While the White House spent the day circulating desperate statements in support of its tax framework (it's not just the president, it's also a member!), Congress briefly shifted its attention to other urgent matters demanding immediate acquiescence. Susan Collins signaled that she needs more time to mull over DADT, because the last 17 years haven't been enough. Rand Paul and Chuck Grassley couldn't have been nicer about the president and his agenda. And Tom Coburn passed the hours by comparing federal spending with waterboarding and stuffing his bearded face with peanuts. This is HUFFPOST HILL for Wednesday, December 8th, 2010:
SENATE (don't say 'punt'! don't say 'punt'!) KICKS DADT, DREAM VOTES TO TOMORROW - The Senate spent the day waiting on the House to vote on the DREAM Act, which should come up shortly, but gave up mid-afternoon and put a pot of milk on the burner to sip while enjoying The News Hour in peace. Harry Reid spent the day in exceedingly fragile negotiations with Susan Collins, talks that essentially broke down several times, only to pick back up again where they left off. Late in the day, Collins told reporters she wouldn't vote for the DADT repeal if it came up tonight. Lisa Murkowski has been largely in the same camp as Collins.
The Senate found other ways to screw up today! Right around the time Harry Reid decided to
punt postpone the DADT/defense vote, the Senate voted against cloture for a bill that would have set minimum arbitration standards for cops and firefighters' state collective bargaining laws. AND the Democrats also failed to end debate on a $250 dollar cost-of-living increase for senior citizens on Social Security, facing united Republican opposition. If they keep on alienating old people, the disabled and first responders, these folks might actually have a shot in professional politics!!! Oh, and the tax-cut deal could be the end of Social Security. [HuffPost]
HuffPost Hill's mother emails HuffPost Hill more about that $250 COLA than anything else. Just don't get us anything for Atheist Winter Solstice this year, Mom, but here are the Democrats who voted against your COLA: Russ Feingold, Kay Hagan, Mark Udall, Mark Warner and Joe Lieberman. And the Republicans who voted for the COLA - None. A message from our Mom: You can all rot in hell, sweeties.
REID: TAX CUT VOTE DUE 'IN A DAY OR TWO' - The bailout coalition is coalescing. Joe Biden worked House Democrats and Dick Durbin said that Senate Dems were climbing on board. "I think that members are more open today as they read the analyses of this package," Durbin said. Said Harry Reid to reporters after the caucus meeting: "I'm hoping that in the next day or two that we can be on that. In the meantime, we're going to try to work through the other things that we have." On the House side, Jim McDermott advised us not to file a story on the bill's passage just yet, saying that many members in the meeting griped: "One year of unemployment benefits for two years of tax breaks for the rich? What kind of deal is that?" That, though, is exactly what McDermott said recently on NPR, so we're wondering if he's quoting himself. A bunch of other members, meanwhile, said that Biden gave zero indication that the White House was interested in altering the framework. Sorry, guys, he only negotiates with Republicans.
Van Hollen said it's a "serious question" whether this deal can pass the House.
HOUSE REP TWEETS FROM BIDEN LECTURE - @chelliepingree Listening to the VP make the case for the House tax cut deal. I'm still opposed.
INTRODUCING OUR ANONYMOUS RADICALIZED MARGINAL HOUSE DEMOCRAT Ask our Paranoid Self-Loathing GOP Lobbyist: spewing rage from the shadows is hard work to do all by yourself. Thankfully, PSLGOPL now has help from a House member who has agreed to share with us some of his best not-for-attribution thoughts. His first dispatch -- this one on the tax cut deal -- came in after last night's caucus: "I suspect he'd get 39 Democratic votes if our leadership brings it to the floor, which is not certain. Jason Altmire, a Blue Dog deficit hawk, was just on Sean Hannity announcing that he would vote for it because he's not one of those Democrats who, you know, believes stuff. But it's striking how little confidence, or even trust, there is in Obama. Great presidents are party leaders. Obama is not that, and doesn't even appear to want to be. Obama's negotiating skills remind me of the old joke: I wanted a dog, but my wife wanted a cat, so we compromised and got a cat." Thanks, ARMHD!
(And yes, both the Paranoid Self-Loathing GOP Lobbyist and the Anonymous Radicalized Marginal House Democrat are real people. We still need a GOP freshman and are accepting applications.)
