HUFFPOST HILL - D.C. Council Boards Choomwagon

John Boehner denounced President Obama's spending bill as "the most irresponsible budget yet," but didn't say whether the increased cigarette and alcohol taxes had anything to do with it. Republicans continue to harangue President Obama over his foreign policy, while President Obama longs for the heady days of dispatching marines to waste sea pirates. And the D.C. Council passed a law decriminalizing marijuana, while the Oklahoma House passed a law allowing people to say "Merry Christmas" in public schools. Good work, representative democracy. This is HUFFPOST HILL for Tuesday, March 4th, 2014:

WHITE HOUSE UNVEILS UKRAINE HELP PACKAGE - AP: "The Obama administration readied economic sanctions against Russia on Tuesday as it formally announced an aid package of $1 billion in energy subsidies to Ukraine amid worries that Moscow would extend its military reach into the mainland of the former Soviet republic. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry arrived in Kiev for a five-hour show of support for the fledgling Ukraine government as it grapples with a military takeover of Crimea, a strategic, mostly pro-Russian region in the country's southeast. Kerry also was to pay homage to the dozens of protesters who were slain Feb. 20 in anti-government demonstrations that days later ousted Ukraine President Viktor Yanukovych. As Kerry arrived, the White House announced a package of energy aid, training for financial and election institutions, and anti-corruption efforts. U.S. officials traveling with Kerry also said the Obama administration is considering slapping Russia with unspecified economic sanctions as soon as this week." [Associated Press]

HAVE WE ACHIEVED PEAK #BENGHAZI? "Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said Tuesday that the Russian invasion into Ukraine has its roots in Benghazi. 'It started with Benghazi. When you kill Americans and nobody pays a price, you invite this type of aggression,' he tweeted. Russia, of course, undertook a similar action in Georgia over four years before Benghazi… Conservative blogger Michelle Malkin did not appear to be pleased with Graham's tweet, telling him to 'just stop' with that kind of approach." [HuffPost]

BARACK OBAMA STUNNINGLY NAIVE... AS COLLEGE STUDENT - He'd only JUST graduated from the Choom Gang at this time. Sabrina Siddiqui: "Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) on Tuesday drew from a new source in arguing that President Barack Obama has been too 'soft' on Russia: An article Obama wrote back when he was in college. In a blistering speech on the Senate floor, McCain blamed Obama in part for Russian President Vladimir Putin's aggression amid the Ukraine crisis, days after Russian forces moved in on the Crimean peninsula. 'This is the same guy that the president of the United States pushed the reset button time and again with,' McCain said of Putin. He then shifted his attention to a 1983 article called 'Breaking the War Mentality,' which Obama penned for a campus magazine as a senior at Columbia University." [HuffPost]

UH OH: @ChadPergram: FL Judge issues injunction after wife of Rep. Alan Grayson (D-FL) says he shoved her. Orange County, FL sheriff's office is investigating….Rep Grayson's office: It was Ms. Grayson who physically attacked the Congressman as he attempted to visit with his children.

ARKANSAS TO KEEP OBAMACARE MEDICAID EXPANSION - "The Arkansas House has voted to continue the state's compromise Medicaid expansion, sending the governor legislation that will keep alive a program that's extended health coverage to nearly 94,000 people. The House voted 76-24 Tuesday to reauthorize funding for the 'private option' program that uses federal Medicaid funds to purchase private insurance for low-income residents. Arkansas was the first state to win federal approval for such a model, an alternative to expanding Medicaid under the federal health care law." [Associated Press]

The D.C. Council passed a law decriminalizing pot.

