Today marks seven years of Twitter, the service that revolutionized Washington by letting politicians talk about themselves. A report indicates that the Capitol is filled with racist white men who refuse to budge (the statues, we mean). And Rep. Steve Stockman's head-scratching assertion that "the best thing about the Earth is if you poke holes in it oil and gas come out" probably means his days of freelancing for the American Petroleum Institute's marketing department are over. This is HUFFPOST HILL for Thursday, March 21st, 2013:
SENATE GOES THROUGH NEW WAR WITHDRAWAL, LOOKING FOR FIX IN SYRIA - Which is a shame, because the upper chamber just received its red bracelet for going two years since falling off the wagon in the Libya bombing campaign. The Senate needs to call its sponsor. Mike McAuliff: "The top two senators on the Armed Services Committee are urging President Barack Obama to get tougher on Syria, including considering 'limited military options,' such as air strikes, working with Turkish forces and boosting aid to Syrian opposition groups. Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Carl Levin (D-Mich.) wrote to the president Thursday to say they are especially alarmed about reports that chemical weapons have been used in Syria against civilians. The United Nations announced Thursday that it will be conducting an investigation into one such incident, as requested by the Syrian government. The regime of President Bashar Assad is accusing opposition forces of using the weapons, while the opposition claims the government is responsible. The opposition has also called for an investigation into several reported attacks." [HuffPost]
Louie Gohmert totally ripped off Boehner's birthday song in serenading Tony Perkins today. We upload for you.
BOEHNER SETS DEBT CEILING BARGAINING POSITION - Here we go again, again. Sabrina Siddiqui and Mike McAuliff: "House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) laid down a tough requirement for raising the debt ceiling Thursday, all but ensuring a reprise of the tense standoff two years ago that saw America's credit rating downgraded. Speaking at his regular news conference, Boehner said the only way the House would go along with raising the country's borrowing cap was if President Barack Obama and the Democrats came up with an equal amount in budget cuts. 'Dollar for dollar is the plan,' Boehner told reporters, adding that there have been no major talks on the debt limit at this point." [HuffPost]
A Senate Democrat might introduce the Ryan budget tomorrow because politics is just like that sometimes. We don't have long memories, but didn't a Republican introduce Obama's budget so everybody could vote against it? WSJ: "Hours after House Republicans passed the budget blueprint championed by Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R., Wis.) for the 2014 fiscal year, Senate Democrats said they would make sure the GOP budget comes to a vote in their chamber as an amendment to their own plan, the Senate’s first budget since 2009. “We welcome the contrast with the Ryan budget,” Sen. Charles Schumer (D., N.Y.) said at a press conference. If Senate Republicans don’t introduce the House GOP plan, a Democrat will, said Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D., Mich.) Democrats want to make sure that Senate Republicans are forced to put their support or opposition for Mr. Ryan’s budget on the record." [WSJ]
Vote-a-rama is expected to begin no later than 7:00 pm tomorrow. No word on who is bringing the bucket.
@samsteinhp: Read Here: Reid will put background checks in the gun bill huff.to/11lR4V9
DAILY DELANEY DOWNER - With Amanda Terkel: "Terry Smith of West Richland, Wash., learned this week that he'll be losing his job in a few days thanks to federal budget cuts. 'It stinks,' Smith, 56, said in an interview. 'I think people in Washington, D.C., don't have a clue. It just kinda stinks.' Smith said he's worked since 2009 as a radiation control technician at Hanford Nuclear Reservation in Washington state, where the government has been trying to clean up nuclear waste since the end of the Cold War. It is the nation's most contaminated nuclear site. And now federal budget cuts known as sequestration may interfere with the cleanup efforts being carried out by the 9,000 men and women who work there. Some Republicans have accused President Barack Obama of exaggerating the impact of recent budget cuts for political reasons, but the impact is real for the 244 Hanford workers who received pink slips on Monday. Another 2,000-plus received furlough notices, meaning they'll have to spend weeks on unpaid leave." [HuffPost]
It's not like the place is leaking thousands of gallons of radioactive sludge into the ground or anything.... Ooops.
