07/15/2014 05:59 pm ET

HUFFPOST HILL - Big Day For On-Ramps

Senate Republicans introduced an insurance bill that literally changes nothing… though it might still defund ACORN. The administration says marijuana legalization is a state matter, though the exact phrasing had something to do with Colorado stuffing a towel under its door. And a group of enthusiastic Elizabeth Warren supporters launched Ready for Warren, but our competing 2016 organization, "Tom Vilsack...Ehhh???" isn't gaining as much traction. This is HUFFPOST HILL for Tuesday, July 15th, 2014:

@JimAvilaABC: Sources tell @ABC Jose Antonio vargas about to be released from border patrol custody in McAllen tx

GOP REMEMBERS THE LADIES... BUT NOT REALLY - [HuffPost HIll leans back in chair, buys three rubber bands off Amazon with extra 23 cents earned in last hour, pops insurance-subsidized Viagra, breaths in the patriarchy]. Laura Bassett: "In response to a proposal by Senate Democrats to require for-profit employers to cover birth control in their health plans, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said Tuesday that Senate Republicans plan to offer their own bill requiring employers to allow women to buy their own birth control... The GOP bill would change nothing, because women can already legally access contraceptives approved by the Food and Drug Administration. The issue in question is whether for-profit corporations must cover the full range of FDA-approved contraceptives in their health insurance plans, as the Affordable Care Act requires them to do. The Supreme Court ruled earlier this month that Hobby Lobby, a craft supply company owned by evangelicals, can opt out of covering the four kinds of contraception that its owners believe are methods of abortion...The Democrats' bill, which the Senate will vote on Wednesday, states that no for-profit company can opt out of federal law based on its owners' religious beliefs. The bill would effectively override the Supreme Court's Hobby Lobby decision and require most employers, with the exception of houses of worship and religious nonprofits, to cover all 20 forms of birth control laid out in the president's health care law." [HuffPost]

MEDICARE LOOKIN' PRETTY SWEET - Damian Paletta: "In 2006, the trustees that monitor Medicare’s financial solvency issued a dire warning -- the trust fund that pays hospital bills would be exhausted in 2018, which would result in sharp cuts in benefits. But on Tuesday, the Congressional Budget Office said the trust fund would be solvent until 2030....What is behind Medicare’s revival? One primary reason has been the slowdown in the growth of health-care spending, which has played out since the recession and continued longer than many economists predicted….Another factor is the 2010 Affordable Care Act. That law cut Medicare spending over 10 years and redirected that money towards paying for an expansion of Medicaid and other changes. So even though much of the money will still be spent on health care, but it won’t come out of Medicare and therefore won’t come out of the trust fund." [WSJ]

The CBO's hot new long-term budget outlook can be used to justify ANY political position!

HOUSE PASSES HIGHWAY TRUST BILL - Everytime a "CONGRESSIONAL GRIDLOCK" headline is typed in relation to a story like this, an angel loses its wings applies for a CNN internship. Sam Stein: "The House of Representatives passed a critical highway funding bill on Tuesday afternoon by a vote of 367-55. The measure puts just under $11 billion into the Highway Trust Fund, which is in line to run out of money sometime in late August, and was put together by House Ways and Means Chairman Dave Camp (R-Mich.). Ten Democrats and 45 Republicans voted against the bill. The Senate is set to consider a similar measure, after which the two chambers must merge their respective proposals. Camp’s bill passed by a comfortable margin despite public opposition from two leading conservative groups. Both Heritage Action for America and Club for Growth had urged lawmakers to oppose the bill, calling it a bailout for transportation projects and criticizing the way it is funded...Conservatives weren’t the only ones who found those provisions objectionable. Democrats derided pension smoothing as a pay-for. But their main concern was that the bill was only a temporary fix to a larger problem. Rep. Peter Welch (D-Vt.) voted against the proposal because it would restore the Highway Trust Fund only through May. His preference was for a multiyear plan that had been negotiated in the Senate and considered in the House before lawmakers -- recognizing that they were running out of time -- decided to punt the issue to a later date." [HuffPost]

