The Senate averted a government shutdown for another three weeks, now the Smithsonian will have to extend its going-out-of-business fire sale. The House voted to defund National Public Radio, freeing up time for the Ethics Committee's investigation into Big Bird's finances. And we're very happy to report that congressional sand delivery services haven't been seriously affected by all the budget-cutting in the Capitol. This is HUFFPOST HILL for Thursday, March 17th, 2011:
The Senate passed the House-approved three-week budget CR today, 87 to 13. Nine Republicans and four Democrats (including Bernie Sanders) opposed the measure.
HOUSE VOTES TO DEFUND NATIONAL PUBLIC RADIO - "The House on Thursday voted to end federal funding to National Public Radio. Republican supporters said it made good fiscal sense, and Democratic opponents called it an ideological attack that would deprive local stations of access to programs such as 'Car Talk' and 'All Things Considered.' The bill, passed 228-192 along mainly partisan lines, would bar federal funding of NPR and prohibit local public stations from using federal money to pay NPR dues and buy its programs. The prospects of support in the Democratic-controlled Senate are slim. Seven Republicans broke ranks to vote against the bill." [HuffPost/AP]
Amy Klobuchar and Sherrod Brown are going after the Missouri-based drug company KV Pharmaceutical, urging the FTC to look into them for gouging a most vulnerable population: women with high risk pregnancies. From their statement today: "The drug, commonly known as Makena, is a weekly injection of progesterone meant to prevent pre-term labor in pregnant women and has been safely administered by U.S. pharmacies in the past at a cost of between $10 and $20 per injection. After the Missouri-based drug company KV Pharmaceutical was granted orphan status for its version of the drug, the cost reportedly rose to $1,500 per injection - 150 times the original cost."
HILL STAFFERS SCRAMBLING TO FIND MYSTERIOUS 'SAND LADY' - A staffer forwards along this mass email from a Hawaiian rep's communications director to Democratic press secretaries: "It's bad luck to take lava rocks or volcanic sand from Hawaii. The other day we received a call from a woman from North Carolina who told us she was with her family on the Big Island in Hawaii and they took home a Ziploc bag of black sand. Since then, her family has experienced a lot of bad luck. She asked our office if we would take the sand back to Hawaii for her and my boss said yes. Since the woman is in North Carolina, she asked her friend to bring the sand to our office. Her friend - the person who dropped the sand at our office today is a staffer - she is described as blonde, on the shorter side, and estimated to be in her mid-30s. We are trying to get a hold of her in order to get a hold of the North Carolina woman. If this description sounds like anyone in your office - I would REALLY appreciate it if you asked her if she's the sand lady. If you find her, please have contact me."
Dennis Kucinich forced a vote today on withdrawing troops from Afghanistan. It failed 321-93, reports Amanda Terkel. While the legislation failed by a wide margin, the 93 "aye" votes were 28 more than last year when Kucinich offered a similar bill.
JOBLESS BENEFITS KEEPAWAY HAS MOVED TO THE STATES - Republican lawmakers in Missouri and possibly Michigan are balking at accepting federal dollars to pay for 20 weeks of unemployment benefits for the long-term jobless even though the spending would not affect state budgets. Five Republicans in the Missouri State Senate have launched a filibuster to prevent the legislature from implementing a technical change to its laws that would allow the state to accept the money, roughly $96 million. "What my senator is saying is, 'Let's send this money back,'" said James Murphy, a spokesman for Sen. Jim Lembke (R), who is leading the filibuster, in an interview with HuffPost. "He calls the money opium -- Other People's Money. He wants to send back the opium that the federal government sends to the states."
