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HUFFPOST HILL - Dow Hits 15,000, Still No White House Tours

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Angus King still doesn't have a Senate office, which explains that bill he introduced to boost the WiFi at his local Starbucks. Chris Christie underwent surgery to curb his appetite, though he remains plenty full of himself. And Chris Murphy compared a congressperson's constant fundraising solicitations to those of a telemarketer. But with telemarketers, there's at least a list you can get on to keep them away from you. This is HUFFPOST HILL for Tuesday, May 7th, 2013:

LEAHY FILES LGBT AMENDMENT TO IMMIGRATION BILL - BuzzFeed: "Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy has submitted two amendments to the 'Gang of Eight' senators' immigration bill that would extend to same-sex couples to similar immigration rights as opposite-sex married couples...Amendments on the bill are due to be submitted by 5 p.m. Tuesday. The Judiciary Committee is scheduled to begin considering the bill and amendments on Thursday morning. Among Leahy's amendments is one that is modeled after the Uniting American Families Act, a bill that would create a new category of 'permanent partners' to enable a U.S. citizen in a same-sex couple to sponsor a foreign partner. A second amendment, according to a news release from Leahy's office, 'provides equal protection to lawfully married bi-national same sex couples that other spouses receive under existing immigration law.'" [BuzzFeed]

99 98 LUFTBALLONS: WEATHER BALLOONS AXED BY SEQUESTER - Our proposed replacement, a grizzled old man sitting on a porch chewing on hay complaining about his knees actin' up, was denied by NOAA. Sam Stein: "Reeling from budget tightening that is being compounded by sequestration, the National Weather Service has begun making operational decisions that a top labor group warned could end up costing millions of dollars in damage and threaten public safety. This past week, Dan Sobien, the president of the union representing National Weather Service employees, issued a warning that the four furlough days being faced by his members, on top of the cuts already being experienced, could compromise commerce, air travel and weather forecasting. Impacts of the cuts, Sobien added in a follow-up interview with The Huffington Post, are already beginning to take place. In Fairbanks, Alaska, a weather service office that usually houses 20-plus staffers is now permanently down seven workers, Sobien said. The National Hurricane Center, he added, is facing several vacancies among its IT staff in the lead up to hurricane season." [HuffPost]

"None of those cuts have to be made there," said Rep. Lynn Jenkins (R-Kansas), who of course voted for all those cuts there.

Chris Murphy on his job responsibilities: "Today, more than ever before, the one question you have to ask when you are deciding whether to run for the United States House, the United States Senate is, are you willing to become a telemarketer for 24 months? Are you willing to sit on the phone and ask your friends and, just slightly worse than that, absolute strangers to give you thousands of dollars to run for office?" [HuffPost's Paul Blumenthal]

Scoop: House Republicans Tell Constituents They Oppose Chained CPI - Two House Republicans have told constituents that they oppose the proposal to cut Social Security and veterans benefits by reducing the cost of living adjustment, according to letters they sent to constituents. Obama included the plan, known as chained CPI, in his annual budget, but specified that he was only offering it as a concession to entice compromise. For Phil Gingrey -- a GOP senate candidate in Georgia -- and Sean Duffy, however, the concession is itself objectionable. When Obama put the chained CPI proposal in his budget, Rep. Greg Walden (R-Ore.), the head of the National Republican Congressional Committee, charged with electing Republicans to the House, slammed it as "a shocking attack on seniors." In general, though, the response has been muted. But the letters from Gingrey and Duffy underscore the difficulty that advocates of cutting Social Security face. The letters were sent to Rep. Alan Grayson (D-Fla.) as part of his "Citizen Whip" project, through which he asks people across the country to write their member of Congress and forward him the reply. Full story later at HuffPost.

