POLITICS
05/16/2014 05:30 pm ET Updated May 16, 2014

HUFFPOST HILL - Mark Pryor Adds 'No Homo, Bro' To Campaign Platform

Angus King trolled Democrats by endorsing Susan Collins, a move that had absolutely nothing to do with that list he sent Harry Reid with hearts next to certain committee names. A Senate candidate compared the Civil War to domestic violence, simultaneously offending a lot of people and making the DSCC’s job WAY easier. And the administration announced late today that Veterans Affairs undersecretary for health is resigning in the wake of the VA’s—well, wouldn’t you know it, it’s quitting time! Have a great weekend, everybody! This is HUFFPOST HILL for Friday, May 16th, 2014:

Because it's Friday afternoon: @jbendery: WH: "Today Secretary Shinseki accepted the resignation of Dr. Robert Petzel, Under Sec for Health in the Department of Veterans Affairs..."

DEBT COLLECTORS SCORE A SCHUMWICH IN TAX EXTENDERS BILL - Lori Montgomery scoop: "The Internal Revenue Service would be required to turn over millions of unpaid tax bills to private debt collectors under a measure before the Senate, reviving a program that has previously led to complaints of harassment and has not saved taxpayers money. The provision was tucked into a larger bill, aimed at renewing an array of expired tax breaks, at the request of Sen. Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.), whose state is home to two of the four private collection agencies that stand to benefit from the proposal." Gross, right? [WashPost]

Playing to the crowd: "In the wake of a judge's decision allowing same-sex couples to begin marrying in Arkansas, Sen. Mark Pryor (D-Ark.) has reiterated that he remains one of the only Democratic senators who still does not support marriage equality. Last week, Pulaski County Circuit Judge Chris Piazza ruled that Arkansas' ban on same-sex marriage is unconstitutional. Voters approved the ballot measure in 2004 by a 3 to 1 margin, and couples started getting married in the state this week. On Monday, Pryor restated his opposition to marriage equality and acknowledged that he voted for the ballot measure in 2004. His response was caught in tracking footage obtained by America Rising, the GOP opposition research super PAC." [HuffPost]

Reminder that Pryor is currently ahead in the polls against Tom Cotton.

PAUL RYAN TELLS RICH PEOPLE ABOUT HELPING POOR PEOPLE - Jeff Cox: "Rep. Paul Ryan, known largely as debt and deficit reformer, is expanding his focus to poverty fighter, telling a crowd Friday that government has done an inadequate job helping poor people. The Wisconsin Republican and 2012 vice presidential nominee encouraged a crowd of hedge fund executives to join forces with the public sector to eradicate a problem he said has gotten markedly worse over the past few years. 'One of the inadvertent casualties in the war on poverty is that we've reinforced the idea that government is going to fix this,' Ryan said at SkyBridge Capital's SALT 2014 conference in Las Vegas. 'That's just not going to cut it anymore. Each and every one of us in America has a very important role to play.'… 'Only by getting out of the ivory tower, out of the Beltway, and going into poverty-stricken communities can you see this amazing untapped potential.'" [CNBC]

Paul Ryan, friendly visitor to the poor.

DAILY DELANEY DOWNER - Daniel Kelly: "A grocery store in Venice is asking a federal judge to allow the store to once again accept food stamps after a federal investigator halted the program in the belief that store employees were trafficking the federal benefits. The owner of the Venice Food Mart, Abdelraman Naser of Millstadt, filed an appeal Monday asking a federal court to overturn a decision from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to halt the store's participation in the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program…. Store owners deny the store purchased the food stamps and claim they can demonstrate "flaws" in the federal oversight of the program. They also claimed the disqualification has been a hardship to the store and neighborhood, and provided a letter of support from the mayor of Venice to federal investigators, according to court documents. The store, located at 420 Broadway in Venice, is part of a gas station in the impoverished community of 1,900 residents. The U.S. Census Bureau estimates 40 percent of households in Venice participate in the federal food stamp program and 42 percent of all residents live below the federal level for poverty." [BND.com]

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NO IMMIGRATION AGREEMENT WITH BOEHNER: VALERIE JARRETT - "Senior White House adviser Valerie Jarrett took to Twitter on Friday to reject reports that the Obama administration has a commitment from House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) to pass immigration reform before the midterm elections. The Las Vegas Review-Journal reported Thursday that Obama's top adviser told investors and donors of Boehner's promise at the SkyBridge Alternatives Conference... 'I think we have a window this summer, between now and August, to get something done,' [Jarrett said.] 'We have a commitment from Speaker Boehner, who’s very frustrated with his caucus.' ... After MSNBC News' Chuck Todd shared the story on Twitter, Jarrett responded, saying her message had been 'lost in translation' ... Boehner spokesman Michael Steel echoed Jarrett's insistence that the speaker has made no commitment to pass immigration reform by November." [HuffPost]

Pictures of the Washington Wizards hugging after last night's loss.

