POLITICS
07/15/2013 06:03 pm ET Updated Sep 14, 2013

HUFFPOST HILL - Senators Take Ouija Board To Old Senate Seance

As temperatures crept into the 90s, "friends with pools" temporarily supplanted "power" as the currency of Washington. In the wake of the George Zimmerman ruling, concerned Americans followed in the footsteps of Dr. King by changing their profile photos and tweeting "ugh." And four days after the House passed its farm bill, it still hasn't sent the legislation to the Senate, prompting the Senate to wonder if it should call or if that would seem too desperate. This is HUFFPOST HILL for Monday, July 15th, 2013:

SENATE MEETING TO HASH OUT FILIBUSTER REFORM: YOUR HUFFPOST HILL ANALYSIS - Reid has made it as clear as possible that he'll back down if Republicans just give him the damn nominees already, and they've already effectively caved on Gina McCarthy at EPA and Tom Perez at Labor. But they just can't bring themselves to bend on the Consumer Financial Protection Board or the National Labor Relations Board, even if it means saving the Senate, apparently. Reid has gone too far to pull back now, meaning it's up to McConnell or a small group of Republicans. If it were up to McConnell, we guess he'd go for it, assuming that it'd help him nationalize his race. He'd happily destroy the Senate to get reelected to it. Enough folks like McCain, though, are probably willing to break. All Reid needs is six of them.

Both parties are meeting together in private in the Old Senate Chamber, the scene of the Daniel Webster-Henry Clay debates (Liberty and Union!) and the place where Joe Biden asked Heidi Heitkamp to spread her legs.

HAGEL GETTING AN EARFUL ABOUT SEQUESTRATION - Despite the Washington CW that sequestration hasn't really affected things because Ted's Bulletin is still offering mimosa deals at brunch, Chuck Hagel is hearing different. Amanda Terkel: "Hagel went to Fort Bragg, N.C., on Monday for a town hall conversation with troops and their families, veterans and civilian personnel. Three of the five questions were about sequestration, while another touched on budgetary matters and led to a further discussion of how the Defense Department was adapting to the fiscal situation...About 90 percent of the department's workforce -- 650,000 people -- will have to take 11 days of unpaid leave before the end of September... At Fort Bragg, 7,000 civilian employees face furloughs. Service members and their families will likely face a reduction in services as a result. Pharmacies, medical centers and dental clinics at Fort Bragg reduced their hours this summer to save money. Teachers, meanwhile, are being furloughed for five days, while principals, administrators and other employees are losing more than two weeks. As a result, all 11 schools at Fort Bragg are shortening their school years, closing for the first five Fridays of the term. The school year will be 178 days, seven days fewer than the 185 days required by North Carolina public schools." [HuffPost]

FARM BILL TROUBLE - Sending the Senate a farm-only farm bill would probably make it too easy for conferees to be insufficiently mean to people on food stamps for the House's liking. Ros Krasny: "The Senate is ready to start conference proceedings to finalize a new farm bill but the House of Representatives has not sent its version of the bill for consideration, the chairwoman of the Senate Agriculture Committee said on Monday. 'I'm very concerned that the process start moving this week,' Senator Debbie Stabenow said, noting that there are just 24 scheduled legislative days in the Senate before the current bill expires. The Republican-controlled House on Thursday narrowly passed a farm bill that stripped out the parts that cover food stamps for poor Americans, the costliest part of the bill, over a veto threat from President Barack Obama. Four days later it has not sent that bill to the Senate, drawing Monday's rebuke from Stabenow. 'We can't go to conference unless we have something that relates to the farm bill from the House,' Stabenow, a Michigan Democrat, told reporters on a conference call. 'We fully expected to receive it in the Senate right away.'" [Reuters]

BuzzFeed microtargeting hits home: "29 Hill Staffer Problems"

DAILY DELANEY DOWNER - North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory says it's President Obama's fault tens of thousands of jobless North Carolinians lost their benefits this month. "President Obama, frankly, could have given us a waiver and we would have extended it," McCrory said, according to the Wilson Times. The truth is that North Carolina Republicans pushed a state law that made the state ineligible for the federal benefits that lapsed as a result. Not Obama's call, as several local papers have reported. [Hang in there!]