LARRY SUMMERS: NO TAX DEAL COULD SPARK DOUBLE-DIP RECESSION - At an off-camera White House briefing today, the outgoing Senior Economic Advisor Lawrence Summers warned of dire consequences if Congress fails to pass the Bush tax cut compromise. "If they [Democrats] don't pass this bill in the next couple weeks it will materially increase the risk that the economy would stall out and we would have a double dip," he said. We aren't worried. We have all the faith in the world that President Obama will come to an agreement with the recession, settling on a year-and-a-half extension of our national economic malaise in exchange for an up-or-down vote on a bill cementing English as the national language. Then the president will lecture us on the recession's stubbornness and how really there's a lot to love in the 18-month anemic economy/English only agreement. Sam Stein reports: [HuffPost]
MERKLEY PUSHING FOR SOCIAL SECURITY AMENDMENT TO TAX-CUT VOTE - Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) is gathering support from colleagues for a vote on an amendment that would let the tax cuts for the wealthy expire and use the revenue to shore up Social Security. The effort amounts to an admission by Merkley that there's no way to stop the deal from going through. There aren't 60 votes for such an amendment. It'll fail, and then the senators who asked for the amendment will be expected to back the final package in exchange for being given a chance to vote on an alternative.
Durbin on Senate Dems whining that they weren't included in the talks, per Lucia Graves: "There was a point at which the leaders in Congress said, 'Now it's yours.' And then [the White House] brought back something, and now members of Congress are saying, 'Wait a minute! Why'd you do this without us?'"
Tom Coburn, ever the wordsmith: "We are waterboarding the next generation with debt!"
KEN SPAIN JUMPS TO CORPORATE RAIDER LOBBY - Ken Spain, the talented and well-respected top flack for the NRCC, has been scooped up by the Private Equity Growth Capital Council. Here's what's funny: This lobby was basically formed to make sure that Congress didn't close the loophole that allows corporate raiders to pay a lower tax rate than their secretaries. Democrats never closed the loophole and John Boehner has no plan to do so. But this is Washington, and government programs aren't the only things that stick around long after they're needed. And hell, why not spend a few hundred thousand bucks on Ken Spain to be double sure they're safe. It's the cheapest hedge in the market.
DREAM ACT VOTING TONIGHT AND TOMORROW - Elise Foley, who has the distinction of being our 1,000th Twitter follower (@huffposthill...ahem), sends us this report: "The House just passed a rule vote on the DREAM Act tonight and the Senate will take up the bill tomorrow. There was some backstage drama over which house would vote first -- the House leadership reportedly wanted to spare its caucus a tough vote if the Senate couldn't pass it, but Hoyer announced via Twitter this afternoon the Senate would wait until after the House had voted on the bill. The odds for the bill to pass are better in the House, where only a few undecideds need to pledge support, than in the Senate, where it is almost certainly doomed. If it passes in the House, the Senate could either move past cloture -- doubtful -- or kill its version of the bill."
Gary Ackerman to Dylan Ratigan: "This isn't the DREAM Act, this is the Republicans' wet DREAM Act." [MSNBC]
TOMORROW IN THE HILL - "Russell Berman on how a provision in President Obama's tax proposal to reinstate the estate tax next year is dividing some Republican lawmakers and outside conservative groups, throwing another wrinkle into the contentious year-end debate."
DAILY DELANEY DOWNER - Chuck Grassley said Wednesday morning that even without a deal on tax cuts for the rich, the Senate would have approved at least a brief reauthorization of extended unemployment benefits. "I think there would have been some accommodation on unemployment anyway, even if you didn't have this tax bill," said Grassley, senior Republican on the Senate Finance Committee, on a conference call with Iowa reporters, according to the Quad-City Times. "I think it would have been three months," he said. "A Republican measure would have been offset with stimulus money, surplus stimulus money. And if that didn't get 60 votes, then it probably would have been not offset, and it would have been passed on a more partisan basis." SURE.
RAND PAUL THINKS OBAMA WILL BE 'PRAGMATIC' - Hoping to have the same effect on Democrats as over-excited moms do on their sons prior to a middle school dance, Republicans can't stop supporting the president. "Well, I actually think that President Obama is going to turn out to be fairly pragmatic with the new Republican Congress," the senator-elect from Kentucky told Wolf Blitzer this afternoon. "And I think the president sees this as the time to have the compromise. But I think the president will turn out to be someone who may, you know, take Bill Clinton as his model. And after '94, Bill Clinton did work with the Republicans. We got welfare reform. And we actually got more fiscally responsible government."
