HUFFPOST HILL - Refined Gentleman Leaving Congress

03/17/2015 05:58 pm ET

Israel’s election remained too close to call, so make sure you get in your hanging chad joke while you still can. Like Alfred and Gwen before him, Aaron Schock has decided to leave service. And the head of Iowa’s GOP lambasted a Scott Walker staffer who had criticized the state’s caucuses, saying "it's obvious she doesn’t have a clue what Iowa’s all about.” You know, pig castration and entitlement. This is HUFFPOST HILL for Tuesday, March 17th, 2015:

ISRAELI ELECTION TOO CLOSE TO CALL, NETANYAHU CLAIMING VICTORY - Reuters: "Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu closed a gap with center-left rival Isaac Herzog in a hard-fought Israeli election on Tuesday, exit polls showed, leaving both men with a chance to rule but Netanyahu with the clearer path to forming a coalition. A new centrist party, Kulanu, led by a former member of Netanyahu's right-wing Likud, seemed destined to emerge the kingmaker in possibly weeks of coalition negotiations. Two television polls, for Channel 10 and Channel 1, said Likud and Herzog's Zionist Union had each secured 27 seats each in the 120-member Knesset. Channel 2 gave Netanyahu a narrow edge, with 28 to 27 for his challenger. Final results are not expected until early on Wednesday morning." [Reuters]

AARON SCHOCK RESIGNING - He took "measuring the drapes" to a whole new level. See you around, Aaron. Mollie Reilly: "Rep. Aaron Schock (R-Ill.) will resign from Congress amid a controversy over his spending habits, Politico reported Tuesday. In a statement to Politico, the congressman said he will resign effective March 31. 'I do this with a heavy heart,' reads the statement. 'Serving the people of the 18th District is the highest and greatest honor I have had in my life. I thank them for their faith in electing me and letting me represent their interests in Washington.' … Schock's spending came under scrutiny after a Washington Post report highlighted the Republican's newly redecorated office, allegedly modeled after the popular British period drama 'Downton Abbey.' The report noted that the office's decorator, Annie Brahler, remodeled the office for free, sparking an ethics complaint against the congressman. Schock ultimately repaid $40,000 for the redecoration, but the initial story set off a series of reports on the 33-year-old congressman's lavish spending habits. Subsequent reports detailed a taxpayer funded weekend in New York for his staffers, a dozen charter flights worth over $40,000 on donors' planes and $24,000 in campaign funds spent on concerts and events, including a sold-out Katy Perry concert." [HuffPost]

FORMER ABRAMOFF LOBBYIST PISSED AT THINGS NOT IMPRESSED BY SCHOCK - HuffPost Hill's Former Abramoff Lobbyist Pissed At Things, mostly preoccupying himself these days by trying to rig Quinn and Gillespie's internal March Madness bracket, weighed in on Schock's resignation. "FALPAT finds Schock boring," wrote FALPAT, referring to himself in the third person. "He needs to spend more time at SoulCycle, SoulTan, and Katy Perry concerts and less time on private jets." Thanks, FALPAT!

IOWA IS A TERRIBLE PLACE - Trip Gabriel: "Iowa’s Republican leadership blasted Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin on Tuesday for hiring a senior adviser who has mocked the state’s caucus and its voters, and called on Mr. Walker to fire her. Jeff Kaufmann, the state Republican chairman, said Mr. Walker, who leads in polls of Iowa Republicans, should dismiss Liz Mair, who was hired by Mr. Walker’s political action committee to lead online communications for his likely 2016 campaign. 'It’s obvious she doesn’t have a clue what Iowa’s all about,' Mr. Kaufmann said." #TeamLiz [NYT]

OBAMA'S JUDICIAL NOMINEES STALLING IN GOP SENATE - Hey, if people have to wait ages for a court day, why shouldn't the judges? Jen Bendery: "U.S. attorney general nominee Loretta Lynch has been waiting months for a confirmation vote. But she's not the only one twiddling her thumbs. Republicans haven't confirmed a single one of President Barack Obama's judicial nominees since taking control of the Senate in January. In total, there are 16 judicial nominees waiting in the Senate. Nine of them haven't moved at all since being nominated in early January or early February. Five have made it out of the Senate Judiciary Committee, but have been waiting weeks for a floor vote. The remaining two had hearings last week, but the committee hasn't scheduled any votes yet. There's a particular urgency to confirming some of these nominees. Eight are slated to fill empty seats on courts that are facing "judicial emergencies," which means the number of cases per judge on those courts is more than 600 or has stayed between 430 and 600 for more than 18 months. It hasn't always been the case that divided government means judicial nominations come to a halt. For example, President George W. Bush had to work with a Democratic Senate in his final two years in office. By this point in Bush's seventh year in the White House, Democrats had confirmed 13 of his judicial nominees." [HuffPost]

DAILY DELANEY DOWNER - House Republicans unveiled a budget on Tuesday that, in addition to repealing Obamacare, reprises many of the safety net cuts Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) proposed in previous years. In his budget blueprint, Rep. Tom Price (R-Ga.), who took over for Ryan as chairman of the House Budget Committee this year, seeks to balance federal spending over 10 years by cutting assistance to the poor while boosting the defense budget. "Whether we are talking about food stamps, housing assistance or education benefits -- all are made more difficult when Washington forgets the limits of its own understanding and power," Price's outline says. [HuffPost]

