Huffpost Politics

HUFFPOST HILL - Congress Upgrades Itself To Boarding Group 1

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America's consumption problem reached new heights today when Congress had to re-up our supply of helium, the second-most common substance in the universe. Rep. Hank Johnson delivered a heartfelt defense of the element, which could be put in balloons and used to keep Guam from capsizing. And Max Baucus wrote that the whisper of "the elk resting in a meadow east of the Bridger Mountains" convinced him to retire and return to Montana. Our money says the whispers of Arent Fox LLP will ultimately prove more convincing. This is HUFFPOST HILL for Friday, April 26th, 2013:

FAA FURLOUGH BILL PASSES, GRANDMA STILL STARVING - America's poor preschoolers might still have to pawn their Thomas the Tank Engine backpack to eat because Head Start funding is down, but don't worry! You'll soon have to spend thirty fewer minutes in the Fox Sports Bar and Grill while waiting for your connection in Charlotte. Mike McAuliff: "Lawmakers passed a bill Friday to ease air traffic delays before catching their own flights home for a week off, leaving unchanged other painful effects of the across-the-board spending cuts mandated by Congress' sequestration law...cuts that are harming care for cancer patients, closing children out of preschool and ending food programs for the elderly remain in place. The $85 billion in mandatory cuts this year are a result of the Budget Control Act of 2011, which Congress passed after its standoff over raising the nation's debt limit... The theory [was] that sequestration would be so painful that Congress wouldn't let it happen. But Congress and the 'super committee; tasked with the budget-cutting job failed anyway..faced with an outcry from the flying public over delays caused by sequester-related furloughs at the Federal Aviation Administration, the Senate acted Thursday night and the House followed suit Friday, voting 361 to 41 to give the FAA budget flexibility otherwise barred by the sequester law." [HuffPost]

POLITICIAN SAYS ONE THING, DOES ANOTHER - Pork nom nom nom nom nom nom nom. Lucia Graves: "Republicans on Wednesday attacked the Department of Energy for its investment in struggling electric car company Fisker Automotive. Fisker laid off a majority of its workers this month after receiving $192 million in federal aid as part of the Obama administration's Advanced Technology Vehicles Manufacturing loan program, designed to aid car companies pursuing energy efficiency. Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), chairman of the House Oversight Committee's economic growth, job creation and regulatory affairs subcommittee, said at Wednesday's hearing that the department should never have given California-based Fisker a loan in the first place... 'It was rated triple-C plus. It was a junk-grade investment.' Fisker is yet another car manufacturer that finds itself struggling after applying for money from the department's ATVM program, alongside Coda Automotive. That company, based in Ohio, had also sought a loan from Energy, and among the lawmakers who pushed for that loan was Jordan....Jordan was also among the Ohio lawmakers to request a loan guarantee for the commercialization of the American Centrifuge Plant, a uranium enrichment facility in Piketon, Ohio. With its rating of triple-C, the plant represents a riskier investment than Fisker did with a rating of triple-C plus." [HuffPost]

DAILY DELANEY DOWNER - Go ahead and heighten your fears. "U.S. economic growth regained speed in the first quarter, but not as much as expected, which could heighten fears the already weakening economy could struggle to handle deep government spending cuts and higher taxes. Gross domestic product expanded at 2.5 percent annual rate, the Commerce Department said on Friday, after growth nearly stalled at 0.4 percent in the fourth quarter. The increase, however, missed economists' expectations for a 3.0 percent growth pace. [Reuters]

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LEAVES OF ASS: MAX BAUCUS' MAWKISH REASONS FOR LEAVING SENATE - The Montana Democrat published an op-ed in the Great Falls Tribune wherein he detailed his reasoning for retiring: "This was not an easy decision (to not seek re-election), but the last few months I’ve felt the calling: It whispered to me among the elk resting in a meadow east of the Bridger Mountains. I heard it as thousands of snow geese flew over the Rocky Mountain Front. The pull came up from my soul like the ducks that rose in clouds from the winter wheat fields of Teton County at dusk. And, I thought I might never go back to Washington when we got stuck in the mud trying to drive through the Castle Mountains a few weeks ago." [Great Falls Tribune]