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TODAY'S AWARD FOR BEST DISPENSING OF JUSTICE GOES TO TOM COBURN - The Senate this morning found federal judge Thomas Porteous guilty on four articles of impeachment and voted to permanently forbid him from holding federal office. HuffPost Hill decided to watch the proceedings from the press gallery. There was a tense, somber air in the upper chamber as it handed down its decision. Not quite "Charlie Rangel censure" somber, but serious nonetheless. One of the formalities required the 96 senators present to be seated at their desks. After Senate pro tempore Daniel Inouye did his whole "How say you?" spiel, each senator stood at his or her desk and declared "guilty" or "not guilty." When the clerk called Tom Coburn's name, the Oklahoma senator put down his BlackBerry, stood up, declared "guilty," slouched back in his chair and resumed tapping out messages on his smart phone. He then started eating peanuts.
KERRY AND LIEBERMAN STILL HOPING FOR ENERGY BILL NEXT YEAR - The proverbial football yanked underfoot by their leadership Lucy van Pelts, John Kerry and Joe Lieberman are reportedly up for another go in the even less Democratic 112th Congress. OK! Whatever! "A lot of us -- and the Democrats are trying to involve some Republicans -- really want to do an energy bill," Leiberman told The Hill's Andrew Restuccia yesterday. "Energy independence will be a cornerstone of that." More: "Lieberman also said he will 'focus' on nuclear energy as a key component of the bill. Many Republicans, much to the chagrin of environmentalists and liberal Democrats, have said nuclear energy must be a major part of any energy bill. Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.), speaking to reporters Tuesday in the Capitol, said there will be a 'huge energy debate' early next year in the Senate. Though he said an extension of energy tax provisions seen as essential by many environmentalists might not be included in the final version of a White House-negotiated tax package, he said many of these issues would be considered as part of next year's energy bill." [The Hill]
CANTOR RELEASES 2011 HOUSE CALENDAR - The incoming majority leader today unveiled a tentative floor schedule for the first session of the 112th Congress. The centerpiece of the proposal are the 33 weeks Cantor has planned for legislating, an 11 percent drop from the norm. However lawmakers will still make up for lost time by clocking in four-day workweeks. In its announcement, Cantor's office added that votes will be held no later than 7:00 pm, time will be specifically designated for committees and bills will be made available to the public at least three days prior to committee mark up. [Eric Cantor]
MINNESOTA WRAPS UP BIENNIAL 'NEVER ENDING STATEWIDE ELECTION' FESTIVAL - That wacky state: "Republican Tom Emmer will concede the 2010 Minnesota governor's race this morning to Democrat Mark Dayton, a Republican source with direct knowledge confirmed to the Pioneer Press. Emmer's 10:30 a.m. concession means he will not contest the election in court -- thus averting a scenario that could have kept Republican Gov. Tim Pawlenty in office past the scheduled Jan. 3 swearing-in of the next governor, the source said...Emmer's concession will put a final punctuation mark on what had become the inevitable truth: Dayton received more votes -- perhaps about 9,000 more votes -- on Nov. 2, as tallied on that night and recounted the past week." [Pioneer Press]
FINAL HOUSE RACE RESOLVED - Pack up your holograms, CNN! Save for a court decision finalizing Lisa Murkowski's win in Alaska, the midterms are over. "The Republican challenger on Wednesday conceded to Democratic U.S. Rep. Tim Bishop in a congressional race in eastern Long Island, the nation's only undecided House contest. Randy Altschuler spokesman Rob Ryan said the candidate decided against forcing a hand recount in the 1st Congressional District in eastern Long Island. Bishop last had a 263-vote lead with 977 absentee ballots left to be counted out of the more than 194,000 votes cast. 'After consulting with my family and campaign staff, I am ending my campaign and offering congratulations to Congressman Tim Bishop on his victory,' Altschuler said. He said despite support for a hand recount, 'I will not support such an action as I feel its cost will place an unnecessary burden on the taxpayers of Suffolk County.'" [AP]
BECAUSE YOU'VE READ THIS FAR - It's very cold outside. Here are dogs frolicking in the snow. [http://bit.ly/d5ReEe]
RINSE AND REPEAT: SETH MEYERS TO HOST CORRESPONDENTS DINNER - Every year the Washington Establishment insists it can laugh at itself. So someone takes to a podium, makes a joke in front of a room filled with the Washington Establishment and, like clockwork, things go down the crapper. Usually some cranky old fart from the establishment Establishment pens an op-ed blasting the host for violating an unspoken standard of statesmanly decorum and some young fart from the grassroots Establishment blogs incredulously about the club-like atmosphere and the host's willingness to make an erection joke even as an oil refinery near Santa Rosa, New Mexico continues to pollute the local water supply. These missives typically begin with a "Go ahead, call me a sourpuss"-type disclaimer. Recoiling, the WHCA hedges its bets the next year by enlisting a safe-for-all-time-zones performer. After a year or two of rehashed Monica Lewinsky jokes (or whatever), the chattering classes start to bemoan the PAX-ification of WHCD satire and ask for something juicier. The raunchy Stephen Colbert begat two years of milquetoast with Rich Little and Craig Furgeson who begat the outspoken Wanda Sykes who begat the Jay Leno-y Jay Leno. Now we're getting the envelope-pushing SNL cast member Seth Meyers, which is basically another way of saying Drew Carey will host next year. We suggest columnists keep a "How could he say [____] in this time of [_____]? That's so [____]!" template on file. Christ, Washington. You suck.
