HUFFPOST HILL - Rep. Chris Lee Steps Down

HUFFPOST HILL - Rep. Chris Lee Steps Down

Rep. Chris Lee has resigned, squashing our theory that he was just on Craigslist to sell the painting in his shirtless torso pic (maybe he was trying to give Jake Tapper some material for tonight's Press Foundation dinner?). If Tom Perriello doesn't run for Jim Webb's seat, Virginia Democrats might be forced to nominate a Cheesecake Factory if they want to excite left-leaning NoVa residents. And the White House thinks the tired and poor should mimic the huddled masses if they want to stay warm. This is HUFFPOST HILL for Wednesday, February 9th, 2011

WHITE HOUSE CUTTING ENERGY ASSISTANCE TO THE POOR - Because the corporate tax rate can never be low enough, the White House's 2012 budget will feature cuts from an energy initiative targeted at low-income Americans. (Is Obama just pulling these subsidies off the table so he can put them back on to get Brown, Snowe and Collins later? He wouldn't!) The proposed $2.5 billion spending cuts to the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program, originally reported as $3 billion by Marc Ambinder, are the largest disclosed thus far from the proposed budget. In a letter to the White House, John Kerry wrote that "In the middle of a brutal, even historic, New England winter, home heating assistance is more critical than ever to the health and welfare of millions of Americans, especially senior citizens." Listen, we know what you're thinking, but all those high-speed rail seats with the extra legroom aren't going to pay for themselves, folks. [HuffPost's Sam Stein]

Big ups to Ambinder for the great scoop, but 1000 demerits for his puntastic second sentence: "It's the biggest domestic spending cut disclosed so far, and one that will likely generate the most heat from the president's traditional political allies." Honk. Honk. [National Journal]

In a totally unrelated development, the White House also announced that Oliver Twist may not, in fact, have "some more."

REP. CHRIS LEE RESIGNS - New York Republican Chris Lee has resigned -- "effective immediately" -- after an e-mail thread and shirtless photo published by Gawker suggested that the married lawmaker was carrying out affairs via Craigslist. In a statement the lawmaker said that "I have to work this out with my wife." Cheer up, Republicans: at least he was looking for a woman?

@RalstonFlash So married Rep. Chris Lee exposed for sending shirtless photo to woman, resigns immediately. Meanwhile, John Ensign has fundraiser tonight.

The Washington Press Club Foundation dinner is this evening and Jake Tapper is TOTALLY prepared: @jaketapper i need some material for MCing the Washington Press Foundation dinner for Congress tonight. Anyone have any ideas? Anything in the news?

JIM WEBB NOT RUNNING FOR REELECTION in 2012 - Senator Jim Webb announced this morning that he will not seek a second term in the upper chamber. Speculation had been mounting that Webb, who narrowly beat out George Allen in 2006, would bow out rather than undergo another knock-down-drag-out campaign. "It has been a great and continuing privilege to serve in the United States Senate," Webb said in a statement. "However, after much thought and consideration I have decided to return to the private sector, where I have spent most of my professional life, and will not seek re-election in 2012." Trying to bottle the Creigh Deeds lightening, the three most likely Dems to make a bid are Tim Kaine, Terry McAuliffe and -- hold on to your bullhorns, kids -- Tom Perriello. Webb never seemed too happy in the Senate so we wish him all the best and hope the "I'd Rather Be At Home In My Basement Watching That History Channel Special On Rommel I Taped" Caucus rebounds. [HuffPost]

Perriello spokesperson Anna Scholl tells HuffPost Hill: "Tom wants to thank Senator Webb for his populist leadership that, no doubt, will continue in countless forms in the years ahead. Tom is returning tomorrow from some overseas work related to Egypt and the Darfur peace talks, and looks forward to talking to folks at home, and connecting with Kaine, Warner and other Virginians to figure out the best way forward for the party as we fight to protect this crucial seat." HuffPost Hill ain't the fastest newsletter in Washington, but we can read between those lines: He wants to run, but wants to see what Kaine and "other Virginians" are planning.

Webb, meanwhile, is making another push for his crime commission, which he had hoped to make his second major piece of legislation.

Bob Filner at today's Vets Affairs hearing, to JPMorgan exec Stephanie Mudick: "People who are under pressure commit suicide. I would call it homicide, frankly, because you are putting them under pressure. You are responsible for that."

'YOUCUT' UN FUNDING ITEM FAILS - The House failed 259-169 to pass a bill on suspension this afternoon that would have returned $179 million allocated for the U.N. tax equalization fund. 290 votes were needed to pass the measure on suspension. The bill, which was introduced as part of Eric Cantor's 'YouCut' budget cutting crowd-sourcing initiative, had been aggressively opposed by Pete King. "There are really significant security issues that would result in many deaths if they were not corrected," HuffPost's Elise Foley reports King said of the bill's provisions after the vote. "I went to too many wakes and funerals after 9/11 to do this over again." We really wish King would stop being so guarded and just say what he really thinks. For chrissake, we're still trying to read the tea leaves on his views on the mosque near Ground Zero.