SC-1: POLLS CLOSE AT 7 EST - It's a showdown between a fallen Republican star, Mark Sanford, who disappointed conservatives by cheating on his wife and a rising Democratic star, Elizabeth Colbert Busch, who will inevitably disappoint liberals -- and probably create some awkward moments for her brother -- when she votes like a Blue Dog. [Live Results Map on HuffPost]

GOP WON'T WAVE GOODBYE TO WAIVER OBSESSION - Congressional Republicans refuse to put a time limit on this leftover campaign tactic even though it doesn't work. Elise Viebeck: "Republicans on Capitol Hill are criticizing the Obama administration for preparing to issue waivers under welfare reform starting four years ago. Leading GOP lawmakers on Tuesday released an internal memo from the federal Health department (HHS) laying the legal groundwork for its waivers policy. The memo, dated Dec. 2009, reveals an early desire for an 'executive branch power grab,' said Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) in a statement." [The Hill]

BILL CLINTON: 'PAUL KRUGMAN'S RIGHT' - At Pete Peterson's fiscal summit, Clinton was the skunk at the garden party, praising Peterson's arch enemy. "I think everybody in this debate has an obligation to say what they believe," said Clinton with a bit of hesitation. "I think Paul Krugman's right in the short run, and Pete Peterson and Simpson-Bowles and all those guys, everybody's right in the long run. And the question is timing." We asked Krugman if he'd seen the remark and had a reaction: "I think I'd rather have unnecessary root canal work than listen to a Pete Peterson fiscal summit, but that's good to know." [HuffPost]

DAILY DELANEY DOWNER - Orlando Kremmer worked as a pipefitter at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation until he and hundreds of others lost their jobs thanks to sequestration. Kremmer, 57, has been unemployed now for more than a month. He's as baffled as ever about how laying people off is supposed to help America. "Isn't that just going to screw up the whole country? It just doesn't make any sense at all to me," Kremmer said. "You pay taxes in, your life insurance, your retirement -- the whole darn thing went down the drain! It hurts being laid off." [Hang in there!]

DOUBLE DOWNER - Extended unemployment benefits Congress put in place at the outset of the Great Recession didn't discourage people from taking jobs, according to new research from the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco. Princeton University economics professor Henry Farber and San Francisco Fed economist Rob Valletta found that extended benefits might have encouraged people to continue to look for work longer so that they could remain eligible for benefits. While the longer searches for jobs could have boosted the unemployment rate by four-tenths of a percentage point, the compensation didn't make the long-term jobless unwilling to work. "It did not reduce the job finding rate," Farber told HuffPost. He added the benefits probably helped the economy, however, not to mention the individual people who otherwise might have had no income. "These are people who spend the money you give them." [HuffPost]

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ONLY YOU CAN PREVENT FOREST FIRES... WITH GUNS... SOMEHOW - With Amanda Terkel: "Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) is attempting to attach a pro-gun amendment to a water resources bill that the Senate is scheduled to take up on Tuesday. The measure would allow gun owners to carry their firearms to outdoor recreational areas that are currently off-limits. Areas controlled by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers -- such as hundreds of the nation's lakes and thousands of campsites and miles of trails -- are currently gun-free zones, even if the state where the land is located allows concealed weapons. Coburn's amendment, however, would grant precedence to state laws and permit people to carry guns in some of these places. Coburn told The Huffington Post on Tuesday that he had filed the amendment, saying it would be 'just like we have everywhere else.' In 2010, President Barack Obama signed into law a bill that allows loaded firearms in national parks and wildlife refuges." [HuffPost]

Elsewhere in the world's greatest deliberative body Yesterday Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid shot down an objection from Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) Monday, calling him a 'schoolyard bully' for trying to insert instructions into Senate budget negotiations that would prohibit raising taxes or the debt ceiling...Cruz responded, 'I wasn't aware we were in a schoolyard.' 'There's either an objection or no objection,' Reid shot back. 'We've had enough of reserving the right to object.' 'Reserving the right to object,' said Cruz. 'Mr. President, there is no such thing,' Reid said. Cruz finally objected." Today, Reid said, "My friend--I'm sorry--the junior senator from Texas." And then twice later referred to him as "the very junior senator from Texas."