HOUSE ADDRESSES HELIUM SHORTAGE, BECAUSE NOBLE GASSES ARE THE MOST PATRIOTIC OF ALL THE GASSES - Congress is on it. WaPo: "The Federal Helium Program -- left over from the age of zeppelins and an infamous symbol of Washington’s inability to cut what it no longer needs -- will be terminated. Unless it isn’t. On Friday, in fact, the House voted 394 to 1 to keep it alive. 'Many people don’t believe that the federal government should be in the helium business. And I would agree,' Rep. Doc Hastings (R-Wash.) said on the House floor Thursday. But at that very moment, Hastings was urging his colleagues to keep the government in the helium business for a little while longer. 'We must recognize the realities of our current situation,' he said. The problem is that the private sector has not done what some politicians had predicted it would -- step into a role that government was giving up. The federal helium program sells vast amounts of the gas to U.S. companies that use it in everything from party balloons to MRI machines. If the government stops, no one else is ready. There are fears of shortages." [WaPo]

Rep. Hank Johnson is a friend of helium. WaPo: "Rep. Hank Johnson (D-Ga.) on Thursday offered a stemwinder of a speech in favor of the helium legislation before the House this week. 'Imagine, Mr. Speaker, a world without balloons,' Johnson said, apparently in jest. 'How can we make sure that the injustice of there being no helium for comedians to get that high-pitched voice that we all hold near and dear to our hearts.' Johnson continued: 'Too often lately, this body has sat deflated — not for lack of hot air, mind you. But seriously, ladies and gentlemen, unlike a noble element, this House has failed to act on Americans’ real concerns.'" [WaPo]

NAVEL GAZES AT NAVEL GAZING AT NAVEL GAZING AT NAVEL - In millions of years, when an advanced alien species sifts through the ashes of our once great civilization, they'll discover this week's incestuous "Behind the Curtain" column from Mike Allen and Jim VandeHei and remark, "Blorg ::click:: blorg ::click:: blarg blorg ::snort::" (that's Blorgblorg for "Smart take"). "Talk about incestuous," the pair says of a passage from Mark Leibovich's forthcoming book on Beltway culture, "This Town." "A top Obama official cashes in with a top corporation with the help of a top Washington fixer and gets top-shelf treatment from one of Washington’s top journalists (who also happens to be the co-byline on this piece.)." They continue: "But in the spirit of D.C.’s most incestuous weekend of the year, the White House Correspondents’ Association dinner, we thought we’d have some fun and do some reporting on his reporting on our friends, sources and subjects to find out who else should worry most about his book." The intensity of the feedback loop is astonishing (as is their description of Allen as "one of Washington's top journalists"). It's like a mobius strip of day-winning (or an Ouroboros of game changing?). Whatever the case, we quit. [Politico]

We asked Leibovich for his take on the story. "What story?" he asked.

Jason Linkins: "Yes, Allen is pretty sure he is a 'top journalist;' after all, the entire existence of Allen's regular 'Behind The Curtain' feature is already predicated on the assumption that he is a top journalist. Of course, maybe co-author Jim VandeHei insisted this be included? Or he wrote this part himself? However it happened, it makes sense that the paragraph began with the words, 'Talk about incestuous.'" [HuffPost]

PSLGOPL agrees: "I would like to buy Jason Linkins a beer. America thanks you."

RAND PAUL LEADS 2016 NEW HAMPSHIRE POLL, HEADED TO SWING STATES - Of course, if we remember correctly, "Ronald Reagan's Spleen" was leading the pack at this point in the 2012 primary, so take this with a grain of salt. Courier-Journal: "Paul is the favorite of 28 percent of potential Republican primary voters, according to Public Policy Polling. He leads Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, at 25 percent; New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, 14 percent; former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan, 7 percent each; former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum, 4 percent; New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez, 3 percent; and Texas Gov. Rick Perry and Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, 1 percent each. Paul is scheduled to speak to the New Hampshire Republican Party’s Liberty Day Dinner on May 20. That’s 10 days after an address to the Republican Party of Iowa’s Lincoln Day Dinner in Cedar Rapids." [Courier-Journal]

