The highway system's trust fund will dry up as early as August, so the I-95 might have to get a job instead of spending all its time instagramming yachts in Ibiza. Meteorologists attribute today's scorching heat to large domes full of hot air, though that's not a reference to the U.S. Capitol. And tonight the Capitol Hill press corps will literally lob softballs at members of Congress. This is HUFFPOST HILL for Wednesday, June 18th, 2014:
WHIP RACE UPDATE - Sabrina Siddiqui, Jon Ward and Jen Bendery: "[Rep. Steve Scalise (R-La.)] appears to be leading the race -- his allies frequently cite his votes at around 100. But [Rep. Peter Roskam (R-Ill.)] supporters say those numbers are soft, and that while Scalise is busy running his numbers through the press, Roskam is privately working his colleagues. Rep. Richard Hudson (R-N.C.), an ally of Roskam's, estimated his whip count at around 90 votes and pointed out that Scalise's numbers haven't moved much in recent days... With [Rep. Marlin Stutzman (R-Mich.)] likely to get knocked out in the first round of votes, his supporters could then have the potential to tip the race. Some may go with Scalise, given his more conservative credentials, but others may back Roskam out of frustration with some of Scalise's past votes -- namely his strong support for flood insurance legislation that was loudly opposed by conservative groups...A GOP strategist said... it may come down to a candidate's ability to prove that he knows how to count votes -- the primary job of the majority whip. Several members leaving a candidate forum on Wednesday downplayed any significant ideological differences between the two camps. Many said the current leadership has too often bowed to the Democratic-controlled Senate, and thus raised more procedural questions than policy concerns. 'They were talking mostly about the criteria for bringing bills to the floor -- is it because the Republican conference wants it or is it because it can pass the Senate?' Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) said. Some members, he added, don't even feel as though Republicans have taken charge in the House." [HuffPost]
CONGRESSIONAL LADIES SOFTBALL GAME TONIGHT - It's heartwarming and all that Gabby Giffords will throw the first pitch but we are rooting for the media team, the Bad News Babes. Leigh Ann Caldwell: "Former Congresswoman Gabby Giffords will throw out the first pitch at Wednesday’s Congressional Women’s Softball Game. Giffords’s ability to throw the first pitch is a feat in itself. She played in the annual game until she was critically injured by a gunshot wound to her head. The 2011 incident killed six people and injured 17 others and forced her to resign from Congress. The members’ team pitcher, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, will walk Giffords onto the diamond in the Capitol Hill neighborhood of Washington before nearly 1,000 spectators." [CNN]
SENATE MULLING GAS TAX INCREASE - This can only lead to a deluge of terrible evening news graphics with the tax increases pasted onto crappy renderings of gas pumps. The Hill: "Sens. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) and Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) on Wednesday unveiled the first bipartisan Senate proposal to raise the gas tax, broaching a dangerous political issue that lawmakers have avoided for years. The Murphy-Corker plan would raise the gas tax by 12 cents over the next two years, raising $164 billion over the next decade and covering the shortfall in the Highway Trust Fund. It would index the gas tax to inflation, pegging it to the Consumer Price Index, to avoid future shortfalls. The lawmakers say it is time for Congress to pay for popular transportation programs instead of using budgetary gimmicks to hide their cost and pushing debt into the future." [The Hill]
SENATE DEMS THINK PEOPLE DESERVE OVERTIME PAY - Dave Jamieson: "Senate Democrats want more American workers to be taking home overtime pay. Echoing a similar move by President Barack Obama, a bill introduced by Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) and eight other Democrats on Wednesday would make far more Americans eligible for time-and-a-half pay on hours worked beyond 40 in a week. The legislation would accomplish that by limiting the exclusions that have helped carve a growing share of workers out of overtime protections. 'Plain and simple, if you have to work more, you should be paid more,' Harkin, chairman of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions, said in a statement. Harkin deemed the current rules 'out of date.'" [HuffPost]
Labor secretary Tom Perez, meanwhile, advocated for paid family leave.
