HUFFPOST HILL - God Gets New Flack

Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio managed to overcome pontifical opposition and was elected pope with a filibuster-proof supermajority. Vice President Biden will lead the U.S.'s delegation to Pope Francis' first mass and will, presumably, be the first person on Earth to call the holy father "Pope Frank" to his face. And back in the States, the American economy finally recovered after one House Republican used a meeting with President Obama to ask why he canceled White House tours. This is HUFFPOST HILL for Wednesday, March 13th, 2013:

OBAMA MEETS WITH GOP HOUSE CONFERENCE, SOLVES ALL OUR PROBLEMS - Politico: "President Barack Obama tangled with House Republicans for more than an hour Wednesday, answering questions on topics ranging from whether the White House spends too much time campaigning to how serious the administration is about slashing the nation's deficit. Republicans focused on political issues -- quizzing Obama on why his White House stopped giving tours after the sequester took effect. But the House GOP also delved into policy, where Republicans heard Obama say he doesn't want to balance the budget in 10 years. That's the challenge issued by Rep. Paul Ryan in the GOP budget unveiled on Tuesday... [Rep. Candice Miller] also asked why the the White House decided to suspend White House tours, citing the sequester. Why not cancel the White House-Congressional picnic, as well? Obama, according to a source in the room, said the decision to suspend the tours was made by the Secret Service. The president said that the Secret Service would have had to furlough more people in order to keep the tours going...Obama said he would not tweak entitlements without more taxes. Ways and Means chairman Dave Camp (R-Mich.) praised Obama for supporting 'Medicare capping for high net worth people' and 'chain CPI on Social Security.'" [Politico]

Obama when he walked out of the meeting: "It was good. It was useful. I enjoyed it." Sure you did.

@DanaBashCNN: Source says POTUS handed note re new pope &he announced it. Repub asked if this means wh tours will restart. He said no Vatican tours will

47 PERCENT FILMER REMINDS US WHY IT'S SMART TO BE NICE TO WAITSTAFF - Grim and Jason Cherkis: "The filmmaker tells The Huffington Post that he had actually met Romney at a previous fundraiser, held months before at the home of private equity manager Marc Leder. At that event, which included drinks and a quick speech by the presidential candidate, the would-be filmmaker also tended bar... 'I handed him a diet Coke with lemon on it,' the filmmaker recalled.. 'He took it and turned and didn't say anything... I presented him the exact right drink that he wanted ... Had it there, sitting there on a napkin. He took it out of my hand and turned his back without a "thank you" or anything else.' HuffPost has agreed to withhold the name of the surreptitious filmmaker until he breaks his silence on MSNBC's 'The Ed Show' Wednesday evening, followed by an appearance on HuffPost Live Thursday morning." [HuffPost]

POPE FRANK SOMEHOW NOT AMERICAN - Thankfully the Post didn't falsely report that the new pope would be Dick Gephardt. Jaweed Kaleem: "Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Buenos Aires has been elected to be the 266th pope of the Catholic Church, taking the name Pope Francis. He is the first Latin American pope to lead the church, as well as the first Jesuit priest. Francis, 76, appeared on the balcony of St. Peter's Basilica at Wednesday more than an hour after white smoke was released from the Sistine Chapel chimney at 2:05 EDT (7:05 p.m. CET) to signal that a new pope had been selected. Speaking from the balcony, he gave his first address as pope, the traditional Urbi et Orbi (to the 'City and the World'), as crowds waved, cried and cheered for the new leader of the world's 1.2 billion Catholics." Thanks, Jaweed! [HuffPost]

