John Boehner numbed the pain of endorsing Mitt Romney with his favorite pastime: ragging on Luke Russert. Romney made misleading statements about John Kerry's tax returns, but it had nothing to do with the two men's mutual love for -- and constant contributions to -- Americans United for Coiffing and Watersports. And the House passed a pork-laden, election year transportation bill that contains a few dollars that Congress kindly allocated to things that people actually need. Bridge to nowhere? More like bridge to ANOTHER TERM! CONGRESS 4 LYFE!!! This is HUFFPOST HILL for Wednesday, April 18th, 2012:
REID: NUCLEAR OFFICIAL "LIED TO CONGRESS" - Harry Reid is employing a version of the "Senate Majority Leader Veto" on a Nuclear Regulatory Commissioner up for renomination, an aggressive move that is the latest battle in a decades-long war simmering in Washington's nuclear policy community. Mitch McConnell is accusing Democrats of retaliating against Kristine Svinicki for taking part in an organized effort to oust NRC Chairman Gregory Jaczko last year. "Senator Reid opposes Commissioner Svinicki's re-nomination because she lied to Congress about her past work on Yucca Mountain," Reid spokesman Adam Jentleson told HuffPost Hill, employing a term rarely thrown around on the Hill. "Furthermore, Commissioner Svinicki has an abysmal record on nuclear safety, demonstrating that she puts the interests of the nuclear industry ahead of the safety of American citizens. Senator Reid has consistently supported qualified Republicans for the commission and is open to supporting others, but Commissioner Svinicki has disqualified herself and does not deserve to be re-nominated." Matt Dempsey, spokesman for the GOP side of the environment committee, said that if Reid wants to make that charge, Svinicki should be able to respond. "Given that this is an issue that has been brought before the EPW Committee before and there's been no reaction since, if Senator Reid is going to raise that allegation, we should go through that process again so she has a chance to respond." Svinicki is traveling and unavailable to comment. More to com. [Some background]
Jared Polis gave a House floor speech on zombies. YouTube to prove it.
HOUSE PASSES TRANSPORTATION BILL - The transportation extension bill passed the lower chamber today. Matt Sledge: "[E]nvironmental advocates are crying foul on an amendment that would strip the EPA of the ability to regulate toxic coal ash and hand it over to the states. The amendment passed in a voice vote with bipartisan support Wednesday afternoon. Critics say it is yet another industry giveaway in a measure that would also approve the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline and 'streamline' environmental safeguards. The amendment's sponsor, West Virginia Rep. David McKinley, a Republican, says it would prevent the EPA from imposing onerous new regulations on the disposal of coal ash, a toxic byproduct of coal power plants that can contain arsenic, mercury and lead. Coal ash is currently unregulated on the federal level, and McKinley's bill would prevent it from being treated even on par with household landfill waste." [HuffPost]
The bill passed a veto-proof 293-127, preventing the president from vetoing the Keystone pipeline, which he has threatened to do -- how... convenient!
Elsewhere in Legislationstan: "The rapid growth of for-profit colleges over the past decade has been aided by billion-dollar ad campaigns on daytime television, the Internet and highway billboards across the country. Those hefty advertising budgets are now the focus of two senators looking to curb the amount of federal dollars directed toward marketing at many for-profit schools, which derive the vast majority of revenues from taxpayer dollars. Sens. Kay Hagan (D-N.C.) and Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) are introducing a bill Wednesday that would prohibit all colleges from using federal aid programs to pay for advertising, recruiting and marketing expenses." [HuffPost's Chris Kirkham]
The WORK Act, which wants to give low-income women the same options Ann Romney has, is picking up a bunch of cosponsors.
