GOP obstructionism reached a new level today when House Republicans effectively defeated a, um, Republican bill. Mark Sanford debated a cardboard cutout of Nancy Pelosi, because attacking a voiceless woman will definitely turn things around for him. And Harry Reid thinks Republicans "like the pain" of sequestration. The GOP has to take its masochistic pleasures where it can now that Voyeur West Hollywood is closed. This is HUFFPOST HILL for Wednesday, April 24th, 2013:
BOEHNER FORCED TO PULL HEALTH CARE BILL - Anyone interested in seeing the country's most powerful Republican consume four gallons of Shiraz via a beer funnel should gather in the Speaker's finished basement tonight at 9:00 p.m. Roll Call: "House Republicans pulled a controversial health care bill from the floor Wednesday, after a strenuous attempt by leaders to secure enough votes for its passage failed. It's the latest instance of Speaker John A. Boehner's difficulties in controlling his unruly conference. The legislation would have diverted funding from one part of 'Obamacare' to another part that was facing implementation difficulties. Conservative outside groups which opposed it said the legislation would reduce the urgency to repeal the entire health care law...House Democrats made clear they would largely oppose the bill, which meant it would have needed almost all Republican votes to secure a 218-vote majority, something that has proven difficult for Boehner given the GOP's slim majority margin. The episode is also a victory for Heritage Action for America, the Club for Growth and other conservative groups that mobilized against the bill." [Roll Call]
Today in historical revisionism: "An odd argument that President George W. Bush kept America safe from terrorism 'except for 9/11' made its way to the House floor Wednesday, coming from Rep. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.)." [HuffPost]
RHODE ISLAND ON TRACK TO LEGALIZE SAME-SEX MARRIAGE - BuzzFeed: "The Rhode Island Senate approved a marriage equality bill 26-12 on Wednesday afternoon, after a spirited if lop-sided debate. The bill was approved by the House in January, but slight changes in the Senate bill will need to be approved by the House before being sent to Gov. Lincoln Chafee, who supports the bill. Sen. Donna Nesselbush, the chamber's sole out member, introduced the debate on the bill, saying it would impact her more personally than any other bill and adding, with a laugh, 'I even wore a dress.'.. One of the few lawmakers to speak against the bill, Sen. Harold Metts, quoted from the Bible and dismissed comparisons between the civil rights movement of the 1960s and today, saying, I can change my sexual preference tonight if I want, but I can't change my color.' Later, he added, 'You can laugh or ignore me if you want, but let me assure you, I did not write the Bible.'" [BuzzFeed]
FOLEY FROWNER - Gary Wanderlingh, an American, and Samuel Conlon, who is British, were introduced online through friends five years ago. They felt a connection immediately, but they delayed meeting, they said, because they were nervous that if they met and fell in love, American laws wouldn't allow them to be together. They were right. When they met, they said it was love at first sight. ... Now Conlon is living in the U.S. without authorization, despite being legally married here, and they could be separated at any time. ... Although the issue has support from most Democrats, LGBT rights were excluded from the bipartisan 'gang of eight' bill.