ACCURATE CHYRONS FOR IRAQ WAR BOOSTERS - What it should say when Doug Feith goes on TV to discuss Iraq, for example: "f--king stupidest guy on the face of the earth." [HuffPost's Jason Linkins]
DAILY DELANEY DOWNER - From our ongoing series PASTED: The Email of the Working Poor: "I was always told that the best way for me to have a bright future was to go to college and get a degree, then work hard no matter what position I got. I did that. I went to school and I got my Associate and then my Bachelor of Science in Management and Leadership Studies. I work hard and I worked my way through school at a factory taking 6 years instead of 4 to get my degrees so I wouldn't have student debt. I am careful to always put away as much money as I possibly can but I can't help but worry about the future. Now I work at a place making less than everyone in my family. Pure and simple, I am underemployed."
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SOCIAL SECURITY ADMINISTRATION CLOSING LOTSA OFFICES - Robert Pear reports on the remarkable phenomenon of budget cuts leading to reduced government services: "The Social Security Administration is closing field offices and reducing services to the public even as demand for those services surges with the aging of the baby boom generation, according to a bipartisan Senate committee report. The report, to be issued Wednesday by the Senate Special Committee on Aging, says the agency has closed more than two dozen field offices in the last year, generally without considering the needs of communities and without consulting beneficiaries or field office managers." WHO COULD HAVE KNOWN THIS WOULD HAPPEN? [NYT]
MOST AMERICANS SUPPORT WHITE HOUSE'S GREEN PUSH - But do most Americans have idea just how many basis points this is going to shred from Peabody Coal's EBITDA? What did the basis points ever do to them? Ashley Alman: "Two-thirds of Americans back President Barack Obama's push to reduce carbon emissions from power plants. An NBC poll released Wednesday shows that 67 percent of Americans support Environmental Protection Agency rules released this month that will cut carbon emissions from power plants 30 percent by 2030. Thirty-seven percent expressed strong support. The poll shows that a majority of Americans identify as 'supporters' of the new limits. Of those surveyed, 53 percent agree that action to reduce coal emissions in necessary, because it will lead to cleaner air and reduced healthcare costs, while confronting global warming and natural disasters. 'These reductions will help create a new generation of clean energy and jobs,' agree people in the survey who identified themselves as 'supporters.' Meanwhile, 39 percent of those polled said they are "opponents" of the carbon limits, agreeing that the rules will lead to a reduction in jobs and higher electricity costs, with a small effect on global climate, since emissions in other countries will rise in spite of the U.S. initiative." [HuffPost]
HOW DOMESTIC ABUSERS BUY GUNS - Aside from closing their eyes, walking five steps in any direction with their arms outstretched and being handed one, that is. Laura Bassett: "Between 2001 and 2012, more women were shot to death in the U.S. by an intimate partner than the total number of U.S. troops killed in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars combined. But while U.S. federal law prohibits persons convicted of misdemeanor domestic violence from purchasing a gun, the law has so many gaps and loopholes that tens of thousands of known domestic abusers can still either legally buy a gun or are never properly reported into the background check system. Convicted stalkers and non-married, non-cohabiting dating partners who commit domestic abuse, for instance, are not included in U.S. gun restrictions relating to domestic violence. But these categories of abusers can be just as dangerous with a gun as a spouse convicted of misdemeanor abuse. The CAP report cites a study of female murder victims in 10 cities that found that three-quarters of women murdered, and 85 percent of women who survived a murder attempt by a current or former intimate partner, had been stalked in the previous year. And nearly half of all intimate partner homicides are committed by a dating partner who is not covered by federal gun restrictions." [HuffPost]
AMAZON'S DRONES GET THEIR OWN LOBBYIST - Not only is it unconstitutional to prevent airborne robots from dropping copies of "The Secret" and two-packs of shampoo-conditioner on your doorstep, congressman, it's downright un-American. Politico: "Amazon Prime Air has hired Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld to work on 'federal advocacy with regard to testing and operation of [unmanned aerial vehicles] in the US,' according to a new lobbying registration. In an interview with '60 Minutes' in December, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos announced that his company was working to make same-day drone delivery a reality for consumers in the near future. Amazon hopes to be able to deliver products to consumers within 30 minutes of an order using a small UAV. But there are barriers to the operation of commercial drones in the United States — including a lack of regulatory guidance from the country’s aviation authorities. The Federal Aviation Administration has yet to come forward with a formal set of rules for commercial drones, although it’s expected to propose a final rule by November." [Politico]
