HUFFPOST HILL - Congress Passes Budget, Catastrophe Postponed

What a beautiful day! Did you pay any attention at work? Yeah, neither did we. The Universe conspired in 1993 to have Sarah Palin and Ivana Trump meet. Ray LaHood is TIRED of telling people that he will not SLEEP until those narcoleptic air traffic controllers are caught. And Congress passed a bill that will avert a fiscal catastrophe for about a month, at which point Jim DeMint will derail the debt ceiling vote and America will turn into an annex of Guangdong province. This is HUFFPOST HILL for Thursday, April 14th, 2011:

CONGRESS PASSES BUDGET, CATASTROPHE POSTPONED - Both chambers of Congress today approved the agreement reached last Friday to fund the government for the rest of 2011. The House passed the measure 260-167 with 59 Republicans breaking rank, meaning the GOP needed Democratic support to pass the measure. Thirty-eight Democrats were needed to pass the measure, one for each billion of the bill's $38 billion worth of cuts. The House chamber being a place where natural-born leaders gather, fewer than 150 members had voted yes when the vote time expired, with scores waiting to see where their colleagues would fall before taking the plunge. While Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi voted "no," Minority Whip Steny Hoyer voted for the bill. The two are scheduled to attend a fundraiser for Eleanor Holmes Norton tonight. That'll be weird. [HuffPost's Liveblog]

The Senate passed the bill 81-19. On the Republican side, Tea Party favorites Jim DeMint, Rand Paul and Mike Lee were among those voting against the bill while Carl Levin, Ron Wyden and Bernie Sanders voting against it from the left. The upper chamber also voted down proposals to de-fund health care and Planned Parenthood. [HuffPost's Liveblog]

GOP KNEW IT NEEDED DEM HELP - House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy reached out to Hoyer several hours before the vote, aware that he didn't have the 218 he needed to pass the bill with GOP-votes alone, three Hill sources said. Hoyer wanted to move quickly to build momentum for the bill and so Tweeted out his support for the bill, the first time he'd broken news on Twitter. Boehner was working the floor during the entire vote, rare for the House Speaker. Democrats held back, trying to squeeze every last Republican vote, hanging out near the card slots where votes are cast. The GOP tally stood at 173 and seemed to be plateauing, sitting stagnant for a few minutes. That's when Hoyer slid his card in and voted yes, signaling to the rest of his caucus that the gates were open. Boehner wound up with 173 members.

DOES BOEHNER HAVE A GOVERNING MAJORITY IN THE HOUSE? - Harry Reid doesn't have a governing majority in the Senate because of the chamber's rules, but today's vote indicates that Boehner doesn't have much of one himself thanks to about 50 Republicans who won't stick with him. The notion that he'd be able to pick off a dozen Blue Dogs and shuffle along was put to bed by today's votes, which makes House Democrats players again in the House. That's our take anyway.

A reader points out that you can buy Ron Paul's house. Warning: If you click the link, you can't unthink the image of Ron Paul in a bathing suit

DAILY DELANEY DOWNER - A new study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention finds that the suicide rate from 1928 to 2007 has risen and fallen in tandem with the business cycle. It spiked at the onset of the Great Depression, rising to its all-time high in 1933. It fell during the expansionary World War II period from 1939 to 1945. It rose during the oil crisis of the early '70s and the double-dip recession of the early '80s, and fell to its lowest level ever during the booming '90s. "Economic problems can impact how people feel about themselves and their futures as well as their relationships with family and friends. Economic downturns can also disrupt entire communities," the study's author, Feijun Luo, an economist in the CDC's Division of Violence Prevention, says in a statement. "We know suicide is not caused by any one factor -- it is often a combination of many that lead to suicide." [CDC]

BOEHNER MEETING WITH LEE AND SCOTT ACTUALLY HAPPENED - On the morning of an important and uncertain vote to fund the government for the rest of the fiscal year, Republican leaders in the U.S. House of Representatives spent a few minutes chatting with two Democrats from the Congressional Black Caucus about their bill to help the long-term unemployed. [HuffPost]

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SHELLEY BERKLEY TO ENTER NEVADA SENATE RACE - Big Hair. Big Ideas. Rep. Shelley Berkley has decided to throw her hat in the ring and run for the Senate seat being vacated by John Ensign. According to John Ralson, who apparently has some sort of Avatar-like connection to all living things in the Silver State, Berkley had been weighing the decision for a while but ultimately decided that the opportunity was too good to pass up. "While Dean Heller is proudly fighting on behalf of the Tea Party to dismantle Medicare and Social Security and protect corporations that ship American jobs overseas," she said in a statement, "I will continue working on behalf of Nevada's middle-class families by creating good paying jobs and keeping our promises to seniors." DSCC Chairwoman Patty Murray said Berkley was her organization's top choice because "of her energy, her knowledge of the state and her enthusiasm." [LA Times]

Former rep and progressive favorite Carol Shea Porter will run for her old New Hampshire House seat. "Our current Congress is passing legislation that will hurt average Americans, and they are bowing to special interests instead of focusing on job creation and good government," she said in a statement sent to supporters. Porter, a two-term member of Congress, lost to Frank Guinta last year -- the guy who was in the bar fight!! -- so expect a rematch that is more favorable to Shea Porter given the political atmosphere. Don't expect Quentin Tarantino to buy the life rights and turn this story into a really boring Kill Bill-style revenge flick.

