HUFFPOST HILL – Boehner’s Moment Of Silence Spat
Democratic insiders think Tom Perriello is too supportive of the president’s agenda to run for Senate, so that’s why they’re backing the chair of the DNC, instead. Darell Issa has somehow offended stoners, safe sex advocates and uteruses all in the same week. And pundits are giving Jay Carney high marks after his first White House press briefing…but that’ll change when Watson the Computer gets credentialed. This is HUFFPOST HILL for Wednesday, February 16th, 2011:
WALTER JONES TO PUSH RESOLUTION PROPOSING MOMENT OF SILENCE FOR TROOPS IF BOEHNER DOESN’T GET ON IT: HPH EXCLUSIVE – Last night, Walter Jones, the North Carolina Republican who has soured on the wars, sounded off to HuffPost Hill about the failure of John Boehner to continue Nancy Pelosi’s uninterrupted tradition of holding a moment of silence as a tribute to troops killed and wounded at war. If Boehner didn’t agree to hold the ritual by the time the House returns from next week’s break, he told us, he’d put in a resolution calling for it, a thumb in the speaker’s eye. “I would hope Mr. Boehner would remember that we have young men and women dying every day in Afghanistan and all we’re asking is that we remember them with a moment of silence to show that the House supports them,” said Jones, who spoke to Boehner chief Barry Jackson about the silent moment, but said he’d yet to hear back. “I think two months is enough time. I don’t mean that as a criticism, that’s just a matter of priorities….I’m very grateful to Ms. Pelosi. She kept her word. She kept her word and I hope that Mr. Boehner will do the same thing.” This morning, HuffPost Hill let Boehner spokesman Michael Steel know about Jones’ complaint. “We’re not aware of any reason why there would be a need for a resolution,” responded Steel. “The Speaker agreed to continue the practice a few weeks ago, which had been conveyed to Mr. Jones, and we are having ongoing conversations with him…There was never an issue of whether we would or would not do this.” Steel said the details are still being worked out.
BEERS ON HUFFPOST HILL TONIGHT – HuffPost Hill somehow won a reporting prize for our story “The Poorhouse” – which came with a $500 check. We figured we already got paid for that story once, so we’re returning the money to the people by signing it over to the Tune Inn tonight and keeping a tab open until it runs out (which, given that bar’s prices, could be the middle of next month). So come by. Beers are on us, starting, oh, right now. See you there.
CFPB FACES FIRST BIG THREAT IN HOUSE – The House Republican budget for the remainder of FY11 contains a little provision blocking the Federal Reserve from transferring more than $80 million to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, slightly more than half of what it had been expecting. The CR also goes after funding for the SEC and the derivatives regulator. An amendment from Rush Holt to restore CFPB funding will be on the floor tomorrow. “We’ve got to try to beat,” Barney Frank tells HuffPost Hill. “They’re using the bill to try to re-deregulate: They’re going after the SEC, the CFTC and the CFPB and it is an effort to undo independent consumer protection…When you’re talking about $143 million or $80 million you’re talking about several multiples of a bank bonus. It just shows the disproportion between what the banks have and what they have.” Frank said he’s going to try to lobby some Tea Party folks. “I can’t imagine the Tea Party sent people here to protect derivatives,” he said. It didn’t, but the people who fund it did.
Both House Rauls — Grijalva and Labrador — were at the Tune Inn last night. But the progressive co-chair one left before the birther one got there, preventing the universe from imploding. Sherrod Brown, Brian Bilbray and that guy who wanders around the Capitol on his cell phone calling each one of his constituents were all there, too.
Rebellious rank-and-file House Republicans are feeling pressure from leaders to toe the party line, writes Roll Call’s Kathleen Hunter. While House GOP leaders aren’t whipping Members on some major votes – amendments to this week’s stopgap spending measure, for example – they have strongly tried to minimize defections, and made it clear that unity is a priority. “They wanted me to change my vote, but I told them I couldn’t do it,” said Rep. Walter Jones, who said GOP leaders approached him on the House floor Jan. 26 after he voted in favor of a Democratic motion to recommit and tried to convince him to change his mind.
SENATE UNVEILS ‘WINNING THE FUTURE’ AGENDA – Even though the only people who purport to “win the future” are self-help authors and Politico-employed wizard-sorcerers, Senate Democrats have unveiled a legislative initiative that they claim will do just that. Echoing the White House’s tagline, Democratic Leaders circulated a five-page policy memo, “Winning The Future,” that contains a number of project proposals and tax cuts, all aimed at spurring job creation. Included in in the document is a five-year spending freeze, indicating that Senate Democrats think they can haggle with the future. “It wasn’t an easy decision,” Chuck Schumer said at a leadership press conference following a meeting with President Obama. “Some members of our caucus want to go farther, but at a minimum we’re going to abide by this freeze.” [The Hill]
@jonward11 I overheard Weiner on floor defending his bill that took $298M from NASA for COPS program this way: “Lotta fucking crime on Mars man.”
