POLITICS
05/09/2013 06:11 pm ET Updated Jul 09, 2013

HUFFPOST HILL - The Sequester Hates Your Mom

An entitled white guy from a rich and influential family arrived in Washington today and somehow this was news. Politico will test a paywall for readers in six states, while HuffPost Hill will start charging subscribers in the Northern Mariana Islands, select Arby's franchises and at least two Columbia Heights group houses (stop sharing one account, people). And the Missouri House passed a law that grants teachers certain arrest powers because JONATHAN IF I HAVE TO TELL YOU TO TAKE OFF THAT HAT ONE MORE TIME… This is HUFFPOST HILL for Thursday, May 9th, 2013:

SEQUESTRATION SCREWING WITH AMERICA'S ACTUARIAL TABLES - The U.S. Congress apologizes to those of you with a family history of any disease that might be cured in the next 20-30 years. Sam Stein: Across the country, budget cuts -- made worse by sequestration -- are squeezing dollars, and consequently trained personnel, from the science and medical research communities. Researchers, eager to make the next big breakthrough, are now seeing limited opportunities to pursue their goals. Those who've spent years in academia are finding out that their degrees aren't opening doors or checkbooks, and some are just dropping out altogether...One particularly jarring example of this brain drain... took place in the summer and fall of 2012. A young researcher in the Midwest with a Ph.D. in chemistry from a prominent state school had been left unemployed after the project on which she had worked didn't get a follow-up grant. Three months of attempting to find research or academic work produced no results. With no other options, she... began applying elsewhere. Within a week, she had secured a job as a secretary at an auto parts company." [HuffPost]

DONORS PRESS OBAMA ON KEYSTONE - A group of more than 100 very rich liberals has sent a letter to the White House promising to shut off their money spigot if Obama opens up the Keystone XL pipeline, we're told. We don't have the letter, but send it to us if you do.

Nancy Pelosi laid on the sequestration guilt THICK today: "This weekend is Mother's Day, and right around this time last year, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) was rounding up a group of lawmakers to spend the weekend in Afghanistan to thank military moms for their service. But the trip won't be happening this year, thanks to sequestration. 'Every year for the past few years, on Mother’s Day, I’ve taken a delegation to Afghanistan or Iraq ... to say "thank you" to our moms and, by the way, our grandmothers who are serving there,' Pelosi said Thursday during her weekly briefing. 'I won’t be going this particular weekend because we don't have, you know, under sequestration we don't have [congressional delegation trips].'" [HuffPost's Jen Bendery]

GAY MARRIAGE PASSES MINNESOTA HOUSE, ON TRACK TO BECOME LAW - AP: "A pivotal vote Thursday in the Minnesota House positioned that state to become the 12th in the country to allow gay marriages and the first in the Midwest to pass such a law out of its Legislature. The 75-59 vote was seen as the critical step for the measure, which would allow same-sex weddings beginning Aug. 1. It's a startling shift in the state, where just six months earlier voters surprisingly turned back an effort to ban them in the Minnesota Constitution. The state Senate is expected to consider the bill Monday, and leaders expect it to pass there. Gov. Mark Dayton has pledged to sign it into law...The Minnesota push for gay marriage grew out of last fall's successful campaign to defeat a constitutional amendment that would have banned it. Minnesota became the first state to turn back such an amendment after more than two dozen states had passed one over more than a decade." [AP]

Breaking on Chris Hayes' show tonight, news that universities are profiting twice from beleaguered students. Shahien Nasiripour and HPH will be on talking about how university endowments and teachers’ pension funds are among the biggest investors in Sallie Mae, the private lender that has been generating enormous profits thanks to soaring student debt and the climbing cost of education, a Huffington Post review of financial documents has revealed. Tune in at 8:00 pm. [MSNBC]

HEMP COULD ATTACH TO FARM BILL - Mitch McConnell and Rand Paul met today with Kentucky Ag Commissioner James Comer and state Sen. Paul Hornback (R-Shelbyville) -- yes, that's the Shelbyville that people think inspired the Simpsons -- on the issue of legalizing industrial hemp. Paul and the Kentucky folks pressed to include it in the upcoming farm bill. McConnell came out earlier this year in support of Hornback's hemp-legalization bill, which surprised the state by becoming law.

@maxfosterCNN: (Female) Senate staffers out in force to welcome Prince Harry https://t.co/ahE5Yxtgs3

DAILY DELANEY DOWNER - The Florida government insists that the controversial state Initial Skills Review required when applying for unemployment insurance is not a test. In 2011, Gov. Rick Scott (R) signed a law slashing the duration of jobless aid and making Florida the first state to require unemployment claimants to answer a series of basic math and reading questions. Answering a certain number of questions correctly isn't necessary to be eligible for benefits, but claimants have to get through it. Florida has declined to make the review public, but on Wednesday the Office of Economic Development let The Huffington Post try out a demonstration version of the assessment that included questions claimants have answered on the review in the past. Your trusty DDD has taken the test! Click here to see the results!

