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The White House wanted to interrupt primetime television for its Obamacare announcement this week, but Agents Gibbs and DiNozzo had found another dead Marine in the river and CBS knew better. Jim Moran said something so outrageous we almost overlooked Steve King's latest demonstration of his cantaloupe-sized hostility toward Mexicans. And have you ever had one of those nightmares where you're at a Senate hearing talking to a witness, and then one of your staffers passes you a note saying you're at the wrong hearing talking to the wrong person? This is HUFFPOST HILL for Thursday, April 3rd, 2014:
THIS COMMENT RATES FIVE OUT OF FIVE PITCHFORKS - The guy is retiring and has apparently gone Bulworth after getting his pension info. Hannah Hess: "Despite what constituents outside of Washington might think, members of Congress are underpaid, a House Legislative Branch appropriator suggested Thursday. Virginia Democrat James P. Moran said he plans to highlight the injustice by introducing an amendment to Budget Chairman Paul D. Ryan’s spending blueprint next week. Moran made the comments while the bill that funds member’s $174,000 salaries was being marked up. 'I think the American people should know that the members of Congress are underpaid,' Moran told CQ Roll Call. 'I understand that it’s widely felt that they underperform, but the fact is that this is the board of directors for the largest economic entity in the world.'" [Roll Call]
FALSE: "A lot of members can’t even afford to live decently in Washington."
ADDITIONAL FACT CHECK: Members of Congress haven't taken a pay cut since the Great Depression, earn more than three times the U.S. median household income, and are better compensated relative to their constituents than any legislature in the world except Japan's. [HuffPost]
#SlatePitch: Raising congressional and staff salaries to half a million or a million would actually probably reduce corruption and slow down the revolving door. When the U.S. pays foreign police officers not to take bribes from drug traffickers they call them "anti-corruption payments."
SENATE COMMITTEE MOVES TO DECLASSIFY TORTURE REPORT - Enhanced committee techniques. Matt Sledge: "The Senate Intelligence Committee voted Tuesday to declassify the executive summary of a report detailing the CIA's George W. Bush-era torture and interrogation program, a move that will push the White House into the center of a fierce debate over how much to reveal about the agency's contentious post-9/11 actions. The committee's vote was 11-3, with Democrats joined by several Republicans. 'The report exposes brutality that stands in stark contrast to our values as a nation. It chronicles a stain on our history that must never again be allowed to happen,' Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), the committee's chair, said in a statement. 'It is now abundantly clear that, in an effort to prevent further terrorist attacks after 9/11 and bring those responsible to justice, the CIA made serious mistakes that haunt us to this day,' said Feinstein. 'We are acknowledging those mistakes, and we have a continuing responsibility to make sure nothing like this ever occurs again.'" [HuffPost]
HARRY REID REVIVES CALL FOR BACKGROUND CHECKS AFTER 2ND FORT HOOD SHOOTING - Because senseless mass shootings soften gun nuts' resolve. Sabrina Siddiqui: "Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) urged Congress on Thursday to reconsider legislation to expand background checks in the wake of a deadly shooting at Fort Hood. The Texas military base faced its second mass shooting in five years on Wednesday, after Iraq War veteran Ivan Lopez allegedly killed three and injured 16 before taking his own life. 'As I was told today, this young man bought his gun a day or two before he killed these people,' Reid told reporters on Capitol Hill. 'Couldn't we at least have background checks so that people who are ill mentally, or who are felons, shouldn't be able to buy guns?' Reid said. 'Even NRA members -- a majority of them -- support that, so I hope we can bring it back up.'" [HuffPost]
@mkraju: Thursday at 5:39pm, Senate closes its doors until Monday
NETWORKS TOLD WHITE HOUSE TO GET LOST ON OBAMACARE ANNOUNCEMENT - Evan McMorris-Santoro: "White House officials sought valuable primetime air for a rare, impromptu Tuesday night address to tout the accomplishment of signing up more than 7 million people under the Affordable Care Act. But network officials refused to make the kind of accommodation they did previously for the announcement that Osama Bin Laden had been killed, for instance, and Obama was left instead cutting into the much smaller audiences of Ellen and other daytime shows. Three sources familiar with the request confirmed the White House asked for the primetime slot in their effort both to emphasize a bright moment following the challenging roll out and, more important, to try to reintroduce the country to a law that remains unpopular. One top White House official referred BuzzFeed to another top official for comment on the conversation with networks, but the second official did not respond to a request for comment." [BuzzFeed]
FINAL SENATE UNEMPLOYMENT VOTE DELAYED - Burgess Everett: "Final approval of the Senate’s unemployment insurance proposal has been delayed until next week, as Democrats rejected Republicans’ request for a vote on their amendment. The jobless aid package did pass several procedural votes on Thursday, clearing a final filibuster of the bill, 61-35. But the Senate’s work on jobless aid package won’t be complete until Monday evening. The delay will affect Senate Democrats’ election-year agenda on the floor. Democrats had planned to hold a coordinated vote on paycheck fairness for men and women on Tuesday meant to coincide with Equal Pay Day and a speech from President Barack Obama, but that may now be punted until Wednesday. And Senate Democrats’ push for a vote on raising the minimum wage appears likely to get pushed until after the Easter recess." [Politico]
Republicans forced the delay because Harry Reid denied them a vote on their catchall amendment to approve the Keystone pipeline, block carbon emissions rules, Obamacare something something, etc.
