Don't be surprised if you hear Rand Paul refer to Kentucky as the "Mauvegrass State," as he doesn't seem to know much about where he's from. Jim DeMint is leaving the Senate to advance conservative ideals at an organization that helped promote the individual mandate. And days after Senate Republicans torpedoed a treaty that affirms equal rights for disabled people, the House GOP is TOTALLY one-upping them by trying to kill a measure aimed at protecting Native American women from violence. Base broadening! This is HUFFPOST HILL for Thursday, December 6th, 2012:
WHITE HOUSE PULLS A MOVEON, UNILATERALLY DISARMS - The White House, uncomfortable with leverage, handed it back today. Asked at a briefing if the White House would rely on the 14th Amendment, which forbids the government from defaulting on its debt, to avoid defaulting, Carney said: "Let me give you your answer. I can say that this administration does not believe that the 14th Amendment gives the President the power to ignore the debt ceiling -- period...I think there was a period where this was under discussion and maybe the quote you found was before it had been looked at in that level of detail. But I believe when this was under discussion at the time, this is where we landed." Rep. Pete Welch (D-Vt.) is circulating a letter that urges the president to ignore Jay Carney. "In the event the Speaker follows through on his reckless threat, we would support your use of any authority available to you, including the 14th amendment, to preserve America's full faith and credit and prevent further damage to our economy."
GOP AGAIN HOLDING UP VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN ACT - Jen Bendery: "Vice President Joe Biden is quietly working with House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) to try to pass an inclusive version of the Violence Against Women Act in the lame-duck Congress. And so far, sources tell HuffPost, Cantor is on board as long as one thing is stripped from the bill: a key protection for Native American women. Staffers for Biden and Cantor have been trying to reach a deal on the bill for at least a week. Neither camp publicly let on it was talking to the other until Wednesday, when Cantor said the two are in negotiations and he's feeling hopeful about a deal... VAWA, which has been reauthorized consistently for 18 years with little fanfare, was, for the first time, left to expire in Sept. 2011. The sticking point has been new protections for three particularly vulnerable groups: undocumented immigrants, members of the LGBT community and Native Americans. The additions are supported by Democrats and opposed by House Republicans, who are calling them politically driven. The Senate passed a bipartisan bill in April with the additional protections, and House Republicans passed their own bill in May that omitted those three provisions. Since then, the issue has gone nowhere." [HuffPost]
Halftime in America: "The Obama administration came out against a proposed 'right to work' law being pushed by Republican Gov. Rick Snyder in Michigan, in a statement Thursday afternoon...This isn't the first time the president has had to weigh into the state politics surrounding collective bargaining and labor law. He also spoke out against efforts by Gov. Scott Walker to take away collective bargaining rights in Wisconsin." [HuffPost's Sam Stein]
PARANOID SELF-LOATHING GOP LOBBYIST HEARTS DIVERSITY - HuffPost Hill's Paranoid Self-Loathing GOP Lobbyist took a five-minute break from shuttering the factories in his SimCity simulation and outsourcing the jobs to SimChina to express his excitement to us about a possible Jim DeMint replacement. "Prediction: Tim Scott (R-SC): Chairman of the Senate Black Caucus." Thanks, PSLGOPL!
Jeff Danziger's PSLGOPL Pronunciation Guide: Pisselgopple or PeeSlug O'Peel.
The Former Abramoff Lobbyist Pissed At Things is tremendously pissed that he wasn't invited to his old pal Jack'smeeting with Tom DeLay. "What in the sweet KosherEatingBibleThumpingHolyHell is going on here" An indignant FALPAT writes us, "No eff'n treating FALPAT to lunch?"
FOND FAREWELL - Hill Reporters said goodbye to Senate Press Gallery vets Wendy Oscarson and Jim Saris on Thursday. Here's how gallery director Joe Keenan described their work in an email: "As reporters covered 8 presidential inaugurations, 14 Supreme Court nominations and 11 confirmations, 8 Senate Majority Leaders, 14 regular elections, Iran-Contra hearings, Impeachment 9/11 and the debt limit, they were there," Keenan wrote. "After all that, they've both decided, on the cusp of the fiscal cliff, to trade the tension for a pension." HuffPost Hill thanks Wendy and Jim for all their help understanding parliamentary maneuvers and for two Budweisers just now.
DAILY DELANEY DOWNER - During a press conference demanding unemployment insurance be part of a fiscal cliff deal, Chuck Schumer noted that last December, 5 million Americans relied on federal unemployment insurance, while only 2 million currently do so. "It's working," he said. Sure, fewer people are on unemployment because more people have jobs, but another reason fewer people are on benefits is that Congress slashed the number of weeks available back in February.
