Washington's meteorologists, like its politicians, left a trail of broken promises in their wake today. Libertarian Christmas came early when Rand Paul filibustered a nomination over domestic drones and it was reported that the government-shrinking sequestration will increase Americans' access to drugs. And South Carolina's Jim Clyburn, the former Democratic majority whip, joked that there are "some things that my staff find a bit familiar" about the show "House of Cards." At least we *think* he was joking -- otherwise the Daily Caller missed the real congressional escort scandal. (Note to Daily Caller: It's not true. Got it?) This is HUFFPOST HILL for Wednesday, March 6th, 2013:
POLITICIAN TALKS A LOT - Rand Paul ate up the Senate's time today when he "talking" filibustered John Brennan's confirmation as CIA director, citing concerns about the Obama administration's policy on civil liberties. It was basically what would happen if Jimmy Stewart subscribed to Reason and worried about the expansion of the police state... and if Jimmy Stewart had an unflattering haircut. Luke Johnson: "Paul, an outspoken libertarian, pointed to what he called the abuses of executive power and civil liberties under Obama's administration. In particular, he objected to the contents of a letter he received from Attorney General Eric Holder that asserted the U.S. government had the legal authority to kill a U.S. citizen on American soil... Paul had asked the Justice Department about the constitutionality of drone strikes and whether they could be used agains U.S. citizens. Holder responded in a letter that conceded the military could authorize a drone strike on U.S. soil...Paul started his filibuster speech around 11:45 a.m.... Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) took to the floor at about 4:45 p.m. to try to invoke cloture on the Brennan nomination to allow the vote to happen Wednesday night. Sen. Paul (R-Ky.) said he would be happy to vote, but that he hasn't gotten the answer he wanted, and therefore objected to holding the vote." [HuffPost]
@davewiegel: Paul gives Obama some credit: "I frankly don't think he'll be killing people in their homes tonight."
@TheMatthewKeys: AUDIO: Sen. Rand Paul impersonates President Barack Obama's voice (from moments ago) - bit.ly/YzNc1W
Mitt Romney is transitioning nicely into wealthy, semi-retired grandpa mode: "NBC News has learned that Romney is returning to the private sector, joining his eldest son Tagg's investment firm, Solamere Capital, as chairman of the executive committee. A person with knowledge of the deal tells NBC that Romney is planning to work with Solamere for one week a month. He will be advising on matters of private equity, and is not planning to fundraise at all for the firm." [NBC News]
'DISGRACED' WASHINGTON FIGURE NEEDS MONEY - George Condon: "For a man who says he has found inner peace through meditation and study under the Dalai Lama, former Rep. Bob Ney of Ohio has an awful lot of anger. The once-powerful House chairman, who was forced out of office by scandal in 2006 and spent 11 months in federal prison, now has given powerful voice to that anger in a memoir coming out this week." The Ney book is particularly mean to our friend John Boehner: "He was a chain-smoking, relentless wine drinker who was more interested in the high life -- golf, women, cigarettes, fun, and alcohol." And? href="http://www.nationaljournal.com/politics/disgraced-ex-congressman-attacks-john-boehner-in-new-book-20130305?page=1" target="_hplink">National Journal]
INTRODUCING HUFFPOST HILL'S IN-HOUSE PROFESSIONAL ETHICIST - Dear readers: Work on the Hill or downtown? Need a refresher on the toothpick rule? Unsure whether that phone call counted as lobbying activity? Impregnate an intern? Send your queries to HuffPost Hill and our resident professional ethicist, the Former Abramoff Lobbyist Pissed At Things (a real former Abramoff associate), will offer helpful advice! We asked FALPAT for some general guidance to get the conversation going. He replied, "Why did Bob Ney say Speaker Boehner was only interested in 'the high life -- golf, women, cigarettes, fun and alcohol'? That's what Congress and lobbying was all about until Team Abramoff came around [and] effed it up and then forced everyone to hire tax lawyers to set up all these fancy 'super' whatevers with all sorts of (c)3s and 4s on their IRS filings to skirt the rules to set the ship straight again." The takeaway: Hiring a tax lawyer is a sure way to keep straight. Thanks, FALPAT!