ROMNEY INACCURATELY COMPARES SELF TO 2004-ERA JOHN KERRY - Sam Stein: "Mitt Romney and his presidential campaign have offered a misleading explanation for why the likely Republican presidential nominee will only release one additional year of tax return data during the rest of this campaign....At each interval the Romney camp has had a ready answer: He's meeting the same standard prior candidates, including Democrats, have met. 'John Kerry released two years of taxes,' Romney recently told CNBC's Larry Kudlow. 'I've released one already, put the estimate out for the next year. We'll have two years of taxes.' It's a convenient rejoinder. But it's also inaccurate." [HuffPost]
OBAMA: DRUG TESTS FOR SOME, MINIATURE AMERICAN FLAGS FOR OTHERS - The government wants businesses to drug test their workers to boost productivity and reduce health care costs, according to the 2012 National Drug Control Report released Tuesday. But not everyone in America should have to pee in a cup, according to a spokesman for the Obama administration agency that issued the report. "While we believe that employers can use testing as one of a variety of tools to help guide employees suffering from substance abuse disorders into treatment -- which as we announced yesterday is not a moral failing but a treatable disease -- it is certainly not our policy that every employer in America ought to test and punish employees," Rafael Lemaitre, spokesman for the administration's Office of National Drug Control Policy, said in an email. The comments come amid a wave of state and federal proposals that would require the poor and unemployed to prove they're not on drugs in order to receive government benefits. In many instances, Republican proponents of drug testing have argued that since most businesses require workers to drug test, the government should do the same for those seeking welfare or unemployment insurance while they search for work. [HuffPost]
DAILY DELANEY DOWNER - Eric, a 48-year-old Californian, has been out of work for three years. "I am scrambling with self employment, odd jobs and a lot of belt tightening to survive. I won't be able to do it much longer I am on an undeniable path to homelessness," he said in an email. "Meanwhile I just survived a dental emergency. A molar went bad. Western Dental told me there was no big deal all I needed was a deep cleaning, for $1,000. I had to fight to get a prescription for antibiotics. I maintained the infection and ate a ton of tylenol to manage the pain, for 3 months! I finally went to Tijuana last week to have the ruined tooth extracted." Hang in there!
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BOEHNER ENTERS CAMPAIGN MODE - Which must be hard for the poor guy, because who the hell cares about a Republican speaker when you've got a guy named Willard as the Republican president? :'-( National Journal: "House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, slammed President Obama on Wednesday, saying 'America should be doing a lot better today,' and the president should spend more time on his job and less on campaigning. 'All he's done is campaign full time for the last six months,' Boehner told CBS' This Morning. 'He's not been engaged in the legislative process at all... it's shameful.' 'The president is going to try to make the election about anything other than his failed economic policy, because he can't run on his record,' Boehner added. 'They're going to pull out every boogie man they can. The fact is, is that we've got a serious problem.'" [NJ]
Boehner also criticized Catholic bishops, a key interest group that is not important to Mitt Romney's election chances -- no, sir. Nope. Not at all. Nuh-uh.. Mike McAuliff: "House Majority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) chastised Catholic bishops at a Wednesday news conference on Capitol Hill, saying they needed to look at the bigger picture after they complained that the GOP budget plan fails to meet 'moral criteria.' The bishops had written letters to Capitol Hill, arguing many elements of the Republicans' budget proposal, such as cuts to food stamps, harmed the poor while the wealthy benefitted." [HuffPost]
@mmcauliff: Boehner to Luke Russert; "Loud mouth, shut up."