DOUBLE DOWNER - Another Republican politician has another proposal to drug test the unemployed. Rep. Steve Pearce (R-N.M.) said he "constantly" hears from constituents that people with jobs have to pass drug tests, so people on government assistance should have to pee in cups, too. "For too long, our government has been avoiding the issue of accountability for the federal unemployment compensation program," Pearce said in a press release on Wednesday... Pearce is incorrect to say that the government has avoided the issue. Last year, lawmakers compromised on a deal to reauthorize federal jobless aid and a payroll tax cut, and the legislation also gave states permission to drug test some unemployment claimants. At the time, Pearce praised that aspect of the legislation... [HuffPost]
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SEQUESTRATION GUTTING HEAD START - That said, the cradle-to-prison pipeline has never been more efficient. Good government types rejoice! Sam Stein: "Citing budget cuts caused by sequestration, a Head Start program near Fayetteville, Ark., has decided to take the dramatic step of closing its classrooms for the summer 13 days earlier than planned. The closure will help the Washington County Head Start program cut a required $150,000 from its operating budget by the end of September. But the ripple effects of taking 30,000 hours of educational and family development services and 10,000 meals from 381 families who rely on the program will result in a major economic blow for the neediest in the area, officials warn...All told, the White House has projected that 70,000 fewer children nationwide will be served by the program due to sequestration. 'The reality is that the cuts are affecting Head Start programs across the country,' said Sally Aman, a spokesperson for the National Head Start Association. 'That's the reality. And individual programs are managing it as effectively and efficiently as they possibly can. But in many cases that means reducing opportunities for these families.'" [HuffPost]
Update: "Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Texas) sort of apologized to Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) on Wednesday for calling him 'numbnuts' last July, but mainly because he used the word 'numb.'" [HuffPost's Jen Bendery]
CONGRESS TELLS MILITARY TO CUT BUDGET BUT, YOU KNOW, BETTER - After experiencing a brief fugue state for our troops, Congress is back to supporting our troops. Amanda Terkel: "Congress voted to protect the military's popular Tuition Assistance program on Thursday, directing the Defense Department to find money to fund it. After sequestration's steep budget cuts hit the federal government, the Army, Air Force, Coast Guard and Marine Corps all announced that they would be suspending TA, which provides up to $4,500 per year for service members to continue their education. The move sparked an uproar from members of the military, veterans and lawmakers. On Thursday, the House approved a continuing resolution to keep the government running. It included an amendment -- first introduced by Sens. James Inhofe (R-Okla.) and Kay Hagan (D-N.C.) -- barring the armed services from cutting all funding for the TA program. It instructs the Pentagon to find money elsewhere in its budget for the education assistance. The measure was also approved by the Senate on Wednesday." [HuffPost]
SAXBY CHAMBLISS: NOT A GAY - Despite having the name of the most famous gay character Dickens never wrote, Georgia's senior senator wants you to know that he likes him some ladies. Politico: "Support for gay marriage is picking up steam all over the country -- except on Capitol Hill. Take Sen. Saxby Chambliss. When asked if his views had changed on gay marriage, the Georgia Republican quipped: 'I’m not gay. So I’m not going to marry one.' In interviews this week with POLITICO, most Republican lawmakers and some conservative Democrats still voiced opposition to gay marriage, despite the dramatic swing in public opinion supporting it. While they have certainly muted their rhetoric since 2004 -- when Republicans campaigned on the promise to outlaw gay marriage -- lawmakers who remain opposed to the issue could jeopardize any legislative response if the Supreme Court rules against same-sex marriage in a pair of high-profile cases. The cases will be argued next week." [Politico]
Other Senate Republicans who also said "I'm not gay": Larry Craig.