DAILY DELANEY DOWNER - "Job Jones," a 57-year-old former business analyst in Riverside County, Calif., told HuffPost he has given up looking for work. "It was just a waste of time," said Jones, who said he's had only two face-to-face interviews since his layoff in 2007. He eventually figured writing a blog under a fake name would be a better use of his time than lobbing job applications into a black hole. "America has become a frightening, fearful and fractured country pitting corporate greed against individual need," he wrote. "We all know who's winning. Our dying middle-class continues to be decimated as corporations amass ever more wealth and control." Can you say SAD FACE [AndThisIsOurLife]
BENJY BOO-HOO - TPM's Benjy Sarlin: "Larry Bliss couldn't find work in his home state of Maine so, like many unemployed, he broadened his search and located a job elsewhere in the country. Unlike most unemployed, however, Bliss had 'state legislator' listed on his resume as his current title during his entire 16-month job hunt." [TPM]
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BIDEN'S OFFICE TAKING LEAD ROLL IN GUN REGULATION INITIATIVE - The guy known for regularly shooting his mouth off is helping the White House's gun control efforts (heh). Sam Stein: "Aides to the vice president were present at a 90-minute meeting that the Department of Justice hosted with gun control advocates on Tuesday, administration officials said. And while those officials stressed Biden's involvement in the gun policy discussion was still very much in its beginning stages -- 'at this point, we are just gathering ideas from people,' said an administration official, 'and [the Vice President's staff is] involved in that' -- those in attendance were pleased to see Biden emissaries at the table, interpreting it as a sign of seriousness on the administration's behalf." [HuffPost]
Richard Wirthlin, a renown Republican pollster who polled for Ronald Reagan, died yesterday at the age of 82. As Mark Blumenthal notes in an article to be published soon on HuffPost, Wirthlin is seen by many as an originator of daily tracking and the "right direction/wrong direction" polling question. He is also credited with helping to develop dial group testing.
FROM YOUTUBE TO VIMEO: PAWLENTY UPGRADES WITH VIDEO GURU HIRE - Tim Pawlenty isn't an exciting guy. Luckily for him, someone in his political shop realized that and, thanks to the Internet and the latest in video editing technology, a series of quick cuts, light-drenched campaign footage and a boatload of guitar reverb accompaniment, can make him less not exciting. Jon Ward, with his maiden HuffPost article: "Lucas Baiano, a 23-year-old former Hillary Clinton supporter, is Canadian-born and dresses in perfectly-starched white shirts, slim-fitting sports jackets and tight designer jeans. His job is to make Pawlenty appear larger than life. And he's good at it....Baiano is viewed as something of a one-trick pony by some veteran admakers who think he relies too much on imagery and slick editing. And his flamboyance appeared to irritate his superiors at the Republican Governors Association during his time there last year." [HuffPost]
An anonymous aide to Hillary Clinton took a pretty major swipe at the president in a palace intrigue story published by The Daily. Naturally an editor at The Daily demanded that someone find him the most disgruntled member of Hillary Clinton's inner-circle after they found the richest dog in South Dakota. "Obviously, she's not happy with dealing with a president who can't decide if today is Tuesday or Wednesday, who can't make his mind up," the insider said . "She's exhausted, tired." Said insider continues: "If you take a look at what's on her plate as compared with what's on the plates of previous Secretaries of State -- there's more going on now at this particular moment, and it's like playing sports with a bunch of amateurs." [The iPad-Only Daily Except For This Time And All Those Other Times.]
MOUNTING EVIDENCE THAT HUCKABEE WON'T RUN - Everyone's favorite cool dad who thinks you will burn in Hell for all eternity might not take his patented brand of fire and brimstone and jam sessions in his garage to the campaign trail. As CBS' Brian Montopoli and Robert Hendin note: "For starters: While Romney, Tim Pawlenty and other likely candidates snap up key staffers ahead of announcing their runs, Huckabee has stayed on the sidelines even as his former staffers sign on with other candidates. Chip Salzman, Huckabee's campaign manager in 2008, is now chief of staff for freshman Rep. Chuck Fleischmann (R-Tenn.), though he says he could jump ship for a Huckabee run. Cliff Hurst, Huckabee's New Hampshire co-chair, has signed on with Pawlenty; so did one of Huckabee's top operatives in Iowa in 2008, Eric Wollson. Prominent New Hampshire Republican Ruth Griffin, a high-profile Huckabee supporter in the last cycle, has come out publicly for Romney. A New Hampshire Republican tells CBS News that 'no one has heard' from Huckabee in the key early voting state." [CBS News]
NIKKI HALEY TO UNVEIL LOYALTY REPORT CARDS - South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley says she will introduce an A-F grading system that will assess the extent to which state lawmakers are supporting her agenda. Now, before you get all bent out of shape, just remember that some touchy-feely Democrat probably would have introduced a check, check-plus, check-minus system. "Who are they issuing the report card to, my wife or my mom or what?" GOP Rep Chip Limehouse told Reuters. "I vote with the best interests of my district in mind." [HuffPost/Reuters]