DOUBLE DOWNER - This town. @CapitalWeather: 95 in DC at 4 pm...hottest temp of summer so far! Feels like 101. We've got 5 more days of this stuff.

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REID CONTINUES TO PRESS FOR FILIBUSTER REFORM - Or perhaps he just wants to provoke Mitch McConnell's staffers into producing incredibly awesome attack graphics (our guess for the next image: Angel Harry Reid playing a harp after the death of free enterprise). Jen Bendery: "In his toughest talk yet on the matter, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) signaled Monday that a change to Senate filibuster rules is all but certain if Republicans block votes this week on any of President Barack Obama's seven executive nominees set for action. During remarks at the Center for American Progress, Reid discussed the idea of changing Senate rules to require only a simple majority to advance executive nominees -- rather than the current 60-vote threshold -- as if it were already a done deal. He reiterated that the Democrat-backed rules change would not apply to any legislation or to judicial nominees. 'This is a moment in history when circumstances dictate the need for change,' Reid said. 'It's time for course correction that compels the two parties to work with each other instead of against each other.'" [HuffPost]

They're working on it: "But a group of Republicans are talking to the Democratic leader, hoping to meld a framework that would allow the Senate to head off the historic rules change proposed by the Democrats, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) told POLITICO after meeting with Reid Monday afternoon. In other words, there could be a new gang in town to stave off the nuclear option, which would allow Reid to end filibusters of executive branch nominees with only 51 votes, rather than 60. Much of that gang includes Republicans who worked on immigration reform, McCain said...McCain said he and Republicans are trying to strike a deal with Reid would either allow up-or-down votes on seven contentious nominees or at least find 'replacements' for those nominees. Reid has scheduled votes Tuesday on seven of Obama's nominees...McCain pegged his group's chances at avoiding the rules change at '50-50.'" [Politico]

@jeffzeleny Denis McDonough sighting in Capitol was not for Reid chat, but meeting w/staff. "WH is not negotiating here," Sr. Admin official tells me.

Gawker won the afternoon with this post in defense of shorts. HuffPost Hill is 100 percent pro-shorts and you should be too.

IMMIGRATION ACTIVISTS LOOKING TO 2014 FOR IMMIGRATION REFORM - With Elise Foley: "[P]essimism around immigration reform misses a key difference between 2013 and 2014. The general election won't be until November 2014, but primaries are held in the spring and summer. The deadlines to get on the ballots for those primaries often come months earlier, meaning that at some point in 2014, the chance of a surprise challenge from the right goes to zero for all House members...The fury already emanating from the Latino establishment and community in general over inaction on immigration reform will only heighten as the 2014 elections draw closer. Last week, Univision's Jorge Ramos, known as the 'Walter Cronkite of Spanish-language media,' lashed out at Boehner, comparing him to Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio...If the House prefers to sidestep the immigration issue as the election approaches, they could come back and pass a bill during the lame duck session...Republicans who voted for "amnesty" in 2014 or in a lame duck wouldn't have to worry about a primary challenge until 2016. By that time, the radioactivity of the issue may have lessened." [HuffPost]

Rep. Ted Deutch has an office dog, Virgil.

WHITE HOUSE WON'T PRESS DOJ ON ZIMMERMAN RETRIAL - Plus you can't have a beer summit when one of the participants is DEAD. AP: "The White House says President Barack Obama won't involve himself in decisions by the Justice Department on whether to pursue civil rights charges against George Zimmerman in the shooting death of Trayvon Martin. White House spokesman Jay Carney says it would be inappropriate for Obama to express an opinion on how the department deals with Zimmerman after the neighborhood watch volunteer's acquittal in the shooting of the unarmed 17-year-old last year. Critics of Saturday's verdict have called for the Justice Department to step in. The Justice Department has said it's investigating whether federal criminal civil rights charges are warranted. Carney would not comment on Obama's view of Florida's 'stand-your-ground' law, which gives people wide latitude to use deadly force if they fear death or bodily harm." [AP]