MARKETPLACE FAIRNESS ACT TAKES ITS CAMPAIGN CASH SPONGING OPERATION TO THE HOUSE - While the Senate on Monday gave overwhelming support to the bill to empower states to collect sales tax on online purchases, chances for passage in the GOP-controlled House of Representatives are far less certain. The overwhelming 69-27 margin, however, has given it momentum that has even surprised some of its backers. The bill was immediately referred to the House Judiciary Committee, chaired by Virginia Republican Bob Goodlatte, who expressed concerns about the bill Monday evening but pledged give it a fair hearing (see below for his full statement). Operatives on and off the Hill say that the bill's fate rests in the hands of Goodlatte, as House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) is committed to moving it through the regular process. The strongly conservative wing of the party, meanwhile, is working hard to beat it. "It's become a conservative litmus test," said one high-level GOP operative. "On the other hand, most governors are pressuring members and retailers have a lot of juice. Think how many jobs the big boxes produce in each district."

FLAKE SOFTENING OPPOSITION TO BACKGROUND CHECKS - Because Jen Bendery: "Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) said Tuesday that he could support tighter background checks on gun sales -- something he declined to do last month -- if the senators pushing the proposal change its provision dealing with Internet sales. But it remains to be seen whether his complaints about the provision have merit. In an interview with CNN's Dana Bash, Flake said the only reason he voted against the background checks bill sponsored by Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) was because he thought it would be too costly and inconvenient to require checks on Internet sales. Flake said that under the proposal, it would be 'considered a commercial sale' if a gun owner sent friends a text message or an email, or posted on Facebook, asking if they wanted to buy a gun. That could make things difficult for people in rural areas, he said." [HuffPost]

AYOTTE TRIES TO LIMIT DAMAGE ON BACKGROUND CHECK VOTE - Politico: "Facing a wave of intense criticism and plunging poll numbers after opposing a bill to expand background checks on gun purchases, New Hampshire Sen. Kelly Ayotte tried some damage control in an op-ed published Monday. 'Out of state special interests are running false ads attacking me and even lying about my efforts to prevent gun-related violence,' Ayotte, a Republican, wrote in the op-ed, published by Patch news sites in New Hampshire. 'I want to set the record straight: I support effective background checks and in fact voted recently to improve the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS).'... the Granite Stater backed an alternative measure written by Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) that ignored gun shows and internet sales entirely, instead focusing on encouraging states to submit mental health information to the background check database." [Politico]

Read Ayotte's full op-ed on Amherst patch here.

CHRIS CHRISTIE DE-FATTING - The New Jersey Governor underwent surgery to transform himself from an obese and rude politician with a national profile to an overweight and rude politician with a national profile. The medical term for that is "Ted Cruz." Times: "Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey, whose long struggle with obesity has been raised as a political liability, secretly underwent weight-loss surgery three months ago, according to a statement from his office. The surgery, which took place on Feb. 16, involved the placement of a silicone band around his stomach to reduce its size, limiting the amount of food he can take in but not altering his digestive process. Mr. Christie, whose weight was an issue in previous campaigns and who is widely thought to be considering a run for president, disclosed thesurgery in an interview with The New York Post in which he maintained that it had nothing to do with politics. 'It's so much more important than that,; he said." [NYT]

MILITARY SEXUAL ASSAULTS ON THE RISE Molly O'Toole: "Sexual assaults occurred at an average of more than 70 per day in the United States military during fiscal year 2012, according to an annual report being released Tuesday by the Department of Defense. Reports of sexual assault in the military rose during October 2011 through September 2012 by 6 percent from the prior year, with a total of about 26,000 service members experiencing unwanted sexual contact. Nearly 7,000 more service members reported unwanted sexual contact than in the year prior, when about 19,300 members of the military reported inappropriate sexual contact." [HuffPost]

