A new poll finds Mitch McConnell tied with Alison Lundergan Grimes, completely validating McConnell's decision to run all that oppo against Ashley Judd. Janet Yellen was sworn in as the first female Fed chair, while Larry Summers turned on "Everybody Hurts," curled up in a blanket and said derogatory things about her mathematical aptitude. And Rep. Mike Rogers has no problem with gay people, bro, just so long as they don't hit on HIM, know what I mean bro? This is HUFFPOST HILL for Monday, February 3rd, 2014:
The Senate just voted to end debate on the farm bill; final vote should be tomorrow.
HARRY REID: SENATORS WORKING ON BACKROOM DEAL FOR UNEMPLOYMENT THING - In a press release the Senate majority leader offered an update on lapsed unemployment insurance: "As we continue to work toward final passage of the farm bill conference report, a bipartisan group of Senators has been working behind the scenes to reach an agreement to restore emergency unemployment benefits to 1.6 million Americans." (Jack Reed previously talked about what they were working on over the break... sounded mildly promising.)
OBAMA & REID HOLD 2014 STRATEGY SESSION - Yahoo News: "President Barack Obama and Democratic Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid held a closed-door strategy session at the White House on Monday to plan how to keep Republicans from seizing the Senate in November’s elections, an informed source said. A source familiar with the meeting said Obama and Reid were joined by Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet of Colorado, who chairs the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, and DSCC Executive Director Guy Cecil. The DSCC's job is to recruit, fund and elect Democrats to the Senate...The discussions kicked off a heavily political week for Obama, who will host House Democrats for a reception and round-table discussion on Tuesday and address Senate Democrats at their annual retreat on Wednesday. White House press secretary Jay Carney had insisted that the meeting with Reid amounted to a routine conversation. 'They meet all the time, they talk all the time,' he told reporters." [Yahoo News]
2013 WAS THE MOST PARTISAN YEAR ON RECORD - Someone should craft a gold medal for the occasion emblazoned with John Boehner's crying face. National Journal: "The year of the government shutdown was also the year that Republicans and Democrats voted among themselves like never before. House Republicans in 2013 voted with their caucus an average of 92 percent of the time, breaking the previous record of 91 percent in 2011, according to a new study from CQ Roll Call. The House GOP voted unanimously on party-unity votes—those that divided parties—35 percent of the time, also inching past the previous record of 34 percent in 2010. A look at the Senate offers a similar picture, but in reverse; Senate Democrats broke their previous record on party unity in 2013 when lawmakers voted an average of 94 percent with their caucus. Unanimous voting also reached a new high: the Democratic caucus voted unanimously 52 percent on party-unity votes, which shatters the record for either party in either chamber (the last high was 46 percent in 2011)." [National Journal]
DAILY DELANEY DOWNER - From HuffPost's "All Work, No Pay" series, the tale of Karen Wall, a 38-year-old teacher who spoke with our own Eugene Mulero about her work life. "I'm a full-time teacher and I coach cheerleading. We needed a cheer program in our school -- the district required us to have one. I get an annual stipend for doing it. The cheer program is for football, girls basketball and boys basketball. I also bartend on the weekends, on Fridays and Saturdays and Sundays. It's in the same school district. The school district I work for is in three different cities -- it's that big -- so it's in the school district area in another city that I teach in. At home the bills are really simple. I don't have cable and I don't have Internet. We do DVDs for entertainment. It's rent, car payment and car insurance and student loan. My student loans are $500 a month. What I have left over would cover some clothes and expenses and money for birthdays." [HuffPost]
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SENATE DEMS GIVING OBAMA A HARD TIME - Politico: "President Barack Obama is counting on Senate Democrats to help approve his legislative agenda during his final years in office. And though they are his staunchest allies on most economic issues, many Democratic senators are breaking with him on key issues in very public ways. From trade to Iran sanctions, the Keystone XL pipeline, Obamacare, the National Security Agency and energy policy, Senate Democrats seem unusually comfortable criticizing the president, with only minimal concerns about repercussions from the White House. Even Obama’s steadfast ally, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada, didn’t mince words last week when he rejected a bill to fast-track trade deals that is strongly backed by the White House, working against Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus of Montana, a Senate colleague who has been tapped to be the president’s ambassador to China. Even some Republicans are noticing. “You had two or three Democrats in the Senate who made statements after the president’s State of the Union speech that wouldn’t have been written any different if they had been written by the [National] Republican Senatorial Committee,” said Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), referring to the Senate GOP campaign arm’s aggressive anti-Obama messaging...But not all the criticism is coming from expected quarters. Liberal Democrats have decried NSA surveillance programs, and Democrats not up for reelection for years seem perfectly at ease clashing with the White House." [Politico]
