The Senate finally passed an employment insurance extension, but given the number of hurdles the bill faces, you shouldn't trade up from ramen to discounted Chef Boyardee quite yet. John McCain likes the idea of of Chris Christie/Bobby Jindal ticket, probably because it combines the right amount of angry with the right amount of not-Sarah Palin. And we go into all the ways Liz Cheney screwed up her campaign for Senate here, but we will say this: Liz, somewhere, there's a free beer waiting for you courtesy of Martha Coakley. This is HUFFPOST HILL for Tuesday, January 7th, 2014:
TREY RADEL UPDATE - "'He is subject to random drug testing,' explains Leonard Sipes, a senior public affairs officer at the Court Services and Offender Supervision Agency. And, just like other offenders, Radel will have to report in person to a federal drug facility, in D.C., to pee in the cup." [Washington Whispers]
SURPRISE! UNEMPLOYMENT ADVANCES IN SENATE - A measure to reinstate unemployment benefits for more than a million workers cut off over the holidays cleared a key hurdle in the Senate on Tuesday by a margin of 60 to 37. Six Republicans supported the measure. The razor-thin margin of victory was a major and unexpected boost for Democrats and President Barack Obama, who had made calls to Republicans on Monday night in hopes of wooing the necessary votes to overcome a filibuster. One hour before the vote was cast, in fact, operatives working on the issue were told that they would end up one short of the 60 needed. But passage by itself doesn't restore assistance to the 1.3 million Americans whose benefits lapsed on Dec. 28." [With HuffPost's Sam Stein]
They were GONNA vote on it last night but put it off because the Polar Vortex had stranded too many senators in their home states. Stay warm, America.
UNEMPLOYMENT EXTENSION FACES OBSTACLES - And not heavily padded, easily passable "American Gladiator"-style blocking pads, mind you, but the unflinching brick wall that is the tea party-controlled House of Representatives. Jen Bendery and Mike McAuliff: "Unemployed Americans who lost their benefits just after Christmas shouldn't count on those checks starting to flow again soon, even after the Senate took its first step Tuesday toward reauthorizing the emergency jobless aid. That's because it really was just a first step -- a procedural vote that allows debate to proceed -- and five of the six Republicans who backed it say they want to find a way to pay for the approximate $6 billion cost of extending benefits for three months. The bill inched forward in a 60-37 vote, hitting the exact number needed to advance...The Senate is expected to take up the next key vote on Thursday at the earliest, to clear another procedural hurdle before voting on final passage. If the Republicans who voted to proceed on Tuesday decide they aren't happy with where the debate is going, they could still kill the measure with a filibuster then...Even if the Senate works out a deal, it would have to be matched in the House. Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) reaffirmed his position Tuesday that he would not move ahead on anything that does not come with cuts elsewhere." [HuffPost]
How not to spin today's unemployment vote as a Republican victory in light of Harry Reid saying he'd consider offsets. "This is the first time I’ve heard Democrats talk about passing unemployment benefits that don’t add to the deficit and I’ve been here 17 years," a senior Republican aide told The Hill. Probably the same aide who sent reporters a clip of Obama praising a "fiscally responsible" paid-for unemployment deal in 2009. Democrats don't like unemployment offsets but they've accepted them three times during Obama's presidency.
PARANOID SELF-LOATHING GOP LOBBYIST THINKS THE PRESIDENT SHOULD GET A(NOTHER) DOG - It's not easy to find a friend in Washington, as HuffPost Hill's Paranoid Self-Loathing GOP Lobbyist well knows -- he hasn't had one since he tried to E-Verify all of his. "Everyone that writes about Obama rips him. Even Richard Wolfe," PSLGOPL writes about former Defense Secretary Robert Gates' attacks on the president in his soon-to-be-published memoirs. "He must suck." Thanks, PSLGOPL!