DAILY DELANEY DOWNER - The Oregon Employment Department has a helpful calculator so long-term unemployment claimants can figure out how much money they'll be left with each week after sequestration cuts kick in at the end of the month. The app shows, for instance, that a person receiving $300 per week will soon get just $267 per week. Unfortunately, the calculator doesn't come with a disclaimer explaining the beltway's emerging conventional wisdom that sequestration will have no effect on anybody. [Oregon.got]
Does somebody keep forwarding you this newsletter? Get your own copy. It's free! Sign up here. Send tips/stories/photos/events/fundraisers/job movement/juicy miscellanea to email@example.com. Follow us on Twitter - @HuffPostHill
HOUSE PASSES CONTINUING RESOLUTION, DEMOCRATS MILDLY DISPLEASED - Sabrina Siddiqui: "The House of Representatives voted Wednesday to keep the federal government funded through the end of the fiscal year, seeking to avert a potential government shutdown when the continuing resolution expires on March 27. The legislation passed the lower chamber by 267 to 151 votes, with 137 Democrats voting against it. The $982 billion stopgap measure locks in post-sequestration spending levels but includes protections for defense and veterans programs, enabling them to adjust to the cuts brought on by sequestration. Democrats criticized the bill for granting flexibility to the Pentagon to reallocate funds to higher-priority programs, while doing nothing to mitigate the impact sequestration would have on domestic programs. House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.), who on Tuesday said he was not whipping members of his caucus to vote against the measure, urged his colleagues on Wednesday to do precisely that...Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) told reporters Tuesday he was 'cautiously optimistic' that both sides could reach an agreement before Easter recess but indicated things could still fall apart, depending on the specifics of the GOP plan." [HuffPost]
If this is followed by John Cornyn's staff doing a "hide yo' kids, hide yo' wife," spoof, we quit Washington: "Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has already started his 2014 reelection bid, and his campaign looks to be trying to gain popularity by latching onto the popular Harlem Shake internet video sensation. McConnell’s YouTube channel uploaded a version of the Harlem Shake series Wednesday morning." [HuffPost's Nick Wing (video included)]
THAT TIME A POLITICIAN WAS ACTUALLY NOT DOING ILLICIT THINGS WITH THOSE PARTICULAR PROSTITUTES - ABC News has details on how the Robert Menendez prostitution faux story came to be: "They were, according to a sworn affidavit filed in court this week by one of the three women, who says it was all a set up. In the affidavit, she said that she and the others were paid to use fake names and make up a story about sex with the Senator. A Dominican official familiar with the case confirmed that the woman in the affidavit, identified as Nexis de los Santos Santana, was the same woman who wore a yellow blouse when interviewed by ABC News. In her interview with ABC News before the election, she said her name was Michelle Rodriguez and that she had come forward because Menendez had paid her only $100 of the $500 she had expected. She now says she was coached to make the claim." [ABC News]
A GOP operative sends us this: "I guess that happens when you promise a hooker $500 to read a fake script and only pay her $100."