Rep. Marcia Fudge on MSNBC: ""Mr. Zimmerman was found not guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, he was not found innocent. All of the facts I think that I know, that I'm aware of, is that there was a young man walking in his neighborhood, walking to his house unarmed, and someone decided that he looked suspicious...And now Mr. Trayvon Martin is dead, and what I could see of the trial, they put him on trial -- not Mr. Zimmerman. They put a young black boy on trial for being in his own neighborhood walking home from the store." [HuffPost's Sabrina Siddiqui]

FLORIDA LAWMAKER INTRODUCES 'STAND YOUR GROUND' REPEAL LEGISLATION - Because glancing at a white person while donning thick cotton outerwear constitutes a death sentence for black people, a Florida lawmaker wants to make those black people... less dead. WCTV: "Following Zimmerman's not guilty verdict the Stand Your Ground Law is facing scrutiny once again. This time the Florida Legislator is looking for real change Florida Representative (D) Alan Williams explained, 'Law enforcement wasn't able to apply the law because they didn't understand the law.' The law states that a person: 'has the right to stand his or her ground and meet force with force, including deadly force if he or she reasonably believes it is necessary to do so to prevent death or great bodily harm.' The night Trayvon Martin was killed Sanford law enforcement turned to this law as a defense for George Zimmerman...During the last legislative session a task force was assembled to analyze stand your ground, and what they decided was that no major adjustments needed to be made. Now that the George Zimmerman case is over certain legislators are pleading to put that issue back on the table." [WCTV]

CABINET SECRETARIES WON'T TELL US IF THEY UPGRADED TO COACH PREMIUM - Department secretaries aren't disclosing their travel costs, which is especially sad because the phrase "Arne Duncan secrets" sounds like the world's worst dime store novel. Bloomberg: "In her four years as the top U.S. diplomat, Hillary Clinton kept a running total of countries visited, miles traveled and hours spent in transit on the State Department website. Still untallied: The bill to taxpayers for her globe-trotting. Bloomberg News last year asked for the details of out-of-town trips for the heads of 57 major departments in fiscal 2011, a test of President Barack Obama's pledge to run the most open government in history. As of July 12, about one-fifth of those surveyed hadn't responded....The Justice Department, which is responsible for monitoring compliance with the open-government law, took more than one year to comply even though Attorney General Eric Holder has called swift responses to public records petitions an "essential component" of government transparency...The remaining holdouts among Obama's Cabinet include former Defense Secretaries Robert Gates and Leon Panetta, Education Secretary Arne Duncan and Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan." [Bloomberg]

BECAUSE YOU'VE READ THIS FAR - Here is a puppy eating a watermelon.

COMFORT FOOD

- Otter asks dog if it wants to go, bro. [http://bit.ly/1amWCDE]

- Here's what you should expect from this videeo of a potato gun firing in slow motion: 1. I high frame rate. 2. Potatoes. [http://bit.ly/1dslIAL]

- An alarm system for your pint glass that squirts ink on potential thieves. [http://bit.ly/18fsLME]

- "Game Logos" is a collection of, well, logos... for games. [http://bit.ly/1a9ybdx]

- Carly Rae Jepsen, she of "Call Me Maybe" fame, delivered what might be history's worst ceremonial first pitch. [http://usat.ly/10V1oW7]

- All of the stand-up routines from "Louie"'s first season mashed together. [http://huff.to/18guJfO]

- Children's pool + corgi = USDA-certified Grade A internet. [http://bit.ly/15xOs7U]

TWITTERAMA

@ktumulty: I can't read my iPad screen when I'm at the beach. #WhiteRage

@JPFreire: New insult: You're so fat, spam bots are actually genuinely concerned about you and really do want you to lose some weight.

@KagroX: It's been a slippery slope on filibuster reform since 1975. So slippery that everyone forgot how to do it.

ON TAP

TOMORROW

6:00 pm: Smile-with-a-body-attached-to-it Jeff Flake attends a fundraiser hosted by Salt River Project, a major Arizona utility provider. [Charlie Palmer Steak, 101 Constitution Ave NW]

6:00 pm: Barbara MIkulski's campaign PAC is named "Building A Majority," despite our suggestion that it be rechristened "Better Not Mess With Babs, Ya Hurd?" (though "BAMPAC" is pretty appropriate). Anyhoo, the Maryland lawmaker attends a fundraiser for BAMPAC. [Bistro Bis, 15 E Street NW]

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