the schooling of 4-year-olds from families that earn below 200 percent of the poverty line, or approximately 1.85 million kids. The new program would be part of a slate of services that support underprivileged children, expanding things like childcare, Early Head Start and the availability of home visits by nurses and social workers...The plan would only 'incentivize' -- but not require -- states to extend these provisions to all students, regardless of income. 'The federal dollars would be a cost-share arrangement with a state to serve low- and moderate-income children,' said Roberto Rodriguez, a senior education advisor to Obama. 'The more attractive state option and state match-rate would incentivize states to reach up and serve all children.'"

@ZekeJMiller: Obama expressing support for ending the penny on Google+ hangout

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SENATE DEMS SETTLE OF SEQUESTRATION PROPOSAL - If it were up to us, we would've made targeted reductions in Ron Wyden's chart budget and any and all money allocated to jewelers who repair Jon Tester's bolo ties. Sam Stein: "Senate Democrats have settled on a final plan to replace 10 months' worth of sequestration cuts, aides said on Thursday. The plan... pinpoints $120 billion of savings, split evenly between cuts and revenues, that would replace the sequestration-designated cuts to defense and domestic spending until the end of December...As designed, the plan would raise $55 billion in revenues over the next 10 months while slashing roughly $55 billion in spending during that same time period. The remaining $10 billion would come from interest savings. The revenue side is made up of three main policies. The first is the so-called 'Buffett Rule,' which would set a minimum 30 percent tax rate phased in on incomes between $1 million and $2 million. Aides say that such a proposal would raise more than $50 billion (though last week, they had estimated that amount would be a bit lower). The rest of the revenue would come from eliminating businesses' ability to take deductions by relocating facilities overseas, raising an estimated $200 million, and from a provision closing the tar sands loophole, raising $1.7 billion." [HuffPost]

House Democrats are also getting in on the action: "House Democrats, meanwhile, have introduced a sequestration replacement bill of their own... [I]ntroduced by Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), the bill would repeal subsidies for oil and gas companies, cut farm subsidies and institute the Buffett Rule to pay for a 10-month replacement of the sequester. Details of the bill can be found here." [Ibid.]

BOEHNER: HOUSE MIGHT TAKE UP VAWA - Jen Bendery: "House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) said Thursday that GOP leaders are still sorting out how they plan to move forward on Violence Against Women Act legislation. But in a major shift from last year's debacle over the issue, Boehner signaled that he may be open to taking up the expanded VAWA bill that passed the Senate earlier this week. Boehner was short on details when asked about the House plan for VAWA. House Republican leaders have been mum on the issue for weeks, even as the Senate sped its bill through on Tuesday... 'I expect that the House will act in a timely fashion in some way,' he said during a press briefing. But Boehner added, 'No decision has been made about ... whether we take up the Senate bill or our own version of the bill.'" [HuffPost]

Nancy Pelosi is about as settled on the drone question as you are settled on whether the second season of "Downton Abbey" sucked (our opinion: yes... tremendously). With Amanda Terkel: "House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) is not sure whether the public should be told when the federal government kills an American citizen. 'Maybe. It just depends,' she said in an interview with The Huffington Post this week, when asked whether the administration should acknowledge when it targets a U.S. citizen in a drone strike...Pelosi appeared conflicted over whether it was acceptable for the administration to simply disappear American citizens, a term that had previously been used as a verb only outside the United States. 'It depends on the situation,' she said. 'Maybe it depends on the timing, because that's right -- it's all about timing, imminence. What is it that could be in jeopardy if people know that happened at this time? I just don't know.'" [HuffPost]

The DCCC made a bunch of Valentine's Day cards for Republicans that you might find funny. Probably not, though.

BOEHNER HOT POTATOES SEQUESTRATION TO REID - Roll Call: "Speaker John A. Boehner met with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid in the Capitol on Thursday morning to tell him that the Senate needs to move first on a bill to avert more than $1 trillion in indiscriminate spending cuts set to begin next month. The meeting comes as Senate Democrats said they will unveil, as soon as Thursday, a temporary replacement for the nine-year sequester cuts composed of spending reductions and tax increases, which would buy Congress more time to work out a permanent solution... When asked whether he would support a sequester replacement model that includes revenue increases, however, Boehner said he would wait for the Senate's plan before he addressed the specifics. He conceded that the Senate bill expected to be unveiled Thursday could have a problem because, under the Constitution, revenue bills must originate in the House." [Roll Call]

Speaking of "hot" and "John Boehner" here's this: "Happy Valentine's Day from House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio). At a press conference Thursday morning, NBC News's Luke Russert asked Boehner what he had gotten his wife for Valentine's Day. Boehner blew Russert a kiss as he walked off the podium. 'Same thing I got you, honey,' he shouted over his shoulder." [WaPo]

