HUFFPOST HILL - Cornyn Being Paid To Do Nothing, Also Receiving Pensions

06/17/2013 05:53 pm ET | Updated Aug 17, 2013

John Cornyn and Bob McDonnell are so good at leeching money from the government they should appear in infomercials wearing question-mark patterned blazers. Someone almost died in the Capitol Hill Club, but not in a way that would excite the writers of "House of Cards." And the Supreme Court bravely struck down an Arizona voting law that could disenfranchise many. The verdict will forever be remembered as "the one delivered right before the Voting Rights Act was gutted." This is HUFFPOST HILL for Monday, June 17th, 2013:

WHITE HOUSE THREATENS VETO OF HOUSE FARM BILL - The Obama administration has mega beef with the bill's food stamp cuts. "The bill would reduce access to food assistance for struggling families and their children, does not contain sufficient commodity and crop insurance reforms, and does not provide funding for renewable energy, which is an important source of jobs and economic growth in rural communities across the country." The president's advisers would recommend a veto.

The president met with Vladimir Putin. This photo just about sums up the meeting.

ISSA WON'T RELEASE FULL IRS TRANSCRIPTS - Sam Stein: "Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, has continued to release only select portions of committee interviews with key Internal Revenue Service staffers despite calls to make the full transcripts public. In recent days, the California Republican has allowed reporters from local and national news outlets to review portions of his panel's investigative work into the IRS targeting of conservative groups seeking tax-exempt status. The move looks like a rebuke to the ranking Democrat on his committee, Rep. Elijah Cummings (Md.), and even some Republican lawmakers, who have publicly worried that selective leaking imperils the integrity of the investigation." [HuffPost]

BOEHNER: HELL NO WE CAN'T - House Speaker John Boehner's putting the lid on immigration reform if the mixed nuts in his caucus can't hold together. David Drucker: "House Speaker John Boehner is not going to bring a comprehensive immigration-reform plan to the floor if a majority of Republicans don't support it, sources familiar with his plans said. 'No way in hell,' is how several described the chances of the speaker acting on such a proposal without a majority of his majority behind him. Boehner, R-Ohio, does not view immigration in the same vein as the fiscal cliff last December, when he backed a bill that protected most Americans from a tax increase even though less than half of the GOP lawmakers were with him, said multiple sources, who spoke anonymously to allow greater candor. With economists warning that the deep cuts and higher taxes needed to avoid the fiscal cliff could devastate an already ailing economy, Boehner felt compelled to compromise with President Obama and allow taxes to rise on the wealthiest taxpayers. He feels no such urgency about immigration reform, lawmakers said." [Examiner]

Elsewhere in GOP land: "Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Calif.) warned Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) would face a conference revolt that could threaten his Speakership if he allows a House vote on the immigration bill presently being debated in the Senate." [The Hill]

DAILY DELANEY DOWNER - Most workers who ran out of unemployment insurance in the Great Recession didn't start collecting disability benefits, according to new research by Jesse Rothstein at the University of California, Berkeley. At the outset of the recession Congress started giving extra weeks of unemployment benefits to people who'd used up the standard 26 weeks provided by state governments. Since early last year the number of extra weeks available has gradually diminished in haphazard fashion across the states. Rothstein checked state data to see whether applications for federal disability insurance surged at the same time jobless benefits went away. "I don't find any relationship at all," he said, adding that the notion unemployment recipients hop over to disability when they run out of benefits is "discredited" by his working paper. [HuffPost]

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SCOTUS OVERTURNS ARIZONA VOTING LAW - AP: "The Supreme Court ruled Monday that states cannot on their own require would-be voters to prove they are U.S. citizens before using a federal registration system designed to make signing up easier. The justices voted 7-2 to throw out Arizona's voter-approved requirement that prospective voters document their U.S. citizenship in order to use a registration form produced under the federal 'Motor Voter' voter registration law. Federal law 'precludes Arizona from requiring a federal form applicant to submit information beyond that required by the form itself,' Justice Antonin Scalia wrote for the court's majority." [AP]

