The Supreme Court is poised to gut a key provision of the Civil Rights Act, which means white southerners will immediately start voting for Democrats again (right?). A group of concerned citizens will hold an exorcism to resolve the sequester impasse -- a long shot that will at least stop Kirsten Gillibrand's head from rotating 360 degrees. And after months of post-election soul-searching, the GOP is repositioning itself by... letting Steve King run for Senate. This is HUFFPOST HILL for Wednesday, February 27th, 2013:
SEQUESTER: PRESIDENT, CONGRESSIONAL LEADERS TO MEET FRIDAY, PRETEND TO ACCOMPLISH SOMETHING - The Hill: "President Obama will meet with congressional leaders at the White House on Friday to discuss preventing the automatic spending cuts set to take place that day, an administration official confirmed. The meeting comes as efforts to resolve the sequester have stalled. With the deadline looming, Obama has not had a face-to-face meeting with leaders on the issue. Last week, he placed calls to congressional leaders to discuss the impending $85 billion in across-the-board spending cuts. The meeting will include Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), who has said, following other divisive budget battles, that he would not be returning to the negotiating table with Obama...The administration continued its aggressive PR offensive on Wednesday, dispatching Education Secretary Arne Duncan to discuss how the spending cuts would cause teacher layoffs and impact early childhood education programs. Speaking to reporters at the White House, Duncan said the sequester could force as many as 14,000 teachers to lose their jobs and cost students at universities across the nation access to grants and work-study opportunities." [The Hill]
The Senate is voting on the confirmation of Jack Lew to be the next treasury secretary. There is still time for Lindsey Graham to wring more Benghazi answers out of this.
REPUBLICAN HARBORS SYMPATHY FOR BUREAUCRATS - Mike McAuliff: "Rep. Trent Franks thinks Congress needs to cut federal spending a lot more, but he did admit some sympathy for the federal bureaucrats and Pentagon planners who've had to navigate Congress' incessant showdowns and uncertainty over federal spending. 'They don't know whether to jump or go blind,' he said."
If the National Science Foundation does blindness research, those bureaucrats should probably jump.
DAILY DELANEY DOWNER - Helen Becker of Northampton, Pa. has received a hot meal from volunteers with Meals On Wheels of Northampton County every day for the past several years. "That's the biggest part of my diet, having the cooked meal," Becker, 89, said in an interview. On Mondays it might be rotisserie baked chicken with yams, Tuesdays maybe spaghetti with meatballs accompanied by half a cup of applesauce and a dinner roll. And so on, every weekday at lunchtime. The whole routine is now in doubt, thanks to budget cuts known as "sequestration" that are scheduled to kick in on Friday. The policy will deliver a 5.1 percent cut to a broad range of federal programs, including those under the Administration on Aging, which since 1972 has provided federal funds for senior nutrition programs. "If they try and cut it I don't know what's going to happen to all these people that get it, especially somebody like me and all the others," Becker said. [HuffPost]
DOUBLE DOWNER - Looming budget cuts known as sequestration will reduce federal unemployment compensation for the long-term jobless by roughly 10 percent. But the state government of Indiana feels that it has not received proper guidance from the U.S. Department of Labor on how to implement the cuts, so it is going to suspend the federal long-term unemployment benefits altogether in the state. Call it a case of premature sequestration. "Due to federal automatic spending cuts as part of sequestration, payments of federally extended unemployment insurance benefits will be temporarily suspended on Saturday, March 2, 2013 until further guidance from the federal government is received," the Indiana Department of Workforce Development announced on Wednesday. [HuffPost]
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SHH - David Dayen: "Theoretically, the Office of Management and Budget could prevent budget cuts from occurring in the immediate term by using something called apportionment power." [Pacific Standar]
VOTING RIGHTS ACT ON THE CHOPPING BLOCK - Between the 2010 redistricting and the ongoing attempts to reapportion electoral votes, this is almost comically excessive. Ryan Reilly: "Conservative justices on the Supreme Court expressed skepticism Wednesday about whether the federal government should still be requiring preclearance of voting system changes in certain places with a history of racial discrimination in elections. Justice Antonin Scalia suggested that the continuation of Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act represented the 'perpetuation of racial entitlement,' saying that lawmakers had only voted to renew the act in 2006 because there wasn't anything to be gained politically from voting against it...But liberal justices argued forcefully that Section 5's preclearance requirement was still necessary and had proved to be an effective way for the Justice Department and the courts to stop discrimination at the polling place. Justice Elena Kagan said the formula 'seems to be working pretty well.' Justice Sonya Sotomayor said that Shelby County, Ala., probably wasn't the right part of the country to be challenging a key provision of the Voting Rights Act. 'Some parts of the South have changed. Your county pretty much hasn't,' said Sotomayor. 'You may be the wrong party bringing this.'...Justice Anthony Kennedy, often the swing vote between the Supreme Court's liberal and conservative blocs, didn't offer progressives much hope that he would find Section 5 constitutional, saying that while the provision was necessary in 1965, this was 2013." [HuffPost]
@GovChristie: Let me be clear, I am no fan of ACA. But expanding Medicaid by 104,000 citizens is the smart thing to do for our fiscal & public health.