'READY FOR WARREN' LAUNCHED BY PEOPLE WHO ARE, UH, READY FOR ELIZABETH WARREN - Amanda Terkel and Grim: "An enthusiastic band of activists has launched a campaign to slow the momentum of Hillary Clinton and convince Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) that she should run for president in 2016. 'I think there's an opportunity for us to convince her if we're really able to make the case as to why we think she's the right person,' said Erica Sagrans, who has signed on as the Ready For Warren campaign manager. The group already has a Facebook page, Twitter account and a new website with a petition encouraging Warren to run. Sagrans, who worked on President Barack Obama's re-election campaign, will be joined by political activist Billy Wimsatt, who previously founded the League of Young Voters and is going to be a senior adviser to the new group. Reached for comment, Lacey Rose, Warren's press secretary, told HuffPost, 'No, Senator Warren does not support this effort.' Even so, Ready for Warren will be bringing a van full of supporters to Netroots Nation, the annual gathering of progressive activists that is taking place in Detroit this week." [HuffPost]

Haircut: Kevin Call (h/t Ezra Billinkoff) Haircutweek: Sam Stein (h/t Sam Stein), Chip Unruh (h/t Daniel Curran).

DAILY DELANEY DOWNER - As Roll Call's Steven Dennis has reported, the House just passed a highway bill that used the payfors Dean Heller and Jack Reed had hoped would pay for an unemployment extension. Jack Reed is mad!

UPSIDE DOWNER - At least the Men's Underwear Index is looking strong. [HuffPost]

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HOUSE FINALIZING BORDER FUNDING REQUEST - Surprisingly, it's not just a hastily drawn picture of a moat with an arrow pointing toward it and "$3.7 billion" written in large letters. Roll Call: "House Republicans could by the week’s end unveil their legislative response to the president’s $3.7 billion request to bolster resources at the southwest border. The response is likely to cost less and incorporate policy riders sure to rile up Democrats on the left – but still might not be stringent enough to satisfy members on the hard right. Rep. Kay Granger, R-Texas, the chairwoman of a special GOP working group convened by Speaker John A. Boehner to make policy recommendations on the child migrant border surge, told reporters Tuesday her group is focused on increased border security funding, National Guard troops on the border and more immigration judges to preside over deportation hearings and asylum requests. With a formal report not yet public at the time she spoke with the press, Granger also said the group supported tweaking a 2008 trafficking law to allow all unaccompanied minors apprehended at the border to choose to return to their home countries rather than await trial to be deported, a right currently afforded only to children from countries contiguous to the United States." [Roll Call]

HOW'S THAT WHOLE IMPEACH-Y THING WORKIN' OUT FOR YA? - Not well. That's the answer. Not well. Sam Levine: " Some of the staunchest conservatives in the House of Representatives said Tuesday they will not push for President Barack Obama's impeachment, regardless of whether they think he deserves it. At a press event Tuesday, six conservative congressmen predicted that impeachment would not happen before the November midterm elections, saying it would be politically damaging for the GOP and unlikely to succeed. 'The president deserves to be impeached, plain and simple,' Rep. Randy Weber (R-Texas) said. 'We've got so much on our plate, it's not practical, we don't have the Senate ... I don't think it's practical that we impeach him right now. But he definitely deserves it.' ... Rep. Raúl Labrador (R-Idaho) said Tuesday that only a small fraction of Republicans agree with Palin. He said he does not think Obama's actions have reached the level to qualify for impeachment." [HuffPost]

Drones, $125 surge pricing, same thing: "In an interview with me at the Code Conference in May, Uber CEO Travis Kalanick was pretty clear that one of his key goals for the year was to hire a big-gun communications and public relations strategy person for the transportation logistics juggernaut...Kalanick is still looking, having talked to other political players such as former Obama White House press secretary Jay Carney (whose name is also being bandied about for the other big job opening in tech PR, at Apple). In addition, said sources, Uber is looking at big corporate names." [ReCode]

