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HUFFPOST HILL - Republican Makes Heteronormative Statement

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Sequestration will force New York-area helicopters to fly at lower altitudes, making neighborhoods noisier and providing Harold Ford a much better view of the city. Paul Broun expressed his discomfort with sex change operations, declaring, "I like being a boy" (at least he didn't say no homo?). And Mitch McConnell requested that votes be postponed so he can watch the NCAA championship. It was the first time the minority leader ever held up a vote. This is HUFFPOST HILL for Monday, April 8th, 2013:

@AlexNBCNews: POTUS in CT: "What is more important -- Our children or an 'A' grade from the gun lobby?" #Newtown

GUN CONTROL FIGHT: REID READIES FOR SHOWDOWN - Politico: "Setting the tone for a likely fight on gun legislation this week, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid on Monday bemoaned threats by more than a dozen Republicans to filibuster the bill. 'There is simply no reason for this blatant obstruction,' Reid said as the Senate returned from its two week recess. Reid is currently deciding how tough a bill he can move to the floor this week, as Democrats are still working to lure a Republican to a compromise measure that would include background checks for gun sales. But the legislation is likely to fall well short of the sweeping deal President Barack Obama laid out in January. Several Senate Republicans, led by Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and Rand Paul (R-Ky.), have threatened to filibuster the bill. Reid said last month that he would allow amendments to the bill, meaning Democrats could offer controversial elements like the assault weapon ban and limits on high-capacity magazines as amendments. And Republicans could presumably offer amendments that would limit the bill’s effect." [Politico]

Sam Stein on movement over the weekend: "The most important of those developments were reports that Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) is now a prospective Republican co-sponsor for a bill to expand background checks for firearm purchases. Several gun control advocates said they were cautiously optimistic about the development. Toomey's emergence as a player, after all, was coming in the 11th hour of negotiations. And the timing seemed partially intended to persuade Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.), the lawmaker at the heart of negotiations, to come to an agreement." [HuffPost]

PRIORITIES - @rebeccaberg: Per Senate Dem aide, vote scheduled for today has been delayed "at Sen. McConnell’s request because he wanted to watch the Louisville game."

GLORIOUS MOMENTS IN SENATE HISTORY! Remember when Kentucky Sen. Jim "Tough Shit" Bunning complained that his own filibuster against unemployment insurance had caused him to miss a college basketball game? Thanks for the reminder, Mitch!

ALLYSON SCHWARTZ: YN YT TO WYN YT - Amanda Terkel: "Rep. Allyson Schwartz (D-Pa.) has officially announced that she'll be challenging first-term Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett (R) in 2014, potentially offering voters a choice between two candidates with starkly opposing views on abortion and ensuring that women's rights will continue to be an issue in the next election. Corbett attracted the ire of abortion rights activists last year during the debate over a far-reaching mandatory ultrasound bill for women seeking abortions. He quickly became a target of women's groups when he dismissed concerns that the bill went too far, saying it wasn't a problem if women were forced to look at the ultrasound image because '[Y]ou just have to close your eyes.' Schwartz, in contrast, is a strong supporter of abortion rights, earning a 'pro-choice score' of 100 percent from NARAL Pro-Choice America. Before she was in Congress, she also ran a Philadelphia women's health center where abortions were performed. Conservatives looking into her past have already zeroed in on the clinic." [HuffPost]

DAILY DELANEY DOWNER - Heather Podesta just bought a new house for $3.8 million. "The high-profile lobbyist, fresh off her amicable split from Democratic powerbroker husband Tony Podesta, is moving on -- but not too far. She's picked up a nearby 1911 Beaux Arts mansion not far from where she and her ex settled in Kalorama three years ago: Eight bedrooms, seven baths, fireplaces in every room, plus a carriage house and gardens. Almost 5,000 sq. feet, so plenty of space to display whatever part of their dazzling art collection she gets." [Reliable Source]

