Blanche Lincoln is bogarting the spotlight with the derivatives bill she's rolling out tomorrow. Mitch McConnell thinks Wall Street reform is totally skunked, but is considering one more toke. The D.C. voting rights bill is completely cashed. Oh, and Kumar got arrested. This is HuffPost Hill for April 20th, 2010
CONRAD WANTS A FIVE-YEAR BUDGET - Kent Conrad says he's pursuing a five-year (rather than 10-year) budget. Asked by HuffPost Hill, the Senate budget chair says that timeline has been used by the committee roughly 80 percent of the time. It has the added benefit of halving the numbers.
Conrad's under pressure from both sides of his party. One element - made up of conservative Democrats, largely in the House, and some party strategists - fear a budget resolution is an ugly vote in an ugly year. From the left, he's being pressured to include broad reconciliation language that would allow Democrats to move large chunks of their agenda by majority vote. Ben Cardin and Bernie Sanders, both committee members, told HuffHill they've pushed Conrad on it. "This is something that needs the chairman's support. This is something that he needs to initiate," said Cardin. More from Sanders: "I'm pushing it very hard. If we're going to go forward and create the kind of jobs we need, we can't wait for 60 votes," he noted, citing the public option, energy policy, transportation and school construction as projects that could be done through reconciliation.
Conrad's early evening statement is mostly silent on reconciliation, but puts a freeze on non-military spending and slashes the "deficit as a share of the economy by 70 percent, bringing the deficit down to 3.0 percent of GDP by 2015." On the House side, Dems are moving ahead with a budget. Committee Chairman John Spratt was invited to address leadership today on the status of the budget.
OBAMA TELLS SCOTT BROWN: IMMIGRATION'S NEXT - WSJ: "President Barack Obama called Massachusetts' new Republican senator, Scott Brown, from Air Force One today to deliver some news: Democrats are moving forward with an immigration overhaul in a month. Brown, in an interview with the Journal's Neil King Jr., said the president was giving him a heads-up that immigration was coming down the pike and he should give it some serious thought. The senator promised to look closely at the bipartisan bill that Sens. Lindsey Graham (R., S.C.) and Charles Schumer (D., N.Y.) are trying to produce." http://bit.ly/c3Sxk5
BUT... "Sen. Brown told the president that he would review any legislation if it came before the Senate, but he believes that the immediate focus should be on fixing the economy and creating jobs," Brown spokeswoman Gail Gitcho said. http://bit.ly/9dUHxl
MEANWHILE... SCHUMER VS. MENENDEZ OVER IMMIGRATION - A few reporters, including HuffPost Hill, watched as Chuck Schumer and Bob Menendez had an exchange -- let's call it "vibrant" -- outside the Mansfield room this afternoon. "That's how two guys from New Jersey and New York talk!" Menendez explained to someone who asked about it later. The conversation was about immigration. A Schumer source says there was no heat between the two and that while the search continues for a second Republican cosponsor for comprehensive reform, Schumer and Menendez will meet tomorrow. The conversation is pregnant with politics: Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-Ill.) said today he'd encourage Latinos to stay home in November if Dems don't move on immigration reform. Menendez is head of the Senate campaign arm and Schumer, a lead backer of reform, is its former chairman.
MYSTERY TWEET - Chicago's Mayor Daley: "Check back later this afternoon for news regarding Rahm Emanuel." http://bit.ly/cS6zik
FIRST EXCERPT: NYT MAGAZINE PROFILE OF MIKE ALLEN: From Mark Leibovich's upcoming cover story of Papa Bear Mike Allen, titled "The Insider's Insider": "Before he goes to sleep, between 11 and midnight, Dan Pfeiffer, the White House communications director, typically checks in by e-mail with the same reporter: Mike Allen of Politico, who is also the first reporter Pfeiffer corresponds with after he wakes up at 4:20. A hyperactive former Eagle Scout, Allen will have been up for hours, if he ever went to bed. Whether or not he did is one of the many little mysteries that surround him. The abiding certainty about Allen is that sometime between 5:30 and 8:30 a.m., seven days a week, he hits 'send' on a mass e-mail newsletter that some of America's most influential people will read before they say a word to their spouses." Cover image: http://bit.ly/c21nko
EXCLUSIVE: ROBERT RUBIN SAYS HE *DID* SUPPORT DERIVATIVES REFORM "Clinton-era Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin, who will go down in history as one of the men who killed derivatives regulation, insisted today that he has long thought that derivatives should, in fact, be regulated. 'I thought we should regulate derivatives; I thought so when I was at Goldman Sachs and I thought so afterwards,'" he told HuffPost's Dan Froomkin today. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/04/20/rubin-i-actually-supporte_n_545113.html
TOMORROW'S PAPERS TODAY - In ROLL CALL, Kathleen Hunter and Jennifer Bendery lead with the split within the Latino community. On the one hand, they'll report, is Luis Gutierrez, but "other Hispanics in Congress appear resigned to the prospect of waiting until after the mid-term elections to push their priorities." ... In THE HILL, Molly Hooper is leading with GOP drama surrounding Charlie Crist's next move.