Democracy win: "The Doors' Jim Morrison will get a posthumous pardon Thursday for an indecent exposure conviction in Florida that resulted when the late singer pulled what a bandmate called 'a mind trip on the audience, and they totally fell for it.' Gov. Charlie Crist on Wednesday got a commitment for the second of two votes needed from other members of the state's Board of Executive Clemency to approve the pardon." [AP]
JEREMY THE INTERN'S WEATHER REPORT - Good news: No snow in the immediate forecast. Bad news: It's going to be freezing, yet again. Thanks, JB!
- Organizing for America: A Wisconsin town rejected a local ban on Happy Meals. [http://bit.ly/geUaDK ]
- These ducklings can really recover from an embarrassing moment with poise. [http://bit.ly/fcO0mM]
- The shark that eats other sharks: A badass shark? Or the baddassest shark? [http://bzfd.it/fwiizF]
- Why did the penguins cross the road? Because they finally figured out how to. [http://bit.ly/iktaF7]
- You might be laughing at the Spurs' Gary Neal in this video, but his imaginary friends sure aren't. [http://bit.ly/fznQyf]
- Thanks for the memories: The 25 greatest memes of 2010 [http://bit.ly/glUnNX]
- Seven baller aircraft hangers. [http://bit.ly/hk6Rms]
@gideonyego: Whistleblower claims 2 meter thermal exhaust port leads directly to reactor core, Death Star vulnerable #WookieLeaks
@andylevy: Y'know what didn't get hacked today? Gold. #imjustsayin
@AdamSerwer: You sponsored it. Twice. RT @OrrinHatch:Let's focus on securing our borders not political stunts. I will NOT be voting for the Dream Act.
@FakeAPStyleBook: Hannukah has many accepted spellings: "Chanukah," "Hannukah," and "Eight Nights When Mommy Doesn't Sleep Over Uncie Glenn's"
@barvonblaq: "Hey! You got your religion in my politics!" "Well, you got your politics in my religion!" #America
5:00 pm -8:00 pm: Gub'ment Relations honchos Potomac Advocates have their annual shindig at the Monocle Restaurant [The Monocle Restaurant, 107 D Street NE].
5:30 pm - 8:30 pm: Ain't not party like a National Rural Letter Carriers Association Holiday party 'cause a National Rural Letter Carriers Association Holiday party don't stop. Whut whut. [Willard Inter-Continental, Crystal Room, 1401 Pennsylvania Ave NW].
6:00 pm - 9:00 pm: The International Stability Operations Association -- which is basically a consortium of people who keep other people quiet with guns -- gets festivus with the rest of us [Smith & Wollensky, Skylight Ballroom, 1112 19th Street NW].
6:00 pm - 9:00 pm: PETA holds its holiday reception featuring vegan "hors d'oeuvres." Why the most PC organization on the planet is calling its holiday party a "Christmas Reception"? [PETA DC Offices, 1536 16th Street NW].
5:00 pm - 9:00 pm: In what may be the most meta fundraiser of the year, the Sunlight Foundation passes the hat at its "Indecent Exposure" holiday party. You should give a buck, or a hundred [Madam's Organ, 2461 18th Street NW].
5:30 pm- 7:30 pm: Business Executives for National Security which is our favorite Green Party advocacy organization, too, hosts its annual holiday fete [1030 15th Street NW, #200 East].
5:30 pm - 8:00 pm: The Center for a New American Security supports sober, practical responses to the globe's shifting security threats. Its holiday bonanza will feature no such sobriety [1301 Pennsylvania Ave NW, Suite 403].
6:00 pm - 8:00 pm: The Chamber of Commerce celebrates Santa's ruthless labor practices at its holiday reception [U.S. Chamber of Commerce, 1615 H St NW].
6:00 pm - 8:00 pm: Nothing says cocaine and body shots quite like The American Society of International Law. Join the broheims of the ASIL for their Christmas reception [Tillar House, 2223 Massachusetts Avenue NW].
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