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NATIONAL REPUBLICAN CONGRESSIONAL COMMITTEE - Now if the party can find some way to let Steve King go on political sabbatical, it'll be set. Salon: "The new website for the National Republican Congressional Committee, the campaign arm of House Republicans, has earned a lot of attention in the past week for its bold new attempt to win the Internet and elections by imitating BuzzFeed. On the website today, you can find items like '13 Animals That Are Really Bummed on ObamaCare’s Third Birthday' or a video of President Obama whiffing 20 free throws. There’s more substantive fare too, like a polling memo on the Keystone XL pipeline. One thing you won’t find on the front page, however, is the word 'Republican,' except for at the very bottom in a disclaimer box that reads, 'Paid for by the National Republican Congressional Committee.' In contrast to the DCCC, their counterparts across the aisle, which blasts 'DEMOCRATS 2014' in a giant banner across the top of their website, the NRCC page displays only the committee’s acronym." [Salon]

PAUL BROUN AFFIRMS HIS GENDER IDENTITY - The congressman and candidate for Senate stopped short of using gender neutral pronouns... actually he stopped way short of that. Nick Wing: "Rep. Paul Broun (R-Ga.) took his opposition to President Barack Obama's health care law to his constituents last week, blasting certain aspects of the overhaul at a town hall meeting. Amid a broader critique of Obamacare, Broun explained he opposes health insurance covering sex-change or hair-transplant procedures...'I don't want to pay for a sex-change operation,' Broun told town hall attendees, presumably referring to a proposal, scrapped by the Obama administration late last month, that would have allowed gender confirmation surgeries to be covered under Medicare and Medicaid. 'I'm not interested. I like being a boy.'" [HuffPost]

BANKS TAKING BROWN-VITTER SERIOUSLY ENOUGH TO MOCK IT - That's progress. The lead item in Morning Money, quoting Financial Services Forum CEO Rob Nichols: "WALL STREET REACT TO BROWN/VITTER: 'COMICAL'." Meghan Dubyak, a spokeswoman for Brown, responds: “Not surprising coming from a group that thinks deregulation is the answer to the credit bubble and Great Recession."

Tim Johnson announced his support for marriage equality today, a decision that will have a profound impact on the reelection campaign he's never going to have. Jen Bendery: Sen. Tim Johnson (D-S.D.) announced Monday that he now backs gay marriage, becoming the latest in a wave of Senate Democrats lining up to express their support. 'After lengthy consideration, my views have evolved sufficiently to support marriage equality legislation,' Johnson said in a statement...Only three remaining Democratic senators have not publicly backed gay marriage: Mark Pryor (D-Ark.), Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Mary Landrieu (D-La.). Landrieu and Pryor face reelection in 2014 in Southern red states. Manchin, like Donnelly and Heitkamp, is not up for reelection until 2018." [HuffPost]

THINK TANK FIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIGHT!!!!!!!!!! - This is going to end with lot of broken black plastic framed glasses and blood-stained rep bowties. Roll Call: "This latest effort to overhaul U.S. immigration law has spawned an intellectual food fight, as two high-profile Washington think tanks battle for influence over congressional Republicans. The Cato Institute, a libertarian think tank that favors a comprehensive immigration overhaul, last week quietly posted an analysis on its website targeting The Heritage Foundation. The conservative juggernaut has long opposed comprehensive revisions, and Cato hopes that by moving to provide an alternate set of data and debunk a Heritage study that has yet to be officially acknowledged, let alone released, its grip on the GOP on this hot-button issue might be diminished, if not severed." [Roll Call]

SEQUESTRATION UPENDING LIVES, RUINING SLEEP - NBC New York: "The federal sequester will soon mean furloughs for the nation's air traffic controllers, bringing the noisy thrum of low-flying helicopters to residential parts of New York and New Jersey this summer, according to union officials. Helicopters for sightseeing and other purposes are kept above 1,500 feet for noise abatement purposes in New York City neighborhoods like Battery Park City and the Upper West Side, as well as Jersey City across the Hudson, said Ray Adams, union president for controllers at Newark Liberty International. But Adams, speaking for the National Air Traffic Controllers Association, predicted that tower control of those flights, some 90,000 a year, will end when the furloughs take effect and the busy summer season kicks in next month. And that would mean the choppers would have to drop down below 1,500 feet into uncontrolled space where they don't need an air traffic controller's permission to fly around Manhattan, and to return to the base for many choppers, at a heliport in Kearny. That means many New York and New Jersey residents will be hearing more low-flying choppers." [NBC New York]

Also, a public defender fired himself. Nice one, sequestration.

