POLITICS
01/06/2015 06:18 pm ET Updated Jan 06, 2015

HUFFPOST HILL - Congress Is Back :(


The 114th Congress was gaveled into session today, meaning snow wasn't the only disruptive white mass that descended on the capital. Joe Biden swore in new senators, or, as the ceremony is known amongst photo editors, "Screengrab Christmas." And Harry Reid spent his first day as minority leader home sick, presumably watching “Days of Our Lives” and chucking pencils at a printout of Mitch McConnell’s face. This is HUFFPOST HILL for Tuesday, January 6th, 2015:

SOCIAL SECURITY FIGHT!!! Democrats and Social Security advocates are accusing House Republicans of trying to kneecap Social Security on the very first day of the new Congress, and in sneaky fashion. Today the House passed a rules package for the year that Democrats say would prevent lawmakers from enacting a routine reallocation of Social Security payroll streams to shore up the ailing disability insurance trust fund. The rule, which Democratic aides said was amended late Monday night, says it would be out of order for Congress to reduce the actuarial balance of the Social Security retirement account, which is what Social Security advocates would like it to do to prevent a 20 percent reduction in benefits for 10 million disability recipients next year. The alternative, of course, is for Congress to do something to specifically reform the disability program (for instance, by slashing benefits). Many Republicans have lamented the rise in disability rolls, which they have suggested is something of a welfare sham. A summary of the rule from the GOP side of the Ways and Means Committee, which oversees Social Security, says the proposed rule prevents a "raid" on retirement insurance. "It prevents a diversion of funds from the Social Security retirement program, which is already facing a huge unfunded liability," the summary says. "Importantly, this rule sets the stage for reforms to the DI program that will make it work better for future beneficiaries." Yet Democrats and Social Security advocates argue the reallocation has been done 11 times in the past. "Rather than solve the short-term problems facing the Social Security Disability program as we have in the past, Republicans want to set the stage to cut benefits for seniors and disabled Americans," Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) said in a press release.

MCDONNELL SENTENCED TO TWO YEARS IN PRISON - It’s going to take an awful lot of license plates to earn enough for a gold watch. Times: “ Bob McDonnell, the former governor of Virginia who was convicted in September on corruption charges, was sentenced to 24 months in prison on Tuesday... Mr. McDonnell, 60, was given the sentence by Judge James R. Spencer of Federal District Court. He was found guilty of trading favors in return for $177,000 in loans, vacations and gifts from a wealthy family friend who was trying to promote his vitamin supplement business. Mr. McDonnell...initially faced the prospect of up to 20 years in prison, but Judge Spencer lowered that range to six-and-a-half to eight years during a hearing. His lawyers, citing what they described as years of good works and commitment to public service, had argued that a sentence of community service should suffice. While Mr. McDonnell and his family looked shocked when he was convicted, on Tuesday they appeared impassive as sentence was passed. He was directed to turn himself in on Feb. 9.” [NYT]

BOEHNER RE-ELECTED HOUSE SPEAKER - Even though he’d love nothing more than to wile away his days making hot toddies, spending four hours a week at a lobbying firm and watching that movie where Robert Redford is on a boat and doesn’t say anything, John Boehner successfully put his name forward as House speaker for the 114th Congress this afternoon. Twenty-five of his conference members voted against his reelection, the most against a sitting speaker since 1923. Sabrina Siddiqui and Mike McAuliff: “The rebels were led by Reps. Louie Gohmert (R-Texas) and Ted Yoho (R-Fla.), who both challenged Boehner for the speakership. They argued that the current GOP leadership had turned its back on the principles of the voters who chose to seat a Republican House and Senate for the first time in eight years. Yoho, despite his challenge to Boehner, raised money for the speaker in October...The dissatisfied Republicans offered up three alternatives to Boehner -- Gohmert, who received three votes, Yoho, who received two, as well as Webster. Other protest votes were also cast, including for people who are not in the House. While the insurrection gained little traction, it does signal that Boehner could be in for a rough couple of years. The members who opposed him comprise a larger bloc than the dozen who opposed him two years ago at the start of the 113th Congress.” [HuffPost]

All the lulz: “Tea Party Republican Ted Yoho of Florida, who unsuccessfully challenged John Boehner (R-Ohio) for speaker of the House of Representatives, personally raised money for the Boehner for Speaker Committee, according to an invitation provided to The Huffington Post. The fundraiser, unsurprisingly centered on a golf outing with Speaker Boehner, was co-hosted by Yoho and a number of other political figures, including several congressmen. It was held on Oct. 20, 2014, just before the midterm elections, at the TPC Sawgrass Clubhouse in Point Vedra Beach, Florida.” [HuffPost’s Ryan Grim]

BOEHNER PROFILE: STILL ENDURING THE CHUCKLEHEADS - Classic Glenn Thrush: “There was a solid chance, friends and associates tell me, that he would have retired last year and headed down to his new condo in Marco Island, Florida, had Eric Cantor, the ambitious majority leader who stood behind him like a stalking butler, not been ousted by a rebel in the Republican primary. But senior Republican leaders have concluded that Kevin McCarthy, Boehner’s fresh-faced new majority leader from California, simply isn’t seasoned enough to take over the big job yet.” [Politico]

Boehner called Peter King a shithead, which is actually one of the speaker's terms of endearment. He once called Steve King an asshole -- not as endearing.

