President Obama isn't commenting on the NSA leaks, probably because he's busy adding Edward Snowden to the kill list. Darrell Issa still won't release the full IRS interview transcripts even though Harry Reid says they haven't paid taxes in 10 years. And Virginia Democrats will likely nominate Terry McAuliffe as their gubernatorial nominee -- that is if the wildly popular Creigh Deeds write-in movement fails. This is HUFFPOST HILL for Tuesday, June 11th, 2013:
IMMIGRATION BILL ADVANCES DESPITE ROADBLOCK - The bill will now proceed to the amendment process, where Ted Cruz will be able to make sure all of our border-patrolling drones speak English. Elise Foley: "The Senate immigration reform bill passed its first procedural hurdle on the floor Tuesday in a 82-15 vote, with only Republicans voting to block the bill from moving forward. All Democrats voted for the bill to proceed. Republican Sens. Chuck Grassley (Iowa), John Boozman (Ark.), Ted Cruz (Texas), Jim Inhofe (Okla.), Mark Kirk (Ill.), Mike Lee (Utah), James Risch (Idaho), Tim Scott (S.C.), Jeff Sessions (Ala.), Richard Shelby (Ala.), David Vitter (La.), Mike Enzi (Wyo.), John Barrasso (Wyo.), Mike Crapo (Idaho), and Pat Roberts (Kan.) voted to stall the bill. The three senators who did not vote were Sens. Lisa Murkowski (R-Maine), Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) and John McCain (R-Ariz.), who is a member of the "gang of eight" that drafted the legislation. The vote decided whether to proceed to an amend-and-debate period during which lawmakers can continue to mold the final legislative product. The bill still must get another 60 votes to end that period, a decision expected to be made later Tuesday. If the measure makes it through that hurdle, it would then have an up or down vote for final passage. But just because the bill passed the first vote easily doesn't mean its fate is certain." [HuffPost]
ISSA STILL WON'T RELEASE TRANSCRIPTS - Despite near-daily nagging from Sam Stein the House Oversight Committee hasn't released the full IRS interview transcripts like Darrell Issa promised two Sundays ago. Now ranking member Elijah Cummings is making fun of him after Issa deemed Cummings "reckless" to demand the transcripts. "Chairman Issa changes his mind so fast that even when I agree him, we're not on the same page," Cummings said in a Tuesday statement. "I fully support responsible oversight, but cherry picking transcript excerpts to fuel partisan and unsubstantiated claims is not a credible or effective way to investigate."
GOP POLLSTER TO EXAMINE RACISTNESS OF 'REDSKINS' - Sadly, no word on whether Frank Luntz will query focus group participants on whether the Redskins should change their name to the "Washington Department of Football." Travis Waldron: "Luntz Global, which has worked on behalf of the NFL and other sports leagues during labor disputes in recent years, is conducting a football focus group in Alexandria, Virginia, on June 13, where it will pay participants $100 to share their opinions about the current state of America's most popular professional sports league and the Washington Redskins, the NFL franchise embroiled in controversy and a federal trademark lawsuit involving its name." Because the name is racist. [ThinkProgress]
They used to call Redskins defensive end Dexter Manley the "Secretary of Defense."
Rarely is the question asked: Is our electorates learning? "For the first time since April 2005, Americans view former President George W. Bush more favorably than unfavorably, a new Gallup poll has found. According to the survey released Tuesday, 49 percent of Americans now view Bush as favorable, with 46 percent viewing him unfavorably. This, Gallup says, is the first time in more than five years that the president has held a more positive opinion." [Politico]
ALL THE TINFOIL ON EARTH CAN'T MAKE PARANOID SELF-LOATHING GOP LOBBYIST FEEL SAFE THIS WEEK - Our own Paranoid Self-Loathing GOP Lobbyist, who is so perturbed by the revelations of the last week that he is planning on constructing a panic room in his panic room (really, it's a panic kennel), hopes there are political consequences. "I hope the Professional Left primaries Democratic incumbents who support the Cheney-Obama Surveillance Doctrine," PSLGOPL writes. "Maybe I can run into Justin Ruben on the Acela again to discuss." Thanks PSLGOPL!
