HUFFPOST HILL - Chuck Schumer Is America's Fermented Milk Fairy

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The annual Washington Press Club Foundation dinner is tonight -- you know, that one day when lawmakers and reporters tell bad jokes and inflate their own importance? Clay Aiken announced that he is running for Congress is North Carolina, though it's unclear whether that will preclude him from lip-syncing on any more Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade floats. And tonight Chuck Schumer will sleep peacefully knowing tobogganers thousands of miles away will eat yogurt because of him. This is HUFFPOST HILL for Wednesday, February 5th, 2014:

Senator Pat Roberts to surgeon general nominee Vivek Murthy, who is of Indian descent: "I'm going to invite you [to Dodge City, Kansas], because we have a lovely doctor from India. She's in her mid-30s, and she's highly respected by the community. And another doctor from India that did my carpal tunnel when I did a stupid thing. And so, I think you'd be right at home, and we would welcome you." [Slate]

HOUSE GOP EMPLOYING NEW DEBT CEILING TACTICS - Sabrina Siddiqui: "House Republicans are abandoning plans to link a debt ceiling increase to the approval of the Keystone XL pipeline or a repeal of the risk corridors provision in the Affordable Care Act, a GOP leadership aide confirmed to The Huffington Post...While a formal offer had not been made in which a debt ceiling hike was tied to Keystone or Obamacare's risk corridors provision, those were two of the more popular proposals to emerge from a House Republican retreat last week. The latter was dealt a significant blow Tuesday when a Congressional Budget Office report found that a repeal of the risk corridors piece of Obamacare would actually increase the deficit by $8 billion over three years....An alternative debt ceiling strategy emerged Wednesday afternoon, when Boehner reportedly urged members to consider tying a one-year debt ceiling hike to the restoration of military benefits that were cut last year. The Washington Post reports that Boehner proposed the idea during a private lunch with allies at the Capitol, although he did not formally endorse it. A House GOP leadership aide declined to comment on the report. Military costs-of-living benefits were cut as part of the Murray-Ryan budget deal in December, a move that left many Republicans dissatisfied and seeking a resolution. Senate Democratic leaders are also weighing an amendment that would address the military COLA, but as part of their bid to extend unemployment benefits." [HuffPost]

Encouraging: "Aides to both House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) confirmed that the two offices have not talked about a legislative deal on the debt ceiling...The lack of communication suggests that Republican leaders are still hoping to pass a bill with either exclusively GOP support, or with the backing of predominantly Republicans and just a handful of Democrats. What such a bill would look like at this juncture is anyone's guess." [HuffPost's Sam Stein]

Everybody in politics didn't used to hate the idea of working shorter hours.

The way we live now: @CBSNews: U.S. issues toothpaste tube terror warning cbsn.ws/1it9Ymb

DAILY DELANEY DOWNER - From the mailbag, a note from someone whose spouse's unemployment benefits have lapsed thanks to Congress: "My job alone monthly won't even cover the mortgage so how do we pay for food, electric, gas and all the other things we need to maintain. We are not fancy people. We live a simple life. We do not abuse the system nor does my husband desire not to work. He wants to work but until he can find a job does that mean we lose everything?" Good question. [Hang in there!]

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CLAY AIKEN OFFICIALLY RUNNING FOR CONGRESS - Amanda Terkel: "Singer Clay Aiken launched his bid for Congress Wednesday, saying he was confident it was possible to win as a Democrat running in a conservative North Carolina district. 'I understand that some numbers and pollsters would consider this district to be more conservative. I certainly don't think that it is a liberal district,' Aiken told The Huffington Post in an interview.... In his interview with HuffPost, Aiken also went after Ellmers for last year's government shutdown, lamenting that in the current Congress, politics seem to be a zero-sum game. He drew upon his experience on 'American Idol' and in the music industry as an example of how relations could be more productive. 'I hate to use an 'American Idol' analogy because that's not who I am ... but for me to win 'Idol,' I didn't have to trip Ruben on stage. I didn't make him look bad,' he said. 'And people are spending more time in D.C. trying to make their opponent look bad than they are actually doing good stuff. For me to be successful on 'Idol,' I just had to do my very best. And if I did my very best, it would pay off for me. And if politicians, regardless of the party, would go up to D.C. and do their very best, you would see that effect for everyone in the country.'..Aiken will first have to win the Democratic primary if he wants to face Ellmers in the general election. Former North Carolina Commerce Secretary Keith Crisco and professional counselor Toni Morris are competing with Aiken in the primary. Attorney Houston Barnes was in the race but now plans to withdraw and back Aiken." [HuffPost]

DEMOCRATS INTRODUCE CAMPAIGN FINANCE REFORM LEGISLATION - Republicans will totally add this to their to-do list, right below the public option and right above "H.R. 523: Establishing Sandinista Remembrance Day. " Paul Blumenthal: "House Democratic leaders joined together on Capitol Hill Wednesday to introduce a new campaign-finance reform bill to help lessen the influence of big money in politics. The product of months of internal negotiations among House Democratic caucus members, the Government By The People Act would create a system of publicly financed elections by using public dollars to match small contributions made to participating candidates, among other features. House Minority Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) introduced the bill, saying it would honor the founders of the United States who hoped to create, 'a government of the many, not a government of the money.'...The bill already has attracted 126 co-sponsors -- 125 Democrats and one Republican, Rep. Walter Jones (N.C.). For Rep. John Sarbanes (D-Md.), the bill's lead sponsor and author, its introduction brings his work over the past two years to fruition...The legislation is inspired by the public financing system in New York City that provides public funds to match small donor contributions. The system has increased the influence of small donors and marginalized communities in elections." [HuffPost]