BOB MCDONNELL USED TAXPAYER FUNDS TO BUY DETOX CLEANSE, OTHER PERSONAL ITEMS - The governor's small intestine is doing fine, in case you were wondering. WaPo: "The McDonnells have billed the state for body wash, sunscreen, dog vitamins and a digestive system 'detox cleanse,' the records show. They also have used state employees to run personal errands for their adult children. In the middle of a workday, for example, a staffer retrieved Rachel McDonnell's newly hemmed pants at a tailoring shop nine miles from the governor's mansion. Another time, a state worker was dispatched to a dry cleaner 20 miles away to pick up a storage box for Cailin McDonnell's wedding dress. About six months into the governor's term, the official who oversees mansion spending told the McDonnells that they should not have charged taxpayers for a number of expenses, including deodorant, shoe repairs and dry-cleaning their children's clothing. The official asked the McDonnells to pay the state back more than $300, which they did, and also gave them a refresher on what the state will and won't provide for occupants of the governor's mansion. But since that time, state records show that the McDonnells have continued to let taxpayers pick up the tab for numerous personal items, including vitamins, nasal spray and sleep-inducing elixirs." [WaPo]

DEMS RECASTING LABOR ISSUES AS WOMEN'S ISSUES - The Democrats should just rebrand EVERYTHING as a women's issue because A. Most things are and B. It increases the likelihood of a Republican replying that women can prevent rape with the photon torpedoes lodged in their fallopian tubes. Dave Jamieson and Laura Bassett: "Democrats hope to leverage women's support to pressure Republicans on a host of labor reforms, including the minimum wage, paid sick days and fair pay...Pelosi and Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.) met with House freshmen two weeks ago to brief them on the new 'women's economic agenda,' which includes raising the minimum wage, guaranteeing workers the opportunity to earn paid sick leave, expanding affordable child care programs and passing the Paycheck Fairness Act...Rather than frame these issues in the traditional terms of economic fairness, they'll be repackaging them as a matter of gender equality and family stability. As they push specific pieces of legislation, Democrats plan to roll out an aggressive communications effort to pressure Republicans who've declared the workplace measures job killers." [HuffPost]

WE REALLY ARE GETTING ACCUSTOMED TO BIG BROTHER - Look, just as long as the NSA doesn't bug our telescreens, we'll be fine. ProPublica: "In the months following the October 2001, passage of the Patriot Act, there was a heated public debate about the very provision of the law that we now know the government is using to vacuum up phone records of American citizens on a massive scale. 'A chilling intrusion' declared one op-ed in the Baltimore Sun. But the consternation didn't focus on anything like the mass collection of phone records. Instead, the debate centered on something else: library records...Civil liberties advocates said in interviews there is a simple reason for the disconnect: In the period immediately after the Patriot Act passed, few if any observers believed Section 215 could authorize any kind of ongoing, large-scale collection of phone data." [ProPublica]

It's important to keep perspective: "Edward Snowden said Monday that he takes it as a compliment that someone like former Vice President Dick Cheney is calling him a "traitor" for leaking classified information from the National Security Agency. During a live web chat hosted by The Guardian on Monday, Snowden responded to those who have called him a traitor for leaking information that could affect national security. On Sunday, Cheney accused the former NSA contractor of betraying his country." [HuffPost's Jen Bendery]

SENATOR JOHN CORNYN ENJOYING RETIREMENT - National Journal: "Texas Republican John Cornyn supplemented his Senate salary with a trio of public pensions last year from his days as a Texas judge and elected official... Cornyn...reported collecting $65,383 in public retirement benefits in 2012 in addition to his $174,000 salary as a U.S. senator... The biggest of Cornyn's pensions -- $48,807-- is from the Judicial Retirement System of Texas. He served on the state Supreme Court from 1991 to 1997. He reported another $10,132 in retirement benefits last year from the Employees Retirement System of Texas -- the pension fund for state elected officials and workers. Cornyn served as Texas attorney general from 1999 to 2002. In a series of financial-disclosure amendments that he began filing last July, Cornyn disclosed that he had actually been collecting that $10,132 annual pension as far back as 2006. He had not listed it on his original disclosure reports from 2006 to 2010. Cornyn also reported a $6,444 retirement distribution from the Texas County and District Retirement System. He was a state district judge from 1985 to 1989, according to his official bio..." [National Journal]

