POLITICS
03/04/2013 05:52 pm ET Updated May 04, 2013

HUFFPOST HILL - Darrell Issa Denies Being Twee

Beltway dorks enjoyed joking about Wednesday's Snowquester, but the forecast suggests it might be more of a Wintrymixquester. Darrell Issa denied tweeting out pictures of cappuccinos, though nothing complements a scoop of Issa Cream quite like a shot of espresso. And with Friends of Hamas, Malaysia, and now the false prostitution allegations against Bob Mendez, conservative media have really served up some horse tacos lately. This is HUFFPOST HILL for Monday, March 4th, 2013:

ESCORT: MENENDEZ PROSTITUTION CHARGES WERE MADE UP - Those of you upset to see this scandal die an ignominious death should take comfort in the fact that it will probably be incorporated into the second season of "House of Cards." Washington Post: "An escort who appeared on a video claiming Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) paid her for sex has told Dominican Republic police that she was instead paid to make up the claims in a tape recording and has never met or seen the senator before, according to court documents and two people briefed on her claim. The woman identified a lawyer who approached her and a friend to make the videotape, according to affidavits obtained by the Post. That man has in turn identified another lawyer who gave him a script for the tape and paid him to find women to fabricate the claims, the affidavits say... The women's videotaped claims, with their faces obscured, were played on the conservative website The Daily Caller. The news site reported that 'the two women said they met Menendez around Easter at Casa de Campo, an expensive 7,000-acre resort in the Dominican Republic...'They claimed Menendez agreed to pay them $500 for sex acts, but in the end they each received only $100.'" [WaPo]

Daily Caller LOL!

HOUSE APPROPS RELEASE CR WITH SEQUESTRATION CUTS IN PLACE - House Republicans finally proposed some cuts. Let the campaign commercials begin. Roll Call: "House appropriators on Monday unveiled a proposed final fiscal 2013 spending package that would effectively cap federal operating expenses at $982 billion, when the cuts already mandated by sequester are taken into account, while giving the Pentagon new flexibility to cushion the impact of the automatic reductions. The House is expected to vote this week on the measure, which combine new Defense and Military Construction-Veterans Affairs bills with a stopgap continuing resolution covering most of the rest of federal agencies. That will give military and veterans programs greater ability to move around the funds that are provided, although it doesn't protect them from the cuts through the sequester... Democrats in both chambers are pushing to replace the CR in [House Appropriations Committee Chairman Hal] Rogers' bill with new spending bills that would give domestic programs the same aid in managing the sequester that the military and veterans get under his plan." [Roll Call]

Behold, the provision that prevents agencies from publicly griping about sequestration: "SEC. 503. No part of any funds appropriated in this Act shall be used by an agency of the executive branch, other than for normal and recognized executive-legislative relationships, for publicity or propaganda purposes, and for the preparation, distribution, or use of any kit, pamphlet, booklet, publication, radio, television, or film presentation designed to support or defeat legislation pending before Congress, except in presentation to Congress itself." This is standard language put in any spending bill. Why couldn't you impeach every president in recent memory? [Text of the CR]

DARRELL ISSA DOCUMENTS COFFEE, BOOZEQUESTRATION - Jen Bendery: "Sequestration will be a tough pill for everyone to swallow. But Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) spent Saturday trying to see the brighter side of things, losing himself in cappuccino foam art and redefining the billions in painful spending cuts as a drinking game, according to his Twitter feed. Two tweets sent Saturday from Issa's account -- and then promptly deleted -- include photos of 'a great cappuccino' and a sign that gives the proper definition of sequester: 'The need to drink.' It turns out it wasn't Issa unraveling in front of his 76,831 followers; it was his staff. 'The tweets were generated by staff and erroneously included on the @DarrellIssa feed,' said Issa spokesman Fred Hill."