ADMINISTRATION BACKS DC ON WEED - Seriously, Colorado, just make sure you close the blinds and Febreeze the place a bit. Ryan Reilly: "The Obama administration believes marijuana policy is a states' rights issue, the White House said Monday in opposing Republican-led legislation that would prevent Washington, D.C., from using local funds to decriminalize marijuana possession. The GOP-sponsored House amendment would prevent D.C. 'from using its own local funds to carry out locally-passed marijuana policies, which again undermines the principles of States' rights and of District home rule,' the White House said in a statement. The White House said the bill 'poses legal challenges to the Metropolitan Police Department's enforcement of all marijuana laws currently in force in the District.' Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.) called Rep. Andy Harris (R-Md.) a 'tyrant' for meddling in the District's governing process with the amendment, pointing out that Maryland just voted to decriminalize marijuana possession...Attorney General Eric Holder told The Huffington Post earlier this year that he was 'cautiously optimistic' about legalization in Colorado, which began recreational sales Jan. 1. Washington state sales began this month." [HuffPost]

IMMIGRANT ACTIVIST VARGAS ARRESTED - At least one border agent had history's easiest quota filler today. Igor Bobic and Grim: "Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Jose Antonio Vargas was arrested Tuesday after attempting to board a plane out of McAllen, Texas, according to United We Dream, an immigration advocacy group. On July 10, Vargas, who is an undocumented immigrant, flew to the small border town with a camera crew from his own organization, Define American. Vargas, like many other immigration activists, was there to interview and film undocumented minors fleeing escalating violence in their home countries in Central America. But what Vargas didn't know is that in order to leave the border town, he would need to pass through an interior U.S. Border Patrol checkpoint set up within 45 miles of McAllen. In an interview with The Huffington Post on Saturday, Vargas, a former HuffPost editor, said he intended to fly out of McAllen using his Philippines-issued passport. On Tuesday morning, prior to reports of his arrest, Vargas alerted his Twitter followers that he would be attempting to pass through airport security." [HuffPost]

Good job, internet. Have a Gatorade. You look tired. "[A] strong contingent of angry Twitter users celebrated his detention under the hashtag #DeportJose or directly to @RyanGrim, a HuffPost reporter who published a photo of Vargas in handcuffs." [HuffPost]

BECAUSE YOU'VE READ THIS FAR - Here is a cat parkouring.

DC HUMILIATION CONTINUES - What's next, people not knowing what a shadow senator is? WSBTV: "It's something most students learn in elementary school -- the United States is made up of 50 states and the District of Columbia. But Cox Media Group reporter Justin Gray found out it's a lesson that an Orlando agent with the Transportation Safety Administration seems to have missed. Gray, who lives in Washington, D.C., was flying out of Orlando International Airport when a TSA agent said Gray's District of Columbia driver's license wasn't a valid form of identification. Gray said his license is legal and up-to-date, but the TSA agent didn't seem to know what the District of Columbia was when Gray arrived at the security checkpoint over the weekend. When Gray handed the man his driver's license the agent demanded to see Gray's passport. Grays told the agent he wasn't carrying his passport and asked why he needed it. The agent said he didn't recognize the license. Gray said he asked the agent if he knew what the District of Columbia is, and after a brief conversation Gray realized the man did not know." [WSBTV]


- What a map of D.C. would look like if drawn by JRR Tolkien [http://bit.ly/1oWQSrZ]

- The next installment of Weird Al's music video onslaught is Robin Thicke parody, "Word Crimes." [http://bit.ly/1tN9L5U]

- Conan O'Brien is making his film debut in Syfy's straight-to-television "Sharktopus vs. Pteracuda." [http://huff.to/U7CaTV]

- Jared Leto has wholeheartedly embraced a new Jared Leto-centric meme. [http://huff.to/1r1POEZ]

- Animated short on how feathers evolved. [http://bit.ly/1wqYuo6]

- Daft Punk covered on two acoustic guitars. [http://slate.me/1rcCTSh]

- Munenori Kawasaki is Major League Baseball's best interview subject, hands down. [http://bit.ly/1zFPXlF]

- Dog is so happy to have a safe new home that his tail wags while he sleeps. [http://bit.ly/1wrgcb3]


@daveweigel: God bless you guys for tweeting everything Dick Cheney says on cable news.

@Alyssafarah: Accidentally replied to a reporter's email with my dinner order: an enthusiastic all caps 'TACOS.' #oops

@timodc: VICE: Unlike a lot of celebrities such as Hillary Clinton you’ve been very upfront about being born privileged. PARIS: Im just always honest

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