LINCOLN: I HAVEN'T HEARD FROM WHITE HOUSE - Blanche Lincoln will bring her tough derivatives reform bill before her Ag Committee tomorrow morning at 9:30, where it's expected to pass on a party-line vote. What the White House thinks about it is still a mystery, Lincoln said. "I have not heard from the White House, neither before we put out the bill or after," Lincoln told HuffPost Hill after a briefing with Maria Cantwell and a coalition of business leaders on the reform side.
Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner has pushed back publicly on Lincoln's bill, suggesting that banning big banks from trading in derivatives is going too far. Obama, though, has threatened to veto any bill that doesn't rein in derivatives trading. Does Lincoln have White House backing? "We hope so," she said.
Was there ever a clue that Lincoln would get as tough on Wall Street as she has? Maria Cantwell says she's been working with her for about four months on derivatives but only got a sense she was moving the right way over recess. One tip-off could have come earlier, however: In September, as incoming chairman, Lincoln hired Robert Holifield to be her staff director. Holifield had been CFTC head Gary Gensler's deputy chief of staff. Gensler, a derivatives deregulator in the 1990s, found religion and is now the leading champion of reform in the White House and holds major sway on the Hill.
GOPer Bob Corker on reform: "What's being portrayed is this is some big anti-Wall Street bill. It's just not, I'm sorry...So the rhetoric around this from the White House and from us, too, has been silly."
MORE: Sen. Richard Shelby tells HuffPost's Sam Stein, "We are not going back to the drawing board. ... I have said all along that we are probably conceptually together on -- I've even said -- 85 percent... Now we are getting down to words and phrases.'" Corker says he's deferring to Shelby for the rest of the week and letting him come to a deal with Chris Dodd. He guessed it could come up for a vote on a motion to proceed as early as Monday.
AIR TRAFFIC CRISIS ENDING..: Late-breaking NY Times alert: "Britain reopened its airspace Tuesday evening as British Airways said a flight had arrived at London's Heathrow Airport, an indication that the worst of the air traffic crisis plaguing Europe may be coming to an end." http://nyti.ms/cseulY
Related: The Ultimate Iceland Volcano Mispronunciation Highlight Reel http://huff.to/8Y3hAS
MARK PENN calls for "New Kind of Bold from President Obama" http://huff.to/d7hDN1
ON THE TUBE
- Paul Krugman, fresh off his spat with Andrew Ross Sorkin, talks regulatory overhaul with Rachel Maddow [MSNBC 9:00 pm]
HuffPost's Sam Stein pulls up a chair to the morning meeting. So will Eric Cantor [MSNBC 6:00 am].
BLANKFEIN'S BIZ BROS - Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein and a bevy of top business executives descended on Washington today to argue against derivative regulation. The fly-in was sponsored by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the Coalition for Derivatives End-Users. Although corporations are largely exempt from the legislation being considered on the Hill, Goldman has become something of a political pariah as of late. The New Republic's Noam Scheiber breaks it down and apparently Blankfein's business entourage provides sorely needed political capital to the embattled financial giant.
Although most bills are watered down by the corrosive legislative process, financial overhaul has actually gotten MORE STRINGENT over time. Scheiber discusses: "For weeks, Wall Street had viewed the Dodd language as a placeholder while Lincoln and Chambliss hashed out the real details. Instead, the practical effect of the Dodd language was to create a minimum standard of toughness from which Democrats would be unwilling to retreat. As Lincoln and Chambliss bargained in March, the administration began to focus on the issue and discovered its popular resonance." http://bit.ly/amIjMn
This as Goldman posted $3.5 billion first-quarter earnings. http://bit.ly/ckSvAD
FLASHBACK: Heather Booth, head of the pro-reform AFR, has been saying for the past year-ish that the bill would get tougher in the Senate. Point for Booth.
Sam Stein reports that Democrats are stuck in a damned-if-you-do crouch. Republicans will call Wall Street reform a "bailout" even if Democrats drop regulatory reform from their bill to phase out failing banks.