CONGRESSMAN'S BEHAVIOR DUBIOUS, NOT CRIMINAL: PROSECUTORS - Checks and balances, baby! TPM: "Florida prosecutors are ending their probe into Rep. David Rivera's personal and campaign finances, after an investigation that had stretched over most of the first-term Republican's time in office. Prosecutors determined that ambiguities in Florida's campaign finance laws and the statute of limitations preventing prosecution over campaign expenses more than two years old meant they could not charge Rivera, sources close to the case told The Miami Herald. 'Prosecutors also concluded that Rivera did not break any laws by raising hundreds of thousands of dollars in secret donations to a campaign for an obscure post within the state Republican Party,' the Herald reports." [TPM]
Remember Deem And Pass?: "House Republican leaders used an arcane legislative maneuver to enforce Budget Chairman Paul Ryan's financial blueprint Tuesday, highlighting how quickly a procedure maligned when in the minority can become a useful tool when in control of the gavel -- and vice versa. Despite cries of hypocrisy from Democrats, Republicans used the self-executing rule -- informally known as 'deem and pass' -- to tack the Wisconsin Republican's budget onto an easily passable bill, the Sportsmen's Heritage Act." [Roll Call]
LAWMAKER CONCERNED ABOUT BILLS THAT LETS PEOPLE CARRY GUNS WILLY NILLY -- SOMEHOW THIS IS 'CONTROVERSIAL' - Sam Stein: "Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) on Tuesday placed a hold on two controversial pieces of legislation that would force states that allow the concealed carrying of guns to recognize each other's permits. Feinstein informed party leadership that she would oppose the quick passage of two concealed carry reciprocity bills that critics argue would cause a 'race to the bottom' in terms of concealed weapon law in the United States. The senator cited the shooting of Trayvon Martin, an unarmed teenager killed in Florida, as one of the reasons she was applying the legislative brakes." [HuffPost]
THE WAR FOR WOMEN IS SO YESTERDAY, THE WAR FOR LATINOS IS SO NOW - The RNC recently announced that it would redouble its Latino GOTV efforts. Fie on that! The Obama campaign will see your redoubling and raise you some escalating. Elise Foley: "The race for the Latino vote is on. Two days after the Republican National Committee announced a new effort to attract Latino voters, the Obama campaign is out on Wednesday with the first in a series of ads targeting Hispanic voters. The four ads feature Latino Obama for America organizers, each of whom discusses in Spanish their experience with education. They are part of a larger effort called Latinos for Obama, which also launched on Wednesday." [HuffPost]
Belay that: the War for Women is still going strong! Laura Bassett: "Lilly Ledbetter, the woman who famously sued her employer after discovering she was being paid less than her male colleagues and who inspired the first piece of legislation President Barack Obama signed upon entering office, fired back against likely GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney after he declined to say whether he would have signed the bill into law...'Mitt Romney told me and millions of other women that he couldn't commit to fighting with us or for us,' Ledbetter told reporters Wednesday." [HuffPost]
DON'T FORGET THE WAR ON DOGS - For the first time, the Mitt Romney campaign is fighting back in the War on Dogs. The Daily Caller's Jim Treacher posted a blog item Tuesday with an excerpt from President Barack Obama's bestselling memoir "Dreams From My Father," in which Obama writes of eating dog meat when he was a little boy in Indonesia. Team Romney, which has been mostly sullen and quiet about Romney's humiliating past dog abuse, seems to like Treacher's plan to call Obama a dog-eater every time someone talks about Romney putting his dog on the car roof. In January, Obama campaign honcho David Axelrod tweeted a photo of Obama's dog, Bo, riding in the president's armored limousine, with the caption "How loving owners transport their dogs." On Tuesday evening, Romney campaign spokesman Eric Fehrnstrom retweeted Axelrod with the comment, "In hindsight, a chilling photo." [HuffPost]
@mollyesque: BREAKING: According to the Romney campaign, Mitt Romney has never knowingly eaten dog meat. Yes, I actually asked.
@AP: Are you a dog owner? AP would like to talk to you for an article. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 212-621-7115.
