Returning government employees face a tremendous work backlog, leading experts to question whether they'll have time to mourn their unwatered plants and catch up on their word-a-day tear-off calendars. An egregious self-promoter with close ties to Wall Street was elected to the Senate yesterday and somehow this is historical. And one congressman thought the debt deal funds a notorious African warlord so be sure not to tell him about the upcoming Bashar al Assad Edible Arrangement Appropriations Act. This is HUFFPOST HILL for Thursday, October 17th, 2013:
REID LAYS DOWN THE BUDGET GAUNTLET - In three months this will be the first slide in your news organization's infographic explaining how the January 2014 government shutdown happened. With Sam Stein: "Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) has no interest in a budget deal that trades sequestration relief for entitlement cuts, believing that future spending reductions scheduled to hit the Pentagon give Democrats the upper hand. Instead, the Nevada Democrat told The Huffington Post on Thursday, any large-scale debt-reduction deal must include increased revenue in exchange for changes to mandatory spending programs. The government funding and debt limit bill signed Wednesday night sets a Dec. 13 deadline for budget negotiators to report back to Congress. If no deal is struck, Congress will have until Jan. 15 to approve continued government funding or face another shutdown. Reid's hard lines -- which were offered just hours after Wednesday night's deal was signed into law -- reflect an increased sense among Democrats that after a big shutdown victory, they are in a strong political position heading into the next crucial months of debt-reduction talks. Reid noted that while the coming year of sequestration cuts -- if fully implemented -- would be painful, the worst of it will recede in coming years, as spending levels begin increasing automatically. That gives Democrats more leverage to say no to lopsided offers." [HuffPost]
Now that almost a year has passed since Barack Obama's reelection, HuffPost Hill asked Reid if he was ready to divulge the source behind his claim that Mitt Romney didn't pay taxes for nearly a decade. "What taxes?" Reid quipped. When pressed about the matter, the majority leader insisted that he did indeed have a source and "didn't just make it up." "Mums the word," Reid said. Alright, then.
HOW WE GOT HERE IN THIS HORRIBLE PLACE - David Rogers: "The rise of the modern House speaker began 40 years ago as party caucuses became more unified and members demanded stronger central leadership -- often at the expense of committee chairmen. The late Tip O’Neill, the first of the modern speakers, approached this task with caution. Newt Gingrich went a huge step further, even channeling Oliver Cromwell. Nancy Pelosi created her own global warming panel. And upon becoming speaker in 2011, John Boehner wasted no time before kicking the House Appropriations Committee out of its Capitol office. But this concentration of power in the speakership comes at a price. It diminishes not just the chairmen but the speaker’s identity as a constitutional officer for the whole House. It tilts the scales more in favor of party interests and away from the institution." [Politico]
Jobs numbers coming out next Tuesday.
WHOOPEE: TED CRUZ NOT AGAINST ANOTHER SHUTDOWN - That sound you hear is everyone in the Energy Department applying for work at ExxonMobil. ABC News: "It’s the question on everyone’s minds: could the country be pushed to the brink of another shutdown when government funding runs out in January? Sen. Ted Cruz, the Texas Republican who pushed the strategy to tie government funding to defunding President Obama’s health care law, wouldn’t rule out revisiting it in the coming months. 'I would do anything, and I will continue to do anything I can, to stop the train wreck that is Obamacare,' Cruz said when asked by ABC News’ Jon Karl whether he would rule out another shutdown. “The test that matters Jon, is are we doing anything for all the people that are getting hurt from Obamacare?” [ABC News]
Ted Cruz doesn't always make correct statements, FYI.
AIRPORT GROPING UPDATE: OBAMA TO NOMINATE NEW DHS BOSS - We're getting a new Secretary of Oops, I Forgot To Put My Belt In The Bin. Daily Beast: "The White House has settled on a former high-ranking Pentagon official to replace Janet Napolitano as Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, two senior Obama administration officials confirm to The Daily Beast. President Obama plans to announce his intention to nominate Jeh Johnson, who served as the Defense Department's general counsel during the administration's first term, at a White House ceremony tomorrow, one of the sources said. Johnson, a well-known and trusted figure in the Obama White House, was a central player in many of the administration's most sensitive national security and counterterrorism policies, including the ramping up of the drone program, the revival of military commissions to try suspected terrorists, and the repeal of the Defense Department's ban on gays serving openly in the armed forces. Johnson's experience dealing with counterterrorism and cyber-security threats will comfort many on Capitol Hill. He is less versed in the areas of disaster relief and immigration enforcement, also key elements of the DHS mission. Still, administration officials do not expect the nomination to be especially polarizing and are hopeful Johnson will receive a relatively warm reception in Congress. " [Daily Beast]
DAILY DELANEY DOWNER - Lesson on food stamp life from a reader upset about looming cuts to the nutrition program: "Every time I shop I always check the price before I pick what I want to buy, and shop the store discount area, and I am on the store coupon mailing list. So then I can get as much food as possible. So they are not creating job, they are making people have less food. They don't know what they are doing, are what it is like to be on food stamp. So I am very unhappy. Bad idea." Actually, here in Washington most everyone agrees on this. Sorry. [Hang in there!]