NEW GOP MONARCHIST FACTION EMERGES - Power of the purse: whatevs. Mike McAuliff, Sabrina Siddiqui and Sam Stein: "Senate Republicans appeared flummoxed Tuesday by the impending sequestration budget cuts, unable to offer a consensus alternative and arguing that slashing $85 billion this fiscal year may be smart. 'We haven't decided yet how many alternatives we will offer later this week -- that matter is still under discussion in our conference,' said Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.). McConnell had floated the idea of writing legislation that would keep cuts in place, but would give President Barack Obama's administration 'flexibility' to implement them in the best way. That plan did not fly, however, as the Kentucky Republican ran into opposition from members who don't want to cede the legislative branch's traditional authority to the president." HuffPost
HOUSE JUDICIARY CHAIR SOFTENS IMMIGRATION STANCE - We'd put a Bob Goodlatte joke here but THERE ARE JUST SO MANY TO CHOOSE FROM. Elise Foley: "Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) declined on Wednesday to define what he considers a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants -- although he said he opposes a 'special' pathway -- giving the legislator some wiggle room as he and his colleagues work on an immigration reform bill that could pass in the House...The definition of a 'special pathway to citizenship' is a nebulous one, ranging from allowing undocumented immigrants to quickly begin a process of becoming citizens to simply giving them the ability to become citizens at all. Goodlatte acknowledged there is no set definition, but wouldn't offer his. Instead, he expressed openness to considering a number of options, including the type of pathway proposed by the Senate 'gang of eight.' The 'gang of eight' proposal would allow undocumented immigrants to enter a process for a green card and eventual citizenship, but only after certain border provisions were met." [HuffPost]
OBAMA ADMINISTRATION TRYING TO ADVANCE GAY RIGHTS WITHOUT CONGRESS - Amanda Terkel: "[T]he Obama administration has been advancing LGBT equality by using its executive authority in federal agencies. Working within existing law, Cabinet secretaries have searched for ways to ensure that gay men and women receive equal rights through regulatory changes... For example, although gays and lesbians received the right to serve openly in the military with the 2010 repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell, their families still weren't able to receive certain benefits available to other service members. The Defense of Marriage Act remains law, barring the federal recognition of same-sex marriages and prohibiting the government from conferring equal rights to those couples...Perhaps less-noticed has been the work of the Department of Housing and Urban Development...The agency has worked to prohibit discrimination by HUD-funded housing authorities, recognize state and local laws that are more LGBT-friendly than federal ones and raise awareness of resources available to the LGBT community." [HuffPost]
Is the Republican party allergic to Senate seats? We're beginning to wonder... "Rep. Tom Latham (R-Iowa) announced that he will not run for the open Senate seat Wednesday, paving the way for conservative Steve King to be the nominee if he gets into the race...Latham, a close ally of Speaker John Boehner, had the backing of many establishment leaders. Gov. Terry Branstad (R), for example, said over the weekend that Latham would be a much stronger candidate." [Politico]
POLL: AMERICA STILL THE PARANOID AND ILLOGICAL PLACE WE KNOW AND LOVE - A number of Americans think the president is going confiscate their guns like that fifth grade math teacher who took their Tamagotchi, all angry disappointed-like. Emily Swanson: "A plurality of Americans, including three quarters of Republicans, think that Obama would ban guns if he could. According to the new survey, 44 percent of Americans say that Obama would repeal the Second Amendment and ban guns if he could, while 39 percent say he would not. The vast majority of Republicans in the poll said that they thought Obama would ban guns if he could (75 percent to 16 percent), while about half of independents said he would (49 percent to 32 percent). Democrats were far less likely to say that Obama would ban guns, with only 21 percent saying he would and 60 percent saying he would no . The percentage of Democrats who said that Obama would ban guns closely matches the percentage who said that they themselves think guns should be banned. Twenty-four percent of Democrats in the poll said that guns should be banned, while 64 percent said they should not." [HuffPost]
In our inbox: "ANGRY CITIZENS HOLD EXORCISM/VIGIL TO END SEQUESTER-THURS-NOON-CAPITOL HILL" Well, this is one way to do it: "Our goal is to drive away the demons of uncompromising spirit that are ruling the White House and Congress. We hope that our event will encourage the President to meet with Congressional leaders on Thursday afternoon rather than on Friday when the cuts take shape."