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JIM DeMINT DePARTS DeSENATE - [Obligatory Alvin Greene joke here]. Journal: "South Carolina U.S. Senator Jim DeMint will replace Ed Feulner as president of the Heritage Foundation. Mr. DeMint will leave his post as South Carolina's junior senator in early January to take control of the Washington think tank, which has an annual budget of about $80 million. Sen. DeMint's departure means that South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley, a Republican, will name a successor, who will have to run in a special election in 2014. In that year, both Mr. DeMint's replacement and Sen. Lindsey Graham will be running for reelection in South Carolina... Sen. DeMint said he is taking the Heritage job because he sees it as a vehicle to popularize conservative ideas in a way that connects with a broader public. 'This is an urgent time,' the senator said, 'because we saw in the last election we were not able to communicate conservative ideas that win elections.'" [WSJ]
DeMint wants Rep. Tim Scott to replace him in the upper chamber. Scott, as you may know, is an African-American, which makes him about as rare as a(n openly) gay Mormon, a vegetarian hunter or a, um... black elected Republican. The Hill: "The sources, requesting anonymity to speak candidly, say Scott is DeMint's preference for the seat, though the final decision will be Gov. Nikki Haley's (R). She will appoint someone to serve out the rest of DeMint's term after he officially resigns from the Senate to take over the conservative Heritage Foundation in January. An election for the seat will then be held in 2014 for the remaining two years of the term." [The Hill]
"A spokesperson for Stephen Colbert tells HuffPost, 'Stephen is honored by the groundswell of support from the Palmetto State and looks forward to Governor Haley's call.'"
DEMINT: BOEHNER BETTER WATCH OUT - Between this, cigarette taxes, and Eric Cantor, someone near and dear to the speaker might want to watch his Merlot intake. Politico: "In an interview on Rush Limbaugh's radio show on Thursday, retiring Sen. Jim DeMint offered his take for how to get the Republican party back on track -- and he joked about dumping House Speaker John Boehner..."I think it's safe to say that Boehner is not forcing either of you guys out, right?" Limbaugh asked DeMint and now-former Heritage Foundation president Ed Feulner, according to audio by The Right Scoop. Quipped DeMint: 'It might work a little bit the other way, Rush.'" [Politico]
Ka-ching: "According to the Center for Responsive Politics, he's the third-poorest person in the Senate, worth only... $65,000. As a Senator, he makes $174,000 per year. At Heritage, he'll probably make at least $1 million. We looked at the Heritage Foundation's Form 990 they submitted to the IRS for fiscal year 2010. In it, there's a listing of all salaries for members of the firm. Then-President Edwin J. Feulner Jr. made a $1,025,922 annual salary, plus $66,161 annually from 'related organizational' activities." [Business Insider]
DeMint's success as a conservative kingmaker was mixed. Sam Stein and Amanda Terkel take a look back
@MattMackowiak: And now we know why DeMint didn't run for Whip.
MITCH MCCONNELL'S P-P-P-POKER FACE, P-P-POKER FACE - It sucks. Mike McAuliff: "A move to embarrass Democrats backfired on Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell Thursday as the Kentucky Republican proposed a vote on raising the nation's debt ceiling -- then filibustered it when the Democrats tried to take him up on the offer. On Thursday morning McConnell had made a motion for the vote on legislation that would let the president extend the country's borrowing limit on his own. Congress would then have the option to disapprove such hikes, in a fashion similar to one that McConnell first suggested during last year's standoff over the debt ceiling. The minority leader apparently did not think Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) would take him up on his offer, which would have allowed McConnell to portray President Barack Obama's desire for such authority as something even Democrats opposed. Reid objected at first, but told McConnell he thought it might be a good idea. After Senate staff reviewed the proposal, Reid came back to the floor and proposed a straight up-or-down vote on the idea. McConnell was forced to say no." [HuffPost]
@bretbaier: Per our Capitol Hill Producer @chadpergram: Senator Kirk will return to the Senate Jan. 3rd after suffering a stroke in January 2012
RAND PAUL NOT TOO FAMILIAR WITH HIS OLD KENTUCKY HOME - Mother Jones: "The chatter that actress Ashley Judd might make a run for Senate in her home state of Kentucky has prompted preemptive vituperation from the state's Republican delegation...' 'She hates our biggest industry, which is coal, so I say, good look bringing the "I hate coal message" to Kentucky,' [he said Wednesday]...but the comments indicate that Rand Paul doesn't know much about his state's top industries. Mining isn't the state's biggest industry. It's not even in the top ten, according to the Bureau of Economic Analysis...It's all the way down there after 'information,' oddly enough. Mining is also not the largest industry in the ranking based on the number of people it employs; on that list, it comes in 15th." [Mother Jones]