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STEVE STOCKMAN CURB STOMPS CAMPAIGN FINANCE LAW - Peter Olsen-Phillips: "'I did not make the contribution,' Thomas Dodd told Sunlight on Oct. 10 when asked about why his mother had disavowed knowledge of a $7,500 contribution made to the campaign of his boss, Rep. Steve Stockman, R-Texas. Though now, the campaign says, he did. Five days after a Sunlight report cited Jane Dodd saying she didn't make the contributions, Stockman's campaign filed an amendment, listing Thomas Dodd, his special assistant, as the donor." [Sunlight Foundation]
DEMS DEFLECT Qs ABOUT MCCONNELL'S 'KENTUCKY KICKBACK' - Until yesterday we assumed "Kentucky Kickback" was something you drink out of a jug while wearing overalls. Sabrina Siddiqui: "House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said Thursday there were 'bigger things to object to' in the bill that reopened the government than the $2.1 billion for the so-called 'Kentucky Kickback' dam project, as reporters pressed her at length on the congressional practice of inserting special interest provisions into appropriations bills...Pelosi responded that many of her members have 'some of the same questions' about certain elements of the bill that was negotiated in the Senate...Section 123 of the Senate bill secured $2.918 billion for the Olmsted Lock and Dam Authority to fund a dam project on the Ohio River -- a significant boost from the $775 million originally allotted. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), who brokered the Senate deal, has been criticized over the provision, and the Senate Conservatives Fund has attacked him for seeking a 'Kentucky Kickback.'...Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) also defended the provision late Wednesday, noting it was 'not an earmark' and that there was 'no need to point fingers at anyone.'" [HuffPost]
IT BEGINS: CONSERVATIVES MOUNTING PRIMARY CHALLENGES AGAINST BUDGET DEAL SUPPORTERS - And they won't rest until T-bills become so worthless that they're used as kindling in our oil drum fires, goddamnit. Luke Johnson and Paul Blumenthal: "Two conservative groups endorsed a primary challenger to Sen. Thad Cochran (R-Miss.) Thursday, one day after Cochran voted for a bipartisan budget deal to reopen the government and raise the debt ceiling. Club For Growth PAC and Senate Conservatives Fund, two groups that opposed the Reid-McConnell bill, endorsed the candidacy of state Sen. Chris McDaniel within minutes of each other. The endorsements could be a sign of a coming counterattack by conservative interest groups against Republicans who voted for the deal. SCF, Club For Growth and Heritage Action all tried to rally Republicans not to vote for the bill, but it won the support of 87 House Republicans and 27 Senate Republicans. Cochran, 75, has not announced that he's running for reelection in 2014, but he has won by wide margins in deeply conservative Mississippi since 1978." [HuffPost]
"Are These Quotes From An Alien Invasion Movie, Or From A Republican Describing Obamacare?"
GLUTTONOUS FEDERAL EMPLOYEES GETTING WHOPPING ONE-PERCENT RAISE - Fingers crossed for a COLA next year!!! WAPO: "The budget measure that ended the partial government shutdown allows for a 1 percent raise for federal employees in January in addition to providing back pay for those furloughed, according to two Democratic Maryland senators. “The promise of a modest pay raise and back pay for furloughed government employees are good first steps in recognizing the value of federal workers,” said Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski, chairwoman of the Senate Appropriations Committee in a joint statement with Sen. Ben Cardin...Federal employee salary rates have not been increased since January 2010. Some employees have had their pay frozen that entire time while some have received raises due to promotion, performance, or on advancing up the steps of their pay grades. President Obama proposed a 1 percent raise for January 2014 in his budget plan released in the spring. Over the following months, Congress drafted spending bills for fiscal year 2014 that mostly were totally silent regarding a raise or that said that if one is paid, agencies would have to absorb the cost out of other spending. One Senate measure, however, specifically endorsed a 1 percent raise." [WaPo]
GOP CONGRESSMAN THINKS DEBT DEAL FUNDS WARLORD - Amanda Terkel: "Rep. Mick Mulvaney (R-S.C.) was one of the 144 House Republicans who voted against bipartisan legislation to reopen the government and raise the debt ceiling. In a statement explaining his position on Thursday, Mulvaney pointed to the 'pork' stuck into the bill at the last minute. 'Finally, the 'deal' is full of pork,' he said. '...the 'Lord's Resistance Army' received special funds...' It's true that the bill contained, for example, nearly $3 billion for an Ohio River lock project that Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has supported in the past -- although the funding request actually came from Sens. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), who are both on the Appropriations Committee. But there was no money for the Lord's Resistance Army in the bill -- and it would have been shocking if there had been. The LRA is a Ugandan rebel group led by warlord Joseph Kony. The group's trademark is kidnapping children and turning them into fighters or sex slaves. The money contained in the legislation will actually help the Pentagon support African forces hunting Kony." [HuffPost]
