The fiscal cliff is behind us and Congress must now find a way to avert the slightly less disastrous ... um ... fiscal log flume? Al Jazeera is set to acquire the struggling cable news outlet Current TV, but liberals shouldn't hold out hope that BBC will revive Air America. And it was reported that Hillary Clinton somehow left the hospital without being discharged, leading us to wonder whether she can go up and down a carpet without moving and is able to be caught but not thrown. This is HUFFPOST HILL for Wednesday, January 2nd, 2013 :
BOEHNER BREAKS UP WITH OBAMA - So unless the president appears below the Speaker's Balcony in the pouring rain yelling "John, I will give you D.C. abortion!" as loud as he possibly can, their working relationship appears to be dunzo. The Hill: "Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) is signaling that at least one thing will change about his leadership during the 113th Congress: he's telling Republicans he is done with private, one-on-one negotiations with President Obama. During both 2011 and 2012, the Speaker spent weeks shuttling between the Capitol and the White House for meetings with the president in the hopes of striking a grand bargain on the deficit. Those efforts ended in failure, leaving Boehner feeling burned by Obama and, at times, isolated within his conference. In closed-door meetings since leaving the 'fiscal cliff' talks two weeks ago, lawmakers and aides say the Speaker has indicated he is abandoning that approach for good and will return fully to the normal legislative process in 2013 -- seeking to pass bills through the House that can then be adopted, amended or reconciled by the Senate. 'He is recommitting himself and the House to what we've done, which is working through regular order and letting the House work its will,' an aide to the Speaker told The Hill." [The Hill]
HOUSE TO VOTE ON SANDY AID - Things got bad today. John Boehner didn't fly over the devastated coastline in Air Force One or talk about the wild times he had on the Shore in college... but still, things got bad. Jen Bendery: "It was just Wednesday morning that lawmakers were lining up on the House floor to slam House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) for delaying a vote on a relief package for Hurricane Sandy victims until the next Congress, with some Republicans even vowing to vote against Boehner for House speaker over the matter. But by Wednesday afternoon, many of those same lawmakers were all smiles after leaving a meeting with Boehner and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.), who promised them votes as soon as Friday on a relief package. The House is now planning to hold two votes to get a Sandy relief package out the door: the first one, on Friday morning, will be for $9 billion for flood insurance. The second will be on Jan. 15, the first full day of business in the next Congress, and will include $51 billion to help rebuild the regions of New Jersey, New York and Connecticut that were decimated by the hurricane in October. Together, the bills equal the current $60 billion bill pending in the House." [HuffPost]
Boehner's [under]statement: "Getting critical aid to the victims of Hurricane Sandy should be the first priority in the new Congress, and that was reaffirmed today with members of the New York and New Jersey delegations."
During a press conference today, New Jersey governor Chris Christie ripped into Boehner like a Code Pink protester. "There is only one group to blame for the continued suffering of these innocent victims: the House majority and their speaker, John Boehner," he said. "Last night the House of Representatives failed that most basic test of public service, and they did so with callous indifference to the suffering of the people of my state." Christie said he had called Boehner four times last night but did not receive a reply, adding that "There is no reason for me to believe anything [Republican House leadership] tell[s] me." Yowza. [HuffPost's Sabrina Siddiqui and Luke Johnson]
Prior to his meeting with the speaker, Rep. Peter King was so incensed you'd think the speaker wanted to build a mosque in the Longworth Cafeteria. Amanda Terkel: Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.) is going after his fellow House Republicans after party leaders pulled a Hurricane Sandy relief bill from a floor vote on Tuesday, saying that New York and New Jersey residents should stop giving these lawmakers political contributions. 'I'm saying right now, anyone from New York or New Jersey who contributes one penny to congressional Republicans is out of their minds,' he said in an interview on Fox News. 'Because what they did last night was put a knife in the back of New Yorkers and New Jerseyans. It was an absolute disgrace.'...King also raised the possibility that he would vote against reelecting House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) to his leadership post in the 113th Congress, saying, 'My world turned upside-down last night, so I'm holding every vote in abeyance for now.'" [HuffPost]
@sabrinasiddiqui: Reps. King and Grimm both say they will vote for Boehner for Speaker tomorrow following their meeting with him.