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ONE SENATOR SHOWS UP TO START HEARING ON LONG TERM UNEMPLOYMENT - If someone terk yer jerb, and nobody was around see yer jerb be terked, did it really get terked? HuffPost: "More than five years since the start of the Great Recession, unemployment remains a major economic problem in the United States, with long-term unemployment among its most stubborn aspects. Nobody told Congress. A hearing Thursday on long-term unemployment held before the 19-member Joint Economic Committee began with just a single lawmaker in attendance. Panelists testifying on the problem and its potential solutions spoke only to Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), the committee's vice-chair, for the first half-hour of the roughly 90-minute session...The all-but-complete absence of congressional interest was first documented by National Journal reporter Niraj Chokshi, who tweeted a photo of the hearing. Shortly after the photo was posted, several other lawmakers did trickle in to participate. Sen. Christopher Murphy (D-Conn.) arrived eight minutes into the hearing. Once the hearing had been under way for 35 minutes, Rep. John Delaney (D-Md.) was also in attendance, according to Chokshi. Eventually Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) also joined, bringing the crowd to four." [HuffPost]
Harry Reid thinks Republicans "like the pain" of sequestration. That might explain why Orrin Hatch has been spending all his time in the backlogged security line at DCA, grinning ear-to-ear. Mike McAuliff: "Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) leveled a surprising charge at Republicans Wednesday: "They like the pain" of sequestration. Reid was responding to his counterpart, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), who had just accused him of proposing a gimmick to ease the $85 billion in across-the-board spending cuts mandated by Congress' budget sequester this year." [HuffPost]
WHITE HOUSE SKIPS DRONE HEARING, DOES TERRIBLE JOB OF EXPLAINING WHY - This would've been a great opportunity for Jay Carney to say "Montana" and walk away. Sabrina Siddiqui: "White House press secretary Jay Carney on Wednesday defended the Obama administration's decision to skip the first Senate hearing on drones and engaged in a testy exchange with a reporter on transparency. The administration declined an opportunity to provide a witness to testify at a hearing held Tuesday before a Senate subcommittee on the use of unmanned drones for targeted killings. Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.)...criticized the White House for failing to participate and called for greater transparency...When asked to explain the absence of administration officials at the hearing, Carney read from a prepared statement, noting the administration is in 'regular contact' with the committee... [Sirius XM correspondent Jared] Rizzi countered Carney's response by pointing to Durbin's statement of disappointment and suggesting that clearly the administration's transparency on the issue of drones wasn't enough." [HuffPost]
WORKERS KILLED IN BANGLADESH BUILDING COLLAPSE - Emran Hossain and Dave Jamieson: "The number of dead continues to rise in Bangladesh as rescuers sort through the debris of an eight-story building that collapsed Wednesday morning, claiming at least 123 lives so far in just the latest workplace disaster to hit the country. The victims appear to be mostly poor garment workers employed in the building known as Rana Plaza. According to reports out of Bangladesh, the facility had developed cracks in its facade on Tuesday, drawing a visit from local government officials....On Wednesday, HuffPost reached Kabir Hossain Sarder, a local government official who had visited the building on Tuesday. Sarder said officials didn't see an imminent danger given that garment workers had already evacuated the building by then. Pressed on what precautions local officials took to make sure no one re-entered the building Wednesday, Sarder hung up." [HuffPost]
Slate's Matt Yglesias, friend of the little guy: "Bangladesh may or may not need tougher workplace safety rules, but it's entirely appropriate for Bangladesh to have different -- and, indeed, lower -- workplace safety standards than the United States... The current system of letting different countries have different rules is working fine." He wrote this after today's fire, btw. [Slate]
Emran Hossain, a Bangladeshi journalist here on a Daniel Pearl Fellowship, managed today to get the government inspector who was at the factory yesterday on the phone.. We asked Emran what he thought of Yglesias' argument that different and lower safety standards are "entirely appropriate" for people in his home country. Hossain: "American businessmen have chosen Bangladesh to produce clothes only because of cheap labor. They are not doing any charity, rather exploiting the poorest of the poor country. This comment calls into question the integrity of the law-abiding American citizen. Rules should be universal in saving lives of human beings. Like all Americans, Bangladeshi people take the same amount of oxygen to live. The question here is saving the lives of people. American businessmen do not care about any rules or workplace safety in Bangladesh, they are out there just to double their money. American businessmen are making their customer pay prices at American standards after producing the goods at Bangladeshi cost. They are paying less and threatening every now and then to shift from Bangladesh if workers continue to demand legitimate wages. What the commenter does not seem to understand is that the garment business has made richer not Bangladesh, but a class of businessmen who are taught by Americans not to care either about rules or the lives of human beings."
