POLITICS
03/08/2011 06:48 pm ET Updated May 25, 2011

HUFFPOST HILL - Senate Budget Vote Back On

Organizing for America field staffers are nervous because college kids think Charlie Sheen would be a better commencement speaker than President Obama. A "Richard Lugar Flip-Flop" is no longer just a dish at the Terre Haute House of Pancakes. Wisconsin union supporters are disrupting town hall meetings and Scott Walker doesn't even want to subject their grandmothers to a death panel. And perennial curmudgeon Alan Simpson ramped up his attack on entitlements today, probably because some neighborhood kids were skateboarding in front of his driveway. This is HUFFPOST HILL for Tuesday, March 8th, 2011:

CR VOTES FALL APART IN SENATE, THEN PIECED BACK TOGETHER - Harry Reid took to the Senate floor this morning to accuse his Republican counterparts of breaking a promise to hold an up-or-down vote on the two parties' budget proposals. "Where I come from, people keep their word," Reid seethed. "I'm disappointed the Republicans refuse to keep theirs." That deal is back on, reports HuffPost's Elise Foley: The upper chamber will vote on the House-backed H.R. 1 tomorrow afternoon followed by a vote on the Democrats' CR proposal. Both will likely fail and Democrats hope that will be the catalyst for Republican concessions on budget cuts.

BUDDY ROEMER NOTICES GAY PEOPLE - In an interview with HuffPost's Sam Stein, the would-be dark horse presidential candidate said that he has no problem with gay marriage, so long as no one is getting gay married around him. "Here's as far as I can go: I'm comfortable with the states having this discussion," Roemer said, as he launched into a speech so awkward and laden with equivocations that it sounds like Sam hit on him in a men's locker room. "And I'm all for -- in my extended family, not my wife or kids, but beyond -- cousins, that sort of thing -- we have a gay member. We honor him. He's a great guy. He moved to California so he would be in a community where he would be more comfortable. And I love living in a country where gays are honored and esteemed, but traditional lives can continue as well." Well there you have it. [HufPost]

* We should say for the record that Sam Stein DID NOT, in fact, hit on Buddy Roemer in a men's locker room. Not that there is anything wrong with that. Or that we didn't strongly encourage him to do so.

BOEHNER YOUCUTS HIS STAFF A CHECK FOR A DECORUM CLASS - The speaker of the House has been talking tough recently about trimming government excess. Paying thousands of dollars so his staff can learn to bow before presenting the Japanese trade envoy with a Ohio-made trinket apparently is not excess. Running tonight from Roll Call's Paul Singer. "John Boehner famously grew up mopping out his father's bar, so presumably he knows little about hobnobbing with foreign royalty, one of his duties as Speaker. So in December, Boehner's office spent $5,800 to register a staff member for a protocol class to learn the niceties of exchanging gifts, arranging seating plans and organizing large events with visiting dignitaries."

A House Democrat will introduce a bill tomorrow that would require the White House to publish a more comprehensive price tag of the Afghanistan war. Amanda Terkel: "Rep. Bruce Braley (D-Iowa) is introducing The True Cost of War Act tomorrow, which will call for a full accounting of the human and financial costs of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Braley just returned from a CODEL to Afghanistan and sits on the Veterans Affairs Committee. The bill asks the President and Secretaries of Defense, State and Veterans Affairs to issue a report on the matter, including the long-term costs associated with caring for veterans displaying wounds from the conflicts."

DAILY DELANEY DOWNER - A reader relates the impact of soaring gas prices: "My wife & I live in a suburb of St.Paul, MN. You need a car to get around here, particularly in the winter. There are no sidewalks and riding a bicycle is a very risky undertaking with the traffic in this area. When the price of unleaded regular gas approached $3.00 per gallon, we started cutting back on use of the car....Lately, with gas approaching $3.60 per gallon, we have cut out all non-essential use of the car. In fact we have needed groceries for about 4 days, but I've neglected to go to the store because my car is running on fumes and I can't stand the thought of filling it up. Even though it's a 4 cylinder vehicle, it's not getting the kind of mileage I'd like to see from it. The grocery store is only about 2 miles from our house, but when you need more than 2 bags of groceries it's a rather tough haul to do on foot....My wife & I are in our late 50s and aren't as active as we used to be. I'm underemployed and my wife just took a job after losing her business due to the economy. We never thought we'd have to deny ourselves the right to see our families or to have to plan for when we could buy groceries."

99ERS TRY POPVOX - Not confident sad tales of human suffering get through to congressional staffers, one advocate for extra weeks of unemployment benefits for the superlong-term unemployed is trying www.popvox.com. Check out the testimonial.