Good news: Lara Logan has been released from the hospital, a day after it was disclosed that she had been physically and sexually assaulted while covering post-Mubarak celebrations in Tahrir Square.
HuffPost’s new guy Chris Kirkham just won the Oakes Award for environmental reporting, as part of a Times-Pic team covering the oil spill. Beers on him next time.
THREE WHITE HOUSE AIDES LEAVING – High-ranking government officials don’t ALL go work for lobbyists and big corporations. Sometimes, they start consulting firms and have the lobbyist and big corporations come to them! Deputy Press Secretary Bill Burton and Sean Sweeney, an aide to Chiefs-of-Staff Rahm Emanuel and Pete Rouse, will found their own political consulting firm. * Meanwhile, Katie Hogan, a press staffer, is leaving and will take a few months to, she said, “DecomPress.” What’s “DecomPress”? Like, the publishing arm of a defense contracting trade group or something? [Roll Call]
Russ Feingold, damn hippie that he is, is founding “Progressives United,” a liberal advocacy group aimed at overturning the Citizens United ruling, Amanda Terkel scooped this morning.
COUNTDOWN TO NO FOOTBALL: 14 DAYS TO GO – NFL owners are claiming that they need an extra billion dollars to make it worthwhile to invest in the upkeep of the stadiums and other facilities. The players say they are more than willing to help make those investments, but, like all investors, want a cut of the returns and want to see the owners’ books to verify their claims of impoverishment. There’s reason for suspicion. The owner of the Cincinnati Bengals, for instance, is insisting that he needs the extra money from the players to maintain the team’s stadium. “The investments that need to be made to keep the stadium and our other facilities in first-class condition require an economic system that fairly allocates financial reward and risk,” said Bengals owner Mike Brown in an October Letter to ProgressIllinois, a progressive advocacy group, explaining the team’s position. Problem is, the Bengals don’t pay for those investments. The local taxpayers do. The stadium was entirely a gift from taxpayers to the team. The lease requires taxpayers to pay the costs of routine maintenance and upgrades, which amounted to $10.2 million over the past decade, according to the Cincinnati Enquirer. And now the Bengals want four times as much from taxpayers for the next decade. [HuffPost]
Tonight in The Hill: “Osama bin Laden would be shipped to Cuba and held at the Guantanamo Bay prison if he were captured, the head of the CIA told senators on Wednesday, reports Jordy Yager.”
DAILY DELANEY DOWNER – Michele Rappaport and her husband, Alan Sorkowitz, said they watched the monthly premiums for their health insurance policy jump from $1,700 to nearly $2,500 in just one year. The Tucson, Ariz., couple started to wonder if they’d be better off stuffing that money in the bank. In January, they saw a golden opportunity to drop the expensive policy in favor of a new, more affordable federal program for people with preexisting conditions. Their premiums will be less than half as expensive, and their out-of-pocket costs will be capped. The only problem is that in order to qualify, they need to be uninsured for at least six months. Rappaport and Sorkowitz, both 57, say that despite being generally healthy, they feel they are making a big bet that they can avoid catastrophic illness or injury until July. “I was literally crying on the phone,” Rappaport said, describing the moment she and her husband called Cigna to ditch their plan. “It was the most frightening thing we’ve ever done.” [HuffPost]
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HOUSE VOTES TO NIX F-35 SECOND ENGINE PROGRAM – Speaker John Boehner’s conference broke with him today when enough of its members voted to scrap $450 million for an alternative fighter jet engine, a move supported by Defense Secretary Robert Gates. Buoyed by freshman Republicans — many of whom are aligned with the Tea Party wing of the party — the House voted 233-198 to nix the funding. “What it comes down to is what was the November election about?” Freshman Republican Rep. Tom Rooney told HuffPost after the vote. “What were you sent here to do? And that was to cut spending. I have $450 million we can cut today. The speculation that over the next 50 years, two engines might drive down costs, is just that — it’s speculative.” [HuffPost’s Elise Foley]
JAY CARNEY DELIVERS FIRST WHITE HOUSE PRESS BRIEFING – A group of individuals clad in formal wear appeared before a higher power today and asked questions without getting any actual answers — an experience typically reserved for the religiously observant. By most accounts, Jay Carney’s first briefing went off without a hitch, evident especially on Twitter, where the only snark folks could muster were comments about his nicely-matching tie. There was one confrontational-ish moment when Jake Tapper asked a question about the deficit. It was classic Tapper: “If I borrow money from you to pay off the interest for the debt I owe to Geoff, am I not adding to my debt?” After being cut off by Carney with a joke about paying him back, Tapper continued, “The president seems to think that that borrowing money to pay the interest on the debt is not adding to the debt. I don’t understand that math.” Lost in a haze of self-satisfaction, Tapper then ran home to his bathroom where he spent the next four hours shirtless and staring into the mirror, rhythmically flexing his pectorals to the harmony of the O’Jays’ “For the Love of Money”…It was, Tapper would later recall, the happiest moment of his life. [ABC News]