OBAMA LACKING AN EXECUTIVE MANDATE CZAR - The Hill: "Time is running out for President Obama to make one of his most influential appointments: a regulatory chief who will serve as the gatekeeper for an avalanche of new rules from federal agencies. With Congress mired in partisanship, Obama is expected to lean heavily on the use of executive power to enact his agenda. At the same time, scores of new rules are now under consideration at the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA), the White House's clearinghouse for federal mandates. Hundreds more are in the pipeline. Whomever the president taps as the next OIRA administrator could have enormous influence on those rules, which are expected to be ground zero for lobbying battles over the next four years... The administrator post at OIRA has been vacant since last August, when Cass Sunstein departed after three years in the job. Boris Bershteyn, a young lawyer who had served as general counsel at the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), took over as acting administrator." [The Hill]
While we're on the subject of things being held up in Congress... "Senators on Wednesday again blocked President Barack Obama's pick of Caitlin J. Halligan to serve on an influential District of Columbia court amid accusations she supports an anti-gun agenda. The target of a GOP filibuster in 2011, Halligan had already drawn objections over Second Amendment issues, and the mercurial congressional climate on gun rights that has prevailed since the Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings served only to heighten the controversy." [Roll Call]
9/11 COMPENSATION SLASHED BY SEQUESTRATION - Cue Peter King throwing a category 5 freak out in 3..2...1... Mike McAuliff: "The victims and survivors of 9/11 are being forced again to sacrifice -- this time by the sequestration budget cuts that are dipping into revenue set aside for ailing first responders and using it for deficit reduction. When the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act passed Congress at the end of 2010... [t]he law included two new, dedicated revenue streams dreamed up by Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) that not only pay for a compensation fund and treatment program, but also spin off some surplus to cut the deficit by $433 million. One source is a visa fee, and the other is a tariff on foreign companies that get federal government business, but whose own nations don't let United States companies get their government contracts. Neither of those revenue streams are affected by sequestration, and the funds continue to flow into the U.S. Treasury at the same rate. Yet sequestration increases the take the federal government is siphoning off -- this year by about $27 million. The effect is to dock cash meant for victims of the 2001 terrorist attacks, and use it to pay the nation's other bills." [HuffPost]
AIR TRAFFIC CONTROLLERS BEING FURLOUGHED, ZOMBIE RONALD REAGAN COULDN'T BE HAPPIER - Don't worry, as we've assured you before, the invisible hand of the market will land our thousands of airborne planes. Amanda Terkel: "The Federal Aviation Administration is notifying the majority of its 47,000 air traffic controllers and other employees this week that they will be furloughed, due to the deep budget cuts known as sequestration. On Tuesday, FAA Administrator Michael Huerta emailed employees to notify them that he approved a 'save money' furlough for up to 11 work days between April 7 and Sept. 30, which is the end of the fiscal year. He said that furlough notices were being sent out that day...[a] reader... received a furlough letter from Carrolyn Bostick, FAA assistant administrator for human resource management, who said employees had 15 calendar days from receipt of the letter to respond." [HuffPost]
Well, at least the government found a way to help everyone get through the pain of sequestration: "According to the Virginian-Pilot, the Navy is pulling back from an operation that kept 160 tons of cocaine and 25,000 pounds of marijuana out of the United States last year. The program, called 'Operation Martillo,' was a joint effort between the Navy, Air Force, Coast Guard, Drug Enforcement Agency, and governmental agencies in Europe and Latin America. But now, due to sequestration, the Navy will not deploy two of its ships slated to replace two homebound Navy vessels that were participating in the program." [MoJo]
EX-LAWMAKER HEADS TO K STREET, SUN SETS IN THE WEST,
POPE FUTURE POPE CATHOLIC - The revolving door -- or Circulator Orange Line, because we're tired of using "revolving door" and the former actually runs between the Hill and K Street -- twirls yet again. Paul Blumenthal: "Former Sen. Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.), recently retired after serving three terms in the Senate and four terms in the House, has landed a new job in Washington as a lawyer and future lobbyist for Covington & Burling. The firm announced Kyl's arrival on Wednesday by touting his previous service on the powerful Senate Finance Committee, the central tax writing committee in Congress' upper chamber, and noting that he will help clients navigate the 'policy aspects' of tax, health care, national security, defense and intellectual property. Kyl was most recently the second most powerful member of the Senate Republican caucus, serving as the minority whip...Under ethics laws, former legislators are not allowed to lobby the government for two years following their exit from Congress. They may, however, lead lobbying teams in a managerial role and use their connections and contacts to direct a firm's lobbyists on how best to target Congress or the executive branch to benefit their clients." [HuffPost]
