The government will hit the debt ceiling around Valentine's Day, giving Hill staffers yet another excuse to ignore their loved ones. A new government-sanctioned report suggests that adults should be allowed to vote, showing just how deep the ACORN conspiracy runs. And citing a shortage of lethal drugs, Virginia lawmakers voted to bring back the electric chair, though the Old Dominion's favorite form of justice -- slapping someone with a white glove and demanding satisfaction -- is stuck in committee. This is HUFFPOST HILL for Wednesday, January 22nd, 2014:
VIRGINIA TO ELECTRIC CHAIR: DROP… ALIVE? Rachel Weiner: "Virginia lawmakers, facing a shortage of the drugs used to perform lethal injections, are moving toward re-embracing use of the electric chair. The House of Delegates overwhelmingly passed a bill Wednesday that would make electrocution the default method of death for condemned prisoners if lethal injection is not available. Currently, the chair is only used by specific request of the inmate sentenced to die." [WashPost]
JACK LEW TO CONGRESS: GIMME MY MONEYS - LEW'D. Roll Call: "Treasury Secretary Jacob J. Lew is renewing calls for Congress to act to raise the debt limit in February. Lew explained that the extraordinary measures are likely to run out sooner rather than later, and that there is less flexibility in February than at some other points in the year. The Treasury Department now expects the debt limit endgame to arrive in late February, rather than in March . 'While this forecast is subject to inherent variability, we do not foresee any reasonable scenario in which the extraordinary measures would last for an extended period of time,' Lew wrote in a letter to congressional leaders...Response on Capitol Hill to Lew’s latest warning was swift and predictable, with Democrats pushing for a 'clean' increase in borrowing authority and Republicans calling for including other provisions related to the debt and deficit into any deal... Michael Steel, spokesman for Speaker John A. Boehner, R-Ohio, dismissed that suggestion in his own statement. 'The Speaker has said that we should not default on our debt, or even get close to it, but a ‘clean’ debt limit increase simply won’t pass in the House,' Steel said." [Roll Call]
FORMER ABRAMOFF LOBBYIST PISSED AT THINGS THINKS BOB MCDONNELL IS PRETTY STUPID - Our chief ethics correspondent, the Former Abramoff Lobbyist Pissed At Things, is amazed that Bob McDonnell partly owes his downfall to a fancy watch and a sports car. What a tawdry paper trail! "FALPAT always stuck to the non-physical gifts: Booze, food, booze, sports tickets and strippers x 5," FALPAT says in an email, referring to himself in the third person. Thanks, FALPAT!
CONGRESS, AMERICA DISAGREE - Representative Democracy is hard. Laura Bassett and Emily Swanson: "Forty-one years after the Supreme Court's landmark ruling in Roe v. Wade, two-thirds of the American population believe that decisions on abortion should be made between a woman, her family and her doctor, according to a HuffPost/YouGov poll conducted last week. But a majority of the country's elected officials see things differently. Only 40 percent of Congress, one-third of all governors and a quarter of state legislatures support the legal right to have an abortion, according to a new report by NARAL Pro-Choice America. More than half of elected officials fully oppose legal abortion, a position held by only 14 percent of Americans, while a small fraction of lawmakers have a mixed voting record on the issue. The American public has long been evenly split on abortion from an ideological perspective. The new poll finds that 48 percent think abortion should be generally or always legal, while 47 percent think it should be generally or always illegal. But even among those who think abortion should be generally illegal, more think it should be legal in some circumstances (33 percent) than think it should be banned entirely (14 percent). And the new poll suggests that a strong majority of Americans think those exceptions should not be defined by politicians, but by women themselves." [HuffPost]
DAILY DELANEY DOWNER - Jerome Hardy said he's cooked and cleaned at the Pentagon's Center Court Cafe for eight years and never received a raise. He makes $9 an hour. "Not a penny raise -- a nickel, quarter, nothing," Hardy, 52, told HuffPost in an interview. He liked the pay at first but is frustrated it hasn't gone up. "Should at least get a cost-of-living raise every year." On Wednesday Hardy and about 50 other workers from the Pentagon's food courts skipped their shifts to protest what they contend is low pay and poor working conditions. Organizers said another 50 non-union workers went on strike from their food service jobs in other federal buildings to join the protest….Robyn Law, a 26-year-old single mother, said she skipped her 5:30 a.m. shift at the Pentagon's Sbarro... Just before 8:00 a.m., she said, she received a voicemail from a supervisor. "You don't come in today, take the rest of the week off," the voicemail said. Law said she didn't know if that meant she'd been fired. "Ain't that something," said Hardy, who works at a restaurant managed by the same company as the Sbarro. But he said he was willing to take the risk because he has aging parents, a young grandson and not enough money. "I don't have nothing to lose." [HuffPost]
