POLITICS

HUFFPOST HILL - Nation's Weird Uncle Surprisingly Not Down With Weed

02/06/2014 06:02 pm ET | Updated Feb 06, 2014

The Senate failed to extend long term unemployment insurance, so if you're out of work and out on the street, there are plenty of spare couches to crash on in John McCain's eight houses. Because you can't hold a moment of silence for a transportation hub's still-alive mother, Joe Biden found other ways of insulting New York's LaGuardia Airport. And why did the chicken cross the road? We don't' know, because Donna Edwards hasn't told us how that joke ends yet. This is HUFFPOST HILL for Thursday, February 6th, 2014:

Max Baucus was confirmed as America's next ambassador to China today, and the former Montana senator said his farewells to a mostly empty chamber. Bye Max. According to Google Translate, "说客" is "lobbyist" in simplified Chinese.

UNEMPLOYMENT FLOPS IN SENATE ONCE AGAIN - Democrats failed on Thursday to win enough Republican votes to reauthorize long-term unemployment benefits for more than a million workers cut off in December. At least five Republicans needed to vote for the bill in order for it to advance, but only four did. The bill failed 58-to-40. "Because of the inaction of one person today there's a family, thousands of families who are going to miss mortgage payments and send their lives into economic chaos," said Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.). Even if the Senate eventually passes an extension of unemployment benefits, which seems unlikely, Republican leaders in the House of Representatives have been unenthusiastic about holding a vote. [HuffPost]

Heads up! New jobs report comes out tomorrow morning. Much topical. Very Senate. Wow.

SORE WINNERS ALERT - David Rogers: "Even after it’s passed Congress, nothing comes easy for this farm bill. President Barack Obama is slated to sign the measure into law Friday, but at the urging of Senate Agriculture Committee Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), he will do so at Michigan State University — not at the customary White House ceremony. That decision appears to have been made without first consulting the House Agriculture Committee leadership and has left hurt feelings — and empty seats — in its wake. Indeed, among the top four negotiators on the farm bill, only Stabenow is expected to attend the event." [Politico]

JOE BIDEN IS SUCH A DRAG - Zeke Miller: "The Obama Administration is not pushing marijuana legalization on the federal level, Vice President Joe Biden said Thursday in an exclusive interview with TIME. Just weeks after President Barack Obama told the New Yorker that the drug is no more dangerous than alcohol, Biden said the administration supports smarter enforcement, but not outright legalization. 'I think the idea of focusing significant resources on interdicting or convicting people for smoking marijuana is a waste of our resources,' Biden told TIME in an interview aboard an Amtrak train on the way to an event in Philadelphia. 'That’s different than [legalization.] Our policy for our administration is still not legalization, and that is [and] continues to be our policy.'" [Time.com]
Joe Biden is correct: "If I took you and blindfolded you and took you to LaGuardia Airport in New York you must think, 'I must be in some third world country.'" [NBC New York]

DAILY DELANEY DOWNER - Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said the Senate would try again on unemployment insurance. "We are not going to give up on the unemployed," he said. Last week, Reid told the story of a 57-year-old Nevada woman who'd written him to say that since her unemployment benefits stopped, she's been couch surfing at friends' houses. He revisited the story at a press conference on Thursday. "She couldn't pay her rent," he said. "I hadn't heard the term, some of the younger people probably have -- she's been couch-surfing. She's been going from friend to friend to sleep on their couch. She said, 'How do you think it makes me feel?'" Reid repeatedly referred to the woman while answering reporters' questions on Thursday. "We want the 57-year-old in Nevada to stop couch surfing and find a job," he said. [HuffPost]

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BOEHNER STRUGGLING WITH DEBT CEILING NEGOTIATIONS - Cue the thought bubble above the speaker's head with soft images of Myrtle Beach golf courses and the best club restaurant ceasar salads that money can buy. Sam Stein: "In its ongoing search for a resolution to raise the nation's debt limit by the end of February, House Republican leadership has yet to coalesce around a plan. Speaking to reporters on Thursday, House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) acknowledged the difficulties he currently faces in crafting a bill that can placate the conservatives in his caucus. If he were to attach a provision to the debt ceiling calling Mother Teresa a saint, he said, he 'probably couldn't get 218 Republican votes.' In light of those constraints, Boehner didn't rule out the possibility that he would pass a clean bill to raise the nation's borrowing power. But behind the scenes, he and his associates continue to search for an elusive, Republican-backed plan...The latest idea floated by GOP leadership is to seek to reverse cuts made to military pension benefits as part of the budget deal completed at the end of 2013. The proposal has some obvious political allure: Reversing those cuts has been a priority of both Republicans and Democrats ever since the bill passed. Aappropriations bill that passed Congress in January restored the cuts for disabled veterans who retired early. Since then, lawmakers have pressed to repeal the cuts for other veterans. Sen. Mark Pryor (D-Ark.) has introduced a bill in the Senate to do just that." [HuffPost]