REID COOKING UP NEW UNEMPLOYMENT BILL - Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) will introduce new legislation Tuesday to restore long-term unemployment insurance for 2 million workers. According to an aide, the bill would reauthorize the compensation for six months retroactive to Dec. 28th, when the benefits lapsed for 1.3 million workers (more claimants have become eligible for federal benefits since then). Reid's plan is to use savings from the recently passed farm bill in order to offset the cost of the measure and win Republican support. Several Republican senators have said they support reauthorizing the benefits, but only if the cost is offset -- and it has to be offset in a way that they like. It's unclear if farm bill savings will win them over. "We're in this gray area from Republicans where we get positive signals but they refuse to commit," the aide said. "We're basically willing to compromise on every aspect of this to get this done." [Huffpost]

NO FOOD STAMPS FOR POT BROWNIES, SAYS BILL NOT FROM 20 YEARS AGO - Shadee Ashtari: "If a new bill proposed by two House Republicans is any indication, drug warriors are finding it harder and harder to whip up moral outrage over marijuana use. The legislation, according to a letter describing it obtained by HuffPost, would ban food stamps or welfare benefits from being used to pay for weed -- a largely redundant stipulation, given that pot is already illegal on the federal level. 'Current federal law prohibits TANF' -- Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, commonly known as welfare -- 'benefits from being used for purchases or withdrawals at ATMs in strip clubs, liquor stores, and casinos. My commonsense bill will add all pot dispensaries nationwide to this list of prohibited locations,' Rep. Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.) wrote." The ban would also apply for food stamps. [HuffPost]

DAILY DELANEY DOWNER - The number of long-term jobless Americans missing out on federal unemployment insurance this week topped 2 million. Benefits ended for 1.3 million workers in December. Each week since then, another 70,000 Americans who would have been eligible have joined them. In a budget proposal released Tuesday, President Barack Obama called on Congress to restore the benefits as "a starting point in achieving opportunity and mobility," at a cost of $15 billion. The budget outline notes that 35 percent of the unemployed have been out of work six months or longer, a higher rate of long-term joblessness than at any other time Congress has dropped extended benefits. Democrats and Republicans have fought over reauthorizing the compensation, but a resolution seems unlikely as budget blueprints and foreign crises increasingly dominate lawmakers' attention. [HuffPost]

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OBAMA'S BUDGET HATES PARTYING - It goes after cigarettes and booze -- and one can only assume it feels uncomfortable when you play music too loudly. Sam Stein: "President Barack Obama on Tuesday morning released a Fiscal Year 2015 budget proposal that contains a variety of new tax provisions to pay for a modest increase in government spending. The plan includes the usual targets, eliminating tax preferences for the fossil fuel industry, raising the tax on carried interest income and implementing the so-called Buffett rule, which sets a minimum tax threshold for households earning more than $1 million. But there are also some quirky provisions tucked into the text. And for people who like cigarettes with their booze, the America envisioned in this document is not an inviting one. The president's budget plan calls for an increase in tobacco taxes, indexed for inflation. This increase would result in an estimated $78.217 billion increase in revenue between 2015 and 2024. The money would pay for a $76 billion initiative to provide pre-school education for every 'low-and-moderate-income four-year-old child.' The Obama budget also calls for a repeal of the 'excise tax credit for distilled spirits with flavor and wine additives.' It estimates that this repeal would raise more than $1.09 billion between 2015 and 2024, but it's possible that consumers would be hit with a price increase as distillers pass on the cost." [HuffPost]

BUDGET/IMMIGRATION NEWS: @elisefoley: The new Obama budget proposal would cut the detention bed mandate from 34,000 to 30,500 http://t.co/z8lQ4vFYXm

GOP responds: "Congressional Republicans were quick to criticize President Barack Obama’s fiscal 2015 budget on Tuesday, arguing that the document does little to curb government spending while hiking taxes...Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) called Obama’s latest plan 'perhaps his most irresponsible budget yet.'...House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), who struck that deal with Senate Budget Committee Chairwoman Patty Murray (D-Wash.), was also highly critical of Obama’s budget document, calling it 'yet another disappointment” that “reinforces the status quo' on spending." [Politico]