Public Campaign has hired Iowa Citizen Action Network Executive Director Betty Ahrens to be its new vice president for outreach and operations. It has also brought on Social Security Works' Jeff Robinson to be political director for Public Campaign Action Fund. Huzzah!

Don't be bashful: Send tips/stories/photos/events/fundraisers/job movement/juicy miscellanea to huffposthill@huffingtonpost.com. Follow us on Twitter - @HuffPostHill

HOUSE REPUBLICANS PLANNING MORE STOP-GAP SPENDING BILLS - Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy said today that his conference will continue to pursue temporary extensions of government funding until a longer term CR is finalized that meets Republican demands for larger spending cuts. At a Christian Science Monitor-hosted breakfast, McCarthy echoed the sentiments of Eric Cantor and said his party will only support two-to-four week extensions of current levels. With the government being paid every two weeks like the rest of us, is there any way America can set up a direct deposit system for CR measures? [HuffPost's Elise Foley]

Richard Lugar today said he was opposed to the House GOP's proposed budget that would cut federal spending levels by $65 billion. He shortly thereafter switched his position, saying his remarks were misconstrued. "I'm opposed to it," Lugar said to apparently properly construing reporters while walking to a lunch meeting with Senate Republicans today. [The Hill]

SIMPSON AND BOWLES TAKE ANOTHER SWIPE AT STUPID OLD PEOPLE - Professional crankypants Alan Simpson took another break today from complaining about how his soup needs to be reheated to appear before a Senate Budget Committee hearing alongside Erskine Bowles. The Deficit Commission co-chairs told the panel that continued entitlement spending will likely contribute to an imminent financial collapse. "This problem is going to happen long before my grandchildren grow up," Bowles said. "This is a problem we are going to have to face up to it maybe two years, maybe a little less, maybe a little more." Simpson, who just yesterday told Fox News that negligent old people and their grandkids (with their "Snoopy Snoopy Poop Dog") will bankrupt the country, echoed this sentiment. "I think it will come before two years," he said. Now before you start drafting angry emails to these guys about the economic devastation that would be unleashed if the safety net were weakened, just remember that Simpson's recent media blitz is taking him away from the box seats that he shares with Statler and Waldorf. The guy is having a bad week. [WSJ]

To put it algorithmically, Alan Simpson is approaching 1 on the Abe Simpson curve

We noted yesterday that a number of outgoing House staffers were paid bonuses as the last session of Congress wound down to a close. LegiStorm has published a detailed breakdownof where those payouts went.

GOP HOUSE LEADERSHIP SPLIT OVER PETE KING'S MUSLIM HEARINGS - Homeland Security Committee Chairman Pete King's decision to gavel into session a hearing on Muslim extremism in America has apparently driven a wedge the Republican conference. And no, they aren't divided over whether King is "winning" or "winning, slow-cooked in tiger blood." Some GOPers, it seems, don't want to be too closely associated with a McCarthy-esque witch hunt. On the one hand, Cantor Spokeswoman Laena Fallon told Politico her boss was unequivocal in her boss's support of King: "Chairman King works tirelessly to ensure that our homeland is secure, and following the tragic murders of U.S. soldiers in Germany by a radical Islamist, the Fort Hood murders committed by a radical Al Qaeda sympathizer and the recent arrest in Texas of a Saudi student planning jihad, this is certainly a relevant topic for committee consideration." Meanwhile, Boehner Spokesman Michael Steel could only muster a fact. "Chairman King is chairman of the Homeland Security Committee," he said. Yes, yes he is. [Politico]

Next stop: The Smithsonian - The @MayorEmanuel tweets have been archived over at http://www.quaxelrod.com/

WISCONSIN REPUBLICANS RECEIVED FARM PAYOUTS - Sam Stein reports that some Republican lawmakers who have lambasted state workers have actually benefited from honest-to-God wasteful government largess. At least three Republican Senators in the Badger State have applied for, and received, hundreds of thousands of dollars in federal farm subsidies. From 1995 through 2009, Sens. Luther Olsen, Dale Schultz and Sheila Harsdorf had received between $315,000 to $342,000 in taxpayer subsidies. [HuffPost]

Demonstrators in Wisconsin today broke up a town hall meeting held by a Republican lawmaker in Scott Walker's hometown "This state is so (angry) at Republicans right now because they're trying to shut down debate," one protester yelled at U.S. Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner and state Senator Leah Vukmi during an event in Wauwatosa. Don't they know that Scott Walker doesn't want to impose a socialist health care system on their lives? What gives? [HuffPost's Amanda Terkel]