White House taking notice: "President Obama said Tuesday that someone who engages in for sexual assault in the military is "betraying the uniform," responding to a Pentagon report estimating that there are 70 sexual assaults involving military personnel each day. 'I have no tolerance for this,' Obama said during a joint press conference with South Korean President Park Geun-hye at the White House. 'I have communicated this to the secretary of defense. We're gonna communicate this again to folks up and down the chain in areas of authority. And I expect consequences.'" [TPM]

POSSIBLE FOX NEWS LINEUP CHANGE - Sadly "Loveline With Alan Colmes" is not in the mix... STILL. NYT: "Two of the best-known anchors on the Fox News Channel, Greta Van Susteren and Megyn Kelly, have renewed their contracts, possibly foreshadowing the first change to the channel's prime time schedule in over a decade. Ms. Van Susteren, who signed a new long-term contract earlier this week, according to her husband, John Coale, may move out of the 10 p.m. time slot that she has held since 2002. That would open up the hour for Ms. Kelly, currently an afternoon anchor, who has long been mentioned as a candidate for a prime time position at Fox. Mr. Coale, a lawyer who represents Ms. Van Susteren in contract negotiations, said he was not aware of any impending scheduling changes. But in a brief telephone interview on Tuesday he suggested that she would happily move to an earlier hour, perhaps sometime later this year." [NYT]

BECAUSE YOU'VE READ THIS FAR - Baby gorilla enjoys a cuddle.

ANGUS KING DOESN'T HAVE AN OFFICE YET - Which is why he has been legislating from home, introducing bills in his boxers and drafting dear colleague letters while binge watching "The Americans" he is working in a basement. Press Herald: "Sen. Angus King has passed the 100-day mark in the Senate, but he's still waiting for an office. The Maine independent has been working from a temporary office since his arrival on Capitol Hill. He says he's hopeful that he'll be able to move into his office next month. Currently he's working in a bunker-like office down the hall from former Sen. Olympia Snowe's large office suite. King says he originally questioned why he had to wait. After all, there are 100 senators and there should be 100 offices." [Press Herald]

COMFORT FOOD

- This gentleman really got into a 3D rollercoaster simulator. [http://bit.ly/15nyUbE]

- Children's choir coveres Florence and the Machine. [http://bit.ly/JTHUpZ]

- 24 flowcharts that will help give your life direction and meaning. For example, are you Meatloaf? [http://bit.ly/12e7e31]

- The title sequence to "Drive" reimagined as the introduction to a Sega Genesis game. Totally works. [http://bit.ly/YBcUad]

- Not all dashboard cams from Russia are of sloppy driving and celestial hellfire. Here are some heartwarming ones [http://chzb.gr/15t0UKz]

- The Onion on how to keep your major media outlet from being hacked. [http://onion.com/128KzGt]

- A map of American accents. [http://bit.ly/akrEO3]

TWITTERAMA

@dennisrodman I'm calling on the Supreme Leader of North Korea or as I call him "Kim", to do me a solid and cut Kenneth Bae loose.

@chucktodd: I'm weigh over Christie wait puns I'm way ing my options on Twitter about whether to pound my rhetorical fist over it. #weightingforgodot

@brianbeutler: IT'S A TRAP! RT @toddzwillich Sen Cornyn: "The president is coming to Texas on Thursday and we actually welcome him."

ON TAP

TONIGHT

6:30 pm: A whole host of hospitality, travel and gaming lobbyists host a fundraiser for Roy Blunt. Branson Missouri needs a friend in Congress. [Social Reform Kitchen & Bar, 401 9th Street NW]

6:45 pm: Carolyn Maloney takes a break from representing the rough and tumble Upper East Side to attend a fundraiser hosted by the Depository Trust and Clearing Corporation, which sounds like the company that would be at the center of the "Hudsucker Proxy 2." [206 D Street SE]

TOMORROW

6:00 pm: Mary Landrieu who voted for the background check bill, thus making every liberal in the country forget about her dismal environmental record, gets an assist from Babs herself, Barbara Mikulski. [405 East Capitol Street SE]

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