FLORIDA LEGISLATURE MAKES RICK SCOTT LOOK LIBERAL - The new Florida legislature, which promised it was done with all that Tea Party stuff after the last election, lied. Rick Scott may be ready to accept Obamacare's Medicaid expansion, but the holdouts in the House today dealt it a setback today. [Reuters]

DAILY DELANEY DOWNER - To fight the specter of poor people spending taxpayer money on drugs, a Republican congressman has reintroduced legislation to make welfare applicants pee in cups to prove they're clean. Rep. Stephen Fincher's (R-Tenn.) bill would require states to randomly test 20 percent of people receiving benefits from the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program, which spends roughly $16 billion per year supporting poverty-stricken parents with monthly checks averaging $392. "Currently the federal government enables drug abusers a safety-net by allowing them to participate in the TANF program," Fincher said in a statement. "Instead of having to make the hard-choice between drugs and other essential needs, abusers are able to rely on their monthly check to help them pay their bills." [HuffPost]

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OBAMA NOMINATES OMB, ENERGY AND EPA CHIEFS - Three more opportunities for Benghazi answers. Times: "President Obama on Monday made three cabinet nominations -- for budget, energy and environmental policy -- hours before his first cabinet meeting of his second term. Mr. Obama introduced Sylvia Mathews Burwell, the president of the Walmart Foundation in Arkansas and a familiar figure in the Democratic administration from her service in the Clinton administration, to be the director of the White House Office of Management and Budget. Ernest J. Moniz, the director of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Energy Initiative, is the president's choice to take over for Steven Chu at the Energy Department. And Gina McCarthy, the assistant administrator in charge of air and radiation at the Environmental Protection Agency, is the pick to replace the departing administrator, Lisa P. Jackson. All three positions are subject to Senate confirmation. Ms. McCarthy most likely faces the greatest scrutiny given Republicans' opposition to Mr. Obama's environmental and climate policies." [NYT]

Environmentalists have concerns about Moniz. Lynne Peeples: "While some environmental groups cheered the pending nomination, others have expressed deep concern over Moniz due to his outspoken support of hydraulic fracturing for shale gas, better known as fracking. Some critics have gone as far as to call him a 'shill' for the shale gas industry. A 2011 MIT study led by Moniz hailed natural gas as the 'bridge to a low-carbon future.' The research, as The Huffington Post reported last week, received financial support from oil and gas companies." [HuffPost]

JEB BUSH FLIPS ON IMMIGRATION - The former Florida governor has effectively neutralized his most potent political advantage. That's kind of like Mario Cuomo no longer... um... uh... doing that appealing thing that Andrew Cuomo does. Elise Foley: "In a new book, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (R) makes a notable reversal on immigration reform, arguing that creating a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants would only encourage future unauthorized immigration. 'It is absolutely vital to the integrity of our immigration system that actions have consequences -- in this case, that those who violated the law can remain but cannot obtain the cherished fruits of citizenship,' Bush and lawyer Clint Bolick argue in a new book, Immigration Wars: Forging an American Solution. 'To do otherwise would signal once again that people who circumvent the system can still obtain the full benefits of American citizenship.' The book, which The Huffington Post obtained before its Tuesday release, lays out the two men's proposals for comprehensive immigration reform. Both are longtime proponents of reform, and Bush in particular has long beat the drum for the GOP to take a new tone on the matter. But the book's treatment of a pathway to citizenship stands in contrast to Bush's previous statements on immigration reform. And ironically, later in the book Bush argues that former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, the Republican presidential nominee in 2012, suffered immense political damage by moving to the right on the issue during the GOP primary." [HuffPost]

Bush isn't ruling out a presidential run, which is how most members of his family begin retirement. "That's way off into the future," he said during a hit on "Today." "I have a voice and I want to share my beliefs about how the conservative movement and the Republican Party can regain its footing, because we've lost our way... I won't [rule out a run], but I'm not going to declare today either." [HuffPost's Nick Wing]

SEQUESTRATION: UNCLE SAM TO GET OUT OF OUR EARTH MOTHER'S WAY - If your town's skyline seems extra smokestack-y over the next few months, you might want to consult this piece from Amanda Terkel: "Employees at the Environmental Protection Agency may be forced to take unpaid leave for up to 13 days this year, as the federal government absorbs the $85 billion in sequestration budget cuts that went into effect on Friday. Agency staff will begin to receive their furlough notices on Monday, according to a memo sent out to employees on Friday by Acting Administrator Bob Perciasepe. 'Earlier this week you learned the details of the furloughs -- up to 13 days (104 hours) until the end of the fiscal year on September 30, 2013 -- and our plan to review our budget status in June 2013 after the first phase of four furlough days (32 hours) to determine if there may be a way to reduce the number of furlough hours that would be required in the second phase,' Perciasepe wrote in the memo, provided to The Huffington Post by an EPA spokesperson." [HuffPost]

Those furloughs sounds bad, but remember the EPA recently hired 230,000 people to carry out environmental regulations, according to the ever trusty Daily Caller.

