Ethically challenged and famously angry Rep. Michael Grimm was indicted, hastening his inevitable move to a co-hosting gig on "The Five." Congress will be in session for the next nine weeks, because you shouldn't be allowed to enjoy spring too much. And a Senate candidate thinks senators aren't paid enough, though he probably hasn't factored in all the free meals at the Erickson & Co. Townhouse. This is HUFFPOST HILL for Monday, April 28th, 2014:
CONGRESS IS BACK FOR NINE WEEKS - In case you're wondering why all those woodland creatures were shuddering in holes and your daughter's head is spinning 360 degrees with her eyes rolled back, this is why. Roll Call: "Optimism has vanished about getting all dozen appropriations bills cleared by the start of the fiscal year, a hallmark of regular order last achieved 20 years ago. But a record early start to the process, thanks to the agreement on the $1.014 trillion spending grand total sealed last year, has created a realistic expectation that at least a handful of the measures will be enacted à la carte before November, which last happened during Barack Obama’s first year as president…An acid test comes Tuesday for the long-shot drive to overhaul the housing finance system. The Senate Banking Committee will take up a bipartisan bill that would retain an explicit federal backstop behind the mortgage market, something many Republicans want to do away with, while eventually getting rid of mortgage financiers Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac — as well as their mission to promote affordable housing, something many Democrats hold dear... As soon as this week, the Senate will take up legislation with potential to embody something highly unusual in an election year: a bipartisan deal to change energy policy. The scope of the measure, which has been on the drawing board longer than three years, remains modest. It would seek to improve the nation’s energy efficiency through modest grants to states and cities for drafting stricter building codes, incentives for manufacturers to reduce their carbon footprints and the creation of energy-savings guidelines for federal buildings." [Roll Call]
REP. MICHAEL GRIMM INDICTED FOR FRAUD, PLEADS 'NOT GUILTY' - AP: "Following a two-year investigation of his campaign financing, U.S. Rep. Michael Grimm was indicted Monday on federal mail, wire and tax fraud charges stemming from a restaurant he operated before entering Congress, a case he says is trumped up. The Staten Island Republican was arrested Monday morning and pleaded not guilty to a 20-count federal indictment. He was released on $400,000 bail. Grimm claims the government framed him. He says investigators couldn't make a campaign finance case against him stick, so they trumped up the fraud accusations. He said he is the victim of a 'political witch hunt.' 'I'm going to fight tooth and nail until I am exonerated,' he said. Grimm is charged with engaging in schemes to underreport wages for restaurant workers, including some who were in the country illegally. He is accused of concealing more than $1 million in sales and wages. Authorities said that when he was deposed by an attorney representing former employees in a lawsuit, Grimm lied under oath about his allegedly fraudulent business practices. Authorities allege the fraud occurred from 2007 to 2010. Grimm, a former FBI agent who spent a decade working for the bureau before leaving in the mid-2000s to pursue private business interests, was elected in 2010 and took office in 2011." [AP]
@ryanjreilly:FBI statement: “As a former FBI agent, Representative Grimm should understand the motto: fidelity, bravery, and integrity."
When it rains... "Rep. Michael Grimm (R-N.Y.) oversaw a health food restaurant that allegedly employed undocumented workers before his time in Congress, according to a federal indictment unsealed on Monday. Grimm is one of only a small number of House Republicans who have been vocal in their support for immigration reform that would allow undocumented immigrants to become legal residents. If Grimm were to leave Congress, reform supporters would lose an ally in the House." [HuffPost's Elise Foley and Ryan Reilly]
By the way, it's going to rain for the next several days.
GRIMM WANTS MEETING WITH HOUSE HONCHOS - Stay safe, everybody.
John Bresnahan and Jake Sherman: "Grimm has asked for a one-on-one meeting with Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), said the sources, and other meetings are expected to follow that. Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and other top party leaders only briefed discussed the matter during a closed-door leadership meeting on Monday, and they are still wrestling with what position to take on ex-FBI agent. There is no meeting scheduled between Boehner and Grimm at this point, sources said." [Politico]
New Hampshire Republicans have the crankiest Twitter account of all time.
DAILY DELANEY DOWNER - Mailbag misery, unemployment extension edition: "I worked for a major bank for 33 years, helping our clients, their business and the community. I got 6 months of unemployment and it stopped. I have been trying to get a job in the banking industry again. I have a whole folder of postings I applied for. Chicago is the 3rd worst state for unemployment. The extension would help me pay medical expenses and bills." [Hang in there!]