Nancy Pelsoi is not pleased with the speaker's approach: "House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) blasted House Republicans Thursday for saying they couldn't act on immigration reform until they trusted President Barack Obama to enforce the law. Pelosi said if that were the case, Congress may as well cease to exist. 'When [Republicans] say ... they don't trust the president to do it, why don't we just pack up and go home?' she said. 'We have a Democratic system. We have checks and balances. We have three branches of government. In fact, we're the first in the Constitution -- the legislative branch. And what we're supposed to do is legislate, and not make up excuses as to why we don't.'" [HuffPost's Sabrina Siddiqui]

MCCASKILL VOWS TO FILIBUSTER GILLIBRAND'S MILITARY SEXUAL ASSAULT BILL - Just thinking about the tenor that this debate will take when a bill finally reaches the House is very... unnerving. Mike McAuliff: "The battle over how best to address sexual assault in the military hit a heated new pitch Thursday as Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) said she would subject a competing proposal by Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) to a filibuster vote. McCaskill and Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.) have offered a bill that would tweak reforms to the military justice system passed late last year, but would not go as far as Gillibrand's bill would by removing sexual assault cases from the military chain of command. Both measures are expected to come up before Congress takes its next break. Gillibrand has said she backs McCaskill's bill and will vote to start debating it. If any senator chooses to filibuster a measure, it can take 60 votes to move a 'motion to proceed' and start debate on that measure. But McCaskill said Thursday she won't do the same for Gillibrand's bill and will insist on the filibuster threshold. 'No,' McCaskill said when asked by reporters on Capitol Hill if she would vote to start debate. 'There's a disagreement here. We do not believe that her bill will protect victims. We do not believe that it will result in more prosecutions. We do not believe it will increase reporting. And we believe there's real workability problems in terms of how quickly these cases will be brought to court.'" [HuffPost]

BOEHNER: IMMIGRATION REFORM IS ON OBAMA - You'd think with immigration activists accusing the speaker during his morning Pete's Diner ritual (which is a bit like interrupting Ozzie Smith mid pregame backflip) that he'd want to get this thing done pronto. Elise Foley: "House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) laid down a line Thursday on immigration reform: the president must prove he will enforce immigration law or the House won't pass anything. 'There's widespread doubt about whether this administration can be trusted to enforce our laws, and it's going to be difficult to move any immigration legislation until that changes,' Boehner said at a press conference. Republicans have frequently said one of the difficulties of immigration reform is that they deeply distrust Obama. But many who support reform say rather than avoid action entirely, that mistrust is a reason to build requirements into the law that mandate measured improvement of border security and law enforcement. Even the House GOP principles released last week took that stance, calling for bills that would first require specific metrics on border security and enforcement to be hit before they gave legal status to undocumented immigrants, so this president and future ones couldn't ignore the law...Boehner didn't elaborate on what the president should do, just that he should do something -- a tough goal to meet, since it's not defined." [HuffPost]

SCOTT BROWN TAKES MONEY FROM WHACK JOBS, QUICKLY SEVERS TIES - Luke Johnson: "Those who opened an email from former Sen. Scott Brown (R-Mass.) on Wednesday expecting an announcement that he is running for Senate in New Hampshire received a surprise instead: a message from a doctor and noted vaccination opponent claiming that vaccines, and even too much exercise, lead to Parkinson's and Alzheimer's Disease. … [A video from the letter] warns people not to drink fluoridated water or use toothpaste to avoid the 'dramatic destruction of cells' seen in patients with Alzheimer's Disease. The video also touts research showing that those who get a flu vaccine yearly for 3-5 years increase their risk for Alzheimer's 'ten-fold,' a claim that has been repeatedly debunked." Brown subsequently terminated his relationship with Newsmax, but the weirdos at Newsmax are actually standing by the quack claims. [HuffPost]

Mark Pryor is going to get a mighty fine fruit basket from the Waltons this Christmas:" Sen. Mark Pryor (D-Ark.) has come out against a federal minimum wage increase that has the support of President Barack Obama, Senate Democrats and the majority of the American public. 'I know $10.10 still isn’t a whole lot of money, but I think it’s too much, too fast,' Pryor told Bloomberg in an article published Thursday. ' I’m not supportive of that.' Pryor is the first Senate Democrat to come out against raising the federal minimum wage, which is currently $7.25 per hour. He's currently locked in a competitive reelection battle with Rep. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.). Bloomberg notes that the National Retail Federation and the National Restaurant Association are lobbying against the increase and have contributed to Pryor's campaign." [HuffPost's Luke Johnson]