SOME HOUSE REPUBLICANS WANT FOOD STAMPS OUT OF FARM BILL - Twenty-five conservative House Republicans signed a letter to leadership asking for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program to be removed from the farm bill, since they think the logrolling that links farm subsidies and food stamps makes the federal government spend too much money feeding the hungry. "We believe the current, unwieldy format of the Farm Bill will hinder meaningful reforms to all portions of the legislation, harming American farmers in the process," says the letter from the likes of Paul Broun, Bill Posey, Michele Bachmann and Steve Stockman. No word on whether Speaker Boehner would be amenable to such a dramatic change. Meanwhile, Sandy Levin and some other Dems are doing food stamp diets to point out that cutting SNAP would harm America's poor.
DAILY DELANEY DOWNER - North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory explained the upside of canceling federal unemployment benefits for 70,000 of his constituents. "The changes in unemployment will end up helping businesses....Right now they owe the federal government, and that's money they can't spend on new employees." Also, making poor and jobless people more desperate will allow the state's employers to offer lower wages. A win-win. [The-Dispatch.com]
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GUANTANAMO PROSECUTIONS BEING SCALED BACK - Ryan Reilly with news on America's little slice of barbed wired paradise: "The Obama administration probably will bring military commissions charges against about half of the 36 detainees it originally said could be charged, the military's chief prosecutor for the Guantanamo military tribunals said this week. In 2010, the Obama administration's Guantanamo Review Task Force found that 36 detainees were eligible for prosecution. One of the 36 has since been charged and convicted in federal court, but the other 35 were supposed to be charged in military commissions or in federal court. In a military commission, the 'jury' is made up of members of the United States military and the rules of evidence are generally considered more lax. Federal court trials are better established and involve a conventional jury." [HuffPost]
OBAMA URGES IMMIGRATION VOTE BY END OF SUMMER - Roll Call: "With the Senate voting Tuesday afternoon to begin consideration of its immigration overhaul measure, President Barack Obama pushed Congress to send him a bill to sign into law by the end of the summer and not miss an opportunity to deal with a problem that has festered for decades. 'There is no reason Congress can't get this done by the end of the summer,' Obama said during an appearance in the East Room of the White House with advocates for an overhaul that would legalize 11 million immigrants. One of those advocates who spoke before Obama would be eligible for DREAM Act provisions for immigrants brought here as children. Speaker John A. Boehner, R-Ohio, in an interview with ABC News this morning, said he hoped a bill would be reported out of committee in the House this month and said he wanted a bill to the president's desk 'this year,' while Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., warned on the Senate floor that "major changes" were needed to the bill there to get his support." [Roll Call]
Senate Republicans are circulating a talking points memo against the bill. National Journal: "A Senate source passes along a document that is floating around the Senate Republican conference. It's a dense, six-page list of the many problems opponents of the legislation have with the bill, authored by conservative Senate aides. The memo goes into detail on some of the ways the bill actually undermines enforcement of immigration laws, even weakening enforcement compared with current law. Just to pick one example, the bill would 'limit the authority of Border Patrol to return illegal border crossers during nighttime hours, when crossings generally occur,' the memo says. The actual bill text, under a section titled 'limitations on dangerous deportation practices,' says the Border Patrol must certify it has only 'deported or otherwise removed a migrant from the United States through an entry or exit point on the Southern border during daylight hours.'" [National Review]
SENATORS PROPOSE BILL TO DECLASSIFY FISA OPINIONS - "Phase 1: Collect telecommunications data Phase 2: ??? Phase 3: Safety!" Luke Johnson: "Sens. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) and Mike Lee (R-Utah), joined by a group of Democrats and Republicans, introduced a bill Tuesday to require the attorney general to declassify legal opinions that have been used to justify the National Security Agency's broad surveillance programs. The bill would require significant Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) rulings to be made public. The bill's sponsors say the interpretations made by judges could be quite different than Congress' intent in passing the law. It has the support of Sens. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Dean Heller (R-Nev.), Mark Begich (D-Alaska), Al Franken (D-Minn.), Jon Tester (D-Mont.), and Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) Some members of Congress have said they have not been briefed on the Internet and phone surveillance programs that The Guardian and The Washington Post revealed last week. The White House responded that it held 22 briefings on the NSA's Internet monitoring program, code-named PRISM, over the course of 14 months starting in October 2011." [HuffPost]