MORE LOBBYIST REACTIONS TO THE SCOTUS McCUTCHEON CASE - HuffPost Hill's resident ethicist, the Former Abramoff Lobbyist Pissed At Things, is happy about the Supreme Court's decision lifting aggregate caps on campaign donors. "I'm excited to have worked for Abramoff because even though I receive fundraising invites every day, including from Senator McCain, nobody wants my money. Boo-hoo," FALPAT writes. "Speaking of Senator McCain, SCOTUS’ decision and oodles of unregulated KochSheldonRove bucks...I find it humorously ironic that the decision came at the same time of Charles Keating's death." Thanks, FALPAT!
DAILY DELANEY DOWNER - Amy Rojas, a 52-year-old mother of three in Queens, N.Y., has been unemployed since losing her administrative assistant job in July. Rojas said that since her benefits ended in December, she has sold her furniture, lost her car and been evicted from her apartment. She and her kids are couch surfing with friends. She's had some interviews but no luck. "They say, 'You're so overqualified, I have to talk to someone else and call you back.' They don't call you back," Rojas said. If Congress reauthorized the benefits, Rojas and others would be eligible for lump-sum checks covering all the payments they've missed since December. Rojas hopes that happens because she's not sure how else she's going to find another apartment with no income. "I'm hoping it can turn around," Rojas said, "because we're not talking about two or three people out there; we're talking about millions of people out there." [HuffPost]
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LAWMAKERS THROW A BONE TO NIH - Sam Stein: "Thursday afternoon at the White House provided political leaders from opposing parties a rare moment to celebrate together, as the president signed a bill devoting $126 million in the next decade toward pediatric cancer research. After months of sometimes contentious negotiations, both the House and the Senate passed the Gabriella Miller Kids First Research Act in March. The bill, named for the 10-year-old brain cancer victim who, with her family, started the Smashing Walnuts Foundation, will potentially shuttle $12.6 million a year from funds for party conventions to the National Institutes of Health.... The president held a signing ceremony on Thursday alongside the bill's main advocate, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.), and other members of both the House and Senate." [HuffPost]
STEVE KING STRIKES AGAIN - Elise Foley: "Democrats are going after immigration hardliners -- including Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) -- for their remarks against undocumented young people who came to the United States as children. After previously comparing Dreamers to drug mules, King said Wednesday that those who want to enlist in the military should be immediately deported instead. 'As soon as they raise their hand and say, 'I'm unlawfully present in the United States,' we're not going take your oath into the military, but we're going to take your deposition and we have a bus for you to Tijuana,' he told Breitbart News. 'That's the law.'" (California Republican Jeff Denham has been working on a measure that would allow immigrants to enlist in the armed services and eventually become citizens.) [HuffPost]
DAN COATS HAD SUCH A MONDAY TODAY - Colby Itkowitz: "Sen. Dan Coats (R-Ind.) was prepped for an appropriations hearing on the defense budget when he took his turn Wednesday afternoon, flipping papers on his lap, reading from them and commending the witness for his department’s prompt response to a letter Coats had sent about a military accounting office in his home state. It was all fairly innocuous except for one problem: Coats was in the completely wrong hearing complimenting the wrong witness." [WashPost]
Happens to lotsa guys, Dan. Also, here's Colby with George Clooney.