Arugula summit: “At their tense, obligatory November meeting at the White House after the GOP handed Obama a staggering loss in the midterms, Obama tried to keep his remarks shorter, offering a brief recitation of his priorities for the upcoming lame-duck session. When he was done, he peered across the polished hardwood at the purse-lipped McConnell and said, ‘Now I’d like to open this up for questions.’ Crickets. Then he turned his gaze to Boehner, who offered more dead air. After an awkward moment, Obama dug into the neat heap of lettuce in front of him, hoisted a laden fork and said, ‘OK. … So how do you like the salad?’ which elicited a chuckle from both leaders, according to a person who was in the room. “ [Ibid.]

”[W]hich elicited a chuckle from both leaders, according to a person who was in the room,” might actually be the most D.C. part of that graf.

DAILY DELANEY DOWNER - Half of millenials who moved out of their parents' houses moved back before they turned 27, according to the Labor Department. [BLS.gov]

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WHITE HOUSE ISSUES KEYSTONE VETO THREAT - Instead of a stamp, the president should paste a “My Other Car Is A Bike” bumper sticker on the bill. Kate Sheppard: "The White House issued a veto threat Tuesday for pending legislation intended to force federal approval of the Keystone XL pipeline. ‘The fact is this piece of legislation is not altogether different than legislation that was introduced in the last Congress,’ said White House press secretary Josh Earnest Tuesday afternoon, referring to a bill that was defeated in November. ‘And you would recall that we put out a Statement of Administration position indicating that the president would have vetoed [it], had that bill passed the previous Congress.’ ‘I can confirm for you that if this bill passes this Congress, the president wouldn’t sign it either,’ Earnest continued. Earnest's remarks came at a press conference shortly after Sens. John Hoeven (R-N.D.) and Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) introduced legislation that would force federal approval of the pipeline. The bill, the first of the new Senate, has 60 co-sponsors, including six Democrats. The House is slated to vote Friday on its own bill to approve the proposed pipeline.” [HuffPost]

PRESIDENT MULLING OVERTIME PAY - Dave Jamieson: “Last year, as part of his plan to raise wages through executive action, the president ordered the Labor Department to revise the rules that determine which workers are eligible for overtime pay. Under the Depression-era Fair Labor Standards Act, hourly workers earn time-and-a-half for hours worked beyond 40 in a week...The rules are complicated, but mostly boil down to what's known as the salary threshold. If you earn below a certain amount in a year, you're automatically qualified for overtime, no matter your work duties...Today, a mere 11 percent of salaried workers fall under the threshold, compared with 65 percent in 1975, according to the Economic Policy Institute….Jared Bernstein, the former chief economist to Vice President Joe Biden, [has] advocated for a threshold of roughly $51,000. They base their number on the 1975 threshold, adjusting for inflation as well as the higher education level of the modern workforce. That would cover 47 percent of salaried workers.” [HuffPost]

REID CALLS IN SICK - Roll Call: “Incoming Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid is working from his D.C. residence after sustaining a concussion and other injuries in a workout accident last week. ‘Senator Reid is in Washington but on orders from his doctors he will not come into the office so that his injuries can continue to heal. He has been diagnosed with broken bones in his face and three broken ribs, as well as a concussion,’ spokesman Adam Jentleson said in a statement. ‘Despite his injuries, he has been working every day, holding meetings with fellow Senators and staff. Senator Reid has spoken with President Obama multiple times since his injury and will continue to keep a busy schedule in the coming days.’ Democratic Whip Richard J. Durbin of Illinois will fill in for the Nevada Democrat during the opening proceedings on the Senate floor Tuesday.Reid had been expected back at the Capitol for the start of the 114th Congress at noon Tuesday. Now, Durbin will be wearing Reid’s hat temporarily.” [Roll Call]

BECAUSE YOU'VE READ THIS FAR - Here’s a dog and a Furby.

COMFORT FOOD

- Bros love “Downton Abbey,” as this song demostrates.

- All the episodes of the first season of “Friends,” at once.

- Video of Kim Jong Un flying a plane overlayed with Katy Perry. Happy Tuesday.

TWITTERAMA

@pourmecoffee: It's dangerously cold across America. Be sure to check on your neighbors and make sure they are warm and have the right opinions.

@byrontau: Twitter should designate a pool of 4 or 5 people to livetweet news events. Everyone else then just lives their lives; does their other job.

@juddlegum: Sen. Lindsay Graham just gave Joni Ernst a livestock castration device.

Which isn't at all weird.

pic.twitter.com/jWkVWmMcyR (via @MortonOWH)

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