SCOTT BROWN PULLS A COAKLEY - Scott Brown took money from a Yankees executive -- a wildly successful and brilliant businessperson who -- let's be honest here -- is undoubtedly a diehard fan of the president. Boston Herald: "U.S. Sen. Scott Brown may be rooting for the Red Sox against the Yankees this week, but the head of the hated Pinstripes is going to bat for Brown. Randy Levine, president of the New York Yankees, donated the maximum $2,500 to the Massachusetts Republican's re-election campaign last month, according to newly released campaign finance records. That's right, the commander of the Evil Empire is helping to pay for all those Brown ads championing his support of the Red Sox...Levine is the embodiment of everything we hate about the Yankees. He's described as arrogant and brash, and is the chief henchman of the Steinbrenner family, according to reports. Oh yeah, one of his chief goals every year is to destroy the Red Sox." HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHHA!!! -- whew. ::Wipes brow:: [Boston Herald]
Elizabeth Warren "distancing" herself from the White House a bit. The Hill: "Elizabeth Warren -- the liberal icon challenging Sen. Scott Brown (R-Mass.) -- said she would support repealing part of President Obama's healthcare law. Warren said in an op-ed that Congress should repeal the health law's tax on medical devices. Massachusetts is home to several large device companies." [The Hill]
Ann Romney's birthday fundraiser was Adam Goldberg'd. HuffPost: "On Tuesday, Melania & Donald Trump hosted a 'birthday celebration' at their Trump Tower home for Ann Romney. The Women For Romney event required a $1,000 per person contribution to Mitt Romney's presidential campaign. The Huffington Post did not attend the gathering, which reportedly netted more than $600,000 for the Romney campaign, but we stood outside the building and spoke to many of the attendees. Trump is famously skeptical of President Barack Obama's citizenship... So one of the questions we posed to people heading into the fundraiser was simply: Do you agree with Trump that questions remain about Obama's citizenship? We expected the question to be laughed off. It wasn't." [HuffPost]
@robertcostaNOR: I just asked Newt about how historians will view this presidential campaign. "Chaos," he says. "Chaos."
SCOTUS update from Mike Sacks: "The family of a Palestinian American killed while in the Palestinian Authority's custody cannot sue the organization, the Supreme Court [unanimously] ruled on Wednesday morning. Azzam Rahim, a naturalized American citizen, was visiting the West Bank in 1995 when intelligence officers from the Palestinian Authority arrested him and took him to a prison in Jericho. Two days later, an ambulance returned his dead body to his family; it had cigarette burns and broken bones, among other marks of torture. The following year, the U.S. Department of State confirmed that Rahim had been killed while in the intelligence officers' custody." [HuffPost]
BECAUSE YOU'VE READ THIS FAR - Tantrum-toddler can't lift bowl. It's downhill from here, kiddo.
ARE YOU A DAILY DEAL USER? - HuffPost DC: "This local massage studio owner probably doesn't like you." [HuffPost]
- This video is titled "Cats in Space." You'll probably watch it, because you're fickle. [http://bit.ly/HTMh69]
- The world's fastest man on all fours. [http://chzb.gr/HTKLAR]
- CISPA is the new SOPA/PIPA, sounds like a disease plaguing motor-scooters. [http://bit.ly/HTLyls]
- If presidential candidates tweeted like us mortals... political discourse would be largely unchanged. [http://bit.ly/HTKYnI]
- Siri should be afraid of Sam Jackson's Furious Anger. [http://bit.ly/HTM6aM]
@mpoindc: Caught in a stranglehold? MT @GarrettNBCNews: I shouted three questions to @MittRomney about Ted Nugent comments but he did not respond.
@GingrichIdeas: Eat a dog on the roof of a car.
@dceiver: Can't wait for Gary Johnson's "Hey, I didn't do any fucking thing to a dog" ad.
5:30pm - 7:00pm: Hot on the heels of Ann Romney's classy lunch with birthers at Trump Towers, Mitt Romney passes the hat at a Country Club with a $32,000 initiation fee. Get ready, much more of this to come. [Myers Park Country Club, Charlotte, NC]
5:30pm - 8:00pm: Unlike Monday's Taco Bell reception, the Cattlemen's Beef Association offers a bunch of steak. Get it to go, though - the Rayburn Cafeteria is a depressing party venue. [Rayburn Cafeteria]
6:45pm - 8:00pm: Screening of "Brothers On The Line", a documentary about labor leaders in the early days of the UAW. If you go. expect to see mostly interns from rust-belt Democrats' offices. Or just wait to watch it on PBS. [Rayburn 2226]
7:30pm: It's DC United's Capitol Hill Night. Provided the weather keeps up, you just might be able to forget that you're at RFK Stadium watching soccer. [RFK Stadium]
2:30pm - 7:00pm: The longest Obama fundraiser ever kicks off with a 90 minute briefing, then the Big Cheese shows up, then dinner with ex-EPA head Carol Browner. In short, all the wonkiness $40,000 a head can buy. [1515 15th St. NW]
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