RICK PERRY BLASTS PRESIDENT OBAMA FOR HANDLING OF THE DIRKA DIRKA JIHAD-STAN CRISIS - If BuzzFeed doesn't post a "Rick Perry or Miss USA Contestant's Question-And-Answer Response" quiz, they're really dropping the ball. Nick Wing: "Gov. Rick Perry (R-Texas) is usually quick to admit that he's prone to making mistakes while behind a podium, and on Saturday he did so again, just moments before appearing to confuse Libya with Lebanon. 'I fear where we've come to in America, where our administration won't make one phone call to save our men and women in a embassy in Lebanon,' Perry said during a speech at the Faith and Freedom Coalition conference. Earlier in the same speech, Perry referenced his past blunders on the main stage, making a biblical reference and saying that they had proven to be a learning experience. 'I've learned a little bit about humility, particularly on national television,' Perry said, according to ABC News. 'But the fact is, God hadn't called the perfect to go into the arena of public service. He's called people just like you and just like me.'" [HuffPost]

Rick Perry is God's fault.

TED POE NEARLY CHOKES TO DEATH AT CAPITOL HILL CLUB - And that's just the way it is. National Review: "Thursday night at the Capitol Hill Club, Representative Ted Poe had a scary choking incident and was thankfully aided by a doctor-turned-GOP-aide, Nick Muzin, who may have saved his life. Poe was eating dinner alone downstairs at the Club's Grill when he began choking on a piece of popcorn. Representative Matt Salmon and an unnamed lobbyist both tried to dislodge the food with the Heimlich maneuver, but were unsuccessful. Poe was not able to breathe, and Salmon and the lobbyist called 9-1-1 and began to shout for a doctor. Several minutes had elapsed, and the situation was quite serious, witnesses said. Muzin, coalitions director for the House Republican Conference and also a physician who keeps his medical license active and sometimes practices, rushed over to help. He delivered the Heimlich maneuver...." [National Review]

"The unnamed lobbyist who unsuccessfully applied the Heimlich maneuver to Ted Poe in the Capitol Hill Club" has an open invitation to be a regular anonymous contributor to HuffPost HIll.

...seriously, why does this lobbyist not want to be named?

BECAUSE YOU'VE READ THIS FAR - Aquaphobic dog refuses to take a bath.


- Like yawns, failure can be contagious. Allow the New York Mets to demonstrate. [http://usat.ly/11SiPGW]

- A browser that lets multiple people browse at the same time. And you thought agreeing on a channel was difficult. [http://bit.ly/178gWdT]

- On the one hand, this Chinese baggage handler is hilariously bad at his job. On the other hand, he will probably be executed. [http://bit.ly/RIAwp9]

- The trailer for Martin Scorsese's "The Wolf of Wall Street" looks like Hollywood's apology for "The Great Gatsby." [http://bit.ly/19I38H6]

- What could be wrong with a video compilation titled "Cats Being Cats?" [http://huff.to/16bpiNu]

- Instagram will soon enable users to take videos, so the world is going to get that much more annoying. [http://tcrn.ch/11G85az]

- What happens when you mix the NSA and the internet's most clingy girlfriend? Overly Attached Uncle Sam. [http://huff.to/169tey7]


@pourmecoffee: First they came for the metadata, and I said nothing, because I didn't feel like Googling metadata.

@anamariecox: Second highest: water-boarding. RT Snowden: "Being called a traitor by Dick Cheney is the highest honor you can give an American."

@indecision: Miss Utah gave a nonsensical answer to a question she didn't understand? When does she start working at Fox & Friends?



6:30 pm: Mitch McConnell takes a break from his own reelection to do a solid for Deb Fischer. [220 E Street NE]


6:00 pm: Jim Risch, who is in the running to be the next chairman of the "Wait, Who?" Caucus, shakes hands and pretends to care about what you have to say at a campaign function. [The Caucus Room, 401 9th Street NW]

6:00 pm: Tim Scott, who is enjoying the last precious moments before Bill Kristol or whoever writes a "Why not him" 2016 article about him, attends a fundraiser with special guest Richard Burr.

6:30 pm: Congress is examining the pros and cons of the NSA's expanded surveillance techniques, so it's a good thing Pat Toomey is getting a expert advice and, er, money, at his telecom industry fundraiser. [Rasika, 633 D Street NW]

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