PELOSI CRITICIZES BUDGET DEAL, BASICALLY DISOWNS IT - After a bunch of wealthy men convened last week to decide whether poor women should have access to health and family planning services, the minority leader skipped town...apparently because steam was coming out of her ears like one of those old Warner Brothers cartoons. "I feel no ownership of that or any responsibility to it, except that we do not want to shut down the government," Pelosi said at a press conference today. In case she wasn't clear about her frustration with the bill, she added, "As was pretty evident, the House Democrats were not a part of that agreement." [HuffPost's Elise Foley]

STILL, PELOSI PUSHED FOR PASSAGE - A Dem source says that Pelosi made it clear that the House shouldn't shut down the government, despite her reservations with the bill, though she stopped short of urging members to vote for it. Several top progressives who serve as the highest ranking members on committees said the same thing at a ranking meeting, the source said.

DEMINT PROMISES EXTREME TACTICS TO BLOCK DEBT LIMIT INREASE - As if voting against a bill whose failure could precipitate America's regression into a feudal barter economy, Jim DeMint is vowing to take crazy measures to block a vote on raising the debt ceiling. During an appearance on the Laura Ingraham Show, a real bastion of calm, rational thought, DeMint responded to the host's question about whether the vote will serve as his party's "Waterloo" in the next election. "If it is, then let it be," he said. [The Hill]

As if being so boring that you need to hire someone to make your campaign commercials look like trailers for Bad Boys II wasn't bad enough, an email has been leaked of a Pawlenty staffer voicing concerns about his boss' appeal to conservatives. "I am not blind to the bad marks in Pawlenty's record," pollster Jon Lerner wrote Club for Growth officials in an email leaked to Politico, "but looking at the record as a whole, considering he did it in a pretty blue state, and considering the others in the field, I think he comes out looking pretty good." He then added that Pawlenty "best meets the Bill Buckley test: the most conservative candidate in the field who is electable." Oops. [Politico]

In an interview with George Stephanopoulos, President Obama conceded that his Senate vote against the debt ceiling was "political.": "When you're a Senator, traditionally what's happened is this is always a lousy vote. Nobody likes to be tagged as having increased the debt limit for the United States by a trillion dollars," he said. "As President, you start realizing, "You know what? We -- we can't play around with this stuff...And so that was just a example of a new Senator, you know, making what is a political vote as opposed to doing what was important for the country. And I'm the first one to acknowledge it." Obama 2012: Politically Craven Then. Politically Brave Now

SENATORS TRYING TO STOP WESTBORO CHURCH FUNERAL PROTESTS - The Westboro Baptist Church, the 34th most evil thing in history (right behind Hitler's diary and right in front of static cling), is being targeted by a senator fed up with its mind-bogglingly vile protests of soldiers' funerals. Mike McAuliff: "Drawn up by Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-Maine), the Sanctity of Eternal Rest for Veterans Act -- or SERVE Act -- would mandate two hours of quiet time before and after funerals, and set a 300-foot buffer zone around the funerals and a 500-foot buffer around routes to and from the memorials. It sets fines ranging from $25,000 to $50,000, and jail sentences of up to two years...Senators are pursuing the legislation after the Supreme Court ruled recently that such protests could not be barred because doing so would violate the First Amendment's protection for free speech." As much as the Westboro Baptist Church makes us want to vom, we do get somewhat nervous when a senator proposes any law demanding "quiet time," a decidedly un-First Amendment-y thing. That said, we hope WBC members spend eternity in a room with nothing but a radio tuned to a light music station only broadcasting holiday songs. [HuffPost]

OH CIRCULAR REASONING, YOU CAD - "Some of [American Petroleum Institute]'s reasoning [to strike down SEC disclosure rules], as expressed in its 47-page letter to the SEC, is circular at best. For example, it argues that too much disclosure could... harm disclosure. 'Unless implemented properly, Section 13(q) could also undermine many years of progress on international transparency," the group wrote.'" [HuffPost's Dan Froomkin]

ANTI-ABORTION BILLS ON THE RISE IN STATES - Republican lawmakers, apparently worried that women might get too comfortable after being spoiled by the WAY GENEROUS 19th Amendment, are chipping away at their rights with astonishing speed. Laura Bassett: "State legislators have introduced 916 measures related to reproductive health in the 49 states that have convened since January (Louisiana convenes in April), and the Guttmacher Institute estimates that a record 56 percent of those measures restrict abortion rights in one way or another--up from 38 percent in 2010." @TerkelRage would hate this. [HuffPost]

