POLITICS

HUFFPOST HILL - More Like T-T-Tedious

06/17/2015 05:40 pm ET | Updated Jun 17, 2015

Chuck Grassley’s daughter hit a deer with her car, making the animal even less popular than History Channel in the Grassley household. Mark Penn is leaving Microsoft, marking the end of the company’s worst hiring decision since that talking paper clip. And Congress couldn’t pass a bill to fund a bridge if its life depended on it, but Donald Trump can run for president to drum up interest in a reality TV show, so just remember that everything is pointless and we’re all stardust. This is HUFFPOST HILL for Wednesday, June 17th, 2015:

OBAMA'S SECRET PEACE DEAL - Akbar Ahmed: "Qatar and the United Arab Emirates, two U.S. allies that have been fighting a proxy war in Libya since shortly after the 2011 overthrow of Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi, have agreed in principle to resolve their differences, The Huffington Post has learned. This previously unreported commitment, made between top leaders under pressure from President Barack Obama during talks at Camp David on May 14, suggests that peace negotiations in Berlin between the Gulf states' Libyan proxies may yet bear fruit." [HuffPost]

HOUSE VOTE THURSDAY ON TPA - But will there be opportunities for more three-part initialisms? "House Republicans are breathing new life into President Barack Obama's trade agenda by bringing up a stand-alone bill to give the president expedited authority to speed major trade deals through Congress…Now, Republicans plan to bring stand-alone legislation to the House floor on Thursday that will grant Obama so-called fast-track authority while excluding the controversial TAA funding. The fast-track legislation, also known as trade promotion authority, allows Obama to funnel trade deals, like the one he is currently negotiating with 11 Pacific nations, through Congress with a simple up-or-down vote, giving lawmakers no chance to filibuster or attach amendments...Boehner's plan, according to Democratic and Republican aides, is to pass the clean TPA bill and send it to the Senate, where lawmakers will then attach TAA to a separate trade bill involving African countries, the African Growth and Opportunity Act. Once the clean TPA is sent back to the Senate, it will be up to the upper chamber to handle TAA." Whoa, trust fall moment for Democrats. [HuffPost]

Flashback to June 3rd: "White House’s secret weapon on trade: Nancy Pelosi" [Politico]

THE PATH FORWARD IS A GAME THEORY JUMBLE - Ryan Grim: "Republicans are confident all 28 Democrats who backed fast track last week will stick around. With 219 votes, they can only stand to lose two, if everybody shows up. One of those 28 told HuffPost he doesn't see 'how I can support TPA without TAA.' But even if some of the 28 drop off, Boehner may have had some votes in reserve he could call on in a pinch. If TPA passes the House, it goes to the Senate…. In a clever move, the Senate will then vote on the House version of the African Growth and Opportunity Act, or AGOA, which boosts trade from some sub-Saharan African countries and is a priority of many Democrats, including those in the Congressional Black Caucus. Adding TAA only makes it that much more of a Democratic bill. Absent tactical plays from Senate Democrats, it will pass easily." [HuffPost]

Mike McAuliff reports: Senate Democratic aides predicted there might be some bumps in the road, but suspected McConnell would be able to muster enough votes to pass the worker assistance.

Anxiety amongst House Dems: "[P]ro-trade House Democrats want to be sure that if they back a fast-track bill without the worker aid measure, like-minded Senate Democrats will also vote for it. 'We’re trying to make sure House and Senate Democrats are on the same page. That is crucial,' Rep. Ron Kind (D-Wis.) said as he left a meeting of the New Democrat Coalition Wednesday. The group, which Kind leads, consists largely of moderate Democrats who back free trade. Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-Va.) said Boehner has assured him and other pro-trade Democrats that the House will vote again on worker assistance. 'He even stated declaratively that TAA will pass,' Connolly said. Senate Democrats, meanwhile, want a similar promise that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Boehner will agree to amend the preferences bill with an extension of the expiring TAA program, a key Democratic priority." [Politico]

DAILY DELANEY DOWNER - The Federal Reserve has opted against raising interest rates and lowered its range of economic growth projections from between 2.3 and 2.7 percent to between 1.8 and 2 percent. The good news: "On balance, a range of labor market indicators suggests that underutilization of labor resources diminished somewhat." Congrats on your utilization, human beings who work in jobs. [FederalReserve.gov]

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DEMOCRATS ANGLING FOR SHOWDOWN OVER INFRASTRUCTURE FUNDING - Damn on-ramp huggers. Laura Barron-Lopez: "Senate Democrats are threatening to filibuster any short-term extension of the federal fund that pays for the nation’s highways, bridges, roads and mass transit when the clock runs out at the end of July. Last month, Congress passed a short-term extension of the Highway Trust Fund, ensuring that the Transportation Department can use the rest of its reserves until July 31. Lawmakers have talked of passing a second short-term patch in six weeks after the current one runs out, giving Congress time to work out the details of a multiyear bill by the end of 2015. But Democrats want a long-term fix for the highway fund, which has been limping along with a series of short-term patches for the past few years. And they want it now...Democrats have subscribed to the proposal offered by President Barack Obama, which looks to international tax reforms for funding. Within that is a controversial plan to offset funding by allowing companies to return overseas profit to the U.S. Tax revenue from those repatriated profits would go toward the highway fund. A number of lawmakers argue that this would only be a temporary solution, and would not provide adequate funding." [HuffPost]