BANK OF AMERICA CREATES "BAD BANK" - During the bailout debate, liberals proposed created a national "bad bank" that would seize bad loans while allowing the healthy parts of the financial industry to carry on. That national bank would then modify the mortgages and prevent foreclosures. The lefties were dismissed. Bank of America is now doing that first part. Dawn Kopecki: "Bank of America Corp. (BAC), the biggest U.S. lender by assets, is segregating almost half its 13.9 million mortgages into a "bad" bank comprised of its riskiest and worst-performing "legacy" loans, said Terry Laughlin, who is running the new unit.
"We are creating a classic good bank, bad bank structure,"
Laughlin told investors at a meeting in New York today. He was promoted last month to manage the costs of resolving disputes stemming from the company's 2008 purchase of Countrywide Financial Corp. "We're going to get after this, we're going to do it the right way and we're going to put it to bed in the next 36 months," he said." [Bloomberg]

@MegynKelly A man beats a 100 pound woman into a coma over a parking space. He claims she deserves it. Could he be right? In Kelly's Court!

Never change, Megyn!

HOUSE REPUBLICANS KNOCK NLRB FOR GOOGLE ADS - Rep. John Kline (R-Minn.), chairman of the Education and Workforce Committee -- the man who stripped "labor" from the panel's name -- is going after the National Labor Relations Board for being biased when it comes to labor-boss disputes. He's mad that the NLRB was running Google ads targeted at workers considering forming a union. In a letter to the NLRB, Kline calls the ads "unquestionably biased," adding that "the NLRB must maintain a neutral position between unions, employees, and employers." That's not what the law says. "It is hereby declared to be the policy of the United States to eliminate the causes of certain substantial obstructions to the free flow of commerce and to mitigate and eliminate these obstructions when they have occurred by encouraging the practice and procedure of collective bargaining and by protecting the exercise by workers of full freedom of association, self- organization, and designation of representatives of their own choosing, for the purpose of negotiating the terms and conditions of their employment or other mutual aid or protection," reads the federal law that created the NLRB. Yet Kline is demanding (after the Chamber blog and other conservative outlets pounced: "1. All documents and communications relating to Google advertisements. 2. All documents and communications relating to the NLRB's advertising strategy and goals. 3. Itemized list of all advertising disbursements." A spokesperson for the NLRB says that the Google ads were free. The ads began in 2008, when the GOP ran the agency. But either way: HUD advertises to let people know of their housing rights, the Dept. of Labor lets employees know about workers comp and the minimum wage. Why does the NLRB need to play by different rules? [Federal Law]

Sens. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.), and Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.) sent the NLRB another missive this afternoon, this one challenging a decision that would allow small groups of workers within a company to unionize. They're ag'in' it.

Continuing its laser-like focus on jobs, the House GOP will hold another hearing on defunding health care reform tomorrow morning, this one by the Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health.

BP's CEO Robert Dudley today apologized for last year's catastrophic oil spill in the Gulf Coast. "This is the first chance I have had to address such a large gathering of industry colleagues and the first thing I want to say is that I am sorry for what happened last year," Dudley told the CERAWeek conference, a gathering of energy industry officials. Cleanup crews are now being diverted to the site of Joe Barton's spit-take. [HuffPost/Reuters]

JOE MANCHIN SHARPLY CRITICIZES PRESIDENT OBAMA - In a speech on the Senate floor this morning, freshman Senator Joe Manchin assailed the president for a lack of leadership during the budget debates. "The truth of the matter is that this debate, as important as it is, will not be decided by House Republicans and Senate Democrats negotiating with each other -- or past each other. This debate will be decided when the president leads these tough negotiations," said Manchin in his prepared remarks. "He must sit down with leaders of both parties and help hammer out a real compromise that moves our nation forward and establishes the priorities that represent our values and all hard-working families." We hear Manchin originally tried to express his frustration by filming a commercial where he nails timidity to a tree and shoots it. But timidity is an abstraction and thus does not materialize in our dimensional plane. Oh well. [National Journal]

BECAUSE YOU'VE READ THIS FAR - The kids from Peanuts sing The Police's "Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic." EARNESTNESS OVERLOAD.