Via David Weiner, a Wikileaked cable on Bergoglio, originating from the U.S.'s Vatican embassy during the last conclave in 2005: "Bergoglio exemplifies the virtues of the wise pastor that many electors value. Observers have praised his humility: he has been reluctant to accept honors or hold high office and commutes to work on a bus. What could count against him is his membership in the Jesuit order. Some senior prelates, especially conservatives, are suspicious of a liberal streak in the order, perhaps most pronounced in the U.S., but also present elsewhere. Bergoglio is said to prefer life in the local Church as opposed to a bureaucratic existence in Rome's ecclesiastical structures, but at the same time he has been willing to serve on the Vatican's various supervisory committees. This could indicate an ability to bridge the curia/local church divide that splits the College of Cardinal Electors, making him a good compromise candidate." [Cablegate Seach]

Statement from President Obama: "On behalf of the American people, Michelle and I offer our warm wishes to His Holiness Pope Francis as he ascends to the Chair of Saint Peter and begins his papacy. As a champion of the poor and the most vulnerable among us, he carries forth the message of love and compassion that has inspired the world for more than two thousand years -- that in each other we see the face of God. As the first pope from the Americas, his selection also speaks to the strength and vitality of a region that is increasingly shaping our world, and alongside millions of Hispanic Americans, those of us in the United States share the joy of this historic day..."

@marykbruce: Vice President Biden will lead the U.S. delegation to the Pope's inauguration mass, a White House official confirms.

A friendly reminder that Francis I is neither a fan of gay rights nor abortion

DAILY DELANEY DOWNER - A day after Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), chairman of the House Budget Committee, said Republicans wouldn't "refight the past," House Republicans took up a bill resurrecting the 2012 campaign charge that President Barack Obama coddles poor people by giving them free welfare. The bill, which is similar to a measure that the House adopted last year before it died in the Senate, passed the lower chamber on Wednesday by a vote of 246 to 181. [HuffPost]

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OBAMA REMAINS NONCOMMITTAL ON KEYSTONE PIPELINE - Which we suspect means he'll wait to see how Dems are faring in the midterm polls around March 2014, at which point he'll get more committal. James Gerken: "Republican lawmakers pressed President Barack Obama on the Keystone XL pipeline in a meeting on Wednesday. Initial reports suggested Obama would approve the pipeline, but he did not offer a definitive answer. The New York Times reported the president 'indicated' support of the Canadian oil sands pipeline, according to statements from Rep. John Carter (R-Texas), but he "did not say outright" if his administration would approve the project's permit. BuzzFeed touched off a flurry of reactions after posting a story suggesting Obama had told the House Republicans that he would drop his objections to the pipeline. The White House quickly tamped down the rumor however, telling HuffPost in an emailed statement, Obama 'did not indicate either way' if he would approve the pipeline and the assessment is ongoing." [HuffPost]

OBAMA: GAY MARRIAGE BANS ARE UNCONSTITUTIONAL - If president Obama's "evolving views" on gay marriage were living beings, his first term views would be a nubby-footed eel, climbing out of the primordial ooze, and his current views would be an amorphous being of pure energy, purged of emotion and bias. Luke Johnson: "President Barack Obama said he could not imagine a circumstance in which a state banning gay marriage was legal, wading into an issue he initially said should be left to the states. ABC News' George Stephanopoulos asked Obama in an interview released Wednesday whether gay marriage was a right under the Constitution. 'Well, I've gotta tell you that -- in terms of practical politics, what I've seen is a healthy debate taking place state by state, and not every state has the exact same attitudes and cultural mores. And I -- you know, my thinking was that this is traditionally a state issue and -- that it will work itself out,' he said. 'On the other hand -- what I also believe is that the core principle that people don't get discriminated against -- that's one of our core values. And it's in our Constitution.'" [HuffPost]