"Boehner's argument seems specious. His office says that Dodd's bill gives the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation authority to borrow cash from the Treasury for a "resolution fund" that would include 90 percent of the value of assets for too-big-to-fail firms. Left unmentioned, as Dodd's office remarked, is that the money can only be used to wind those firms down -- not to keep them propped up." http://huff.to/c7DjFB
DEMS OUTRAISE GOP - Hotline's Reid Wilson combs through March's fundraising numbers and finds the Democrats outperformed the GOP across the board. DNC raised $13 million while the RNC topped out at $11 million. DSCC brought in $6.1 million over the NRSC's $5.14 million. DCCC $9.77 million vs. the NRCC's $8 million. http://bit.ly/biwUSw
GIVE US YOUR TIRED, YOUR POOR, YOUR VEHICULARLY AGGRESSIVE MEXICANS - John McCain told Bill O'Reilley that drivers with illegal immigrants in their cars purposefully get into accidents. No kidding. Here's McCain on the damage illegal immigrants inflict: "It's the people whose homes and property are being violated. It's the drive-by that -- the drivers of cars with illegals in it that are intentionally causing accidents on the freeway. Look, our border is not secured. Our citizens are not safe." http://huff.to/8Z6xvx
McCain's (albeit bizarre and unfocused) rumination is part of the Senator's larger effort to recalibrate his stance on immigration to protect his right flank from primary challenger J.D. Hayworth. Salon on McCain's shift:
"But watching Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., try to deal with his primary challenge this year, it's hard not to experience a little bit of righteous glee. The right wing of the Arizona Republican Party has never really made peace with McCain, and that unease has now solidified into a challenge for the Senate nomination, by former Rep. J.D. Hayworth. Under pressure, McCain has been ditching every aspect of his political persona that once made him, if not as remarkable as he thought himself to be, at least vaguely noteworthy."http://bit.ly/8ZQYwm
NO D.C. VOTING RIGHTS THIS YEAR - Sigh. Majority Leader Steny Hoyer said that a bill on D.C. voting rights will not come to the House floor this year. Hoyer announced that 600,000 Americans, many of whom work for the federal government, will not send a voting representative to Congress anytime soon. D.C. faced the choice between a House vote or the right to pass its own gun laws. The city chose the gun laws. http://bit.ly/asTwDj
IRONY OF IRONIES - A major 4/20 buzzkill, Kumar: Outgoing White House Office of Public Engagement employee and star of the Harold and Kumar stoner flicks Kal Penn was mugged early this morning in Washington. http://bit.ly/9zL3bj
HIGH HOLIDAY - Speaking of the wacky tobacky, we spoke with Tamron Hall this afternoon about really good bud http://huff.to/cgHVf1 and have a primer on the history of 4/20. Something to do with the Grateful Dead, go figure. http://huff.to/dh8Ejn
Meanwhile, the D.C. Council, in apparent honor of Weed Day, took a step toward making weed more available to District denizens (who, in HuffPost Hill's view, are in desperate need). As the Washington City Paper's inestimable Mike DeBonis reports: "Today, on the 20th day of April, shortly before 4:20 p.m., the Council of the District of Columbia took an initial vote to approve medical marijuana in D.C." http://bit.ly/cshXYI
DR. BARRASSO TO THE RESCUE - A young man collapsed today during a meeting of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee. When alarmed onlookers called for a doctor, Sen. John Barrasso, a board certified orthopedic surgeon by trade, rushed to assist the sick person. If the fainter thought all the talk of carbon capture and sequestration was a snoozer, just wait until next week's hearing on an amendment to the Reclamation Wastewater and Groundwater Study and Facilities Act. http://bit.ly/8YCTK5
JESSICA ALBA ON THE HILL TOMORROW - Make sure those pleated chinos are pressed and the loafers shined, boys. Actress Jessica Alba is holding an 11:00 am presser with Rep. Nita Lowey to unveil legislation supporting a Global Fund for Education (she'll also be doing live shots on MSNBC and CNN). Alba is U.S. chair of 1GOAL which seeks to provide education to children worldwide. http://bit.ly/10fdRD
- Good news: Scott Baio's still alive! Bad news: He's defending his wife's anti-lesbian Facebook rant. http://huff.to/cbUImZ
- "The Least Inspiring Careers Barbie Has Ever Had" http://huff.to/9n6NSO
- Betty White eats a hot dog, sparks internet firestorm. http://huff.to/bdk9Yi
- A Saudi neighborhood is concerned that bachelors are ruining everything. They are "social, environmental, moral and security threats," apparently. http://bit.ly/c3Zwbk
- Eric Massa's selection for the Congressional Art Contest is a svelte young man. http://bit.ly/93WrKG
attackerman: Just realized 'Iron Man 2' gets released the day after I get back from Guantanamo Bay. / Impeccable timing.
marcambinder: BTW: it's legal for gay people to get hitched in the District of Columbia. Just not to the White House fence....