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DEMOCRATS TRY TO DEVISE LEGISLATIVE STRATEGY, FAIL - Next time the Democrats need to convene in a steam tent and have Sandy Levin transcend time and space to devise an effective legislative calendar. Sam Stein: "Over a two-and-a-half hour dinner at the Jefferson Hotel in downtown Washington Wednesday night, President Barack Obama and nine House Democrats tried to game out a way to pass a policy agenda through a Congress best known for passing nothing. Those who attended acknowledged that there are few, if any, good options. The dinner meeting -- the latest bit of congressional wooing by Obama -- helped illuminate the issues the party wants to focus on in the months and years ahead. But it didn't spark any outside-the-box plans to turn those issues into laws. 'There are obviously challenges there,' Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) conceded in an interview with The Huffington Post. "The president pointed out he is working hard to reach out to Republicans, trying to get bipartisan support for these measures." [HuffPost]

HOUSE PASSES SELECTIVE DEBT MEASURE - It's this type of thing that'll get America's Moody's rating downgraded from "AA+" to a drawing of a male phallus with an epithet scribbled next to it. Sabrina Siddiqui and Mike McAuliff: "The House passed a measure Thursday that would amount to the rough equivalent of declaring bankruptcy for the United States, directing the government to meet only certain obligations if Congress failed to raise the country's borrowing limit. Republicans characterized the measure as a responsible step to mitigate the fallout from such a failure, but Democrats slammed it as the "Pay China First Act." The legislation, which is actually called the Full Faith and Credit Act, lacks support in the Democratic-controlled Senate, and President Barack Obama has threatened to veto it. But it passed the House 221 to 207. If Congress does not raise the debt limit, the Full Faith and Credit Act would direct the White House to pay U.S. debts in a certain order -- to first pay people on Social Security and holders of U.S. bonds, which include many major U.S. pension funds and foreign governments, with China being the largest among them. Other obligations, from Medicare to military benefits, would go on the backburner. Also passed was an amendment to bar members of Congress from getting paid if the debt limit is not raised." [HuffPost]

SENATE REPUBLICANS BOYCOTT EPA NOMINEE - Barack Obama's War on The Day After Tomorrow will not stand. All true patriots need to stand against Gina McCarthy and her anti-business agenda of keeping the North East from freezing over and turning into the next Bering land bridge (the land bridge will improve trade with Europe and create jobs). Politico: "President Barack Obama's nominee to head the Environmental Protection Agency is in jeopardy after Republicans formed a united front Thursday to deny her a vote in committee. Democrats erupted in frustration at the GOP 'obstructionism' and vowed to find a way to push Gina McCarthy's nomination through the Environment and Public Works Committee, despite the last-minute Republican boycott of the vote. But even then, McCarthy could still face a filibuster on the Senate floor -- and won't have the 60 votes she needs, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) told his Democratic allies Thursday morning. He pleaded with the Senate to finally heed liberals' pleas to change the filibuster rules so that nominees can be confirmed through majority vote." [Politico]

With all this boycotting the GOP should pitch a bunch of tents in McPherson Square: "House and Senate Republican leaders told President Barack Obama Thursday that they will refuse to nominate candidates to serve on an advisory board that is to play a role in holding down Medicare costs under the new health care act. House Speaker John Boehner, who joined Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell in boycotting the Independent Payment Advisory Board, also said that the House next week will vote again to repeal the health care act...The 15-member advisory board, known as IPAB, would have the power to force payment cuts on insurers, drug companies and other service providers if Medicare costs rise beyond certain levels." [AP]

CONSERVATIVE ACTIVISTS REALLY NOT PLEASED WITH LINDSEY GRAHAM - Seriously, half of them probably expect the South Carolina senator to rappel into their homes in the dark of night, dressed in a black knit cap and matching turtleneck and steal their Goldline gold. Jon Ward: "National tea-party types are still calling for Graham's scalp as the senator gears up for a 2014 reelection campaign. 'He's begging for a primary,' Matt Kibbe, president of FreedomWorks, told ABC News & Yahoo's TopLine on Wednesday...Graham has drawn one Republican challenger so far, upstate businessmanRichard Cash, and there are two others said to be leaning toward a run as well: state Sen. Lee Bright (Spartanburg), and Charleston businesswoman Nancy Mace. But the consensus among South Carolina Republicans is that all are long shots...'Graham's people are good. They keep Hoover-level type files on people who might run,' the [South Carolina GOP] operative said. 'They know where you live, who you sleep with, where you drink. And they're not afraid to tell you that they know that.'" [HuffPost]