PROGRESSIVE CAUCUS UNVEILS ITS OWN BUDGET - The proposal surprisingly doesn't achieve most of its spending reductions by having federal workers not flush when they pee. Luke Johnson: "That budget, titled 'Back to Work,' offers a list of progressive priorities -- a public option for health care, negotiation of Medicare drug prices, a carbon tax, defense cuts, a financial transactions tax, much higher marginal tax rates for millionaires and billionaires, capital gains taxed as ordinary income, and public works projects, among dozens of other ideas... The progressives' budget states that there will be no cuts to Social Security, Medicare or Medicaid... The progressives' budget would also reinstate the Making Work Pay tax credit that expired at the end of 2012. Walmart and the parent company of Olive Garden and Red Lobster, among others, have complained that its expiration has led to less money in their customers' pockets and thus less business for them." [HuffPost]

SENATE DEMOCRATS TRYING TO OUTMANEUVER GOP'S NOMINEE FILIBUSTERS - Though don't count on them settling on a "throw purple smoke pellets on ground and quickly approve judicial nominees before McConnell's eyes stop watering" strategy. TPM: "Senate Democratic leaders have engaged in preliminary discussions about how to address Republican procedural obstruction, according to a senior Democratic aide, reflecting an awareness that key administration and judicial vacancies might never be filled, and that a watered-down rules reform deal the parties struck early this Congress has failed. 'The general agreement was that Republicans would only filibuster nominees in the case of extraordinary circumstances, and once again Republicans are expanding the definition of that term to make it entirely meaningless,' the aide said. The source said conversations are still too preliminary for Democrats to lay out publicly potential avenues of recourse just yet. And the last thing leaders want is to create the expectation that they will change the filibuster rules in the middle of the current Senate session. But they are occurring in the wake of a series of GOP filibusters of top nominees, including a cabinet secretary (Chuck Hagel), the CIA director (John Brennan), and a federal judicial nominee (Caitlin Halligan) whom Republicans have effectively blocked from confirmation to the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals for years." [TPM]

The president sounds equally fed up: "President Barack Obama is conceding 'we're probably not going to be able to get a deal' on budget, tax and spending issues with Congress if Republicans continue to insist that no new revenues can be raised unless entitlement programs are significantly overhauled. Obama, who has been stepping up efforts to talk to both Republicans and Democrats this week, tells ABC News that 'ultimately, it may be that the differences are just too wide.'" [HuffPost]

DO SEQUESTRATION MAKE US UNSMART? - Amanda Terkel: "The Air Force, Army, Coast Guard and Marines have all suspended their Tuition Assistance (TA) programs, while the Navy is still reviewing its options, according to the Defense Department. The military is not suspending G.I. Bill benefits, although those are for veterans, rather than individuals currently serving. Several lawmakers are stepping in and trying to help out. Sen. Kay Hagan (D-N.C.) wrote to Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel Tuesday and urged him to reconsidering suspending the TA programs...The TA programs are incredibly popular. In fiscal year 2012, for example, 201,000 soldiers took advantage of the Army's TA program. It provided $373 million, helping 2,831 soldiers earn associate degrees, 4,495 earn bachelor degrees and 1,946 earn graduate degrees." [HuffPost]

DRONE LOBBY TOUTS ITS JOB CREATION - It apparently creates new jobs, as opposed to just creating vacancies. Matt Sledge: "In a new report released Tuesday, the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI) declares that if the Federal Aviation Administration unleashes drones into the American airspace, the industry has the potential to create 70,000 new jobs and $13.6 billion in economic growth in just three years...But the carrot comes with a stick: Much of that job growth will happen only, the AUVSI report says, if the regulations being written by the FAA, due in 2015, are broad and permissive. The report adds that economic benefits will flow disproportionately to the states that give drone makers tax breaks and avoid restrictive local rules on drone use." [HuffPost]