LAUTENBERG CONCEDES PRIMARY TO CORY BOOKER - Hopefully this will end with Lautenberg teaching Booker the ways of the Senate in some kind of "Gran Torino" situation. Star-Ledger: "U.S. Sen. Frank Lautenberg, a pugnacious and plain-spoken Democrat who has represented New Jersey for three decades, will not seek re-election to a sixth term next year. 'I am not announcing the end of anything. I am announcing the beginning of a two-year mission to pass new gun safety laws, protect children from toxic chemicals and create more opportunities for working families in New Jersey,' Lautenberg told the Star-Ledger...The decision by Lautenberg, 89, who has been giving mixed signals for months, marks the end of a political era in New Jersey and one that is likely to set off a fierce primary battle as Democrats, including Newark Mayor Cory Booker, jockey for the rare open seat." [Star-Ledger]

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HILLARY CLINTON PANDA SEX FETISHISTS FIND A HOME AT FREEDOMWORKS - God bless our modern society. It used to be that you'd have to don your skeeziest trench coat, head to your nearest adult video store and slip the proprietor a C-note to get your hands on some of the nasty elder stateswoman/endangered bear smut under the counter. Now all you need are some willing interns and your camera phone. Mother Jones: "An internal investigation of FreedomWorks.the prominent conservative advocacy group and super-PAC--has focused on president Matt Kibbe's management of the organization, his use of its resources, and a controversial book deal he signed, according to former FreedomWorks officials who have met with the private lawyers conducting the probe. One potential topic for the inquiry is a promotional video produced last year under the supervision of Adam Brandon, executive vice president of the group and a Kibbe loyalist. The video included a scene in which a female intern wearing a panda suit simulates performing oral sex on Hillary Clinton." [MoJo]

RUBIO ONCE HAD TORRID AFFAIR WITH MINIMUM WAGE LAWS - Marco Rubio, notorious consumer of aqueous substances that facilitate metabolic processes and dissolve countless organic solutes, once had a soft spot for the poor. Dave Jamieson: "After President Barack Obama suggested raising the minimum wage to $9 per hour in his State of the Union speech, rising Republican star Sen. Marco Rubio (Fla.) quickly joined other prominent GOP lawmakers in denouncing the proposal as bad policy...'Nine dollars is not enough. The problem is that you can't do that by mandating it in the minimum wage laws.' ...But in a previous life, Rubio seems to have recognized the importance of such laws in protecting the working poor. According to Florida press reports from 2003, when Rubio was a state lawmaker, he supported a proposal that would ramp up penalties on agricultural growers whose laborers weren't paid the legal minimum wage...Indeed, Florida records of the failed bill, HB 1327, list Rubio as a co-sponsor. While it was championed by advocates for low-wage workers, the measure was opposed by the Florida Farm Bureau and the Florida Association of Fruit and Vegetable Growers." [HuffPost]

BECAUSE YOU'VE READ THIS FAR - This is bucket of sloths. If you're here looking for a wok of badgers, you've come to the wrong place.

GOVERNMENT ACKNOWLEDGES CLIMATE CHANGE - Mike McAuliff: "The federal government's official watchdog had a message for Congress on Thursday: Hey, Stupid, the climate is changing. The Government Accountability Office delivered that warning in its update of the greatest threats the government faces in carrying out federal programs. Generally the GAO identifies things like flaws in the defense contracting process and fraud in health care programs. This year's update of the High-Risk Series report included the increasingly obvious and growing external threat of climate change -- in spite of the continued insistence from many members of Congress that fears over global warming are overblown. 'Limiting the federal government's fiscal exposure to climate change is one of the new areas we have on the list,' Comptroller General Gene Dodaro, the head of the GAO, told reporters at a Capitol Hill press conference. " [HuffPost]

COMFORT FOOD

- The sheriff of Queen Anne's County, Maryland sends out Valentines to his county's most wanted. [http://bit.ly/YgyFa7]

- The "Harlem Shake" is dead. [http://chzb.gr/YXX31f]

- What if the states were redesigned to have equal populations? [http://bit.ly/8pU6up]

- Behind-the-scenes video of the New York City DOT office that makes roadsigns. [http://bit.ly/VgLdQ8]

- Rude cat sticks out its tongue. [http://bit.ly/XCh7Hk]

- The 25 best gastronomic moments in "The Wire." [http://bit.ly/X4G10T]

- The story behind the web's first banner ad, the forebear of the "Lose Your Belly Fat With This One Werid Trick" ads. Thanks, banner ads. [http://read.bi/X4zOCm]

TWITTERAMA

@brianbeutler: Sen. Frank Outenberg, amirite?

@elisefoley: But must attribute to senior official MT @ZekeJMiller: Obama: "This is the most transparent administration in history. I can document that"

@FakeJimVandeHei: Sources: Lautenberg to get soft landing at a newly created Interior Dept. position: Undersecretary for Get Off My Lawn

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