COLLEGES DON'T WANT OBAMA TO SPEAK AT THEIR GRADUATIONS - A few years back, people who missed out on Woodstock, never saw E.T. in theaters or skipped the Selma-Montgomery marches would comfort themselves with the knowledge that they got to see Barack Obama speak live. It just so happens that candidate Obama spoke at HuffPost Hill's graduation: It was like Liberal Arts Beatlemania if the Beatles appealed to folks with a grasp of the gender continuum and who think the Shins are so over. Now, reports CBS, colleges aren't exactly lining up around the block for the chance to have President Obama tell them to grab life by the horns. In 2010, there were over 1,000 institutions of higher learning that requested the commander-in-chief to speak at their commencement. This year, the number is only 68. In a memo obtained by CBS, White House officials asked that the numbers be kept confidential (no kidding) and that "Something isn't working" (yuh-huh). Somewhere, a Daily Caller editor has been blinded by all the tears of joy. [WaPo]

Gary Locke really has his work cut out for him as the U.S.'s next ambassador to China: "China does not know quite what to make of Charlie Sheen.
The Chinese Communist newspaper Global Times, is running an amazing op-ed by a person named Hao Leifeng listing all the ways in which Sheen is a 'classic example of the difference in Western and Eastern values and norms.'" The op-ed is a bit like HuffPost Hill: It's either a subversive piece of satire that slipped past the censors, or a stew of gibberish betraying abject ignorance. [Business Insider]

JEREMY'S WEATHER REPORT -Admit it.: Today was epic beautiful, no? With only a few days left until spring, Mother Nature has granted us a nice sneak preview. Although it may be a bit cold Tonight, Tomorrow will be just as awesome as today was. Thanks, JB!

COMFORT FOOD

- In case you didn't spend your entire cruise in the back of the ship staring at the water, a filmmaker made a time-lapse video of the water from the back of the Queen Mary 2. [http://bit.ly/e8KNCL]

- The ten most endangered languages in the world. That one you invented as a kid where you add the word "blarb" to the front of every word didn't make the cut. Sorry. [http://read.bi/ecCxjB]

- The Economist has a brief history of Microsoft's Internet Explorer 6 browser and how it became the most widely used evil since asbestos. [http://econ.st/eUYmHH]

- "Kenny Powers or Charlie Sheen?" is actually much harder than you'd think. [http://kennyorcharlie.tumblr.com/]

- The Exquisite Book is a literary venture from Dave Eggers (is there any other time) where each page is a pull-out featuring works from a number of artists. This video explains it better: [http://bit.ly/dOaUP8]

- A George Washington University benefactor was honored before a basketball game and then tossed out later for harassing the ref. Someone associated with GWU thought they could behave however they want because they have money? Unprecedented! [http://bit.ly/ekobwF]

- Artsy video of sculptors creating a bar top using a quickly solidifying material. Yes, it's a video of paint drying. But it's pretty. [http://bit.ly/hJjmcd]

- AP video of a volcano erupting in Hawaii. On the hypnosis scale, this thing falls somewhere between "Bob Ross" and "Videos of dolphins." [http://bit.ly/fVVqoZ]

TWITTERAMA

@KagroX: 1. Old man sits in corner and yells, "Tits! Enema! Poop!" 2. Official Washington entrusts the entire social safety net to him. 3. Profit!

@daveweigel: Most-asked question on Hill today: Should president do more on spending cuts? Other way of asking "can you bash the prez for my story?"

@zachdcarter HUGE breakthrough on fixing underwater mortgage problem: http://bit.ly/eiuiOl

ON TAP

TONIGHT

5:00 pm - 6:30 pm: Jo Bonner laisse les bon temps rouler. The Alabama rep is the guest of honor at a "Mardi Gras Reception" at the Capitol Hill Club. Nothing says Fat Tuesday quite like a bunch of Republicans and their corporate benefactors in a room lined with oil paintings of ducks [Capitol Hill Club, 300 First Street SE].

7:00 pm: Head over to Ruth's Chris Steak House for Kevin McCarthy's fundraiser. The House majority whip apparently is too good for the Bourbon Street steak Applebee's. [Ruth's Chris Steakhouse, 724 9th Street NW].

7:00 pm: Tom Reed's fundraiser is held at the Wizards/Bucks game. Tom's a freshman, so we'll forgive him for thinking people want to see a Wizards/Bucks game [Verizon Center, 601 F Street NW].

TOMORROW

12:00 pm: Earl Blumenauer makes nice and puts in some time on behalf of the DCCC. [Cava Restaurant, 527 8th Street SE].

5:30 pm: You pay $1,000. You get Allyson Schwartz and pretzels. Seriously. The Pennsylvania congresswoman hosts her "Annual Pennsylvania Pretzel Party." [Erickson & Co. Townhouse, 38 Ivy Street SE].

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