DEA SOFTENING LANGUAGE ON DRUG WAR AFTER HOLDER PUSHBACK - "This is your brain ::holds up egg::. And this is your egg if you don't FOLLOW THE DAMN TALKING POINTS ::sets kitchen on fire::" Grim and Ryan Reilly: "Drug Enforcement Administrator Michele Leonhart and her boss, Attorney General Eric Holder, appear locked in a bureaucratic staring match over the Obama administration's attempt to reform the way the federal government approaches criminal justice and punishment. For Holder and for President Barack Obama, sentencing reform has become a critical, second-term legacy item, as they aim to bend the arc of incarceration policy away from a federal system well practiced at imprisoning drug offenders for as long as possible. But those efforts are colliding with institutional resistance from law enforcement officials with a single-minded focus and, perhaps, turf to defend. The high-level shift toward easing punishment for drug offenders, backed by public opinion, raises the question of whether any DEA chief who could win the support of rank and file agents would be willing to carry out White House reforms. So far, Leonhart appears uninterested, at best. She publicly distanced herself from Obama's remarks about marijuana's relative harmlessness. She griped about the Justice Department's failure to try to block marijuana legalization in Colorado and Washington state. She clings to a comically outdated view of drugs, refusing to acknowledge a difference between pot and crack cocaine. And this week, her agency picked a fight with Kentucky over the state's purchase of industrial hemp seeds to begin a newly legalized agricultural test." [HuffPost]

ANGUS KING ENDORSES SUSAN COLLINS - In no way, shape or form should you expect this move to come up in King's stump speeches and fundraising appeals. Amanda Terkel: "Sen. Angus King (I-Maine) is crossing party lines and on Friday will endorse Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), as she takes on Democrat Shenna Bellows in her reelection bid. 'She always puts Maine and the country first and isn't afraid to cross party lines to get things done,' King said in a statement to the Bangor Daily News. 'I think she's one of the Senate's MVP's -- smart, tough and always willing to listen. In my book, she's a model senator and I'm delighted to support her re-election.' King is an independent, but he caucuses with Democrats. He and Collins were once political adversaries, when he defeated her in a four-person Maine gubernatorial race in 1994. In the Senate, however, the two have occasionally worked together, such as on a deal to end the government shutdown and a student loan bill. Collins is facing write-in candidate Erick Bennett in the June 10 primary...Bellows is the former executive director of Maine's American Civil Liberties Union and has run on a progressive platform, backing marijuana legalization, more environmental protections and an end to the National Security Agency's surveillance of Americans." [HuffPost]

The P-trip likes Mike Honda, dislikes Ro Khanna.

ALAN GRAYSON WANTS TO SERVE ON BENGHAZI PANEL - Find a way to get Ed Schultz, the Paranoid Self-Loathing GOP Lobbyist and the Swedish Chef on the select committee, and we'll have some grade-A entertainment on our hands. Amanda Terkel: " Rep. Alan Grayson (D-Fla.) is willing to serve on the committee established by House Republicans to investigate the 2012 attacks in Benghazi, Libya, a prospect that is likely causing heartburn for the GOP. In an interview with SiriusXM host Ari Rabin-Havt Friday morning, Grayson said he has actually already talked to House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and expressed his interest. 'I've said, if she decides to have Democratic members participate, I'd like to be one of them,' he said. Last week, the House voted largely on party lines to launch a select committee to investigate the 2012 Benghazi attacks, arguing that previous hearings and investigations were not enough. House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) decided that it will have seven Republicans and five Democrats, despite Democrats' request that they have equal representation. Pelosi has not yet decided whether Democrats will go along with the plan, which they see as a political stunt to rev up the conservative base in advance of the 2014 elections. Some Democrats have argued that they should boycott the committee entirely rather than legitimize it by joining." [HuffPost]

BECAUSE YOU'VE READ THIS FAR - Here is a porcupine eating papaya.

DON'T COMPARE THINGS TO ABUSIVE RELATIONSHIPS... JUST DON'T - Alex Lazar: "South Carolina state Sen. Lee Bright, one of six candidates challenging Sen. Lindsey Graham in the state's GOP Senate primary, compared the Civil War to an abusive relationship Wednesday. 'A civil war is kind of family against family, and I didn't get corrected until probably I was in my twenties, and somebody said, 'That wasn't a civil war, I mean a civil war is when it's people attacking their neighbors, and this wasn't people attacking their neighbors,' Bright said in a speech on the state Senate floor. 'Folks in the North decided that -- kind of like a marriage you know the South had decided it wanted to separate, and the North said, 'You know what, we're not going to separate, and if you don't stay together with us, we're just -- we're going to kill you,'" he continued. Bright didn't stop there, however. 'That side's never told in our history books because if you, um, Napoleon -- Napoleon, one of my favorite quotes Napoleon said [was] that 'history is the agreed-upon fable,'' he said." [HuffPost]

COMFORT FOOD

- "Transformer" street performer is this generation's living statue. [http://bit.ly/1gb4vTJ]

- A collection of stealth cats. [http://bit.ly/1hRBsjf]

- Facts about teeth because, you know, we all got 'em. [http://bit.ly/RIyNSp]

- Photos and stories behind the effort to build a 1,000 MPH land car. [http://bit.ly/QQLWYL]

- Lion cub messes with momma, pays the price. [http://bit.ly/1jmvvQI]

- The world's worst beatboxer should think about quitting the game. [http://bit.ly/1j39TYa]

- "Game of Thrones" recut with young children's voices. [http://huff.to/1nXwzKk]

TWITTERAMA

@timothypmurphy: Magazine fact-checking is a reminder that there are no truths and we are all just crocodiles staring into the abyss of time.

@JeffYoung: That's the HealthCare.gov way! MT @abeaujon: If your site goes down on Friday, you get to start weekend right?

@daveweigel: So Sulzberger’s job is to hire executive editors and make NYT look good, right? How much is he paid for the bang-up job he’s doing?

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