DAILY DELANEY DOWNER - Tim Hull: "The government can't kick a small convenience store in Arizona out of the federal food stamp program because it would likely shutter the business, a federal judge ruled. U.S. District Judge David Campbell granted a temporary restraining order recently to Alfred and Shamirin Joseph, owners of Bubba's Drive Thru, located in a 'poor neighborhood' in northwest Phoenix. The government alleges that the couple trafficked about $55 in Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits in 2008 and 2009, but it did not levy the charges until September 2013. SNAP rules required that the couple be kicked out of the program while the charges are hashed out, but the Josephs claim that such a punishment would be the end of Bubba's Drive Thru, since 'most of the people who live in the area receive government assistance in some manner.'" Seems like a harsh response to $55 worth of food stamp fraud. [Courthouse News Service]
Haircuts: Preston Maddock (h/t Preston Maddock), Meghan Apfelbaum (h/t Eliot Nelson), Daniel Strauss (h/t Igor Bobic)
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DISSECTING LIZ CHENEY'S GODAWFUL SENATE CAMPAIGN - Take one part Giuliani for Senate, two parts Fred Thompson for president and presto. Jon Ward: "Candidate Cheney was at her most awkward, though, as she sought to distance herself from the city that defined her. At campaign events last fall, she talked up her Wyoming roots and dressed in boots. But when I chatted with her at one stop, her jeans were so new that her hands were stained blue from touching them. And a candidate more savvy about the carpetbagger charge might have moved somewhere other than Jackson Hole, which most state residents view as the place where interlopers from Hollywood buy vacation houses. Like, say, Cheney’s 3,472 square foot, four-bed, four-bath house, listed at $1.9 million. Likewise, while she railed against the Beltway establishment, she didn’t much mention that her husband is a D.C. power lawyer by way of his own Bush administration stints, or that their McLean, Va., home is a seven-bedroom, seven-bath, $2 million spread. (When Cheney was growing up, the revolving door was far less lucrative: Her family owned a place in Casper where she had to catch flooding water with pots and pans when a visiting Gerald Ford failed to secure the upstairs shower curtain; their Virginia house was 'a nice tidy little house like we all had back then,' according to a high school friend.)" [HuffPost]
Brad Dayspring forgot to wear eye protection. Very tut-tut.
GATES TRASHES OBAMA IN MEMOIR - Republican appointee gives poor marks to Democratic president, hands advance copy of memoir to Bob Woodward, and watches Washington magic unfold. WaPo: "In a new memoir, former defense secretary Robert Gates unleashes harsh judgments about President Obama’s leadership and his commitment to the Afghanistan war, writing that by early 2010 he had concluded the president 'doesn’t believe in his own strategy, and doesn’t consider the war to be his. For him, it’s all about getting out.' Leveling one of the more serious charges that a defense secretary could make against a commander in chief sending forces into combat, Gates asserts that Obama had more than doubts about the course he had charted in Afghanistan. The president wa 'skeptical if not outright convinced it would fail,' Gates writes in 'Duty: Memoirs of a Secretary at War.' Obama, after months of contentious discussion with Gates and other top advisers, deployed 30,000 more troops in a final push to stabilize Afghanistan before a phased withdrawal beginning in mid-2011. “I never doubted Obama’s support for the troops, only his support for their mission,” Gates writes...It is rare for a former Cabinet member, let alone a defense secretary occupying a central position in the chain of command, to publish such an antagonistic portrait of a sitting president. Gates’s severe criticism is even more surprising — some might say contradictory — because toward the end of 'Duty,' he says of Obama’s chief Afghanistan policies, “I believe Obama was right in each of these decisions.” [WaPo]
Then there's this excerpt, as quoted by Woodward: “Hillary told the president that her opposition to the  surge in Iraq had been political because she was facing him in the Iowa primary. . . . The president conceded vaguely that opposition to the Iraq surge had been political. To hear the two of them making these admissions, and in front of me, was as surprising as it was dismaying.” [Ibid. ]
MCCAIN LIKES A CHRISTIE/JINDAL TICKET - Samantha Lachman: "Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) favors Govs. Chris Christie (N.J.) and Bobby Jindal (La.) as candidates for the Republican presidential nomination in 2016.During a Monday appearance on 'The Tonight Show' with his daughter Meghan McCain, host Jay Leno asked McCain whom he would support. 'I think we’ve got a lot of governors,' McCain said. 'I like Chris Christie. I like Bobby Jindal. I like a number of those people who have succeeded in states that have both Republican and Democrat.' McCain then mentioned implicit tensions between himself and other potential candidates who are opposed to the interventionist foreign policies that McCain has supported, like Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.). 'I think, in the Republican Party, we are going to have a group of people, frankly, are isolationist and there's an international wing,' McCain said. 'I think it's going to be a very interesting debate.'" [HuffPost]
Ted Cruz, when asked about the cold weather, pulled out some grade-A, 2003 trolling: “Al Gore told me this wouldn’t happen.” [Politico]
The Capitol Steps called, Senator Cruz, they want their joke back. Keep the one about him inventing the internet to yourself.