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DEMS BLOCK TRAFFICKING BILL OVER ABORTION RESTRICTIONS - Jen Bendery and Amanda Terkel: "Senate Democrats filibustered anti-human trafficking legislation on Tuesday because of an anti-abortion provision Republicans slipped into it. The Senate voted 55 to 43 to move the bill forward, falling short of the 60 votes needed to clear a procedural hurdle. Democratic Sens. Heidi Heitkamp (N.D.), Bob Casey (Pa.), Joe Manchin (W.Va.) and Joe Donnelly (Ind.) voted with Republicans to try to advance it. Without the abortion language, the Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act had near-universal support. The bill, which creates a fund to help victims by using fees charged to traffickers, has several Democratic co-sponsors and sailed through the Senate Judiciary Committee last month. But Democrats discovered last week that Republicans tucked Hyde Amendment language into it, which restricts federal funding for abortion and other health care services. They have since vowed to hold up the bill until the provision is removed." [HuffPost]

GOP BUDGET MATH HAZY - Mike McAuliff: "The [GOP] budget plan for 2016 says it achieves balance in 10 years entirely through making cuts, including repealing the Affordable Care Act, turning Medicaid into a block grant program run by states and chopping $759 billion from non-military spending programs, on top of cutting more than $1 trillion from nutrition assistance and other welfare programs. But the blueprint is entirely silent on two key questions related to taxes, and at a press conference Tuesday, Price admitted that there are no actual estimates related to either. The first question is how to replace the taxes that are currently slated to be raised through Obamacare -- taxes that are expected to lower deficits, according to the Congressional Budget Office. And the second question is how the GOP would pay for making permanent some $900 billion in tax cuts that are due to expire. When asked how his budget deals with the lost revenue, Price did not point to any data, but insisted that the lower burden on taxpayers would spur more growth and therefore bring in more revenue." [HuffPost]

HOUSE GOP BUDGET PUNTS ON SOCIAL SECURITY - "Truly what’s needed is a long-term solution to the problems facing Social Security," Tom Price's budget says. "One such proposal would be a bipartisan commission that would be required to study the structural deficiencies within the current Social Security system and report back with specific legislative proposals for Congress and the President to consider." Surely this strategy will succeed.

POLL: EQUAL RIGHTS BILL TOPS LGBT VOTERS' AGENDAS - And here we thought they just wanted some Benghazi truths. Amanda Terkel: "The Human Rights Campaign is out with a new poll Tuesday that shows 74 percent of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Americans believe such legislation should be a 'top priority' for the community. Only marriage equality scored higher. The bill appears to have wide support among the general pool of likely 2016 voters as well, with 69 percent saying they support it and 27 percent opposing it. Even 51 percent of Republicans say they back these protections. Federal law already prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex or national origin in regard to housing, employment, education, credit, jury selection, federal funding and access to public spaces. But there are no explicit federal protections for sexual orientation and gender identity, meaning LGBT individuals are susceptible to discrimination unless the state they live in happens to have its own protections." [HuffPost]

YOU KNOW WHO ELSE GAVE INFLAMMATORY SPEECHES? - Ted Cruz's burn book entry for Tom Cotton must be so vicious. Igor Bobic: 'It's hard to believe freshman Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) caused such a stir in the Senate with his letter to Iran even before his maiden floor speech. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), who led an unsuccessful fight against Obamacare, couldn't even do that. But Cotton -- now famous for orchestrating the controversial letter to Iran with the signatures of 46 of his GOP colleagues -- finally got the chance to do just that on Monday evening. Cotton began, as one does, with Adolf Hitler...Cotton lamented that President Barack Obama was apologizing for America's actions, and accused the administration of being 'harsh and unyielding to our friends' and 'soothing and suffocating to our enemies.'" [HuffPost]

BECAUSE YOU'VE READ THIS FAR - Here's a cat who thinks it's a dog.

CHUCK SCHUMER TRIES BARTENDING - Presumably there wasn't any Four Loko. Igor Bobic: "It’s the third week of March and Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) is over the moon to be celebrating what he calls 'St. Patrick’s month.' The senator proudly attempted to bartend at McSorley’s Old Ale House in New York City for St. Patrick’s Day. While at the oldest Irish tavern in the city, the Jewish American congressman proclaimed, 'I love the Irish!' 'They are a people-loving people,' Schumer told CNN. Schumer (unsuccessfully) tried to pour eight glasses of beer with one hand just like the pub's employees do. It was a struggle: Only four glasses filled up (with lots of foam, but you've got to give the man an 'A' for effort). In between taking Snapchats and selfies with the bar's customers, Schumer spoke to CNN about the fate of immigration reform, saying his message to House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) is 'that if you love America, you will pass this bill.'" [HuffPost]


- Interactive depiction of traveling to the center of the Earth.

- Ah-nold get's very exciting watching the world dead-lift record being broken.

- Parrot does a killer James Bond impression


@LOLGOP: The only two-state solution conservatives support is the one the that keeps their marriages together.

@RalstonReports: Confession: I had Bibi losing in the play-in game in my bracket.

@JohnDingell: Aaron who? I don't use Instagram.

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