Maybe YouCut should stick to cutting programs that don't exist.

HUFFPOST HILL MEETUP RUNDOWN - FDL's Dave Dayen went to the L.A. underwater mortgage meetup last night, one of many across the country as part of a HuffPost housing series. He reports back that the media outnumbered underwater homeowners, but the one who did show up one hell of a story. Homeowners in Portland met at Hopworks Urban Brewer. Marge Bare described a group of intelligent, engaged people sharing stories and words of advice. "Everyone's story is different," said Bare of the event. "We each told our story and what we hope to be able to do in the future. Or we said, 'I don't know what I'm going to do!'" Local news station KGW Channel 8 covered the gathering.

Roll Call is running an item tonight on #BoehnerFail. Kathleen Hunter and Anna Palmer write: "Speaker John Boehner has found out the hard way that being in charge isn't always easy. An uprising from within his Conference contributed to a trio of legislative setbacks in less than 24 hours, and the Ohio Republican has little time to regroup before a stopgap spending measure further tests his ability to get members of his party to coalesce. He acknowledged the difficult task he faces to reporters Wednesday. 'We've been in the majority four weeks,' he said. 'We're not going to be perfect every day.'"

DAILY DELANEY DOWNER - From January to December last year, 3.9 million people ran out of unemployment benefits, according to a new analysis provided to HuffPost by the National Employment Law Project. (Those people aren't all "99ers," as 99 weeks of benefits aren't available in every state.) The White House estimated in December that another 4 million people will run out of benefits this year. :(

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EGYPT UPDATE: STRIKES BREAKING OUT ACROSS THE COUNTRY - AP: "Thousands of state workers and impoverished Egyptians launched strikes and protests around the country on Wednesday over their economic woes as anti-government activists sought to expand their campaign to oust President Hosni Mubarak despite warnings from the vice president that protests won't be tolerated much longer. Some 8,000 protesters, mainly farmers, set barricades of flaming palm trees in the southern province of Assiut, blocking the main highway and railway to Cairo to complain of bread shortages. They then drove off the governor by pelting his van with stones. Hundreds of slum dwellers in the Suez Canal city of Port Said set fire to part of the governor's headquarters in anger over lack of housing." [HuffPost's Egypt Liveblog]

Alan Grayson, who shied away from Dem-on-Dem action while in the House, slammed Obama in an interview with Dylan Ratigan on the lack of prosecutions of bankers: "But the President Obama administration said at the beginning, we are going to look forward and not back and therefore in the process of making that decision basically let these crooks off the hook."

GOP STILL HASN'T DROPPED 'FORCIBLE RAPE' LANGUAGE FROM ABORTION BILL - File alongside the "End Deadly Murder Now" bill and Susan Collin's legislation to establish a blue ribbon committee to determine whether getting punched in the face hurts. Amanda Terkel: "After significant public blowback, House Republicans last week promised to drop a controversial provision in their high-priority No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act that would redefine rape. But almost a week later, that language is still in the bill. Last week, a spokesman for the bill's principal sponsor, Rep. Chris Smith (R-N.J.), said, 'The word forcible will be replaced with the original language from the Hyde Amendment.' The Hyde Amendment bans taxpayer dollars from being used for abortions, except in cases of incest and rape -- not just "forcible rape," as the Smith bill, H.R. 3, would have it. But as The New York Times first noted on Wednesday, the 'forcible rape' language remains." [HuffPost]

RICK SANTORUM TAKING SWIPES AT 2012 FIELD - Former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum has been throwing bombs at his fellow 2012 , notes Chris Heinze. In an interview on Glenn Beck's website, America's foremost sexual neologism claimed that, "Guys like Haley Barbour and Mitch Daniels say we sort of have to sort of throw off the social issues and leave them behind. And I think that is a very serious mistake." Along with Daniels and Barbour, Santorum has already criticized Sarah Palin and Mitt Romney this week. In a press release from camp Santorum, "[Santorum] will discuss how each leg of the conservative stool -- social, fiscal, and national security -- are interwoven and equally critical to our country's future." Also, if your surname is slang for a 'frothy' anal sex byproduct, best you steer clear of phrases like "Conservative stool." Just sayin'. [GOP 12]

Also, Santorum backtracked today on Twitter from this slight he made against working mothers while speculating about Sarah Palin's CPAC no-show: "I don't live in Alaska and I'm not the mother to all these kids and I don't have other responsibilities that [Sarah Palin] has."