Speaking of horrible, gut-wrenching workplace disasters and appalling regulatory failures, it's been more than three years since 29 coal miners died at Upper Big Branch in West Virginia, in what's been deemed a wholly preventable tragedy of corporate negligence and poor oversight. And here's an unsettling fact for our grieving fellow citizens in West, Texas: Congress still hasn't passed a mine safety reform bill to address the problems revealed at Upper Big Branch. But today Democratic Sens. Jay Rockefeller, Tom Harkin and Joe Manchin reintroduced the Robert C. Byrd Mine and Workplace Safety and Health Act. Just as in 2010. And 2011. And 2012. "We cannot wait for another tragedy before we act," Rockefeller said. Congress, the clock's ticking.
JEB BUSH FEELS YOUR DOLOR: HIS MAID WAS DEPORTED - File this one alongside "Upper East Side Teen Introduced To Jerk Chicken By Caribbean Nanny" and "Bethesda Residents Protest Bookstore Closing, Spirit Of Dr. King Alive And Well." WaPo, breaking out all the tiny violins: "She was almost like a member of the family. An employee, but almost one of them. For three years, Maria Magdalena Romero had tended to the suburban Miami home of Jeb and Columba Bush, had helped to raise their three children, had twined into the fabric of their lives. Then, with lurching swiftness, she was yanked away. On a mild winter morning in 1991, two immigration agents appeared at the door of the family home looking for the woman Bush's youngest son and namesake, then just 10 years old, remembers as 'a super nice lady.' They carried deportation orders. It didn't matter that Bush's father was president of the United States at the time or that a Secret Service agent had answered the door. Romero, who was in the country illegally but had a work permit, wasn't getting a reprieve. 'It was a difficult time for all of us, but most of all for Maria,' Jeb Bush said in an e-mail about that day." [WaPo]
Meanwhile, the Obama administration is disrupting the lives of more than just members of privileged political dynasties: "In 2012, which broke the previous year's record with 409,849 deportations, that amounted to an average of 1,123 people each day. While the current administration hasn't yet surpassed Bush's deportation totals for two terms, it's well on track to do so, with 2 million projected to be deported by 2014. Most of those deported are Latinos, who also make up the majority of the some 11 million unauthorized immigrants in the U.S." [HuffPost's Elise Foley]
KELLY AYOTTE'S APPROVAL PLUMMETING AFTER BACKGROUND CHECK VOTE - We mentioned before that a strong majority of Granite State residents support expanded background checks for gun purchasers, so Ayotte's "nay" vote was tantamount to supporting the "Let's All Wear Seatbelts As We Drive To File Our State Income Tax Act After Which Point We'll Watch The Jets Game Act." With Ariel Edwards-Levy: " A new poll has New Hampshire Sen. Kelly Ayotte down a total of 15 points from her previous approval rating in a survey that followed her vote against requiring background checks for firearms purchases." A full three-quarters of New Hampshire voters support such background checks, along with 56 percent of Republicans, according to Public Policy Polling. A WMUR Granite State Poll taken in January and February found that more than 9 in 10 state residents supported implementing background checks at gun shows." [HuffPost]
The New Hampshire House voted to posthumously emancipate 14 slaves. Two lawmakers voted 'no' before switching their votes. John Celock: "The Democrat-controlled House passed legislation that would grant freedom to 14 slaves who originally asked the state Legislature for their freedom in 1779. The vote Wednesday was 334-2, with Reps. Mike Sylvia (R-Belmont) and Patricia Higgins (D-Hanover) opposing the bill. The House then voted a second time, and Sylvia and Higgins joined their colleagues to support the bill. The Republican-controlled Senate voted unanimously last month to pass the bill; Gov. Maggie Hassan (D) indicated that she will sign it." [HuffPost]
Here is Joe Biden talking to Jessica Biel because... because.