STEVE STOCKMAN NOW MAKING UP ENDORSEMENTS - One wonders if Steve Stockman has ever tried shooting the ground to see if oil comes out. Amanda Terkel: "One of the central arguments of Rep. Steve Stockman's (R-Texas) Senate bid is that he's the 'proven conservative' in his primary against Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas). Stockman boasts on his campaign website of his record on issues like securing the border and gun rights.
Paul Broun, driving up pageviews: "Rep. Paul Broun (R-Ga.) said Monday that Democrats will not win in Georgia for decades unless the state grants undocumented immigrants the right to vote. 'The only way Georgia is going to change is if we have all these illegal aliens in here in Georgia, [and] give them the right to vote,' Broun said in an interview with Georgia Public Radio, which was noted by The Hill. 'It would be morally wrong, it would be illegal to do so, under our current law.'" [HuffPost]
BECAUSE YOU'VE READ THIS FAR - Here is a dog who sounds like a siren.
COLORADO: MARIJUANA BUSINESS WANT ACCESS TO FEDERAL BANKING SYSTEM - Until now, the closest relationship that the pot industry had to the federal banking system was a really dry sativa-indica blend called Alan Greenspan. Matt Ferner: "The Denver City Council is urging banking regulators to grant Colorado marijuana businesses access to the federal banking system, so they can finally employ the banking services that non-marijuana businesses already use. In a show of clear support, city council members voted unanimously for the banking access Monday night, nearly a week after recreational marijuana first went on sale in the state, and successfully -- Denver's 9News reported that in the first day alone, state dispensaries exceeded $1 million in sales. 'A lack of access to banking services is, quite frankly, the single most dangerous thing about the legal sale of marijuana for medical or social use and puts employees, consumers, regulators, and communities at risk,' Betty Aldworth, deputy director of the National Cannabis Industry Association, told The Huffington Post. 'When Coloradans voted to take marijuana sales out of the hands of criminals, they had a fair expectation that their communities would become safer, but the absurd interpretations of law that inhibit banking services for cannabis-related businesses are creating a very real threat to public safety.' Currently marijuana businesses aren't allowed to set up traditional bank accounts because the federal government still considers marijuana to be illegal. Worried banks fear that they could be implicated as money launderers if they offered traditional banking services to the pot businesses." [HuffPost]
- Cats in wigs! Cats. In. Wigs. Catsinwigscatsinwigscatsinwigssssssss. [http://bit.ly/1htskp0]
- Instagram and Snapchat summed up in a few seconds. [http://bit.ly/1ad5NIS]
- Cat can't jump backward. [http://huff.to/19ZdnpW]
- The best passive aggressive notes of 2013. [http://bit.ly/1dtjAIs]
- A TED talk about why TED talks are terrible. [http://bit.ly/1lCJ6j1]
- The pygmy jerboa had the good sense to be cute, because now we care about it. [http://huff.to/1bOiiGT]
- The ethnic/linguistic origins of every state's name. [http://bit.ly/1lzxika]
@pourmecoffee: Happy 214th birthday to Millard Fillmore, either our 13th president or an early porn star I don't have time to Google it.
@delrayser: Take The Time For One Kind Act A Day. You Won't Believe How It Has No Effect On The World. #cynicworthy
@daveweigel: Look, don’t complain about the cold if you lacked the foresight to cut open a Tauntaun and burrow inside.
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