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GOP TRYING TO REPEAL ANTI-TAX HAVEN LAW - Because Congress won't speak for the shady financial workarounds that let the wealthiest among us have an effective tax rate of .04 percent, who will? Chicago Tribune: "The Republican Party is expected to approve a resolution this week, calling for repeal of an Obama administration law that is designed to crack down on offshore tax dodging. In what would be the party's first appeal to scrap the law - the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA) - a panel was slated to vote at the Republican National Committee's (RNC) winter meetings in Washington, likely approving the resolution on Friday, according to party members driving the repeal effort. If adopted, the anti-FATCA resolution would reflect the party's political priorities for the time being but would not change its presidential campaign platform, according to the RNC. Approved in 2010 after a tax-avoidance scandal involving a Swiss bank, FATCA requires most foreign banks and investment funds to report to the U.S. Internal Revenue Service information about U.S. customers' accounts worth $50,000 or more. Criticized by banks, libertarians and some Americans living abroad as a costly and unneeded government overreach, FATCA is on the books, but its effective date has been delayed repeatedly, with enforcement now set to start on July 1. Repeal seems unlikely, but more political heat from Republicans could further complicate and delay implementation, said financial industry lobbyists." [Chicago Tribune]
AMERICANS SHOULD BE ABLE TO VOTE: FORMAL POLICY RECOMMENDATION - And yet this still is controversial. Ryan Reilly: "States should implement online voter registration and expand early voting in order to reduce long lines at the voting booth, the Presidential Commission on Election Administration recommended in a report issued Wednesday. The 10-member commission, announced by President Barack Obama during his 2013 State of the Union address, was formed to examine the issues that led to crowding at some polling places in 2012. It was chaired by Bob Bauer, former general counsel for the 2012 Obama campaign, and Ben Ginsberg, the Mitt Romney campaign's former top election lawyer. The panel based its recommendations on the premise that nobody should have to wait more than a half-hour to vote. 'Our aim was to transcend partisan divisions and view election administration as public administration that must heed the expressed interests and expectations of voters,' Bauer and Ginsberg said in a joint statement." [HuffPost]
KY SEN: FREEDOMWORKS BACKS BEVIN OVER MCCONNELL - Courier-Journal: "A national organization that helps candidates who want smaller government says it will come into Kentucky and spend as much as $500,000 helping Matt Bevin beat Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell in May’s Republican primary. Matt Kibbe, president of FreedomWorks, said in an interview Tuesday that the group is endorsing Bevin and will help organize grass roots opposition to McConnell, who Kibbe says has been in Washington, D.C., for too long. FreedomWorks is yet another group with tea party leanings to jump into the race and support Bevin, who faces a huge fundraising disadvantage in his race to unseat McConnell, arguably the most influential Republican in Washington. The McConnell campaign, Wednesday, said the group has lost its way. 'Freedomworks was a constructive partner in the conservative movement and had been supportive of Senator McConnell's efforts to stop Obamacare and protect the First Amendment when many organizations were afraid to speak out but internal problems unfortunately have changed their focus from conservative reform to conservative cannibalism in order to pay the bills,' McConnell spokeswoman Allison Moore said in a statement." [Courier-Journal]
RECYCLED MCCONNELL AD EXPLOITS ILL PLANT WORKER - Hard to blame the McConnell campaign politically, this ad is as moving as Willie Horton was race bait-y. Jason Cherkis: "In the first major television ad buy of his 2014 campaign, Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) [reruns an ad] from his last Senate race. The ads, running statewide, tell the story of Paducah, Ky.'s toxic uranium enrichment plant -- as McConnell sees it. The Cold War relic.. poisoned its workers and nearby waterways...McConnell worked to provide the workers with free health care and screenings... [In the ads] Robert Pierce, a former plant worker and throat cancer survivor, praises McConnell... Six years ago, Pierce appeared in a similar ad telling viewers that the senator 'went to bat for us' and that he 'cares for the working man.' Other Paducah residents who suffered illnesses from poisoned wells and plant watchdogs who repeatedly warned of the hazards will likely disagree with Pierce's assessment. For more than 15 years in office, as The Huffington Post chronicled in a profile of the senator, McConnell all but ignored the problems at the plant. Mark Donham, who had served as chairman of the Paducah Citizens Advisory Board, which monitored plant safety, told HuffPost, 'McConnell never stood up and lobbied for an investigation' into the plant's hazards." [HuffPost]
