POLITICS

HUFFPOST HILL - Mark Sanford Flashes His Cantaloupes

07/25/2013 05:34 pm ET | Updated Sep 24, 2013

Members of the "Quiet Time Caucus" meet and say nothing, a break from typical congressional meetings where people do nothing. The House voted on a bill that would decrease regulation of coal ash, a victory for energy interests that lobbied hard for the "Sit On It, Upton Sinclair Act." And Mark Sanford forgot about a vote and arrived in the House chamber in shorts and sneakers -- a great outfit for certain hiking trails but not the U.S. Congress. This is HUFFPOST HILL for Thursday, July 25th, 2013:

SEQUESTRATION STYMIEING JOB GROWTH - Sam Stein: "As many as 1.6 million new jobs could be added to the U.S. economy if Congress simply canceled the budget cuts implemented due to sequestration from Aug. 1, 2013, to the end of September 2014, a new non-partisan study has concluded. The study, which was compiled by the Congressional Budget Office at the behest of House Budget Committee ranking member Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), looked at the practical impacts of repealing sequestration from now through the end of fiscal year 2014. Not everything was positive. Suspending sequestration would cost the government $14 billion in fiscal year 2013 and $90 billion in fiscal year 2014. And that additional debt, the CBO concluded, could 'diminish policymakers' ability to use tax and spending policies to respond to unexpected future challenges.' It could heighten borrowing costs for the government down the road. But sequestration has also had a negative effect on the nation's unemployment situation, the study concluded. And a year-long vacation from the policy -- which calls for $1 trillion in cuts over the next 10 years -- could result in a nice economic jolt." [HuffPost]

@newtgingrich: Capturing my visit with George the turtle on @googleglass. @Peoriazoo pic.twitter.com/Sf6DJv0x6j

HOUSE GOP OWN GOAL IN SLO MO - Republicans in the House of Representatives removed food stamps from broader farm legislation in hopes that doing so would make it easier to pass a separate bill cutting nutrition assistance. But now there's a chance the House won't vote on a food stamp bill at all. House Agriculture Chairman Frank Lucas (R-Okla.) told the Oklahoma Farm Report Wednesday that so far, House Republican leaders have been unable to muster the votes they need to pass a bill reforming the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.... Lucas said he doesn't want to wait for the House to pass SNAP legislation to begin the formal conference committee process with members of the Senate. "My personal goal is by some point next week, if it's quite clear that consensus cannot be achieved, if it's just not achievable, then I think we need to recognize that fact and move on conferencing the bill that the Senate's passed and the House has passed and see what evolves from that," Lucas told the Farm Report. [HuffPost]

Woah woah woah says a leadership aide: "Those [SNAP] discussions will likely continue into August and we will readdress it when we return back after recess."

THE SEVEN MOST THIS TOWN-Y THINGS ABOUT THE 'THIS TOWN' BOOK PARTY - 7. Sally Quinn showed up. 6. Carl Hulse sang. 5. There were -- and this is a rough estimate -- 700,000 speeches. 4. Roger Simon left 20 minutes into the speeches (veteran move). 3. Steve Cohen was the only member of Congress in attendance. 2. Someone apparently assumed an Asian-American partygoer was Kurt Bardella. 1. It was boring. Thanks for the free Heineken Light!

FALPAT ADDS HIS NAME TO LISTS OF REPUBLICAN DUDES WHO DON'T LIKE HUMA ABEDIN - Our Former Abramoff Lobbyist Pissed At Things is weighing current events on his Scale of Ethical Justice. "Trying to figure out who is creepier: a diaper-wearing Senator Vitter or Carlos Danger. The creepiest person may actually be Carlos' wife who has gone from the pages of Vogue, to jilted wife, to candidate's wife, to a target of a Senate investigation, and back to the forgiving jilted wife." Thanks, FALPAT!

DAILY DELANEY DOWNER - From our ongoing series PASTED: The Email of the Jobless: "I raised a family, never got in trouble, paid my bills and expected to one day retire in peace. But my retirement has apparently come early, like a car that ran out of gas a lap short of the finish line, left stranded at the curb. Caught between the free enterprise system, which will give me no opportunity, and the Social Security system, which says I must wait at least another eighteen months for even basic necessities, I sit here day after day, filling out applications, answering silly questionnaires I now know by heart, even as my own heart tells me it is probably a waste of time. I simply do not know what else to do." [Hang in there!]