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REID SETTING UP MINIMUM WAGE VOTE - The Hill: "Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) on Monday set up a vote to proceed to a bill that would increase the federal minimum wage, possibly later this week. Reid filed cloture on the motion to proceed to S. 2223, a bill from Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) that would increase the minimum wage from $7.25 to $10.10 an hour. But senators have to go through several judicial nomination votes before getting to the minimum wage bill, meaning the first procedural vote isn’t likely until Thursday. If Democrats stick together, they’ll need at least five Republicans to vote with them to advance the measure. Reid had said he wanted to hold votes on that legislation earlier this month, but senators weren’t able to get to it before a two-week Easter recess. Some vulnerable Democrats up for reelection in November have expressed concern over a Congressional Budget Office report that Harkin’s bill would harm job growth. Instead some have come out in support of a more meager increase to $9 an hour proposed by Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine)." [The Hill]
VANCE MCALLISTER NOT SEEKING REELECTION - Guess we won't be seeing any of the "Duck Dynasty" characters at joint addresses to Congress anytime soon. Times-Picayune: "Rep. Vance McAllister, R-Swartz, told his hometown newspaper Monday that he won't seek re-election so that he can 'take care of my family as we work together to repair and strengthen the relationship I damaged.' He has been under unwelcome public scrutiny since a surveillance video of him kissing a married staffer was published in a local newspaper shortly before Easter. McAllister told the News-Star he would serve out his term, which runs through early January. He and his wife, Kelly, checked in for a flight to Washington at Monroe airport. The congressman, the father of five, told the News Star that Kelly was accompanying him to the Capitol, where Congress is returning after a two-week recess, 'because she knows it is going to be a firestorm when I get there and she didn't want me to face it alone'" [Times-Picayune]
WHITE HOUSE STILL NOT PAYING INTERNS - Perhaps emboldened by the person who lives in a tent outside his house, the president still isn't paying a good number of people who work for him. Dave Jamieson and Sam Stein: "Even as it pushes Congress to raise the minimum wage to $10.10 per hour, the Obama administration is resisting calls to pay interns who serve in the White House. The White House declined multiple opportunities to comment on whether it would rethink its position on not compensating the roughly 300 interns who work there each year. Also met with silence was Stephen Lurie, who elevated the issue in a recent Washington Post op-ed. In it, he told the president: 'Unpaid internships contradict your commitments and your economic agenda.'...With the Senate set to vote this week on minimum wage legislation, however, the politics of unpaid internships may get a little trickier for the administration. Already there is a lively ethical debate surrounding the practice, one that the White House has not been immune to. Previous stories have taken it to task for its intern policy, though the White House does not hide the fact from applicants that the positions are unpaid. The Obama administration has been rolling out workplace mandates on federal contractors via executive order, such as a new minimum wage of $10.10 for workers employed under contracts. The logic behind such orders is that the federal government should lead by example and not sanction low-road labor practices, even if it will end up costing taxpayers a little more money." [HuffPost]
OPPOSITION TO OBAMACARE DECLINING IN GOP AREAS - We suppose if your baseline expectation of an endeavor is "apocolypse," you're bound to soften your opposition each successive day that society is functioning ("Sweetie, look! People boarding a city bus! Guess that Obama ain't so bad!"). Sam Stein: "The poll, which was conducted by Democracy Corps in battleground congressional districts and shared in advance with The Huffington Post, shows 52 percent of respondents want to 'implement and fix' the 2010 health care reform law versus 42 percent who want to 'repeal and replace' it. Those numbers were 49 percent to 45 percent, respectively, in the firm's December poll...According to the findings, 43 percent of respondents in districts held by a Republican member of Congress now say they oppose the health care law because it 'goes too far.' That number was 48 percent in December. Opponents still outnumber the 41 percent who say they favor the law. However, Democracy Corps also registers 9 percent of respondents in Republican districts who say they oppose the law because it does not go far enough, a group that ostensibly includes a chunk of voters who wanted a more liberal piece of legislation. (How big that chunk is, is unclear.) In Republican districts that are the most likely to flip to Democratic control in the 2014 elections, the shift of opinion toward the Affordable Care Act is equally pronounced. Fifty-four percent of respondents from those districts now support implementing and fixing the law versus 40 percent who support repealing and replacing it. In December, those numbers were 48 percent and 44 percent, respectively." [HuffPost]