"8 Reasons Why We'd Be Better Off Governed By Sloths"

Turns out Bill Nelson ISN'T running for governor. NBC News: "On MSNBC's 'Jansing &Co.,' Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) said he has 'no intention' to run for Florida governor next year. 'Look, I have no plans to run for governor. I have no intention of running for governor,' said Nelson, who won re-election last November. 'I love this job as senator, except that I am very, very frustrated as we have discussed this morning -- that we can't get anything done because you can't get people together to build consensus.' Nelson's statement comes after Roll Call quoted a 'senior Democratic official' who said that the senator was considering challenging Republican Gov. Rick Scott." [NBC News]

LET'S TALK ABOUT SEX, BABY: ABSOLUTELY NO REPUBLICAN - Nick Wing: "Republicans would rather let their son or daughter keep a farm animal in his or her dorm room or break an ankle while running naked than host a sex ed class, according to the results of a recent 60 Minutes/Vanity Fair Poll. The poll asked, 'If you had a child in their first year of college, what is the last thing you would like to hear about him or her?' Overall, 25 percent of parents would shiver at news their darling was making fake IDs, and 24 percent said they'd most disapprove of their kid holding the record for consuming Jell-O shots. Yet among Republicans, 28 percent identified hosting a sexual education class in their dorm twice a week as the worst possible scenario for their child, compared to just 10 percent of parents who preferred their child break an ankle while streaking, and 6 percent who chose 'having a farm animal in their room.'" [HuffPost]

KARL ROVE REMINISCES ABOUT GEORGE W. BUSH, OUR FIFTH-GREATEST PRESIDENT - Nick Wing: "Former President George W. Bush isn't quite a George Washington or an Abraham Lincoln, his former campaign strategist Karl Rove admitted to ABC News on Thursday, but according to Rove, he's not too far off. 'The greats, you can't touch: George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Ronald Reagan, FDR,' Rove said in Dallas at the dedication of the George W. Bush Presidential Center. 'But yeah, I'd put him up there.' Rove's claim came after an aggressive defense of Bush's legacy, which he said history would view favorably more quickly than most thought. Bush left office in 2009 as the most unpopular outgoing president in the history of Gallup polling. Rove pointed to a recent poll that showed his popularity at 47 percent to argue that Bush was already experiencing a turnaround." [HuffPost]

BECAUSE YOU'VE READ THIS FAR - Child is distraught by mail delivery.

HuffPost Hiccup: Yesterday we called our Former Abramoff Lobbyist Pissed At Things "PSLGOPL," the initialism for our Paranoid Self-Loathing GOP Lobbyist. Yes, these are two real people, and we apologize for mixing them up. As a token of our contrition, here is Wendell, The Republican Puppy.

COMFORT FOOD

- Child falls asleep while eating chicken. YOLO. [http://bit.ly/ZzJXuI]

- If you haven't already, a teaser clip from the upcoming "Arrested Development" season has been released. [http://bit.ly/14TZhpd]

- Tom Waits and Cookie Monster perform a duet. [http://bit.ly/ZRNMqB]

- The Edward Scissorhands of comically large fruit cuts a watermelon in under 30 seconds. He's like the thinking man's Gallagher. [http://bit.ly/12tq33j]

- What happens when you're followed on Twitter... literally. [http://bit.ly/12MATCu]

- Guatemalan funeral parlor is the best funeral parlor. [http://bit.ly/11JVjJO]

- Meet Bongo, the baby antelope. [http://bit.ly/ZSPc3f]

TWITTERAMA

@dcjourno: @JimVandeHei @mikeallen Great running into you guys at therapy this morning!

@jaredpolis: OMG @replouiegohmert "This admin. has so many Muslim brotherhood members that have influence" NOT TRUE; 0 members in admin

@ChrisMurphyCT: At #Bassick I tried to get @SenBlumenthal and @MayorBillFinch to do the Harlem Shake on stage w me. They declined.

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