KING V. BURWELL RULING COULD BE BAD POLITICS FOR GOP -
Jonathan Cohn: "House Republicans have been cheering on the lawsuit currently before the Supreme Court that, if successful, would cut off Affordable Care Act tax credits to more than 6 million people. Now a new report suggests the impact would fall disproportionately on their own constituents, rather than those in Democratic districts -- by a margin of 2-to-1. The research comes from FamiliesUSA, an advocacy and consumer support organization that is among the Affordable Care Act's loudest champions. The report's subject is the potential geographic impact of King v. Burwell, the lawsuit that the court heard in March and on which it is likely to rule by the end of the month. At issue in the case is whether health insurance tax credits should be available in all states, or only in those where officials decided to operate their own marketplaces, or 'exchanges,' for purchasing coverage. In two-thirds of the states, including Florida and Texas, officials declined do that, leaving management of the exchanges to the federal government." [HuffPost]



A reader tinkered with our Donald Trump/Rachel Dolezal image from yesterday.

VOTER ID BILL FALTERS IN NEVADA LEGISLATURE - Samantha Lachman: "Nevada conservatives are disheartened that another attempt to pass a voter identification measure out of the legislature failed this session, even though the GOP has full control of the state government for the first time since 1929. Many expected Nevada to join the list of states that require people to show a government-issued ID in order to vote. Texas, where the GOP also is in control, passed a voter ID law in 2011, but is currently bogged down in litigation over its law's intent and impact. Republican legislators had tried to pass a Nevada voter ID bill in previous sessions, but had more muscle on their side this time, with majorities in both chambers of the state legislature. Republican Gov. Brian Sandoval had previously said he would support a voter ID law, though he refused this year to take a stance before any proposal reached his desk. But, as the session closed June 1, bills in the Senate and Assembly hadn't gotten out of committee, leaving Democrats feeling gleeful and conservatives glum." [HuffPost]

LOL MARK PENN - Nathalie Tadena: "Mark Penn, a Microsoft senior executive who formerly worked at WPP is leaving the technology firm to found a new company that will invest in digital marketing services. Mr. Penn’s new fund, Stagwell Group LLC, has raised $250 million in funding, including from former Microsoft Chief Executive Steve Ballmer, who is a core investor in the new company. Stagwell Group also has the capacity to use leverage to make up to $750 million in acquisitions, the company announced Wednesday. Stagwell Group will focus on investing in companies that are 'digital-first' and can use technology and data to inform creative work, Mr. Penn said. In addition to digital marketing services, the fund said it may invest in advertising, research, data analytics and public relations." [WSJ]

LOW MORALE AT BLOOMBERG DC - Mark Halperin would give the bureau an A- for content, a D for morale and an F overall. Michael Calderone: "A Bloomberg News reporter on Tuesday sent a memo to high-ranking company executives in New York that outlined numerous concerns among Washington bureau staffers about management, editorial standards, reporting priorities and more. The memo, written by a reporter in the Washington bureau and said to be the product of conversations with colleagues, was obtained by The Huffington Post from a source with the sender's name removed. It described 'low morale,' 'high employee turnover,' a 'leadership void' and an atmosphere that’s less hospitable to female employees. Recent layoffs and demotions in the bureau, it noted, have helped foster a 'climate of fear and mistrust.' It is the latest evidence of a news operation plagued by infighting and still grappling with how to grow a flashy political presence on the Web after years of focusing on business and financial news through its highly profitable terminals." [HuffPost]

@ChuckGrassley: Just got word that my daughter Wendy totaled car She is ok She hit deer Deer dead. No presumption I'm told

BECAUSE YOU'VE READ THIS FAR - Here's a dog battling a hairdryer.

CHILD DESERVES BETTER THAN THIS - Donald Trump is the worst thing to infect our children's minds since Joe Camel ads. Samantha Jo-Roth: "Meet 10-year-old Shay Doyle from Waverly, Iowa. He’s a kid on a mission -- to get Donald Trump elected president. This rising fifth grader isn’t old enough to vote or caucus, but he’s trying to recruit support for Trump’s campaign in Iowa, starting with introducing him at an event in Des Moines on Tuesday night following Trump’s announcement of his bid for the presidency earlier in the day in New York City. Not even tall enough to stand behind the podium, Shay, standing on a box, explained what a Trump White House might look like. 'I think that he’s one of those people, instead of going out and telling everyone what he will do, he’ll just go and do it,' Shay told a crowd at Hoyt Sherman Place. Shay said he’s been studying Wall Street, politics and law, in an effort to help Iowans decide which candidate would best represent them." [HuffPost]

COMFORT FOOD

- Ramsay Bolton: nice guy.

- Pouring molten metals into water.

- The waterslide that simulates traveling through a wormhole.

TWITTERAMA

@JennyPentland: I want Donald Trump to win so Jesus comes back.

@delrayser: oh god it just occurred to me how many rachel dolezal costumes there are going to be this halloween & how mortifyingly racist it'll be

@maggieserota: I will vote for any candidate who outlaws acoustic covers of rap songs. #2016

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