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HOLDER TRYING TO CIRCUMVENT SUPREME COURT'S VOTING RIGHTS ACT RULING - WSJ: "The Obama administration will use a new legal strategy to try to closely scrutinize states for possible discrimination against minority voters, Attorney General Eric Holder said Thursday, an effort that will begin with Texas and soon be applied to other states. During a speech in Philadelphia, Mr. Holder said the Justice Department will soon ask a judge to order continued scrutiny of Texas's voting rules and procedures, a process called preclearance, despite a Supreme Court ruling in June that effectively nullified that state's automatic qualification for such examination. The justification for such a move, Mr. Holder said, was a 2012 court finding that the state legislature had drawn congressional districts that were unfair to Hispanic voters...The move in the Texas case marks the first such decision by the Justice Department since the Supreme Court issued its 5-4 decision, a split along ideological lines. 'It will not be our last,' Mr. Holder said, signaling the department is likely to move against some states that have passed new voter-identification laws that critics call discriminatory." [WSJ]

HOUSE VOTES TO DEREGULATE COAL ASH BECAUSE FREEDOM - Try to think of coal ash as a lunch exfoliator. The Hill: "The House on Thursday in a 265-155 vote approved legislation that gives states the authority to regulate coal ash. Republicans said the legislation is needed because of the Environmental Protection Agency's threat to regulate coal ash -- a by-product of burning coal -- as hazardous waste by 2014. They argue the EPA's plans have created uncertainty among industries that use coal ash. The substance has a range of industrial uses, including the manufacture of shingles, wallboard and concrete. Many Democrats argued that the bill would lead to new environmental risks, but 39 Democrats voted with Republicans to help pass H.R. 2218, the Coal Residuals Reuse and Management Act...Democratic opponents argued that the bill is a GOP attempt to stop the EPA from regulating coal ash completely, which would let power plants that burn coal escape requirements to safely dispose of the ash." [The Hill]

CONSERVATIVES MEET, TALK - Mother Jones: "[A] group of prominent conservatives in Washington--including the wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas and journalists from Breitbart News and the Washington Examiner--has been meeting privately since early this year to concoct talking points, coordinate messaging, and hatch plans for 'a 30 front war seeking to fundamentally transform the nation,' according to documents obtained by Mother Jones. Dubbed Groundswell, this coalition convenes weekly in the offices of Judicial Watch, the conservative legal watchdog group. During these hush-hush sessions and through a Google group, the members of Groundswell--including aides to congressional Republicans--cook up battle plans for their ongoing fights against the Obama administration, congressional Democrats, progressive outfits, and the Republican establishment and 'clueless' GOP congressional leaders. They devise strategies for killing immigration reform, hyping the Benghazi controversy, and countering the impression that the GOP exploits racism. And the Groundswell gang is mounting a behind-the-scenes organized effort to eradicate the outsize influence of GOP über-strategist/pundit Karl Rove within Republican and conservative ranks." [Mother Jones]

THAT TIME WE REALIZED THAT NANCY PELOSI WOULD MAKE A GREAT DAYTIME TALK SHOW HOST - She could walk up and down the audience steps with a microphone like a boss. Elise Foley: "House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) condemned actions by New York mayoral candidate Anthony Weiner and San Diego Mayor Bob Filner -- both former Democratic colleagues in the House -- and said they may be better off working to better themselves out of the limelight. 'If they're clueless, get a clue,' she said Thursday at a press conference. 'If they need therapy, do it in private.'... Pelosi called their actions disrespectful and wrong, but said it was 'up to the people of New York' whether Weiner should stay in the race. 'The conduct of some of these people that we're talking about here is reprehensible,' she said. 'It is so disrespectful of women, and what's really stunning about it is they don't even realize. They don't have a clue.'" [HuffPost]

@BrianHughesDC: Latest email from the McAuliffe campaign: "Why am I emailing you about sodomy?"

Most Americans support Planned Parenthood, even though it is basically lady ACORN. Emily Swanson: "A majority of Americans look favorably on Planned Parenthood, according to a new HuffPost/YouGov poll. According to the survey, 53 percent have a very or somewhat favorable opinion of the health care provider, while 33 percent have a very or somewhat unfavorable opinion. Another 14 percent said they weren't sure. By 48 percent to 38 percent, a plurality of respondents said they also oppose banning Planned Parenthood from receiving Medicaid funds...Although opinion of Planned Parenthood in the new poll was largely positive, it was also strongly divided along party lines: Democrats viewed the organization favorably by an 80 percent to 11 percent margin, while Republicans viewed it unfavorably by a 60 percent to 28 percent margin. A plurality of independents had a favorable opinion, 44 percent to 36 percent." [HuffPost]