@wexler: Oops pic.twitter.com/JfWjIs34jm
TELECOM GIANTS SPENDING BIG ON LOBBYING - Sam Stein and Paul Blumenthal: "From 2002 through 2012, officials and organizations associated with the three largest U.S. telecom companies -- Verizon, AT&T and Sprint -- spent a combined $52.7 million on campaign contributions, according to a review of records compiled by the open government group Center for Responsive Politics. Of that total, $29.3 million were donations to federal candidates from political action committees tied to the companies, a more direct form of political influence peddling. The federal lobbying expenditures by these three telecom giants were even more extensive. During that same 10-year period, Verizon filed 114 separate lobbying forms that listed Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act-related legislation as a topic of interest. The total cost of those filings was more than $22 million. AT&T filed 171 such forms at a cost of more than $29.5 million, and Sprint filed 26 forms at a cost of $2,539,000. Not all of this money was dedicated to influencing surveillance laws. Disclosure law does not require a lobbying entity to break down how much money is devoted to each legislative topic, but there were other, non FISA-related bills listed on the filings submitted by the three telecom giants." [HuffPost]
THE RUBIK'S CUBE AFFAIR: EDWARD SNOWDEN'S LE CARRE-ESQUE LEAK - With a name like Edward Snowden, he was either going to be a prefect at Hogwarts or a spy. Times: "The source had instructed his media contacts to come to Hong Kong, visit a particular out-of-the-way corner of a certain hotel, and ask -- loudly -- for directions to another part of the hotel. If all seemed well, the source would walk past holding a Rubik's Cube. So three people -- Glenn Greenwald, a civil-liberties writer who recently moved his blog to The Guardian; Laura Poitras, a documentary filmmaker who specializes in surveillance; and Ewen MacAskill, a Guardian reporter -- flew from New York to Hong Kong about 12 days ago. They followed the directions. A man with a Rubik's Cube appeared...He portrayed himself as carefully selecting what to release, seeking to avoid the attacks that accused Private Manning of recklessness. Private Manning, who confessed to leaking hundreds of thousands of classified documents made public by WikiLeaks, faces a possible life sentence in a court-martial. 'He has no regret of any kind, no sense of,"'Wow, what have I done here? I can't go back," ' Mr. Greenwald said of Mr. Snowden. 'He is so convinced that he did the right thing.'" [NYT]
Heidi Heitkamp quietly signs on to ENDA, but really, she's always been for it, no question. Amanda Terkel: "Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.) has signed on to cosponsor the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, which would expand workplace protections to LGBT individuals. Heitkamp quietly signed on as a cosponsor June 7, with no public notice...Sens. Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) are the only two Republican cosponsors of ENDA. The Democrats who are not currently signed on are Sens. Tim Johnson (S.D.), Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), Bill Nelson (Fla.), Mark Pryor (Ark.) and Jay Rockefeller (W.Va.)." Why so quiet about it? It's just a bill! "When asked why she decided to cosponsor with so little fanfare, she replied, 'I had a conversation with Jeff Merkley, he asked me to consider it. I didn't even know the bill was there. I told him absolutely, I would. And we signed on the bill. And we sign on bills every day and don't make public announcements about them. ... I didn't think it was that, you know, earth-shattering.' [HuffPost]
DOUG BAILEY, LEADING POLITICO, DIES AT 79 - Bailey was most famous for founding Hotline, which was like the HuffPost Hill of the 90s, except it didn't have cat videos... and it was useful. National Journal: "Doug Bailey, one of the fathers of the modern political consulting industry who went on to found The Hotline, passed away Sunday night in his sleep, friends said Monday. He was 79. Bailey was one of the first modern political ad men. His firm, Bailey Deardourff and Associates, helped elect nine Republican senators and more than a dozen governors. With John Deardourff, Bailey spearheaded President Gerald Ford's advertising campaign in 1976...Bailey's roster of clients included some of the best-known moderate Republicans elected in the 1960s and 1970s..In 1987, Bailey and Democratic strategist Roger Craver founded The Hotline, Washington's premier daily tip sheet on campaigns and elections. Originally run independently and delivered by fax..." [National Journal]
BECAUSE YOU'VE READ THIS FAR - Ralph the Dog straight chillin'.