ROMNEY STRATEGIST BLAMES HURRICANE FOR LOSS No, not the hurricane of rich guy gaffes, poor staffing, and animal cruelty (RIP Seamus) -- the literal kind. Elise Foley: "Former Mitt Romney campaign adviser Stuart Stevens on Wednesday tried to explain the Republican presidential candidate's loss, telling PBS's Charlie Rose that the campaign lost control in its final week as Hurricane Sandy hit the East Coast. 'After the storm, I never had a good feeling,' Stevens said. 'Not that the storm impacted things so much, per se, but these races -- a race like this is a lot like an NBA game. It's all about ball control at the end... We went from having these big rallies around the country to literally sitting around in hotel rooms and there was just nothing we could do about it.'...The former adviser wrote an op-ed for The Washington Post last week, claiming Romney's ideas "carried the day" with voters who made more than $50,000 per year -- arguing those votes showed Romney was favored by the middle class. Stevens told Rose he wrote that piece because he felt it was important to stand up for his side, even when it wasn't doing well." [HuffPost]
NEVER TOO EARLY FOR A 2016 POLL... - Those of you hoping for a Warner/Schweitzer v. Santorum/Paul might want to get a move on. PPP: "PPP's newest national poll finds Marco Rubio as the early choice of Republicans for 2016. 18% would like him to be their nominee to 14% for Chris Christie, 12% for Jeb Bush and Paul Ryan, 11% for Mike Huckabee, 8% for Condoleezza Rice, 7% each for Sarah Palin and Rand Paul, and 4% for Rick Santorum...On the Democratic side it continues to be no contest. Hillary Clinton leads the way at 61% to 12% for Joe Biden, 5% for Andrew Cuomo, 4% for Elizabeth Warren, 2% for Martin O'Malley, and 1% each for Deval Patrick, Brian Schweitzer, and Mark Warner. If neither Clinton nor Biden runs the big winner is 'undecided.' 45% of voters aren't sure who they would support with Cuomo leading at 21% to 16% for Warren, 8% for Patrick, 5% for O'Malley, 3% for Warner, and 2% for Schweitzer. Clinton has at least 60% support with all three major ideological factions of the party- 'very liberal' voters, 'somewhat liberal' ones, and moderates." [PPP]
HARRY REID LIKES SPORT - Mike McAuliff: "Republicans trying to come up with a coherent approach to the fiscal cliff are about as effective as the New York Jets' coach and quarterbacks -- but fun to watch -- Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said on the floor of the U.S. Senate Thursday. 'It's not one of my favorite teams, but it's really fun to watch, and that's the New York Jets. New York Jets, yes. New York Jets,' Reid said, prompted by a motion by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) about the nation's borrowing limit. 'Coach [Rex] Ryan, he's got a problem. He has three quarterbacks. [Mark] Sanchez. He's got Tim Tebow. He's got a guy named [Greg] McElroy,' Reid said in a reference to the team's QB problems. 'He can't decide who their quarterback is going to be. That's the same problem the Republicans have.'" [HuffPost]
BECAUSE YOU'VE READ THIS FAR - Baby elephant takes a bath.
NO WAY, JOSE! - HuffPost DC: "A prized possession for one of the biggest names in the D.C. restaurant scene just got a so-so review after years of being considered the best, experimental and innovative dining experience in the nation's capital. The Washington Post's restaurant critic has awarded Jose Andres' newly reopened Minibar just two stars." [HuffPost]
- Stuffy old British man describes toys in a series of videos. Strangely compelling. [http://bit.ly/KJgebs]
- Seven websites you should be wasting time on right now, courtesy of HuffPost Comedy. [http://bit.ly/TEVpxR]
- "Nice Jewish Guys," the 2013 calendar. [http://bit.ly/Un8Qnb]
- A behind-the-scenes featurette about "Argo." It's fluff, but it's a great movie so it's worth revisiting. [http://bit.ly/XuIVik]
- Keep splitting the circles to reveal an image. Frustratingly addictive. [http://bit.ly/fphoTo]
- The version of "The Hobbit" where Gandalf is a degenerate addict. [http://cheezburger.com/45461505]
- A short history of GIFs. [http://bit.ly/UI5Ofv]
@samsteinhp: seriously. Darius Rucker needs to be in the U.S. Senate
@rainnwilson: "Blessed are the top 2% of income earners for verily they are the job creators." -The Bible
@pourmecoffee: It turns out that when you build a party entirely on shared goal of preventing someone's reelection it kind of falls apart when he wins.
5:00 pm: Former Congressman and current mayor of San Diego Bob Filner hosts a debt retirement reception for his mayoral campaign. [San Diego, CA]
6:00 pm: An "Idaho Potato Fest" is either the most earnest or most hipster party imaginable. In the case of Mike Crapo's upcoming fundraiser, it's probably safe to assume it's the former. [Diageo Townhouse, 310 Sixth Street SE]
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