Jeff Sessions admits that Americans are dying too soon, but goddamn if our hospitals' don't carry the most fashionable diabetic shoes: "[T]the senator took issue with the suggestion that the medical system should share the blame for the fact that Americans are not exactly the healthiest people in the world. 'That is one of the most horrible things I've ever heard, really, around here,' Sessions said. 'So we've got people that die sooner than some other countries. Well, we have a lot of things. We have more obesity, more smoking, less people taking care of themselves sometimes,' he continued, going on to cite high murder rates, car crash deaths and generally unhealthy lifestyles. 'That doesn't mean our health care is not the best in the world. All of us have seen that,' he said." [HuffPost]
CONGRESS TO MARK UP AND TOKE UP - Madame President I ask that the quorum be dispensed with and that the gentleman from Virginia's hair stop feeling so damn soft.. National Journal: "Earlier this week, Reps. Jared Polis and Earl Blumenauer visited a marijuana dispensary. They were just blocks away from their congressional offices... Until the Metropolitan Wellness Center opens--supposedly within the next couple months--the congressmen will have to use their imaginations...the use or cultivation of marijuana remains a federal crime under the Controlled Substance Act...This is where Polis and Blumenauer come in. The duo has dropped a series of bills to end the federal prohibition on the drug, impose federal tax on sale of legal pot, and protect the rights of patients using medical marijuana. At this point, especially in a Republican-run House of Representatives, these bills have an upward climb toward becoming law. But the way things have been shifting, that could change rapidly. In this sense, the congressmen and the dispensary can help each other out. District pot sellers need the protection of a federal law, and the congressmen could use a place to show to their skeptical colleagues what it really looks like and it’s impact on a community." [National Journal]
Texas Rep. Steve Stockman sounds like he would make a fantastic Republican stoner. The Lone State lawmaker tweeted today that, "The best thing about the Earth is if you poke holes in it oil and gas come out." Setting aside his blatant disregard for America's growing sinkhole epidemic, we're not sure if this is an entirely accurate statement. Never change, Congressman Steve Stockman! [Twitter]
CAPITOL FILLED WITH RACISTS - We don't just mean staffers who make excessively snide comments about any Green Line stop north of U Street and south of Navy Yard. Mother Jones: "When a statue of civil rights icon Rosa Parks was unveiled in the Capitol's Statuary Hall in late February, it joined an exclusive club. The collection includes generals and statesmen, inventors and priests -- as well as some of the most notorious leaders of a five-year armed insurrection that left 600,000 people dead in the name of protecting white Americans' rights to own black Americans as slaves. What all the people portrayed in Statuary Hall have in common, with few exceptions, are two things: They are white, and they are men... The biographies of the collection's most notorious members make no mention of their hard-earned legacies perpetuating and reinforcing a culture of white supremacy... Alexander Stephens, the vice president of the Confederacy and one of two Georgians in the collection... Representing the South Carolina delegation is... Wade Hampton, a Confederate cavalry commander best known for expediting the end of Reconstruction in his state through a paramilitary organization known as the Red Shirts, who massacred black voters." [MoJo]
Everything is bigger in Texas, except reproductive rights coverage. Laura Bassett: "Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) vowed in December to make abortion in Texas "a thing of the past," and Republican state legislators obliged him on Tuesday by advancing a bill that opponents say could close 37 out of the state's 42 existing abortion clinics. Senate Bill 537, part of a growing national trend of so-called 'TRAP' (Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers) bills, would require all abortion clinics in Texas to meet the same physical requirements as ambulatory surgical centers, even if they do not perform surgical abortions. Clinics would have to have surgical operating rooms of at least 240 square feet, specific flooring for janitors' closets, and new ventilation systems that can sterilize operating rooms and regulate the humidity of administrative offices -- all requirements that would be hard to fulfill." [HuffPost]
BECAUSE YOU'VE READ THIS FAR - Monkey is very attached to its owner.
- A sanctuary for baby sloths is characterized by lots of baby sloths. [http://bit.ly/148N0M0]
- A 1969 promotional video for a cotton industry group set in Greenwich Village [http://bit.ly/Y7o06G]
- Tina Fey's "Inside the Actor's Studio" interview featured the return of her Sarah Palin impression. [http://huff.to/10kxiKA]
- Feel like regressing a little bit? Here's how to make a ball pit in your living room. [http://bit.ly/Zevazo]
- You don't need product to get lift when you're getting a haircut in space. [http://bit.ly/14cOJQJ]
- Grumpy cat is so yesterday. Grumpy toad is the new hotness.[http://huff.to/16K3WrS]
- Thirty-five facts about Fred Rogers, who would have turned 85 yesterday. [http://bit.ly/ZMd4as]
@daveweigel: Has anyone seen @JRubinBlogger? RT @Sarah_Boxer: Per pool, the Obama heckler seems to have been shouting about Jonathan Pollard
@indecision: Paul Ryan's budget plan is like a little kid running away from home. Might get past the House but not much further.
5:00 pm: In what is easily the most fit pairing of individuals in American political history, Paul Ryan appears at a fundraiser for Aaron Schock's reelection campaign. [Washington, IL]
6:00 pm: If you follow the North Star you'll always be able to find your way back to... Amy Klobuchar's fundraiser. The Minnesota senator raises cash for her Follow the North Star Fund. [B Smith's, 50 Massachusetts Ave NE]
6:30 pm Lookie here: Cory Booker for Senate gets an injection of green at a Newark fundraiser. [Newark, NJ]
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