Breaking: Washington Republicans suspicious of Washington: "The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee has opened a full investigation into allegations of corruption against the office of Washington, D.C., Mayor Vincent Gray (D). Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) announced the probe on Thursday after failed mayoral primary candidate Sulaimon Brown alleged that he was paid by two Gray staffers in exchange for attacking then-D.C. Mayor Adrian Fenty (D). After the election, Brown was given a six-figure salary city job, but was later fired." [The Hill]
WISCONSIN DEMOCRATS FILE OFFICIAL COMPLAINT AGAINST SCOTT WALKER - Ben Smith: "The Wisconsin Democratic Party has filed an official complaint against Gov. Scott Walker with a state watchdog agency. Democrats allege that Walker met Republican pollster Frank Luntz in late February inside the governor's office, in violation of state law...Walker's office did not deny the meeting, which was noted in the governor's schedule and released to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel as part of a records request. Walker's office told the Journal Sentinel that Luntz and Walker were conducting state business and that no violations of state law had taken place." [Politico]
The Oklahoma House has passed a bill that would deny non-uniformed employees in nine cities collective bargaining rights. "House Bill 1593 passed 59-38. A parliamentary procedure kept the measure from advancing immediately to the Senate. The bill would repeal a 2004 law that allowed nonuniformed employees of cities with at least 35,000 residents to form a union. Rep. Steve Martin, author of HB 1593, said the measure would not affect the four cities -- including the state's two largest cities -- that had collective bargaining agreements with nonuniformed workers before the 2004 bill passed. Oklahoma City, Tulsa, Norman and Muskogee had agreements before the 2004 law. [The Oklahoman]
BECAUSE YOU'VE READ THIS FAR - Here are 33 cats celebrating St. Patrick's Day.
Some scientists have hypothesized that if the universe ever begins to contract, then causality might be turned on its head. In that situation, people might begin to speak before they think...and then we'll all be Maine Governor Paul Lepage: "Before a crowd of hundreds at the Franco-American Heritage Center on Wednesday night, Gov. Paul LePage made a bold confession. When he was 12 years old, a French kid living on Lincoln Street, he used to hide out in Little Canada and steal Halloween candy from children. 'Isn't that awful?' LePage said. 'And now I'm governor of Maine.'" [Sun Journal]
JEREMY'S WEATHER REPORT - The D.C. area is heat with a severe case of the beautiful. Tonight Clear skies, with temperatures in the 50s. Tomorrow: With more sun, and 70-degree weather, how about calling in sick and going to the beach instead?
- Maybe the most adorable whodunit in history: Which golden retriever ate the bag of snacks? It's pretty obvious [http://bit.ly/fWKFEi]
- We're not well acquainted with cricket. In fact, we don't know anything about it. So we're not in a position to say that this is the CREEPIEST cricket fan ever. But he is creepy. [http://bit.ly/frH2YB]
- We really wish we had this pirate-themed bedroom with a walk-up ship when we were younger and, frankly, would have to think for a moment if it were offered to us now. [http://bzfd.it/eZbxVb]
- Well, if you're going to learn how to play music on a saw, might as well learn how to play the Star Trek theme, no? [http://bit.ly/g4D3jp]
- Alpaca are, in and of themselves, pretty ridiculous. So imagine how ridiculous it gets when they start getting intimate in the background of a newscast. [http://bit.ly/gCAuUB]
- We love Carl Sagan. A real hero of ours. Naturally, we want to get our hands on his own cereal, "Carl Sagan's Astronom-O's" [http://bit.ly/gScsJG]
- We might never know who let the dogs out, but whoever did probably did so they could go to this nightclub for dogs. [http://bit.ly/ek8im2]
@brfreed: Weakened Edition #defundednprprograms
@ditzkoff: Think of it this way: $330 will get you NY Times digital subscription thru the end of Mayan Long Count Calendar. After that, who needs news?
@dancow: I'm OK w/ the @nytimes paywall, but terrible rollout plan. If they presented it as a Groupon, everyone would buy it immediately.
5:30 pm - 7:00 pm: If Joe Donnelly is going to ask you to contribute $1,000-plus on St. Patrick's Day at his "St. Patrick's Day Evening Reception," we hope he will at least refrain from employing any "pot o' gold" remarks [National Democratic Club Townhouse, 40 Ivy Street SE].
5:30 pm - 7:00 pm: Carolyn McCarthy also gets into the St. Paddy's day fundraising thing [Erickson & Co. Townhouse, 38 Ivy Street SE].
12:00 pm: Several real estate development lobbyists throw a campaign shindig for Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand. Whoda thunk that a New York senator would want to have real estate developers in her pocket? [Bistro Bis, 15 E Street NW].
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