BEN NELSON STAFFS UP, LIKELY RUNNING FOR REELECTION - Ben Nelson -- everyone's favorite Ted Koppel/Mr. Potato Head hybrid -- has hired Paul Johnson, his former campaign manager. While Johnson has not yet commented on what his role for the senator will be, an aide to Nelson told KETV that the two-term senator is "leaning toward running." In a totally unrelated development, we're hearing the Progressive Change Campaign Committee has hired 100,000 new employees. [The Hill]

Orrin Hatch trying to buddy up to the far-right at an Atlantic-hosted jobs and economy forum today: "They're diminishing right now; we hope we can diminish a few more. We don't need nuts in the US Senate. We need fiscal conservatives...We've got some nuts on the other side, and every so often we find some on our side....You'll find most of them on the Demoratic side." [Atlantic]

WHOA: GABRIELLE GIFFORDS SPEAKS - Roughly one month after she was shot through the head, Congresswoman Gabrilele Giffords spoke for the first time this week, her office confirms. Giffords' spokesperson C.J. Karamargin says she has been speaking some, even asking for toast with her breakfast at one point. Considering the only thing HuffPost Hill ever whines about when it comes down with a mild cold is how bad it feels, a polite request for lightly-charred bread is a pretty badass request from the victim of a horrific crime. Way to be, congresswoman. We're sure you'll be opening pickle jars for us in no time. [HuffPost]

BECAUSE YOU'VE READ THIS FAR - We're guessing you haven't had your fill of slow-mo cat videos set to Afro-tinged world music today. Well, here you go!

POLL: EMANUEL WAY AHEAD IN CHICAGO MAYORAL CONTEST - An ABC 7 Chicago survey out yesterday has Rahm Emanuel with a commanding lead in the race to be the Windy City's next mayor. 54 percent of respondents intend to vote for the former White House chief-of-staff. The candidate with the second-strongest showing is longtime Chicago political insider Gery Chico, who only earns 14 percent. The ABC 7 poll, conducted by Richard Day (not Daley) Research, is the first independent survey showing Emanuel with over 50 percent of the vote. [Progress Illinois]

JEREMY'S WEATHER REPORT - Tonight: As a low pressure system passes through the southeast, we may be grazed with a bit of precipitation, namely trace amounts of snow. Showers, really. Tomorrow: Clouds leave in the morning, but it will be quite chilly. Expect near-freezing temperatures. Thanks, JB!


- A stop-motion short of Playmobil figurines reenacting a Joy Division television performance. Hipsters WOULD opt for Playmobil over regular Legos []

- An iPhone app allows you to simulate what your friends would look like if you punched them in the face. That's....healthy? []

- After using the "punch your friends in the face" app, why not load your Catholic Church iPhone app and atone for it? []

- Sticking with the iPhone theme, Google just released its Translate app, allowing users to talk into their phone and have their words translated into a number of different languages. []

-Yo La Tengo read the script of an entire Seinfeld episode during a concert recently. []

- It's ABOUT TIME someone created a Ferris Bueller's Day Off board game. []

- Reporting that there is a cat owner out there who dresses their pet in all types of costumes is like saying there's a sun that's going to crest the horizon tomorrow morning. []

- Photos of an annual ski marathon in Russia that draws 20,000 participants. Wowzers. []


@DCjourno: Free advice to young journos: when trying to sound insightful, begin your tweet w the word "Remember"

@lehmannchris: The real scandal in @gawker's Rep. Lee scoop isn't the shirtless flirting; it's how frequently an elected rep. of the public uses "LOL"

@alexgutierrez: Whoa, Chris Lee! Give it a news cycle, buddy.

@ddayen: I thought they got rid of the "Very Fit Fun Classy Guy Seeking Woman" section of Craigslist



6:30 pm: Show her you care: Celebrate Valentine's Day by dropping $2,000 on Don Manzullo's reelection at "Mrs. Don Manzullo's Annual Valentine's Dinner." In some Eastern cultures, Don Manzullo is renown as an aphrodisiac [Finemondo Restaurant, 1319 F Street NW].


5:30 pm - 7:00 pm: We hear about a lot of strange fundraisers: Republicans hosting "labor breakfasts," Darrell Issa's "Issa Cream" ice cream social and so forth. Michael McCaul's "Laser Shoot-Out and Hard Times Chili" definitely ranks as one of the strangest. [National Rifle Association, 410 First Street SE].

6:00 pm: Steny Hoyer has been in D.C. long enough to know that you don't need bells and whistles to raise campaign dough. Just a room at the DNC, some small bites and your checkbook [Democratic National Headquarters, 430 South Capitol Street SE].

7:00 pm: You'd think that a "scotch and cigars reception" is the kind of cliched, backroom event politicians would shy away from. Nope! Austin Scott, Dan Benishek and Tom Reed just arrived in Washington and want to play congressman! One Nation PAC hosts [Marriott Wardman Park Hotel, 2660 Woodley Road NW].

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