OBAMA TO MEET WITH PAKISTANI PRIME MINISTER NEXT WEEK - America's best frenemy. Athar Mouhiudin: "Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif plans to put Afghanistan at the top of the agenda when he meets with President Barack Obama in Washington, D.C., on Oct. 23. Specifically, Sharif wants to discuss Pakistan's reservations about the state of its war-torn neighborhood after NATO troops withdraw, as well as the expected security pact between the United States and Afghanistan. Many top officials in Pakistan worry that such a security agreement would allow Afghanistan to seek U.S. help for military action inside Pakistani territory. Likewise, there are concerns about how security problems in a post-withdrawal Afghanistan could spill over into Pakistan, which shares a border of some 1,600 miles. Obama is expected to seek cooperation from Pakistan on the withdrawal of troops and military equipment from land-locked Afghanistan, and Islamabad plans to seek a greater role in Afghanistan, as well as compensation for withdrawal-related damages to roads, which are already in a dilapidated condition. Additionally, according to Pakistani media reports, Sharif intends to take up the issue of Afghan intelligence officials' alleged support for banned terrorist outfits operating inside Pakistan and carrying out attacks in the country..." [HuffPost]
Tom DeLay needs to get out more (unless it's from jail, then he should most definitely stay): "[F]ormer House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Texas) insisted on Thursday that most people in the 'real world' consider Cruz and the House Republicans to be heroes. 'When you're in a fight, people just don't like the fight, so they're going to respond negatively,' DeLay said on CNN. 'It's who wins and comes out of the fight that has long-lasting effects. And I got to tell you right now, out here in the real world, outside of New York and Washington, D.C., these people think Ted Cruz is a hero. They think that those Republicans in the House are heroes. And they think that Obama is destroying this country.'" [HuffPost]
IT'S ALMOST LIKE MATT DRUDGE PURPOSEFULLY EXPLOITS RACIAL PREJUDICES - Matt Drudge's hell is undoubtedly the rec room of a Mississippi Delta Boys and Girls Club and/or any quinceanera anywhere. National Journal: "Close the border gates, cancel the DREAM Act, and torpedo immigration reform, because salsa sales have overtaken ketchup, screams the banner headline on the Drudge Report Thursday afternoon. The massive, all-caps splash (with an image of a sombrero overtop) links to an Associated Press story that notes that the salsa news, still just barely sinking in, is 'just the start.'... But, as is turns out, salsa overtook ketchup over 20 years ago, and this is just the latest in long line of stories using culinary sales as a marker of demographic change...Even George Costanza knew this. 'You know salsa is the number one condiment in America right now,' he said on a 1992 episode of Seinfeld." [National Journal]
BECAUSE YOU'VE READ THIS FAR - Here is an elephant wearing jeans.
SOUP FOUND - We report, you retch. WaPo: "The Environmental Protection Agency is still working on those carbon-emissions rules, but it’s already saved its own workers from a potential bio-hazard: a 16-year-old can of soup, which was discovered in one of the Chicago headquarter’s refrigerators during the government shutdown. EPA workers from the midwest region got a welcome-back e-mail, which included a note from chief Gina McCarthy, information about back pay, and a few notes about what had gone on during the 16-day partial shuttering of the government. Fortunately, those remaining in the building had thought to clear the office fridges of all those weird Tupperware-like containers and tubs of yogurt that accumulate in any communal kitchen." [WaPo]
Fingers crossed for cream of mushroom!
BEARD LOST - Politico: "Furloughed D.C. employees woke up Thursday ready to get back to work, but for many men that meant some backlogged grooming was in order. With the federal government reopening Thursday, POLITICO rounded up the best goodbyes to the #shutdownbeard" [Politico]
- Dog and squeaky chew toy perform a duet. [http://huff.to/19bqeDX]
- Trailer for Wes Anderson's next movie, "The Grand Budapest Hotel." [http://bit.ly/16i5c39]
- "The Shining" as an 8-bit video game. [http://huff.to/1aSd6D0]
- What NFL logos would look like if they were fat. [http://bit.ly/1gmPdL3]
- "Game of Thrones" as a rom-com set in a dysfunctional Medieval-themed amusement park. [http://huff.to/15M41vT]
- Calvin and Hobbes creator Bill Watterson gave a rare interview to Mental Floss. [http://bit.ly/19axTT1]
- Baby wombat knows its way around. [http://bit.ly/19bqumk]
@joshgreenman: So you're telling me there's *no* memorial I can break into today?
@SabrinaSiddiqui: I was going to ask who would play Ted Cruz in a movie, but I imagine Ted Cruz would play Ted Cruz in a movie.
@pourmecoffee: Zoo animals coppimg real attitudes with returning handlers. "Well look who's here Mr. Comes-In-When-He-Wants glad you could drop by."
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