HARRY REID SORT OF APOLOGIZES FOR IRAQ VOTE - Sam Stein and Ryan Grim on Reid's strong non-apology game: "Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said on Wednesday that he deeply regretted his vote to go to war with Iraq in 2003. 'Do you know how I feel about that?' Reid asked during a sit-down interview in his office with The Huffington Post. 'I'm sure this is no big surprise,' he said, pausing for ten seconds before continuing in a muted voice: 'What a mistake.' …. 'And I'm sorry that I was misled, but I was, and it was a mistake for me to vote for that war.'" [HuffPost]
PATENT OFFICE PULLS REDSKINS TRADEMARK - We'd make a joke about an alternate name for the team, but the only one that's left the Washington TedChins, something involving Ted Cruz's chin and, well, you deserve better than that. AP: "A federal trademark board ruled Wednesday that the Washington Redskins nickname is 'disparaging of Native Americans' and that the team's trademark protections should be canceled, a decision that applies new financial and political pressure on the team to change its name. The 2-1 ruling from the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board came in a case that has been working its way through legal channels for more than two decades. It doesn't force the team to abandon the name, but it comes at a time of increasing criticism of team owner Dan Snyder from political, religious and sports figures who say it's time for a change. The Redskins quickly announced that they will appeal, and the cancellation for trademark protections will be on hold while the matter makes its way through the courts. That process could take years. It was the second time the board had issued an opinion on the case. A similar ruling from 1999 was overturned on a technicality in 2003. 'We've seen this story before,' Redskins attorney Bob Raskopf said. 'And just like last time, today's ruling will have no effect at all on the team's ownership of and right to use the Redskins name and logo. We are confident we will prevail once again.'" [AP]
But seriously: Washington Department of Football.
Harry "negro dialect" Reid is deeply offended by the team name: "Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) piled on Washington's professional football team Wednesday after it lost its trademark, saying it's only a matter of time before team owner Dan Snyder realizes he must change the 'racist' name...Reid, who has been hammering away at Snyder and his team for months -- recently turning down an offer of free tickets -- ratcheted his criticism up a notch in a brief Senate floor speech, noting that 27 tribes live in his home state, and they don't appreciate the name. 'Every time they hear this name, it is a sad reminder of a long tradition of racism and bigotry,' Reid said. 'A month or so ago, Daniel Snyder, the owner of the team, had some people come to Nevada and agreed to buy one of the Indian tribes a car if they would say nice things about the Redskins. They refused that.'" [HuffPost's Mike McAuilff]
BECAUSE YOU'VE READ THIS FAR - Here are five dogs being introduced von Trapp-style.
DC WAS THE HOTTEST PLACE IN AMERICA TODAY - Sure, Thomas Jefferson wrote the Declaration of Independence, but he also impregnated slaves, couldn't save money if his life counted on it, and thought it was cool to RUN A GOVERNMENT FROM A SWAMP. #impeachjefferson. WaPo: "On The Weather Channel’s national temperature map, no city shown is hotter than Washington, D.C. at the noon hour (eastern time). It’s 92 degrees, the map says (Reagan National Airport – D.C.’s official observing station – is actually reporting 93)...the District has activated its heat emergency plan that entails the operation of cooling centers among other services to keep people safe. Link: D.C.’s 2014 Heat Emergency Plan...Occasionally, D.C. sits near the center of so-called heat domes – or sprawling areas of high pressure at high altitudes under which the air compresses and heats up. In addition, when winds blow over the mountains from a westerly direction (like today), the air further compresses via a process known as down-sloping." [WaPo]
- The most magical Vine of the summer. [http://bit.ly/T7AoSv]
- The musicless version of Jagger and Bowie's "Dancing in the Street" video is so strange. [http://bit.ly/1nPROho]
- Details of Amazon's new smartphone, the Fire Phone. [http://bit.ly/1jzeG0i]
- Old Spice is marketing itself in Brazil and the commercial is strange even by its own standards. [http://chzb.gr/1yjNfBy]
- George R.R. Martin appeared on the latest edition of "Gay of Thrones." [http://bit.ly/1iboVgl]
- Davos from "Game of Thrones" was chilling at the World Cup. [http://uproxx.it/1soKZsj]
- Here's a bulldog superimposed into "Jurassic Park." [http://huff.to/1l3ovbj]
@JGreenDC: But can Brian Schweitzer's bolo tie LEAD?
@thejoshpatten: Washington's football team's appeal of this decision will presumably begin with the words, "Now I may just be a simple country lawyer..."
@CrowleyTIME: Remember when Obama's all-consuming crisis was the VA? #TheNewsMovesFast
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