PEOPLE ARE GOOGLING 'UNEMPLOYMENT EXTENSION' A LOT LATELY - People really, really want to know what Congress is doing about unemployment insurance. Right now, the interest in a variety of terms related to unemployment and Congress is escalating on Google, the most widely used Internet search engine. At HuffPost Politics, we've seen a huge increase in the demand for news on "unemployment extension" -- that phrase has remained one of our top incoming search terms since December. [HuffPost]
HOW PAUL RYAN'S BUDGET ACHIEVES SAVINGS WILL AMAZE YOU - Just kidding. "Some 69 percent of the cuts in House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan’s new budget would come from programs that serve people of limited means," writes the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities' Richard Kogan. "These disproportionate cuts — which likely account for at least $3.3 trillion of the budget’s $4.8 trillion in non-defense cuts over the next decade — contrast sharply with the budget’s rhetoric about helping the poor and promoting opportunity." Not if you believe helping poor people doesn't help them! [Center on Budget]
CHARLES KOCH WHINES - All he wants to do is flood political campaigns with flamingly dishonest attack ads so he can ultimately reduce his labor costs and stave off regulation of carbon emissions for his fossil fuel empire. Sheesh. Ashley Alman: "Charles Koch has apparently had enough of 'collectivists' criticizing his 'un-American' ways. In an opinion piece published online Wednesday in The Wall Street Journal, the billionaire backer of conservative candidates and causes came to his own defense, claiming he only seeks to uphold the principles of 'dignity, respect, equality before the law and personal freedom,' which he said he believes 'are under attack by the nation's own government.' He defined collectivists as 'those who stand for government control of the means of production and how people live their lives.'" [HuffPost]
WHY OH WHY WON'T SOMEONE STAND UP FOR CHARLES KOCH? - Amanda Terkel: "NRSC head Sen. Jerry Moran represents Kansas, where Koch Industries is located. The business, which is one of the largest privately held companies in the United States, is run by Charles and his brother David. 'In Kansas, there's a company called Koch Industries that is a component of our state, its economy, and many, several thousand, Kansans work there. And unfortunately in the political discourse of our country, Koch Industries, its owners, are often subject to attack,' Moran said in his Senate speech Thursday, before reading the op-ed in full." [HuffPost]
HARRY REID IMMEDIATELY RESUMES BASHING CHARLES KOCH: "These two men are a pair of shadowy billionaires spending millions of dollars to rig our political system. And who does it help? Them. And by all indications, my Republican colleagues are falling all over themselves to help advance their self-described radical philosophy. Already, we've had one senator run to the Senate floor and he read, word for word, that op-ed piece onto the floor. Well, it's truly scary that the Republican Koch agenda and the Ryan Koch budget is just what they want: to make millionaires and billionaires even richer."
BECAUSE YOU'VE READ THIS FAR - Here is video of Nancy Pelosi dancing with Steve Stockman.
- Dolly the pit bull won't stop sitting on her brother Duke [http://huff.to/QI1Ghv]
- A field guide to America's bros [http://bit.ly/1oqLS1u]
- Crips release DeSean Jackson over concern about his Washington Redskins affiliation [http://bit.ly/1lC8pq3]
- The hashtag activist behind #CancelColbert says that she is actually a comedian doing satire. We're not joking (and we believe her). [http://bit.ly/1mMNAIE]
- An appeal to the richest Congress ever [http://yhoo.it/1ik290P]
- Nutcase attacks reporter during liveshot, other reporter's liveshot captures whole thing [http://huff.to/1gSgVhB]
- NPR pulled off a really, really good April Fool [http://bit.ly/1lsb2bx]
- Baby animals taking first steps [http://huff.to/1fPrFZT]
@aburnspolitico: Exclusive: POLITICO's Alex Burns to interview Burns parents in regular birthday phone call
@elisefoley: A couple of tourists are laughing at the immigration activists' "Stop deportations" sign. "They're so misinformed," tourist said loudly.
@ryangrim: Not sure why @petersgoodman thinks the NYT has "the baggage of a low-brow reputation." Book review section is stellar http://t.co/89akGccEgl
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