TONIGHT IN ROLL CALL: REP ESCAPES ETHICS INQUIRY OVER USE OF STAFFER LABOR – Jennifer Yachnin reports: “When Rep. Dave Reichert relocated to a new District home in January, he didn’t need to hire movers: three of his aides offered to help schlep his belongings, reports. According to Reichert’s office, the aides who took part in the mid-week move did so of their own volition and used vacation time, a decision that Congressional ethics observers say likely kept the Washington Republican on the right side of House rules. Hill staff do little personal chores for Members of Congress all the time, but individuals familiar with the ethics process acknowledge there is a gray area between official duties and personal favors to Members. “Obviously all kinds of things go on on Capitol Hill as an accommodation to Members by staff who, in a sense, volunteer to do things that might be considered personal, like going to get lunch or picking them up at the airport,” said attorney Stan Brand, a former House General Counsel who often represents Members before the ethics committee.”
HARRY REID URGING TIM KAINE TO RUN FOR SENATE – Sam Stein is reporting that the Senate majority leader is urging the DNC chair and former Virginia governor to make a play for the Senate seat being vacated by Jim Webb. This coincides with reports that Kaine is in talks with President Obama about possibly leaving his post atop the DNC to seek the seat. Pickings are somewhat slim in the Commonwealth, so it’s no surprise that leading Dems are actively courting Kaine, who has a proven track record of appealing to the whole state. While former Rep. Tom Perriello has considerable backing among progressives, his defeat in November might make some Dems squeamish about supporting someone painted with defeat and an unapologetic supporter of President Obama (of course you could say the exact same thing about the current DNC chair but this is Washington and you’re using logic). A number of current and former reps, including Gerry Connolly, Glenn Nye and Rick Boucher might want to aim for their current/former House seats that might be more Democratic after redistricting. Then there’s former DNC Chair Terry McAuliffe, whose manic — and frankly kind of predatory — presence in the last gubernatorial campaign reminded everyone of a dad trying wayyy too hard to fit into the concert he drove his teenage son to. Good luck with that. [HuffPost]
Virginia Republicans are already trying to highlight Kaine’s ties to President Obama. WelcomeBackTimmy.com refers to Kaine as a former “part-time” governor and prominently features a web video containing news clips meant to portray his tenures as state executive and DNC chair as failures. The Welcome Back Kotter theme plays the whole time. HuffPost Hill thinks it’s time political consultants retire that song.
DARRELL ISSA TARGETING POT, CONDOMS AND MENSTRUATION – The California representative and chair of the House Oversight Committee has unleashed a torrent of legislation in the last few days aimed at revoking supposedly-frivolous initiatives. Jonathan Allen and Jake Sherman: “The California Republican and chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee submitted a slew of amendments yesterday that would ban government-funded studies of how well men use condoms, the effects of integral yoga in treating hot flashes for menopausal women, whether video games improve old folks’ mental health, the use of marijuana in conjunction with malt liquor and with opiates, and the impacts of a possible soda tax.” If we have time, we’ll investigate whether Issa has switched the location of his infamous “Issa Cream” fundraisers from the Associated General Contractors of America Townhouse to the Midol Townhouse. [Politico]
@wcp: The @NationalZoo Kids Farm will close by late spring due to federal budget cuts http://cot.ag/g2LuRQ
Bloomberg’s Lisa Lerer spotted a baby kangaroo in the Capitol today, which may or may not be related.
FLORIDA LAWMAKER TO MEDICAID RECIPIENTS: PUT DOWN THE MARLBOROS, FATTY – State Senator Joe Negron is all about entitlements, except the “entitled” part. The Florida legislator will introduce an overhaul of the state’s Medicare program that might force obese and smoking recipients to enter into state-sanctioned weight loss and/or programs lest they lose their coverage. “We’re saying that an individual who’s been diagnosed as morbidly obese needs to be on a medically-directed program of weight loss to manage that health care problem that could turn into an increased taxpayer liability,” said Republican Sen. Don Gaetz, who helped write the bill. Asked if failure to enter into such a “medically-directed” program would result in loss of coverage, Negron replied that “[i]t’s possible.” It’s a beautiful carrot-and-stick initiative: Eat this carrot, it’s free of trans-fats, otherwise we’ll beat you senseless with this stick. [Palm Beach Post]
BECAUSE YOU’VE READ THIS FAR – James Earl Jones reads a few lines from the Justin Bieber song, “Baby, Baby, Baby”. We give it negative 10 seconds before someone slices the audio onto a video of Darth Vader lightsaber dueling.