HOLDER GIVES DOJ GOLD STAR FOR SWARTZ CASE - Or four out of five Branch Davidians, depending on your grade scale. Ryan Reilly: "The Justice Department never intended for Internet activist Aaron Swartz to go to jail 'for longer than a three, four, potentially five-month range,' Attorney General Eric Holder told the Senate Judiciary Committee during an oversight hearing on Wednesday. Calling Swartz's January suicide 'a tragedy,' Holder defended the Justice Department's handling of the case, stating that looking at Swartz's conduct and fashioning a potential sentence based on that conduct was "a good use of prosecutorial discretion." Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) suggested that DOJ had tried to bully Swartz into pleading guilty. Holder responded that federal prosecutors handling the case had offered Swartz two plea deals after his indictment, one of which would have sent him to prison for four months, and another that would have allowed him to argue for no jail time while allowing DOJ to argue for a six-month sentence." The Justice Department had a funny way of communicating their merciful position. Heckuva job, Eric! [HuffPost]
Never change, Mahmoud: "In a letter of condolence to the people of Venezuela, Iran's president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, struck a note of interfaith harmony on Wednesday, expressing confidence that the late Hugo Chavez would eventually be resurrected, along with Jesus and the Hidden Imam, a messianic figure in Shiite Islam." [NYT]
JIM CLYBURN NOT A 'HOUSE OF CARDS' VIEWER - That's not to say that he won't facilitate a grand fiscal bargain by bringing plates of barbecue to the next Republican conference lunch. Jen Bendery: "There's a story about a South Carolina Democrat who came to Congress, became the House majority whip and broke the necks of injured dogs. But at least one lawmaker won't get that reference to 'House of Cards': Rep. Jim Clyburn, a South Carolina Democrat who came to Congress and became the House majority whip. Clyburn told HuffPost he's never seen the hugely popular TV show, despite the similarities between him and the main character of the show. His aides have brought it up on several occasions. 'I hear that there's some things that my staff find a bit familiar,' Clyburn said in a brief interview. 'And that may be why I don't want to watch it.'" [HuffPost]
As HuffPost DC notes, "House of Cards" is just one big house of lies: "If you were planning on a visit to Freddy's, the barbecue joint that fictional Rep. Frank Underwood visits on a regular basis in 'House of Cards,' you should stop. Freddy's, too, is fictional. But a local expert says there are places to get delicious, no-frills barbecue in the nation's capital. Some are so hidden a member of Congress could hold a secret rendezvous there." [HuffPost]
BECAUSE YOU'VE READ THIS FAR -
Damn Dog it feels good to be a gangster.
- This cat's ability to open doors is just the first step in a long and destructive path that ends with mankind's demise. [http://bit.ly/YcMfK0]
- A TED presenter explains how she and a group of fellow scientists located the giant squid. [http://bit.ly/15x4wrt]
- Static-free dog is obsessed with dryer sheets. [http://bit.ly/ZmDuPu]
- Comedy troupe acts out how gay marriage is destroying our families. [http://chzb.gr/VBI6na]
- There may not be much snow in D.C. today but there was enough to keep this man from breaking his neck. [http://bit.ly/13H9JPx]
- Humans yelling like goats yelling like humans. Your move, goats. [http://bit.ly/14rO0Xv]
- Answers to some of the more inane things we ask dogs. [http://bit.ly/107414v]
@PatrickRuffini: Dick Morris: My gut tells me DC's getting a foot of snow.
@delrayser: How much this storm affects you will be highly dependent on where you live. Maybe naming it after the sequester wasn't such a bad idea.
@byrontau: Good to see the parties put aside their differences to oppose killing Americans with robots.
5:00 pm: DCCC Chair Steve Israel looks after number one with a fundraiser for his congressional reelection. It's a "Long Island Pizza Reception" which we guess means the pizza has a complex about pizza from the five boroughs. [DNC, 430 South Capitol Street SE]
5:30 pm: Dan Coats, Congress' most disyllabic, Steve Holt! member, is the beneficiary of a Capitol Hill fundraising dinner. [Acqua Al 2, 212 7th Street Southeast]
6:00 pm: Ed Markey, who polls indicate is the favorite to win the Democratic nomination for John Kerry's old Senate seat, drives up the score with a fundraiser. [Boston, MA]
Got something to add? Send tips/quotes/stories/photos/events/fundraisers/job movement/juicy miscellanea to Eliot Nelson (firstname.lastname@example.org), Ryan Grim (email@example.com) or Arthur Delaney (firstname.lastname@example.org). Follow us on Twitter @HuffPostHill (twitter.com/HuffPostHill). Sign up here: http://huff.to/an2k2e