THE QUIET CAUCUS: MEMBERS OF CONGRESS LEARNING HOW TO NOT TALK - Is there any way Congress can pass a law mandating that Ted Poe and Sheila Jackson Lee join this caucus (or start a talk show?). Jen Bendery: "It's 9:30 a.m. on Thursday, on Capitol Hill, and hundreds of aides are swarming the halls of the Rayburn House Office Building. Some are speed-walking with Starbucks coffee; others are juggling two Blackberries as they talk to their companions. Men's voices echo in all directions, as does the clip-clop of high heels, fading in and out around corners. But in a nondescript room off to the side, about two-dozen aides are sitting together in total silence. They're meditating. Welcome to the Quiet Time Caucus. Since last December, Rep. Tim Ryan (D-Ohio) has encouraged lawmakers to gather each Monday and staff members to gather each Thursday -- just to sit together and be quiet. Consider 'caucus' a loose term; the gatherings are open to anyone who just wants to hit pause before launching into another chaotic week on the Hill." [HuffPost]

MARK SANFORD IS A HERO FOR THE PRO-SHORTS CROWD - Roll Call: "Somebody obviously didn't tell Rep. Mark Sanford the House moved up the Wednesday evening vote series an hour earlier than anticipated. Otherwise, he might have changed clothing first -- or taken a shower, at least. The South Carolina Republican came into the Speaker's Lobby sporting a sweat-soaked T-shirt, gym shorts and sneakers.... Speaker John A. Boehner, R-Ohio, is a stickler for proper attire, and has been known to admonish male lawmakers from the dais for not wearing required jackets and ties. Sanford donned a blazer supplied by an aide when he had to go into the chamber, but took it off when he was in the Speaker's Lobby, perhaps wanting to avoid taking it into the dry cleaner's. Rep. Bill Huizenga, R-Mich., asked Sanford if he needed to borrow a tie. 'I might,' Sanford replied. Other colleagues were less helpful. 'Nooooo wayyyyyyy,' freshman Rep. Trey Radel, R-Fla., drawled. 'Noooo wayyyyy. This is the best thing I've ever seen, and I've only been here six months.'" [Roll Call]

BECAUSE YOU'VE READ THIS FAR - Here's a puppy trying to eat.

BLIMPS! - Blimps, best known for burning up in flames and reminding you to drink Budweiser, will soon appear all over the Washington area. Arin Greenwood: "Gigantic blimps. Over Washington. In the air for up to 30 days at a time, protecting the city from missiles, among other things. Raytheon recently announced that, following a successful test of its big blimp-oriented anti-missile Joint Land Attack Cruise Missile Defense Elevated Netted Sensor System, or JLENS -- marketed on the Raytheon website as an 'AFFORDABLE DEFENSE FROM REAL WORLD THREATS' -- the company will deploy two 242-foot helium-filled 'aerostats' to the nation's capital. Next fall, the blimps are due to be stationed 10,000 feet in the air over Maryland's Aberdeen Proving Ground, where -- again, from the Raytheon website -- the 'powerful radars that can look deep into enemy territory...will begin a long-term trial watching over Washington, D.C.'" [HuffPost]

COMFORT FOOD

- Ze Frank's "True Facts About The Owl." [http://bit.ly/13dIZ3E]

- Pee-wee football player is a brick wall, simple as that/ [http://usat.ly/15hNVbG]

- The history of philosophy depicted in two 44-foot high diagrams. [http://bit.ly/144Hs7a]

- Hasbro, makers of Monopoly, is getting rid of jail. Presumably this will result in the production of "Monopoly Classic." ::shakes fist:: [http://bit.ly/145AdMk]

- Bill Clinton sings "Blurred Lines." [http://bit.ly/15i1acy]

- A list of band named after TV show references. [http://bit.ly/16aW6FK]

- What photosynthesis looks like from space. [http://bit.ly/1bQd6XY]

TWITTERAMA

@bradjshannon: Cantaloupe Calves Courier Company: Get Your Green From Someone Lean

@LOLGOP: Not to be a hater but y'all need to bone up on your Weiner puns.

ON TAP

TONIGHT

Wendy Davis, the sneakered champion of women's health and reproductive rights, attends a happy hour off the beaten fundraising track on U Street. [Local 16, 1602 U Street NW]

6:00 pm: Valerie Jarrett hosts a reception honoring leaders of the Young Elected Officials Network. [Washington Court Hotel, 525 New Jersey Ave NW]

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