GINSBURG NOT RETIRING SOON - Though when Michael Bennet starts bombarding her office with the DSCC's internal polls with sad faces scribbled everywhere, she might decide to bolt before Summer 2014. Nick Wing: "The thought of retirement is on Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg's mind,she told The New Yorker's Jeffrey Toobin in an interview for an upcoming profile. But while she's clearly contemplating the timing of her departure, the 79-year-old cancer survivor says she won't be going anywhere just yet. 'There will come a point when I -- It's not this year. You can never tell when you're my age,' Ginsburg said. 'But, as long as I think I have the candlepower, I will do it. And I figure next year for certain. After that, who knows?' Ginsburg will turn 80 later this month, and despite battling through two bouts of cancer, has never missed a day on the bench in her nearly 20 years of service. She's maintained that she won't step aside as long as her health allows her to serve to the fullest ability." [HuffPost]

Yahoo! News created a program that lets you see if your smutty vanity plate is banned in Washington, D.C.: "According to the official list of banned D.C. plate combinations, it may take some extra creativity to get your idea accepted by the city's meticulous censors. The capital city's DMV has a 53-page list of 26,993 license plate no-no's that prohibit everything from praising the local baseball team to expressing disgust with the Internal Revenue Service. The list was made available through a Freedom of Information Request filed by the transparency website GovernmentAttic.org." [Yahoo News]

NATURALLY: WASHINGTONIANS EXPLOITING SEQUESTER TO HAVE SEX - "Like dollar stores thriving during the recession, the sequester could prove a boon for D.C.-area daters," HuffPost DC reports. "As one Craigslister put it, now's the time for 'furlough daytime fun in bed.' (That ad was entitled 'SEXquester?')." Here's one really upsetting example: "7 inches of fun awaits the lucky lady who answers this ad and includes in the subject line what the government should cut." Also, this subject: "Sequester tomorrow. World to end. Let's have sex!" [HuffPost]

BECAUSE YOU'VE READ THIS FAR - Because goats have supplanted corgis as the internet's favorite non-feline member of the animal kingdom, here is "Goats Yelling Like Humans, Part 2."

'PEAK BLOSSOM' DATES ANNOUNCED: - HuffPost DC: "Monday morning the National Park Service announced this year's 'peak blossom' prediction via Twitter -- and, great news, the dates coincide with the 2013 National Cherry Blossom Festival." [HuffPost]

COMFORT FOOD

- Dog has world's greatest pavlovian response to a chew toy. [http://huff.to/Y8MkhF]

- Six-year-old girl is history's greatest b-boy. [http://bit.ly/ZhW9fv]

- "What will you say when your child asks: why didn't you invest in Eastern Poland?" [http://bit.ly/15tpvLS]

- This "Star Wars" "Schoolhouse Rock" mashup is what happens when the zeitgeist has a stroke. [http://bit.ly/ZWJBuU]

- This robot throws bricks. This robot throws bricks. Again... this robot THROWS BRICKS. [http://bit.ly/YIx0IA]

- Punching a player in the groin does not necessarily lead to an ejection in the NBA. [http://bit.ly/YPtui0]

- From avoiding conscription to playing up similarities to science fiction: 150 years of U.S. military recruitment ads. [http://atfp.co/Z8SxLv]

TWITTERAMA

@anamariecox: How can we convince them that the WORLD has a gay ban...? RT @thinkprogress: Train won't perform for Boy Scouts unless it ends gay ban.

@AlecMacGillis: REI exec picked to run Interior. Wal-Mart exec picked to run OMB. Target and Dick's Sporting Goods feeling left out. #retailpolitics

@marincogan: nightmare scenario: I forget to properly end radio interview call & entire audience hears me repeatedly asking my cat if we can get married

ON TAP

TOMORROW

6:30 pm: Ted Cruz solicits contributions to his "Jobs Growth and Freedom Fund," which we guess is too good to add "Puppies" and/or "Children Being Surprised By Puppies." [Sixth Engine, 438 Massachusetts Avenue NW]

7:00 pm: DC is expected to get snow on Wednesday, but at Terry McAuliffe's Florida fundraiser featuring Bill Clinton, you best believe it's going to RAAAAAIIINNNN. [Lake Mary, FL]

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