DEMOCRATIC MEMBERS VYING FOR ENERGY AND COMMERCE TOP SPOT - It's going to be fun to see John Dingell throw some 'bows behind the scenes. Roll Call: "Just four days after 20-term Rep. Henry A. Waxman, D-Calif., announced he would retire at the end of this year, two of his colleagues announced they would seek to be his successor as the top Democrat on the Energy and Commerce Committee. The fifth most senior member on the powerful panel, fellow California Democrat Anna G. Eshoo, put out a statement on Monday announcing her ambitions...Less than half an hour later, the committee’s No. 3 Democrat, Frank Pallone Jr. of New Jersey, said that he, too, would seek the ranking member’s slot...The two lawmakers’ decisions to launch bids for the gig nearly a year out from when committee leadership elections take place signal that the competition could be contentious, unrelenting and deeply personal. Both long-serving members have close ties to senior Democrats and will likely be battling for loyalty from the same allies...Now, [Former committee chair John] Dingell has indicated he might want the gavel back...In another statement to CQ Roll Call on Monday afternoon, Dingell said he was still giving the matter 'thoughtful consideration.'" [Roll Call]
CONGRESS BREAKS RECORD FOR MOST FREE TRIPS - Congress is taking a bunch of free trips to Israel, but unlike that Birthright trip you took in college, no one is making out with the IDF guard on their tour bus (or are they?). Legistorm: "Lawmakers and their staff broke a record for taking the most privately funded trips since 2007, when reforms came into effect after a major lobbying scandal. In 2013, members of Congress and their staff made nearly 1900 trips costing $6 million, breaking the record for the most privately sponsored travel since rules were tightened in 2007. By comparison the previous post-reform high was 2011, when privately financed travel cost $5.8 million for 1600 trips. The Congressional Institute, a group that bills itself as non-partisan but is run by top Republican lobbyists and former staff, was the biggest sponsor of trips in 2013. The organization sponsored large retreats for top staff, paying for 474 Republicans to go in all. Of foreign destinations Israel topped the list, with more than $2 million paid. Most of the travel was funded by the American Israel Education Foundation, a wing of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, or AIPAC. Turkey, India, Ethiopia and Azerbaijan rounded out the top five slots for most expensive foreign destinations." [Legistorm]
CHRISTIE INVITED TO CPAC THIS YEAR - The event is next month, so who knows where Christie will be at that point (The invites will be fun -- "Join former New Jersey Governor and current 'Apprentice' contestant Chris Christie..."). Yahoo News: "After being denied a speaking slot last year at the largest annual gathering of conservatives, New Jersey Republican Gov. Chris Christie has accepted an invitation to speak at the 2014 Conservative Political Action Conference next month, Yahoo News has learned.'We are very excite' to announce that New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie will speak at CPAC 2014,' American Conservative Union Chairman Al Cardenas told Yahoo News. 'At this year's CPAC... we will celebrate how conservatism has shaped our past and look to the future with excitement. This will be the year that conservatives begin pulling the nation back from the brink of Barack Obama's disaster with a movement that inspires, unites and discovers new solutions to our current challenges.' ...Last year, the ACU, which organizes the three-day confab, made the controversial decision not to invite the rising GOP star. The group withheld its invitation as punishment for what some in the movement viewed as Christie’s insufficiently conservative record the year prior, Cardenas said." [Yahoo]
COLLINS OUTRAISED BY UPSTART DEMOCRATIC CHALLENGER - There must be a really loud red siren going off in Third Way's offices right now, with papers flying everywhere and staffers desperately trying to assemble fact sheets about the deficit. Amanda Terkel: "Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) was outpaced in fundraising by Democratic challenger Shenna Bellows in the final months of 2013, although the three-term incumbent still has more than $3 million in the bank. Bellows reported raising $331,454 between when she jumped into the race in late October and Dec. 31. Collins, according to the Portland Press Herald, reported raising $314,921 in the final quarter of 2013. In a statement, Bellows attributed the unexpected haul to her grassroots support. 'One of the biggest threats to our democracy is big money in politics, so it is refreshing to see that grassroots giving from real people can triumph over corporate interests from out-of-state,' said Bellows. 'Our early fundraising success shows that Mainers are taking a look at this campaign and like what they see.' Bellows said she received contributions from 337 Maine towns in all 16 counties, with more than 80 percent of them totaling $100 or less...Bellows is the former executive director of Maine's American Civil Liberties Union and backs marijuana legalization, more environmental protections and an end the National Security Agency's surveillance of Americans." [HuffPost]