Allen West, still out of Congress, still out of his mind: "Former Rep. Allen West (R-Fla.) boiled down the entire religion of Islam to 'honor killings, beheadings [and] suicide bombings' in a message tweeted Monday night in response to a column by comedian Bill Cosby. Last week, Cosby wrote an op-ed in the New York Post encouraging African American communities to abandon apathy in an effort to better raise the next generation. In one passage, Cosby suggested that some parents could take cues from Muslims..." [HuffPost]
- Few things could be more American than a motorized La-Z-Boy, which is why it's so troubling that this one is located in China. [http://cheezburger.com/51171585]
- A supercut of people laughing on television and in movies. [http://bit.ly/106Q3E5]
- Footage of New York City from 1983 and 1986, back when synth was popular for the first time. [http://bit.ly/13wFlUf]
- OKAY WE'LL CLICK: "15 Cute Cat GIFs" [http://huff.to/13URX83]
- Take note, urban yuppies: Here are the ten weirdest food trucks in the world[http://bit.ly/19had1e]
- Dropping hot charcoal into liquid oxygen makes this happen[http://bit.ly/117vkib]
@delrayser: Not sure why anyone would use iCloud or Google Drive when the NSA is giving us a zetabyte of online storage for free
@daveweigel: Pretty shocked that a bill backed by the majority party and the business lobbies made it through the first cloture vote
@indecision: Hopefully the situation in Taksim Square settles down before Americans have to learn where Turkey is.
6:30 pm: Ron Johnson takes his benefactors to America's retirement party headquarters, Ruth's Chris Steakhouse. [724 9th Street NW]
6:30 pm: The National Confectioners Association, which we're 99 percent certain is Willy Wonka's K Street proxy, co-hosts a fundraiser for Tim Kaine. [DC Coast, 1401 K street NW]
8:00 am: Fans of Jewish delicacies and favor currying should head to Ben Cardin's "Bagels with Ben" fundraiser. There will be bagels. Also Ben Cardin. [Erickson & Co Townhouse, 38 Ivy Street SE]
12:30 pm - 2:00 pm: Susan Collins hosts a "Maine-Style Lobster Lunch." Here's hoping the "Maine-Style" refers to the party's ambiance and not, say, any lobster substitute that might be served. [NRSC, 425 2nd Street NE]
6:00 pm - 8:00 pm: Attention Daily Caller and Washington Free Beacon assignment editors: Charlie Rangel is hosting a birthday fundraiser. [Frederick Douglass Museum, 320 A. Street NE]
7:00 pm - 8:30 pm: Bruce Braley's Senate campaign gets a big lift from Martin O'Malley, who hosts a fundraiser for the Iowa congressman. Tom Harkin is scheduled to appear. [Clarkseville, MD]
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