SENATE CANDIDATE DOESN'T THINK SENATE PAY IS ATTRACTIVE - So the possibility of making six figures each year for six years, followed by shift to a new job that could easily pay ten times that amount ISN'T attractive? Samantha Lachman: "Though senators make $174,000 a year, a Republican Senate candidate and businessman isn't too impressed with their salaries. Asked by MSNBC's Kasie Hunt during an interview in Des Moines, Iowa, over the weekend if he'd give up his Senate salary because of his personal fortune, Mark Jacobs answered: 'Well I don't think U.S. senators make that much money.' 'I'm willing to make a significant investment of my time and energy here to help solve the problems we have in this country,' he added. Jacobs has the distinction of setting a record in Iowa as the biggest self-funder in the state's history. 'He's never really looked into how much U.S. senators make,' Steve Grubbs, a Jacobs campaign adviser, told MSNBC in a statement...The median household income in Iowa is $49,427, so Jacobs' primary opponents could seize on his comments as a way to paint him as out of touch with the average voter." [HuffPost]
If Elizabeth Warren saying nice things about a French economist in favor of global wealth redistribution isn't fodder for the GOP, we don't know what is: "Elizabeth Warren isn't all the way on the Piketty line. The Democratic Massachusetts senator has nothing but good things to say about economist Thomas Piketty's new, massive trove of data, 'Capital in the Twenty-First Century,' but that doesn't mean she's ready to embrace two of his key recommendations to put the brakes on spiraling income inequality -- a wealth tax and a cranked-up inheritance tax... asked by The Huffington Post if she, as a U.S. senator, would back a wealth tax or larger inheritance tax, Warren dodged. 'I want to put it this way: We need to take a hard look overall at our approach to taxation,' Warren said. 'That includes every part of it -- [the tax code] has become so riddled with loopholes and exceptions that were lobbied in by powerful corporations and individuals with buckets of money. You don't want to start with any one part of it, because that isn't the point. The point is the whole thing has to be on the table at once.'" [HuffPost's Mike McAuliff]
BECAUSE YOU'VE READ THIS FAR - Here is a baby elephant stuck on a log.
PETS ALLOWED TO EXPLORE THE BEAUTY OF THE I-95 CORRIDOR - Sam Stein: "In a historic victory for the taxpaying pet owners of America, Amtrak announced on Monday that it would begin a pilot program allowing riders to bring their furry friends on board. The program, launched in conjunction with the Illinois Department of Transportation, will begin next week and last for six months. For the price of $25, passengers traveling between Chicago and Quincy, Illinois, will be able to bring Fido or Princess along for the ride. But there are restrictions that will leave many still reliant on boarders, or that colleague they embarrassingly bug every now and then to watch their pets for them. For starters, only dogs and cats that weigh up to 20 pounds will be let on board. Owners will be required to put them in carriers and place them at their feet and under their seats. Marc Magliari, a spokesman for Amtrak, said there are no specific baggage cars that could hold crates to accommodate larger pets. So if your dog or cat is too heavy, you're out of luck. Secondly, passengers are only allowed to board with their pets at three stations. This is done to ensure that they're actually paying properly and not bringing on restricted animals, but it also limits the number of passengers who will find pet travel feasible or worthwhile. Finally, the only pets allowed so far are cats and dogs. If you're a rabbit person -- they must exist, but who knows -- you're out of luck." [HuffPost]
- Kids perform a synchronized swimming routine without a pool. [http://huff.to/1km5Eqb]
- John Oliver surveys the upcoming elections in India. [http://bit.ly/1km4NWp]
- A video demonstrating the latest updates to Google's self-driving cars. [http://bit.ly/QQkI5j]
- Whoever thought calling this easy-bake cookbook "Dump Cake" should think about a career shift. [http://bit.ly/QR27WN]
- The recipe for a purrito is simple: take a cat, wrap it in a blanket and... voila! [http://huff.to/1itdcsu]
- The noise this dog makes when seeing a squirrel sounds like a combination of an ululaiton and a garbage disposal stuffed with thumbtacks. [http://huff.to/1rFE763]
- Trailer for the film "Boyhood," shot with the same actors over a 12-year period. [http://bit.ly/1tLWvfj]
@BuzzFeedAndrew: Sad McAllister's not running for re-election, was looking forward to his campaign slogan "I kissed a girl and I liked it 2014."
@elisefoley: Granny Sayz and Healthalicious are silly names for companies. That’s where Grimm really went wrong.
@jmooallem: Reminder that the Cliven Bundy business is fundamentally a fight about whether America wants cows or tortoises to be in a certain place.
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