OMG CREEPING SHARIA: AL JAZEERA TO BUY CURRENT TV - We're not sure if this provides Keith Olbermann another opportunity to be fired but we suspect that'll be hammered out in the negotiations. NYT: "Al Jazeera is putting the final touches on a deal to take over Current TV, the low-rated cable channel that was founded by Al Gore and his business partners seven years ago. If the deal is completed, Current will provide the pan-Arab news giant with something it has sought for years: a pathway into American living rooms. Current is available in about 60 million of the 100 million homes in the United States with cable or satellite service. Rather than simply use Current to distribute its English-language channel, called Al Jazeera English and based in Doha, Qatar, Al Jazeera will create a new channel based in New York, according to people with knowledge of the deal negotiations. The channel may be called Al Jazeera America. Roughly 60 percent of the programming will be produced in the United States, while the remaining 40 percent will come from Al Jazeera English." [NYT]
DAILY DELANEY DOWNER - The fiscal cliff deal cut more than $100 million from food stamps to prevent a spike in milk prices. The legislation reduced the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program's nutrition education efforts for fiscal 2013 from $395 million to $285 million to offset the cost of preserving the USDA's Milk Income Loss Contract, which protects dairy farmers from price fluctuations. The cut doesn't affect SNAP benefits, and it's a small amount of money considering the government will spend more than $80 billion on food stamps this year, but nutrition education experts aren't exactly thrilled. "This funding cut to the program undermines and weakens a critical component of our nationwide efforts to address promote healthy eating and prevent chronic disease just as investments to prevent obesity and promote healthy eating are beginning to show results," Matthew Marsom, an executive with the Public Health Institute, said of the nutrition education program. Rep. Reid Ribble (R-Wisc.) said in a statement to a farm industry publication that the Milk Income Loss Contract is an important safety net for farmers. "Without further legislative action, the MILC program would have expired and dairy price supports would have dramatically risen, saddling our dairy market with major uncertainty and causing consumer prices to skyrocket." You win this round, milk cliff!
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THE TIME CONGRESS RESEMBLED AN UNHOLY FUSION OF 'JERSEY SHORE' AND 'MASTERPIECE THEATRE' - Politico has a great behind-the-scenes look at the fiscal cliff fight that reminds us that brandy glasses aren't the only things hurled into hearths: "House Speaker John Boehner couldn't hold back when he spotted Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid in the White House lobby last Friday. It was only a few days before the nation would go over the fiscal cliff, no bipartisan agreement was in sight, and Reid had just publicly accused Boehner of running a 'dictatorship' in the House and caring more about holding onto his gavel than striking a deal. 'Go f-- yourself,' Boehner sniped as he pointed his finger at Reid, according to multiple sources present. Reid, a bit startled, replied: 'What are you talking about?' Boehner repeated: 'Go f-- yourself.'... Just hours before the Senate overwhelmingly approved the bill, Reid called Obama and told the president he had serious concerns. Reid figured Democrats could get a more favorable agreement if they waited. When Reid saw an offer that Obama had considered pitching to McConnell on Sunday, which included provisions opposed by Senate Democrats, the majority leader crumpled up the document and tossed it into the burning fireplace of his Capitol office." [Politico]
According to sources with knowledge of the fire episode, Reid frequently keeps his fire going and is fond of feeding a variety of proposals to it.
Then there was the time Boehner spoke to the president like an early Bond villain. National Journal: "The president was a gracious host when Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Boehner, McConnell, and Pelosi trooped down to the White House on Friday, Nov. 16... But the lack of specifics troubled the speaker. It had taken nine days to stage the meeting: Was Obama taking a slow walk through the calendar to get more leverage at the end of the year? Toward the end of the meeting, Obama said, 'By the way, I'm not going to sign anything that doesn't have a debt limit increase in it.' 'Well, Mr. President, everything you want in life comes with a price,' the speaker replied. Obama did not look thrilled." [National Journal]
No amount of Merlot can quell the anger of Boehner: "House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) yelled at a member of his own caucus on Tuesday night, after lawmakers from New Jersey and New York repeatedly pressed him to bring the Superstorm Sandy relief bill to the floor for a vote. Boehner had a heated exchange with Rep. Frank LoBiondo (R-N.J.), one of the members urging the House Republican leadership to bring up the Sandy legislation, according to fellow Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.) 'I was chasing the Speaker all over the House floor last night, trying to talk to him and his staff,' King said on CNN on Wednesday morning, '... He actually yelled at Congressman LoBiondo, saying, "I'm not meeting with you people."'" [HuffPost]
@hotlinedan: Pathway to the 17 R votes against Boehner: every NJ (6) & NY (6) member + 4 kicked off cmtes + Gohmert. Won't happen but the math exists.
HILLARY CLINTON GOES FOR A STROLL, STILL HOSPITALIZED - Reuters: "Secretary of State Hillary Clinton left New York-Presbyterian hospital on Wednesday and was driven away with her husband, Bill, and daughter, Chelsea, and an aide, a Reuters photographer witnessed. It was unclear where she was going or whether she had been discharged from the hospital, where she had been admitted for treatment of a blood clot behind her right ear. A hospital spokeswoman directed all questions about Clinton, 65, to the State Department, which had no immediate comment. Earlier Wednesday, a State Department spokeswoman said Clinton, who had not been seen in public since December 7, had been talking with her staff by telephone and receiving memos." [Reuters]
Hipster Bill Clinton makes his debut in the photo accompanying this article.