RHODE ISLAND GOVERNOR COULD BECOME A DEM - Former Republican senator and current independent governor of Rhode Island Lincoln Chafee says he is open to running for reelection as a Democrat, and to endorsing President Obama for a second time. Chaffee, who left the Republican party shortly after it began its "Building A Bridge To The 12th Century" campaign, is famous for voting for a write-in candidate during in 2004 when he was still a Republican senator. "The wars are my only hesitation," Chafee, an opponent of the wars in Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya, told WPRI. "It's costing so much money. And lives. ... The war machine just grinds on. Makes no sense to me." Assuming Smithsonian shock troops don't storm his house and put him in a glass display case with a little "Rockefeller Republican" sign in front of it, this strategy might actually work. [WPRI]

WOW - From 1993: "Sarah Palin, a commercial fisherman from Wasilla, told her husband on Tuesday she was driving to Anchorage to shop at Costco. Instead, she headed straight for Ivana. And there, at J.C. Penney's cosmetic department, was Ivana, the former Mrs. Donald Trump, sitting at a table next to a photograph of herself. She wore a light-colored pantsuit and pink fingernail polish. Her blonde hair was coiffed in a bouffant French twist. 'We want to see Ivana,' said Palin, who admittedly smells like salmon for a large part of the summer, 'because we are so desperate in Alaska for any semblance of glamour and culture.'" [Daily Beast]

BECAUSE YOU'VE READ THIS FAR - A man drives two bumper cars through a Chinese street. This must be part of their green efforts, yes? [target="_hplink">http://bit.ly/ep92Jj]

Ray LaHood, Washington's favorite guy with no discernible beliefs, is assuaging fears about narcoleptic air traffic controllers with a poor choice of words: "LaHood stated that he is grabbing the agency by the ears and said, 'I guarantee the flying public we will not sleep until we can guarantee that there's good safety in the control towers when these planes are coming in and out of airports.'" [ABC News]

JEREMY'S WEATHER REPORT - Tonight: Some clouds roll into the area, but the warmth stays. Lows in the 40s, so jackets are optional. Tomorrow: Despite the more cloudy skies, the temperatures will stay in the 60s, just slightly cooler than today. Thanks, JB!


- A short film on the life and death (and life) of school buses. [http://kck.st/gWl3VQ]

- A very unlikely take on Busta Rhymes. [http://bit.ly/hrn745]

- The be-all, end-all resource of Polish book covers [http://bit.ly/hGEkQU]

- A YouTube video that starts with two eggs on a scale might not seem that exciting but just. wait. for. it. [http://bit.ly/higZAc]

- There's music to be made everywhere you go. Just listen to what this guy did with an old school Game Boy. [http://bit.ly/gYa0rb]

- This window-opening cat no doubt portends the downfall of humanity. [http://bit.ly/fuuDzo]

- You look like you need a good "puppy falling asleep" video. [http://bit.ly/i7iDpx]

- Why don't you take a break from looking at all those puppy videos and check out these hi-res scans of Enlightenment-era German chlidren's books. [http://bit.ly/cMv77t]


@KagroX: Forget fighting to make America America again. Rick's better off fighting Google to make Santorum Santorum again.

@FakeJimVandeHei Turns out not all private emails are created equal cc @kbardella

@TeresaKopec: New tone! RT @sethdmichaels: Rush calls Obama voters "walking human debris."

@terkelrage: House passes anti-D.C. choice budget. The last time so many D.C. women were screwed simultaneously, the Summer of Love had spread to Dupont.



6:00 pm - 8:00 pm: What with D.C. being screwed with its pants on in the latest budget, Eleanor Holmes Norton will have a lot of material for her fundraiser. Steny Hoyer and Nancy Pelosi are scheduled to make appearances. [National Democratic Club, 30 Ivy Street SE].

6:30 pm: Roy Blunt's PAC is called "Rely on Your Beliefs Fund (ROYB...get it???). However Roy really relies on your checkbook [Charlie Palmer Steak, 101 Constitution Ave NW].


8:30 am - 9:30 am: Xavier Becerra is the final stop of some of your union dues at his "Labor Breakfast Fundraiser." The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers are hosting. Nothing makes a good pancake like some banana slices and electrical wire [International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, 900 7th Street NW].

8:30 am - 9:30 am: Virginia Congressman and human garden gnome Gerry Connolly continues his tough reelection bid with a campaign fundraiser. [Monument Policy Group, 1333 H St NW Suite 300 West].

12:00 pm: House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy hobnobs with the other end of the electrical industry. He attends a fundraiser hosted by PowerPAC, Edison International PAC and PG&E Energy PAC. [Sonoma Restaurant and Wine Bar, 223 Pennsylvania Ave SE].

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