LAWMAKER QUITS, REJOINS CONGRESSIONAL HISPANIC CAUCUS - Solidarity-quitting is one of the oldest political traditions, second-only to solidarity-joining. National Journal: "Rep. Filemon Vela, who quit the Congressional Hispanic Caucus in protest over proposed militarization of the U.S.-Mexico border, wants to rejoin, he tells National Journal. Why? 'I think my point has been well made,' the Texas Democrat said. Vela's July resignation from the CHC was a sign of the internal debate taking place among Democrats over the Senate immigration bill, and particularly the $46 billion border-surge amendment from Republican Sens. Bob Corker and John Hoeven. 'The reason I left was because at that time I felt that there was a movement afoot, not just within the Hispanic Caucus, but here on the entire Democratic side, to support Corker-Hoeven,' said Vela, whose district includes the border. 'I just felt so strongly about the fact that we don't need more walls, we don't need to quadruple the size of our Border Patrol agency. It was just something I felt I had to do at the time.'" [NJ]

Alaskans are all about weed and gay marriage: "For the first time in its polling PPP finds a plurality of Alaskans in support of gay marriage. 47% of voters favor it to 46% who are opposed. That represents a 9 point shift just from a year ago when only 43% supported it and 51% were against. When it comes to the broader issue of granting same sex couples legal rights through civil unions there's a pretty broad consensus with 71% of voters in support and only 26% opposed to any sort of legal recognition...Alaskans support legalizing marijuana for medical purposes by a 74/22 margin, and they support legalizing it for recreational purposes too by a narrower 55/39 spread. When it comes to medical marijuana there's a pretty strong bipartisan consensus with 88% of Democrats, 79% of independents, and 58% of Republicans in support of it. There's 72/26 support for recreational use among voters under 30." [PPP]

CHUCK SCHUMER DEMANDS RELEASE OF YOGURT - Yogurt: Surprisingly not a Schumwich ingredient. CBS News: "U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., said Tuesday that a shipment of Chobani is being held up at Newark Liberty International Airport in New Jersey because of 'unattainable' Russian Customs certifications. The U.S. Department of Agriculture has requested that Russia approve a USDA safety certificate for the yogurt, but Schumer said Russia still won’t allow the shipment. Chobani, based in upstate New York, is an official sponsor of the U.S. Olympic team. Schumer said the yogurt will be eaten only by U.S. citizens in Sochi. 'With the Sochi Olympic Games starting at the end of this week, there is simply no time to waste in getting our Olympic athletes and employees a nutritious and delicious breakfast,' Schumer said in a statement, according to USA Today." [CBS Local]

EZRA KLEIN'S VENTURE POACHES TWO MORE WAPO REPORTERS - Meanwhile HuffPost Hill continues to turn down those offers from Daily Download. Michael Calderone: "The Washington Post's Brad Plumer and Sarah Kliff are joining Ezra Klein's new venture to be launched with Vox Media, according to newsroom sources familiar with the plans. Plumer covers environmental policy issues for the Post's Wonkblog, which was run by Klein until his departure last month. Kliff reports on health care policy. Klein, Plumer and Kliff declined to comment, as did a Washington Post spokeswoman. Plumer and Kliff won't be the first Post staffers to join the new explanatory journalism venture, tentatively called 'Project X.' Director of Platforms Melissa Bell and Dylan Matthews, who ran a Wonkblog spin-off called Know More, both left with Klein.... Beyond Wonkblog, there's currently speculation in the newsroom, according to multiple Post sources, that foreign policy blogger Max Fisher may head to the new venture...The Post will continue to run Wonkblog and announced plans last week to expand policy coverage under economics writer Jim Tankersley. " [HuffPost]

BECAUSE YOU'VE READ THIS FAR - Here is a a pug squaring off against a cat.

AMERICANS NOT KEEN ON SOCHI - Save them, Mitt Romney! WaPo: "The Winter Olympics are getting a lukewarm reception from the American public, which has wide dislike for the Russian president and concerns over terrorism. Half of Americans have a favorable impression of the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia opening Thursday, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll; four in 10 have unfavorable views. That’s a far cry from the 72 percent favorable rating entering the Summer Olympics in London two years ago. The Sochi Olympics have been clouded in controversy, from concerns over terrorism to the eye-popping price tag and Russia’s anti-gay laws. The public’s rare Olympic skepticism about Sochi was underscored by a Pew Research Center poll released Tuesday, which found a plurality saying it was a “bad decision” to hold the winter Olympics in Russia. When asked why, the vast majority of this group cited security concerns." [WaPo]

COMFORT FOOD

- The full debate between Bill Nye and creationist activist is online. [http://huff.to/1buNLlK]

- Canadian organization runs hilarious anti-Olympic homophobia ad. [http://bit.ly/1fRCaOp]

- A six-year-old girl and a nine-year-old girl drafted 30 rules for boyfriends. [http://huff.to/1bqLMyG]

- Something weird happens when you pour beer on a hot frying pan. [http://bit.ly/LQrzJh]

- Whenever you feel frustrated with your significant other, visit Dimly Lit Meals For One and realize how lucky you have it. [http://bit.ly/1mYClsu]

- Jeopardy! Hotties documents the babes of the renown quiz show. [http://bit.ly/1nUd8T8]

- Twenty-one children star in cover of "Let It Go" from Frozen. [http://huff.to/1eUyRmw]

TWITTERAMA

@seungminkim: Overheard, Frank Lucas as he headed into House chamber -- "the best part is, the press ignore me now" #farmbill

@gilbertjasono: Washington Post leaving the Washington Post to join Ezra Klein’s new venture

@dceiver: This is the first time the Wizards have had a winning record in the Affordable Care Act era

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