THIS IS SO AWKWARD - Ben Hallman: "AOL is trimming back its employee retirement benefits, a move the media company's chief executive said Thursday was made necessary by new costs incurred by President Barack Obama's health care reform law. 'Obamacare is an additional $7.1 million expense for us as a company, so we have to decide whether or not to pass that expense to employees or whether to cut other benefits,' AOL's Chairman and CEO Tim Armstrong told CNBC Thursday morning. AOL is the parent company of The Huffington Post. At a town hall meeting with AOL employees Thursday, Armstrong again attributed the changes to Obamacare and other health care costs. 'We had two AOL-ers that had distressed babies that were born that we paid a million dollars each to make sure those babies were OK in general. And those are the things that add up into our benefits cost,' he said. Word of the meeting started to spread Thursday afternoon." The ol' "human reproduction unexpectedly cost us" excuse. Classic. [HuffPost]

PRESIDENT HANGS OUT WITH LOUIE GOHMERT - It's like that time Ronald Reagan stood in Red Square and said the Russians didn't seem that evil... except LOUIE GOHMERT. Samantha Lachman: "At the National Prayer Breakfast in Washington on Thursday, President Barack Obama had some nice words to say about one of the breakfast's co-chairs and a frequent critic of his, Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Texas). 'I, by the way, have always found Louie to be unbelievably gracious every time I see him,' Obama said. 'I don't watch TV.' In the past, Gohmert has said that 'Muslim Brotherhood members' have 'influence' in Obama's administration, that judges who rule in favor of same-sex marriages 'need some basic plumbing lessons,' that atheists should 'encourage those who believe in God to keep doing so,' that a debt default would be an 'impeachable offense by the president' and that 'radical Islamists' are being 'trained to act like Hispanic[s].' During the prayer breakfast, Obama pronounced that 'religion strengthens America,' and spoke at length about the how promoting religious freedom in other countries is a foreign policy objective of the United States." [HuffPost]

BECAUSE YOU'VE READ THIS FAR - Here's a girl experiencing rain for the first time.

DONNA EDWARDS SHOULD STICK TO HER DAY JOB - US News: "If there were superlatives doled out for the comedic performances at Wednesday night’s Washington Press Club Foundation annual dinner, the “most awkward” distinction would go to Rep. Donna Edwards, D-Md. Edwards, this year’s Democratic comedy keynote, started out strong with a 'Scandal' parody...But then the Maryland Democrat decided to compare working with Republicans to a commercial for an erectile dysfunction drug. 'And just like family, sometimes we get a little tired of each other, but it doesn’t matter because there are still times that we find time to work together,' she said. 'And when I mean together, I mean it in a Cialis commercial kind of way.' Edwards explained that there’s a 'negotiation dance,' a flirtation with compromise and then a fuzziness that ensues. 'Then when we finally seal the deal, the Cialis deal, we end up in separate bathtubs, Senator Thune,' Edwards said, calling out Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., who was sitting nearby at the head table. Edwards was in attack-dog mode in a crowd of mixed partisan allegiances. So when she brought up Benghazi, needled Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), made fun of Rep. Michele Bachmann’s (R-Minn.) “Downton Abbey” photo, and nicknamed spending too much time with the tea party the “Stockman Syndrome,” after Rep. Steve Stockman (R-Texas), it didn’t go over well." [US News and World Report]

Word of the Day: fremdschämen - (reflexive, colloquial) to feel ashamed on someone else's behalf, to feel ashamed for someone else (e.g. because they don't feel ashamed of themselves) who has done something embarrassing. [wikctionary.org]

Now this, THIS is funny: @RosLehtinen: Two Cuban-Americans who took different paths but both with great style! Say hello to my little gavel. pic.twitter.com/xc2OhukZ5S

COMFORT FOOD

- Kids who juggle really well. [http://bit.ly/Na3wGn]

- "Tainted Love" played on Hard Drives. [http://bit.ly/1ivyVND]

- Sochi Welcomes the world's homosexuals to the Olympic games. [http://huff.to/1b6bFX9]

- Ten bets you'll always win...and will make you seem like a HUGE douche. [http://huff.to/1c7VdjG]

- Mother and son own their wedding with incredible dance routine. [http://huff.to/LComwl]

- Misheard song lyrics. [http://huff.to/1aA8Sov]

TWITTERAMA

@NickBaumann: You know whose distressed baby cost AOL a shitload of money? Tim Armstrong's: http://bloom.bg/1e7lGO7

@sethmeyers: I can't personally remember an Olympics with better toilet reporting

@bazecraze: Sochi: come for the Olympics, stay because you died.

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