ANOTHER ROMNEY MULLING A SENATE RUN IN MICHIGAN - Gotta love a family that is trying to build a political dynasty based on a guy who ran the state 40 years ago. Detroit News: "Ronna Romney McDaniel, granddaughter of former Michigan Gov. George Romney, said she's 'looking at' a Republican run for Senate after Democrat Carl Levin announced he's not going to seek re-election. She was an active campaigner for her uncle Mitt Romney last year. 'It's something I'm going to consider (after) what I saw around the state with how frustrated people were with what's happening in D.C.,' Romney McDaniel, 39, told The Detroit News Tuesday night. 'Maybe this is a time where we can bring a new voice and get a Republican senator from our state.' Her father, Scott Romney, Mitt's older brother, told The News that after initially considering a run he has decided against a bid for the seat held for more than three decades by Levin, D-Detroit... East Lansing pollster Steve Mitchell said Romney McDaniel would be a "strong candidate" with appeal statewide with the Romney name, no baggage of a voting record and an ability to tap her family's fundraising network to raise what he estimates is $5 million to run a primary... Her mother, Ronna Romney, ran for U.S. Senate in 1994 and 1996 and her grandmother, Lenore Romney, ran in 1970. Both were unsuccessful." [Detroit News]

BECAUSE YOU'VE READ THIS FAR - Cat would like to go on a walk, please.


- If "Game of Thrones" were released in 1995. [http://bit.ly/Z1g4Ao]

- A live volcano viewed from the International Space Station. [http://bit.ly/X7lfMK]

- Let this be a warning to all of you who think sinkholes are jokes. [http://huff.to/12LXh1h]

- Woman proposes to boyfriend via flashmob. [http://bit.ly/ZL6xPl]

- Eye-opening photographs of Iran, including an art exhibit displaying Warhols. [http://bit.ly/WiZc8A]

- Iran wants to sue Hollywood over movies that "distort" its image like "Argo." [http://bit.ly/15KuY14]

- The top porn searches from each country. Ukraine's is "raincoat (gay)" so make of it what you will. [http://bit.ly/10Jxci6]


@SonnyBunch: By a 5-4 ruling in Bush v. Pope, George W. has been crowned New Pope.

@mikememoli: Marsha Blackburn jokes that she saw a "puff of white smoke" over Senate as they finally released a budget #conclavehumor

@dceiver: All of the tee-shirts that were printed with "[NAME OF LOSING CANDIDATE] is the New Pope!" will be shipped to third world countries.



6:00 pm: Susan Collins, who is up for reelection in 2014, kicks off her campaign with a reception attended by Mitch McConnell, John Cornyn, John Thune, Roy Blunt and Jerry Moran. Given her status as a GOP moderate, this will be the last time for the next two years those five men will not hate her guts. [NRSC, 425 2nd Street NE]

6:00 pm: The W Hotel might not be the first place you associate with the Republican Party, but that's where Saxby Chambliss, Richard Burr and Jerry Moran will be raising funds for the NRSC. [W Hotel, 515 15th Street NW]

6:30 pm: Deb Fischer, which is what every woman in Nebraska is named (the men are all John Henderson), attends a fundraiser at DC's most overrated restaurant, Carmine's. [Carmines, 425 7th Street NW]

6:30 pm: Jeff Flake gets into the swing of senatordom with a ritzy fundraiser at Charlie Palmer Steak, one of the most blatantly "House of Cards"-y things that happens around here. [Charlie Palmer Steak, 101 Constitution Ave NW]

6:30 pm: Terry McAuliffe, renown for having a circulatory system made entirely out of pixie sticks, heads to New York City for a fundraiser featuring Bill Clinton at the home of super-rich guy Marc Lasry. [NYC]


5:30 pm: With all apologies to her pregnant supporters, Lois Capps is going ahead with her "Spring Time Sushi Spectacular" fundraiser. [Erickson & Co. Townhouse, 38 Ivy Street SE]

6:00 pm: Brian Higgins hosts the "5th ANnual Taste of Buffalo," so make sure you bring your checkbook and a desire to learn what industrial decay tastes like. And wings... maybe. [National Democratic Club Townhouse, 40 Ivy Street SE]

7:30 pm: Ted Deutch invites his donors to Pink's concert at the Verizon Center. Enjoy that scene. [Verizon Center, 601 F Street NW]

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