HAGEL REVISES JUDICIAL CODE AFTER SEXUAL ASSAULT CASE - The Hill: "Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel recommended Monday that the Pentagon strip commanders of the ability to overturn verdicts in military criminal court cases. The proposed change in the military’s judicial code comes in the wake of widespread outrage on Capitol Hill over a commander's dismissal of a sexual assault guilty verdict against an Air Force officer. The decision by the Air Force commander to dismiss the verdict during a case trial at the Aviano Air Base in Italy prompted new charges from lawmakers that the military wasn’t taking the persistent problem of sexual assault seriously enough. The move would reverse a longstanding precedent in the military's Uniform Code of Military Justice that allows a convening authority to review cases and reduce penalties or dismiss a verdict." [The Hill]

MARGARET THATCHER DIES - Reuters: "Margaret Thatcher, the 'Iron Lady' who transformed Britain and inspired conservatives around the world by radically rolling back the state during her 11 years in power, died on Monday following a stroke. She was 87. Britain's only woman prime minister, the unyielding, outspoken Thatcher led the Conservatives to three election victories, governing from 1979 to 1990, the longest continuous period in office by a British premier since the early 19th century. A grocer's daughter with a steely resolve, she was loved and loathed in equal measure as she crushed the unions, privatized vast swathes of British industry, clashed with the European Union and fought a war to recover the Falkland Islands from Argentine invaders...Prime Minister David Cameron cut short a visit to Europe to return to Britain after the death was announced and British flags on government buildings and royal palaces across London were lowered to half mast. U.S. President Barack Obama said: 'America has lost a true friend.'" [Reuters]

Rep. Steve Stockman slathered on some blue face paint and unleashed a mighty warcry: "Where Obama has failed, Baroness Thatcher succeeded. While Obama forges chains of dependency and government bloat, Baroness Thatcher took a sledgehammer to the machinery of liberalism. Baroness Thatcher’s record of creating explosive economic growth and a stronger nation by embracing conservative values makes the utter failure of Obama’s stale liberalism starker and more disturbing. While many mourn, Baroness Thatcher reminded us 'I fight on I fight to win.' The best way to honor Baroness Thatcher is to crush liberalism and sweep it into the dustbin of history. What are you doing this morning to defeat liberal politicians?"

BECAUSE YOU'VE READ THIS FAR - Possum in a bandana eats cheese.

COMFORT FOOD

- A skeeball machine made out of Knex. We suspect a whac-a-mole made out of Knex wouldn't fare as well. [http://bit.ly/PD6VGE]

- The Interior Department has amassed an impressive collection of Instagram photos -- having the keys to Yellowstone can help you do that. [http://bit.ly/ZdbVYg]

- Twin sisters born in Korea and adopted by two different families in the West were reunited when one saw a movie trailer featuring her biological sister. [http://bit.ly/143Kgkv]

- Every time Will Smith has yelled "Woooo!! Ha ha!" in a song. [http://huff.to/XiJP0m]

- Raunchy rap lyrics transposed on stock photos typically reserved for inspirational photos. [http://bit.ly/Y4WbGz]

- Old Spice's new commercial for its line of soap is weird, even by Old Spice standards. [http://bit.ly/145fNCo]

- "Reasons My Son Is Crying" features photos of the author's distraught child and explanatory captions ("I wouldn’t let him drown in this pond."). [http://bit.ly/11nBgCF]

TWITTERAMA

@jasoncherkis: The number of punk bands that formed under Thatcher can not be underestimated.

@dceiver: Thatcher's passing is basically our last really good chance at a Smiths reunion. Everyone play it cool.

@elisefoley: At some point these crying wolf "NSFW" tweets will lead me to click something actually NSFW and I'll be mad at you all.

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