Mitch McConnell is in trouble: "Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell runs dead even with Democratic challenger Alison Lundergan Grimes in Rasmussen Reports’ first look at the 2014 U.S. Senate race in Kentucky. But McConnell’s GOP primary rival Matt Bevin leads Grimes by six points. A new statewide telephone survey of Likely Kentucky Voters finds that McConnell and Grimes earn 42% support each. Six percent (6%) like some other candidate in the race, and 10% are undecided." [Rasmussen]
STATES GRAPPLING WITH POSITIVE DEVELOPMENT - Having money to spend is one of the worst problems in politics. It's a lot easier to just blame poor people for spending it all on steak and lobster. Times: "In a year when three dozen governors are up for election, unexpectedly robust revenues from taxes and other sources are filling most state coffers, creating surpluses not seen in years and prompting statehouse battles over what to do with the money...While Republicans are tending to advocate more tax cuts and Democrats are more often pushing to restore spending on education and other programs, the differences between the two camps are not always so stark, with some governors outlining plans that appeal across party lines. Joining Republican anti-tax stalwarts like Dave Heineman of Nebraska and Scott Walker of Wisconsin in calling for more tax cuts, for instance, is a Democrat, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo of New York. And while Democratic governors like Jay Nixon of Missouri and John W. Hickenlooper of Colorado are pushing for significantly more education spending, so are Republican governors in Kansas, Georgia and Idaho, among others. In Kansas, Gov. Sam Brownback, among the most conservative, is calling for full-day kindergarten for all students. In her State of the State address, Gov. Susana Martinez of New Mexico, a Republican, talked about increasing teacher salaries." [NYT]
JANET YELLEN SWORN IN - The first woman to lead the Fed officially took her new post today when she was sworn in by Fed Governor Daniel Tarullo,
though Yellen has yet to receive her customary razor-thin white beard.. Time: "The former Berkeley professor is widely seen as a more compassionate Federal Reserve chair than the technocratic leaders the Fed has traditionally been led by, especially in light of her long academic record of focusing on the human impact of unemployment. Yell described her background in an exclusive interview with TIME in January. 'My father was a family doctor, and both he and my mother lived through the Depression,' she said. 'I came to understand the effect that unemployment could have on people in human terms.' The Federal Reserve has arrived at a crossroads in its post-recession monetary policy, and Yellen’s biggest challenge will be to smoothly wind down the Fed’s program of purchasing billions of dollars of Treasury bonds and mortgage-backed securities. The policy, intended to stimulate the economy, has resulted in the purchase of trillions of dollars in assets since the start of the recession." [Time]
BECAUSE YOU'VE READ THIS FAR - Here is a cat seeing snow for the first time
BRUNO WAS WRONG: ALABAMA NOT THE GAYEST PLACE IN AMERICA - Amanda Terkel: "Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Ala.) is facing heat from a gay rights group for reportedly making homophobic comments during a recent speech before hundreds of realtors. In the speech, delivered Jan. 23 during the Alabama Association of Realtors' board of directors meeting, Rogers allegedly made derogatory comments about gay people and criticized the atmosphere in Washington, D.C. 'You allegedly joked about how nice it was to be called 'Honey' and 'Sweetie' by a woman at an Alabama restaurant rather than a D.C. men's room,' Ben Cooper, chair of Equality Alabama, wrote in a Jan. 28 letter to Rogers. 'And you went on to mock our nation's capitol as a 'cross between Detroit and San Francisco' -- an obvious reference to Detroit's racial makeup and San Francisco's vibrant gay culture.' 'Comments like these are racist, homophobic, and hurtful, and they will not be tolerated,' added Cooper. Michael Hansen, Equality Alabama's communications director, told The Huffington Post his group heard about the remarks from several AAR members who attended Rogers' speech. One member was so offended that he and his colleagues walked out. Another member confronted the congressman after the event, Hansen said, to which Rogers reportedly replied, 'Bring it on.'" [HuffPost]
- A local two-minute commercial for an Atlanta dial-a-lawyer is truly epic. [http://bit.ly/LrIu4e]
- Every Super Bowl commercial aired last night. [http://huff.to/1k1PuDU4]
- Slow-mo video of dudes throwing rocks with their non-dominant hands. [http://bit.ly/1mWMAxj]
- Irish father is very upset that his son failed his driving test. [http://bit.ly/1k4qf3N]
- The best vines of last week. [http://huff.to/MqsoIV]
- An infographic that has a 70% chance of making you a hypochondriac. [http://huff.to/1nJlMnv]
- Seven-year-old is upset that LEGOs don't feature enough girl adventurers. [http://huff.to/1bfwz0l]
@TinaDupuy: If only we were meaner to homosexuals and single mothers - then maybe we'd have less weather...
@jonlovett: I'm running a contest. First prize is a dollar. Second prize is nothing. Third prize is tickets to Sochi.
@pourmecoffee: America is celebrating a love affair between a puppy and a horse. Thanks, gay marriage.
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