BEING A FEMALE JOURNALIST IN WASHINGTON DC CAN BE AWFUL - One, you're in Washington DC -- which is its own kind of prison sentence, regardless of gender -- and two, you have to endure the passes of men who think mid-level government jobs are foolproof aphrodisiacs. Sorry, ladies. TNR: "In popular fictions of Washington, everyone is a prostitute in one way or another; when it comes to female journalists, though, the comparison is often tediously literal... One journalist remembers a group of lobbyists insisting that she was not a full-time reporter at a major publication but a college coed. Another tried wearing scarves and turtlenecks to keep a married K Street type from staring at her chest for their entire meeting...These are the stories you don't hear, in part because they don't occupy the fantasies of the mostly male scriptwriters of Washington dramas and in part because women reporters are reluctant to signal to any source--past, present, or future--that they might not be discreet or trustworthy... Sometimes they reach the level of stalking: One colleague had a high-profile member of Congress go out of his way to track down her cell-phone number, call and text repeatedly to tell her she was beautiful, offer to take her parents on a tour of the Capitol, and even invite her to go boating back home in his district." [New Republic]
We're going to go ahead and assume this won't be a guide to collecting Michael Jackson's accessories: "Disgraced former Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr., who pleaded guilty last week to misusing $750,000-plus in campaign money, is writing a memoir, two sources familiar with the project told the Tribune. Jackson, 47, will be sentenced June 28 after a seven-year spree in which he used the illicit money for a Rolex watch, celebrity memorabilia, furs, a cruise and two stuffed elk heads, among other purchases...One of the Tribune's sources, who has seen drafts of portions of the memoir, said Jackson was trying to 'clear up his legacy.'" [Chicago Tribune]
BECAUSE YOU'VE READ THIS FAR - Three-and-a-half minutes of dogs sneezing.
KENTUCKY DOES THE RIGHT THING - Bluegrass Politics: "The Kentucky General Assembly appears poised to lift the state's Election Day booze-buying ban, which would leave South Carolina as the only state that still enforces the Prohibition-era rule. A state House committee approved a bill Wednesday that would lift the ban on the sales of alcoholic beverages in wet areas on election days in Kentucky. Senate Bill 13, sponsored by Sen. John Schickel, R-Union, now goes to the full House for consideration. After no member of the House Licensing and Occupations Committee voted against the proposal, Schickel said he is 'real optimistic' about its chances in the House. 'I've talked to leadership in the House and I think they are committed to getting it passed.'" [Bluegrass Politics]
- Give it up for the guy who found a way to race sleigh dogs in his local park. [http://bit.ly/12aHn03]
- Jimi Hendrix's first appearance on TV. He was in the backing band. [http://bit.ly/XBSHxQ]
- Say goodbye to your day with the latest installment of HuffPost Comedy's "7 Sites You Should Be Wasting Time On Right Now." [http://huff.to/13kl9Zj]
- Observing Black History Month by dressing adorable children up as iconic African Americans. [http://huff.to/13nMIRh]
- For incredibly industrious -- yet somehow lazy -- individual, we present to you this Oreo separating machine. [http://bit.ly/ZHGPNP]
- Pasty dude sings "I Dreamed a Dream" in a Gollum voice. [http://bit.ly/V922h3]
- The Book of Louis C.K.: The collected wisdom of America's foremost everyman comic. [http://bit.ly/YA9H83]
@stefanjbecket: I agree, news agency RT @Reuters: @stefanjbecket "Star Trek"-like doors can't come soon enough.
@real_kaplan: No. 1: "Who killed journalism, Daddy?" RT @BuzzFeed 25 Things You'll Have To Explain To Your Kids One Day
@joshrogan: BREAKING: @marcorubio just took a drink of water during his WINEP event! Note: It was from a mug, not a bottle. But STILL.
5:30 pm: Mike Fitzpatrick gets an assist from the Big Orange himself, John Boehner. If you're a purveyor of tobacco and/or wine products and a terrified-looking intern asks you for all your Merlot and/or Marlboro Reds, don't ask any questions. [Capitol Hill Club, 300 First Street SE]
6:00 pm: Dan Coates is the beneficiary of a fundraiser at the Online Lenders Alliance Townhouse. We're pretty sure the Online Lenders Alliance meets in an underground icy lair where they monitor the activity of the worlds supervillains and in their spare time plunge working people into bankruptcy. John Thune is scheduled to attend. [Online Lenders Alliance (OLA) Townhouse, 330 Maryland Ave NE]
6:30 pm: David Vitter, the member of Congress who couldn't be more happy about his party's shift from moral issues to economic ones, raises some dough for his reelection. [Clark Hill PLC, 601 Pennsylvanie Ave NW]
6:00 pm - 8:00 pm: Chris Christie, scourge of conservatives and hero of people who like winning elections, heads to Virginia for a fundraiser hosted by Bob McDonnell. [McLean, VA]
6:00 pm: Mike Enzi fills his campaign coffers with his "12th Annual Chugwater Chili Chowdown" which sounds... really gross. [NRSC, 425 2nd Street NE]
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