TSA workers and dogs, both known for poking about in others’ crotches, are separating…sort of. Ed O’Keefe: “The Transportation Security Administration is canceling plans to recruit new workers at this year’s Iditarod dog race in Alaska after animal rights activists complained the agency was sponsoring a “cruel” event. Musher covers and their teams of 12 to 16 dogs begin racing along 1,150 miles of Alaska on March 5, and should complete the race in 10 to 17 days, according to race organizers. The event draws thousands of fans along the route and its principal sponsors, including ExxonMobil, pay $250,000 to fund race operations, according to local news reports. Lower tier sponsors are set to pay $100,000. The agency is listed as a sponsor on the race Web site.” [WaPo]
THE REAL RAHM EMANUEL PUTS OUT A BOUNTY ON @MAYOREMANUEL – During an appearance on the Roe and Roeper show, the former chief-of-staff and current Chicago mayoral candidate issued a public entreaty for the identity of the author of @MayorEmanuel, the swear-filled Twitter account satirizing the guy famous for referring to D.C. as “Fu*knutsville.” “After the election, I am offering a donation to the charity of that gentleman or woman’s choice if they would come forward and identify themselves,” Emanuel said. Add a guarantee that the author’s spleen won’t wind up alongside that box of holiday decorations in Emanuel’s hidden, residency requirement-fulfilling crawl space, and the truce will have our endorsement. [HuffPost]
JEREMY’S WEATHER REPORT – Tonight: This beautiful weather continues. Yes, it will be a bit mild this evening as things will cool down. Take a jacket when you go out tonight, but don’t ruin this evening by staying in. Tomorrow is when the real beauty comes out. It won’t feel like winter at all (and yes, it still is winter). With temperatures in the mid-60s, grab a picnic basket and eat lunch in a park. Thanks, JB!
– Five things invented by Donald Duck…including Inception, somehow. [http://bit.ly/fIGll6]
– A photographer specializes in recreating his subjects’ childhood photos. [http://bit.ly/g9gXY7]
– A short documentary tribute from the 80s to gap-toothed women. Yeah, it’s kind of weird. [http://bit.ly/hlxnxz]
– A Disney animator made an animated Superman short that takes its cues from “golden age of cinema” animation. [http://bit.ly/h9OKYq]
– A clips from There Will Be Blood using technology that shows where the audience’s eyes are focused. [http://bit.ly/elhSnX]
– Steve “Wildman” Brill, a self-described “naturalist,” has a website dedicated to media surrounding his 1986 arrest for eating a dandelion. [http://bit.ly/e84ZUz]
– A sequence of up close photos of an oncoming comet. No sign of the space shuttle Freedom. [http://bit.ly/fqWeEc]
– If for whatever reason you’re in the market for a motocross bike driven by Steve McQueen, your search is over. [http://bit.ly/fMjLjI]
@AriFleischer: Congrats to Jay Carney for finishing his first briefing. I wish him well…sort of.
@NickBaumann: Good name for a band: “Shirley Sherrod vs. The Noise Machine.”
@DukeStJournal: On could almost describe Jay Carney’s entrance as a saunter. Tie threat status: no nonsense burgundy.
7:00 pm – 9:00 pm: Microsoft, getting some dividends from those lobbying dollars, hosts a reception heralding the creation of the Congressional Caucus for Competitiveness in Entertainment Technology ( or the “E-TECH Caucus”). [Long View Gallery, 1234 Ninth Street NW].
8:00 am – 9:30 am: The Hill throws a breakfast in honor of the new members of Congress. Debbie Wasserman Schultz and Aaron Schock will deliver remarks. Nothing says “beat sweetener” quite like a glazed sweet roll [Hyatt Regency Washington, Thornton Room, 400 New Jersey Avenue NW].
5:00 pm – 6:30 pm: Rep. Charlie Dent, who might possess the most literary name in Congress — seriously, sounds like a Robert Penn Warren protagonist — raises some campaign cash (“The first time I happend upon Charlie Dent I was a WPA agent scouting sites for power stations in the lowlands of the Tennessee Valley,” etc). [The Home of David O’Brien, 201 C Street SE]
5:30 pm – 7:00 pm: Mary Landrieu hosts a reception for her colleague Sherrod Brown. Not sure how one reconciles Louisiana cuisine with Ohio cuisine, but maybe throw some Velveeta into the gumbo? [405 East Capitol Street SE].