NickBaumann: @benpolitico Relays the important news that Obama's chopper is scheduled to land at #420 this afternoon. Secret messaging?
ezraklein: As someone who's pretty skeptical about the Dodd FinReg bill, I really wish Senate Republicans were deploying arguments that made sense.
SPECIAL CHUCK TODD 4/20 TWITTERAMA
chucktodd: Have to admit, am stunned at the number of MSM stories today (of all days) on marijuana legalization. Even a major media poll release!?!?!?
chucktodd: Folks I know what today is, just am surprised at how easily the MSM is, well, glamorizing 4/20.
chucktodd: And now gov't officials in DC are glamorizing 4/20! Amazing. http://bit.ly/duwKmz
-5:00 pm - 6:30 pm: A chance to meet Melvin Watt (D-N.C.). At "Wine with Watt" you'll have the chance to "Pose with Watt," "Shmooze with Watt" and "Donate $5,000 to Watt." One of the hosts is Joi Sheffield who, after working as a Staff Director for the Senate Banking Committee's Financial Institutions Subcommittee, began lobbying for the Community Financial Services Association of America which represents the payday loan industry...Mom must be proud [The Williams & Jensen Townhouse, 324 Independence Ave SE].
-5:00 pm - 7:00 pm: Mark Critz, the Democrats' nominee to replace Jack Murtha's (D-Penn.) seat, will gladly accept your contributions at Lounge 201. Nancy Pelosi, Chris Van Hollen and assorted members of the Pennsylvania congressional delegation are scheduled to appear [Lounge 201, 201 Massachusettes Ave NE].
-5:30 pm - 7:00 pm: Washington has housed or hosted some of Jazz's greatests: Duke Ellington, Jelly Roll Morton, Shirley Horn and many others. We're not sure whether they'd play Republican Steve Scalise's (R-La.) "Jazz Fest Celebration" at the Strategic Healthcare Townhouse, a den of lobbying that you can learn more about here: http://bit.ly/8sl15p [Strategic Healthcare Townhouse - 230 Second Street SE].
-6:00 pm - 7:30 pm: Ohio Lieutenant Governor and candidate for George Voinovich's seat Lee Fisher (D-Ohio) is in town passing the hat. It must be a big hat, he's asking for contributions of $5,000, $2,500, $1,000 and $500 [The Liason Hotel - 415 New Jersey Ave NW].
-6:00 pm: Honor the 95,000 men and women of the beer distribution industry who everyday put it all on the line to get you drunk. The National Beer Wholesalers Association hosts a reception for these intrepid souls [Madison Building, 6th floor - Montpelier Room, Library of Congress].
-6:30 pm - 8:00 pm: Candidate for Vermont Governor Matt Dunne (D-Vt.) has traveled down from the Green Mountain State to collect some green. He'll be at the...Fed Ex Townhouse??? What??? [Fed Ex Townhouse, 300 Maryland Ave NE].
-7:00 pm: Mike Simpson (R-Idaho) will be raising the dough at Johnny's Half Shell. Minority Leader John Boehner (R - Ohio) is expected to attend [Johnny's Half Shell, 400 North Capitol Street NW #175].
- 7:00 pm: Show Ed Pastor (D-Ariz.) how much you love him by spending $1,000 at a Nationals Game. The DCCC hosts a ballpark fundraiser for the Arizona Democrat [Nationals Park, 1500 South Capitol Street SE].
- 8:00 am: James Clyburn (D-S.C.), House Majority Whip and Kathy Griffin's new best friend will be hosting a fundraiser for his Bridge PAC which raises funds for his other best friends. "Queen Clyburn" (Kathy's quote) will be holding court at the Investment Company Institute [The Investment Company Institute, 1401 H Street NW #1200].
-8:30 am - 9:30 am: Kathy Castor (D-Fla.) holds a reception to fund her reelect and maybe celebrate the Rays who are still in first place [National Democratic Club, 30 Ivy Street SE].
Got something to add? Send tips/quotes/stories/photos/events/fundraisers/job movement/juicy miscellanea to Eliot Nelson (email@example.com) or Ryan Grim (firstname.lastname@example.org). Follow us on Twitter @HuffPostHill. Sign up here: http://huff.to/an2k2e
[CORRECTION: IN AN EARLIER VERSION WE SAID KAL PENN WAS ARRESTED WHEN ACTUALLY THE POOR GUY GOT MUGGED...FORGIVE US FOR OUR 4/20 TRANSGRESSIONS]