CONSERVATIVES TARGETING THE VOTING RIGHTS ACT BECAUSE OF COURSE - Ryan Reilly's debut for HuffPost: "The state of New Hampshire and the Justice Department agree that the state shouldn't have to seek permission from the federal government before making changes to its voting laws. But a conservative group that doesn't think any state should be subject to Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, which requires certain jurisdictions to pre-clear any such changes, is trying to block New Hampshire's so-called bailout, alleging it's all part of a scheme to trick the Supreme Court. The Center for Individual Rights filed a motion to intervene in a federal lawsuit last month to attempt to block New Hampshire from getting out of Section 5, alleging the 10 New Hampshire towns or townships covered by the provision aren't entitled to a bailout under the law." [HuffPost]
BROVERNOR SCOTT BROWN? - Boston Herald: "Republicans close to the departing U.S. senator said he's itching to go back to Washington to replace John Kerry, but Democrats are buzzing more about a potential Brown gubernatorial campaign in 2014. It may be tempting for Brown to run in a special election against a vulnerable Rep. Edward J. Markey, but he should reject the easy play and go for the job that really matters -- running the state of Massachusetts... And Brown's prospects of getting elected governor look to be much brighter than in another Senate race later this year. By 2014, Democrats also will be seriously weakened by a series of scandals and screwups under Gov. Deval Patrick, with several Democratic top lawmakers tainted or even on trial in the Probation Department patronage affair. Brown would be a perfect choice to clean up Beacon Hill and get Democrats and Republicans to actually work together -- much the way former Gov. William Weld and even former Gov. Mitt Romney did." [Boston Herald]
Brown took his first swipe at Ed Markey today, questioning his Massachusetts residency on a Boston radio show. Brown, who famously hallucinated meetings with kings, said that he's never seen the congressman aboard a DCA --> BOS flight (maybe he misremembered meeting with Henri, Grand Duke of Luxembourg in line for the bathroom?). "I'll tell you what, they're making it awfully tempting. You got Ed Markey; does he even live here anymore?" Brown told WTKK-FM. "You've got to check the travel records. I've come back and forth every weekend, almost, for three years, and I see, you know, most of the delegation, and I have never seen Ed on the airplane, ever." [Boston Globe]
CONGRESS STILL WORKING: MANAGES TO SCREW POOR PEOPLE - Dave Jamieson: "Many of the nation's poorest workers were looking forward to a modest pay hike on New Year's Day, when 10 states implemented higher minimum wages. In the end, those workers' increased earnings may have lasted all of a few hours. The deal approved by the House of Representatives late Tuesday to avert the so-called 'fiscal cliff' did not include an extension of the payroll tax holiday, effectively hiking by 2 percent workers' payroll tax contributions which help pay for Social Security. For many minimum wage workers who are receiving a wage increase this year, the higher payroll tax will offset much or all of the potential gains they anticipated in the new year." [HuffPost]
We forgot to never forget: "Blame it on the fiscal cliff, blame it on Christmas, blame it on our ability to forget, but the national discussion about gun control has once again ebbed. Mentions of the term 'gun control' on television, in newspapers, and in online media are down to pre-Sandy Hook levels, according to the Nexis database." [Politico]
BECAUSE YOU'VE READ THIS FAR - New year's resolutions, demonstrated by cats.
TAKE A BITE OUT OF THE WHITE HOUSE: - HuffPost DC: "Feeling sweet on D.C. these days? Or just want to take a bite out of Congress? Chocolate Chocolate, a well-loved chocolate store in the nation's capital, has been putting out chocolate versions of D.C. landmarks like the Washington Monument, the Capitol and the White House (that one's in white chocolate) for some two decades now.'" [HuffPost]
- Short film about a guy who started holding up life-affirming signs on K Street and other D.C. locales. [http://bit.ly/Zbfenk]
- Thought "This is 40" was a bit ponderous? You'll enjoy "This is 1."[http://huff.to/12TNiEt]
- Behold the blood-curdling screams of the mangoats. [http://chzb.gr/12MoTR7]
- Helicopter crashes on a Brazilian beach. Somehow, no one was hurt. [http://bit.ly/UjgsGG]
- Twenty-four hours with New York City's pothole fillers. [http://bit.ly/VtFPqb]
- Just a kitten being a kitten. [http://bit.ly/UF7LZM]
- Believe it or not, you'll learn a thing or two from "Top 10 Reasons Why We Know the Earth is Round." [http://bit.ly/Rnkm4d]
@stefanjbecket: He can smoke in his office RT @eliotnelson: Why does John Boehner want to be speaker? I'm still not clear on this.
@timothypmurphy: Either he was speaking figuratively, or Peter KIng is actually a mayfly. MT @hillhulse: Rep. King says anger at spkr was 'lifetime' ago.
@nachofiesta: "No, YOU go fuck yourself, John Boehner." - shorter Chris Christie
8:00 am: It's the first day of the 113th Congress and naturally Joe Donnelly and Mazie Hirono won't even be sworn in before they attend their first fundraiser. The senators-elect are joined by Harry Reid and Patty Murray for a DSCC briefing. [Washington Court Hotel, 525 New Jersey Ave NW]
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