Instead of funding your friend's "sustainable grog" line on Kickstarter, why not throw this a few dollars? Matt Sledge: "Fed up with the military's limits on access to the court martial of Bradley Manning, the Army private who has admitted to sending hundreds of thousands of sensitive documents to the transparency organization WikiLeaks, a nonprofit group announced Thursday that it is crowdfunding a court stenographer to create daily trial transcripts. The Freedom of the Press Foundation hopes to hire one or possibly two stenographers to provide reporters and the public with transcripts within 12 to 24 hours of proceedings in the trial, which begins June 3." [HuffPost]

POLITICO LAUNCHES PAYWALL IN SELECT MARKETS - If you want to win the day in Iowa, North Dakota, Vermont, Mississippi, New Mexico or Wyoming, you'll have to fork over some cash. Michael Calderone: "Politico announced Thursday that the Beltway-based political news site is going to experiment with a metered subscription model in a half-dozen states and abroad to find out if readers will pay for the online publication. Politico already has a subscription service focused on more wonky policy issues, Politico Pro, but this will be the first time the publication has asked readers to pay for content splashed atop the Politico.com homepage and throughout the site. In a staff memo, Politico’s top brass -- editor-in-chief John Harris, executive editor Jim VandeHei and chief operating officer Kim Kingsley -- said they 'see this as an experiment in the truest sense' and that 'it’s something we do not have to do but want to do to get a better feel for readers’ willingness to pay for our journalism.'" [HuffPost]

MISSOURI'S STATE HOUSE IS GOING INSANE - The Show Me State's lower chamber has basically crowdsourced its floor schedule to Orly Taitz's subconscious. John Celock: "The Republican-controlled Missouri Legislature passed the nation's most extreme gun protection bill, along with bans on Islamic law and the United Nations sustainability agenda, during a late-night session Wednesday. Under the gun measure, lawmakers overwhelmingly voted to nullify all federal gun laws in the state, while allowing some teachers to carry guns in schools. The bill also says some teachers who do not carry guns can be fired, while providing them with limited arrest powers...Senate Majority Whip Brian Nieves (R-Washington) trumpeted the bills on Facebook late Wednesday night, describing the gun bill as the 'most hard core piece of Second Amendment legislation in the nation. Tonight (Wed) was an historic night for Missouri and her citizens,' Nieves wrote. 'Our private property rights, our court system, and the assertion of our 2nd amendment rights were all impacted positively by the final passage of three of my 2013 Bills!'" [HuffPost]

BECAUSE YOU'VE READ THIS FAR - Dog twerks.

COMFORT FOOD

- Dutch comedian does history's greatest Nic Cage impression. [http://bit.ly/12hb0sm]

- Unsure if your breath is nasty? Try breathing into this robot's face. [http://cnet.co/18u8LGG]

- Not very comforting but definitely illuminating: a supercut of violent scenes from Disney movies. [http://bit.ly/YFic4x]

- Slam poet performs tribute to Wile E Coyote. [http://bit.ly/10tXuzD]

- The NSA has some helpful advice on how to use Google to obtain sensitive information. Thanks, NSA! [http://bit.ly/10bD6GG]

- Step it up, commenters. A ranking of web commenters' literacy. [http://bit.ly/193j1Dv]

- Cat opens doors. First it's the doors, next it will be the nuclear launch codes. [http://huff.to/174JmEu]

TWITTERAMA

@BuzzFeedAndrew: Will the "Me Me Me Generation" pay for sponsored-content? #PoynterPitches

@toddzwillich: Prince Harry gets fawned on on Capitol Hill, which the Brits burned in 1814. Blocks away, a baseball game has just begun. Because America.

@joshgreenman: Area Man Evolves on Gay Marriage After Discovering Self to Be Gay

ON TAP

TONIGHT

6:30 pm: Do you like freedom? Do you want to keep it from going bankrupt? Then does Mike Crapo have the PAC for you! The Idaho senator raises money for his Freedom Fund PAC. [NRSC, 425 2nd Street NE]

6:00 pm - 8:00 pm: FamousDC Happy Hour at Top of the Hill [319 Pennsylvania Ave SE]

TOMORROW

6:00 pm: The Republican event of the season, Rand Paul headlines the Iowa Republican Party's Lincoln Dinner. Also on hand will be Steve King and Chuck Grassley. [Cedar Rapids, IA]

6:00 pm: Washington's best-named PAC, Dean Heller's Heller Highwater, solicits contributions at a fundraising dinner. [Capital Grille, 601 Pennsylvania Avenue NW]

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