HOW THE MIGHTY HAVE FALLEN, ELLIS THE ELEPHANT EDITION - Between this and the underage sex allegations levied against Elmo puppeteer Kevin Clash, we can't trust anything anymore. Yahoo News: "As it turns out, there may be junk in that trunk. A Republican presidential campaign worker who was charged this week with cyberstalking young women often bragged about about dressing up as 'Ellis the Elephant,' a character in Callista Gingrich's children's books who would appear during book signings with her husband, former Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich. The FBI on Tuesday accused Adam Savader, a former George Washington University student who worked for Gingrich's presidential campaign and interned for Republican vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan, of sending 15 young women anonymous text messages saying he had nude pictures of them and that he would forward them to their family and friends if they did not send him more pictures." [Yahoo News]
Speaking of electronically transferred photographs that derailed political careers... Politico: "Anthony Weiner admitted in an interview Wednesday that there might be other embarrassing photos of him out there that have yet to surface. In the one-on-one with RNN-TV, Weiner didn't deny that there was a possibility there could be other photos like the one that led the former congressman -- who is now attempting a comeback -- to be disgraced, and ultimately forced to resign in 2011. 'If reporters want to go try to find more, I can't say that they're not going to be able to find another picture, or find another...' Weiner told RNN-TV's Dominic Carter." [Politico]
Weiner on why he re-joined Twitter: "I'm not going to let that tool go unused."
BECAUSE YOU'VE READ THIS FAR - Cat riding a roomba and a dog dressed like a shark chase a duckling. Checkmate.
GO HOME, MARK SANFORD - Luke Johnson: "Congressional candidate and former South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford (R) held a mock debate with a cardboard cutout of House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) Wednesday morning, on a sidewalk outside Medical University of South Carolina. Sanford said the Pelosi cutout was a stand-in for his opponent, Elizabeth Colbert Busch, because she is avoiding public appearances... The two will meet Monday for a debate at The Citadel ahead of the May 7 special election for the U.S. House seat. Colbert Busch declined to debate at Medical University, citing a 'tight schedule,' and her campaign slammed Sanford's 'debate.'" [HuffPost]
- We're not Trekkies, but were nonetheless tickled by this woman singing Sixpence None The Richer's "Kiss Me" in Klingon. [http://bit.ly/15HaEjY]
- Fifty-six acronyms and initialisms (an acronym that doesn't spell anything) explained. [http://bit.ly/14Pm05O]
- The new $100 bill is like the old $100 bill... except on acid. [http://usat.ly/11PJPTy]
- Go home, zeitgeist, you're drunk: "Game of Thrones" reedited with a "Friends" opening. [http://bit.ly/17gZGPZ]
- Further cementing his status as the greatest, Paul Rudd starred in a 1991 commercial for Super Nintendo. [http://huff.to/11BPf7t]
- Fourth grader penned an essay endorsing same-sex marriage. [http://bit.ly/11PLjNM]
- How special are your physical abilities and/or traits? Probably not that special. [http://bit.ly/Zjmjlb]
@daveweigel: Which celebrity are YOU most excited to meet at the WHCD? I'm deciding bt Bank of America CEO Brian Moynihan & Chevron VP Maria Pica Karp
@SimonMaloy: "God Love Ya, Loser" RT @AdamSerwer: Reality show starring Joe Biden and Uncle Ruslan
@ezraklein: Wall Street RT @wohlfarthm: Really? Where is the evidence for that? MT @ezraklein: Raw intelligence is overrated.
6:30 pm: Pat Toomey, fresh off the
resounding victory crushing defeat of the background check bill, numbs the pain with a boatload of new campaign cash. [Acqua Al 2, 212 7th Street Southeast]
6:30 pm: Amy Klobuchar heads over to fancy shmancy Kalorama for a fancy shmancy fundraiser (that's the insider industry term, FYI). Hey, remember those whispers about a possible presidential bid? Heh. [2233 Bancroft Place NW]
6:30 pm: Marco Rubio is the man of the hour at a "Young Professionals Reception" There will be young people. They will be professional. There also might be food. [Oracle Townhouse, 27 D Street SE]
8:30 am: Saxby Chambliss does a turn for the NRSC with a coffee fundraiser. Is it just us, or does the mental image of Saxby Chambliss using a French press make you laugh, also? [NRSC, 425 2nd Street NE]
1:00 pm: Jim Inhofe raises funds for his reelection by attending an "energy lunch" at Johnny's Half Shell. Funny how fossil fuels so often drive up the price of shellfish. [Johnny's Half Shell, 400 North Capitol Street NW]
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