CONGRESSMAN: WIVES SHOULD 'VOLUNTARILY SUBMIT' TO THEIR HUSBANDS - It's like the men are Mexico, and the women are undocumented immigrants who should self-deport themselves. WaPo: "A Republican member of Congress says in a recently released book that a wife is to 'voluntarily submit' to her husband, but that it doesn't make her inferior to him. Rep. Steve Pearce's (R-N.M.) memoir, 'Just Fly the Plane, Stupid!' was released last month. Its publication -- and his acknowledgment in the book of the controversial nature of the submission debate -- come as the Republican Party reevaluates how it talks to and about women. In the book, Pearce recounts his rise to owning an oil-field service company and winning election to Congress. In the book, the Vietnam War veteran says that both the military chain of command and the family unit need a structure in which everyone plays his or her role. He said that, in his family's experience, this meant that his wife, Cynthia, would submit to him and he would lead. 'The wife is to voluntarily submit, just as the husband is to lovingly lead and sacrifice,' he writes, citing the Bible. 'The husband’s part is to show up during the times of deep stress, take the leadership role and be accountable for the outcome, blaming no one else.'" [WaPo]
SCALIA TAKES THE SIDE OF WORKERS - There is neither a record large enough, nor a screech loud enough, to adequately convey our surprise. In These Times: "On Tuesday morning, something curious happened at the Supreme Court: Justice Antonin Scalia gave a full-throated defense of public-sector unions. The case, Harris v. Quinn, involves the narrow question of whether or not Illinois home healthcare workers are public employees—which determines whether or not they are permitted to join public-sector unions. Illinois grants public-sector unions the right to exclusive representation—meaning that if they receive a majority vote, they automatically represent all employees—and lets them charge a 'fair share' fee to employees who don’t join the union but are covered by the collective bargaining agreement...The challenge was brought by the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation (NRTW)... [the group] tried to convince the Court that exclusive representation and fair share fees by public sector unions violate workers’ First Amendment rights...[the group] claimed that, because public employee unions bargain over matters of public concern, the fees force workers to contribute to speech with which they may not agree. Scalia turned the NRTW argument on its head...Justice Scalia highlighted how the Supreme Court has recognized that the government has wider latitude in dealing with its employees than in dealing with its citizenry." [In These Times]
GOP: THERE'S NO SUCH THING AS A FREE LUNCH... OR LUNCH - Say goodbye to your 30-minute daily bologna sandwich bliss. Dave Jamieson: "A Tennessee Republican has introduced a bill in the state senate that would allow workers to waive their right to a 30-minute meal break, a move that could open workers up to employer coercion, the Nashville Scene reports. Under current state law, workers who log at least six consecutive hours are entitled to a legally mandated half-hour break. Restaurant workers were given the option to forgo that right two years ago, and now Sen. Brian Kelsey wants to extend the waiver option to all hourly workers. 'I've heard stories that some employees would like to move that 30 minutes to the end of their shift,' Kelsey told The Tennessean. 'And right now, they're not legally allowed to do that when they take their breaks.' Even though it sounds like a great option on paper, making a meal break optional can put a lot of workers in an awkward spot, as Bobby Allyn explains in the Scene. Plenty of people in fast-paced businesses may feel pressured to give up their breaks in order to please the boss. In fact, a lot of people already have to work through their breaks as it is." [HuffPost]
The push for marriage equality isn't advancing on all fronts: "With a proposed state constitutional ban on same-sex marriage on life support, Indiana House Speaker Brian Bosma (R) suddenly gave it new life Tuesday, moving the legislation from the skeptical committee that was reviewing it to a friendlier, more conservative panel that is likely to vote it through to the full chamber...Marriage equality is already illegal in Indiana. But HJR-3 would make the ban more permanent by amending the state constitution to define marriage as being between one man and one woman. Once it passes out of the House, it would need to clear the Senate before the public votes on it as a ballot measure." [HuffPost's Amanda Terkel]
BECAUSE YOU'VE READ THIS FAR - Here are some cats playing dead.
- Anxious cat really needs to learn how to chill. [http://huff.to/1dPIbwP]
- Arnold Schwarzenegger dressed up in a lousy disguise and surprised people at a gym ("We are not finished with the water drinking.") [http://bit.ly/1fXLIL5]
- Researchers have zeroed in on what makes good clickbait, and their findings will AMAZE you. [http://nyr.kr/1kVCBww]
- A movie both written and performed by drunk people. [http://bit.ly/1aLH9Mf]
- A collection of terribly misspelled names on Starbucks cups. [http://bit.ly/1cW5zm0]
- Ric Flair went to North Korea. [http://usat.ly/1dUhmpz]
@NirajC: It’s a full 30 degrees warmer in Alaska’s capital than the nation’s capital. #workfromhome http://t.co/ogDce7H4xu
@kelsey_snell: @ElaheIzadi "Bao Bao should fit in well in Washington: she costs a fortune, has no useful skills and is always on TV."
@ProfJeffJarvis: Does anyone have the list of action items from the end of Davos 2010? Just checking to make sure all were accomplished.
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