LEADERSHIP FIIIIIIIGHT!!!!! - Next step: Nancy Pelosi and Steny Hoyer leave smoldering paper bags of excrement outside each other's doors during caucus elections this winter. Roll Call: "The long-running leadership rivalry between House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Minority Whip Steny H. Hoyer is flaring anew as the two Democrats take different sides in the fight over who will be the top Democrat on the Energy and Commerce Committee. On Tuesday, Hoyer said he would back New Jersey Democrat Frank Pallone Jr. to succeed retiring Rep. Henry A. Waxman of California as the panel’s top Democrat in the 114th Congress. 'I’m not going to get into this publicly other than to say that I have historically been for the ranking member, the senior member...' Hoyer said in his weekly media briefing. Pallone is the No. 3 Democrat on the committee. Word had been circulating that Hoyer was supporting Pallone behind the scenes. The Maryland Democrat’s delicate articulation of support for Pallone is in stark contrast to Pelosi’s endorsement last week of fellow California Democrat Anna G. Eshoo, which she made with significant fanfare in a strongly worded letter circulated among her colleagues. Eshoo is No. 5 in seniority on the panel." [Roll Call]

Harry Reid needs better jokes: "Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) kept up his concerted campaign against the oil billionaire Koch Brothers Tuesday, saying on the Senate floor that 'Republicans are addicted to Koch.' Reid went after the billionaire brothers, David and Charles, repeatedly last week, arguing that they are trying to buy the United States Congress." [HuffPost's Mike McAuliff]

MIDTERM POLL: GOP AND DEMOCRATS RUNNING EVEN Ariel Edwards-Levy: "Respondents to the Post/ABC poll evenly trusted both parties on the economy, and gave the GOP a slim edge on its ability to handle the federal budget deficit. Democrats, however, had a 13-point advantage on helping the middle class, and an 8-point edge on handling health care, energy policy and immigration, according to the poll. Asked whether President Barack Obama and the Democratic Party are in touch with the public's concerns, Americans were about evenly split. But 68 percent said the Republican party is out of touch -- including about 40 percent of those who identify as Republicans themselves. Such results might be expected to take an electoral toll on the GOP, but asked who they'd prefer to send to Congress this November, voters were evenly divided, with 46 preferring a generic Democrat and 45 percent a generic Republican. The Republicans have a few structural factors working for them. Midterm elections tend to favor the party that's not in the White House, and the current mood is strongly anti-incumbent." [HuffPost]

Rand hedges: "Sen. Rand Paul has asked the leader of the Kentucky Senate for legislation to ensure that Mr. Paul can run both for the White House and for re-election to the U.S. Senate in 2016, The Washington Times has learned. 'Yes, I am working on clarifying an ambiguous state law that Rand Paul believes is unconstitutional if it is interpreted to bar running for re-election to the Senate and for president at the same time,' Kentucky Senate Majority Leader Damon Thayer told The Times on Monday...If things go Mr. Paul’s way, he could win the GOP presidential nomination, then run in the fall 2016 general election for the presidency and to retain his U.S. Senate seat. If he wins the presidency and the Senate re-election bid, he would relinquish his Senate seat." [Washington Times]

KENTUCKY'S GOVERNOR AND AG AT ODDS OVER GAY MARRIAGE - Herald-Leader: "Democratic Gov. Steve Beshear said Tuesday that he will appeal a federal judge's order requiring Kentucky to recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states. The definition of marriage in Kentucky and other states 'will be and should be ultimately decided by the U.S. Supreme Court in order to bring finality and certainty to this matter,' Beshear said in a statement. 'The people of this country need to know what the rules will be going forward. Kentucky should be a part of this process.' Beshear said he will ask for an indefinite stay, or delay, in the judge's order while Kentucky takes the case to the U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati. The order is on hold until March 20. Beshear will have to hire outside lawyers to pursue the appeal because a tearful Attorney General Jack Conway, also a Democrat, announced minutes earlier that he will not appeal the judge's order. Kentucky's ban on same-sex marriage is discriminatory and doomed to fall, and the state shouldn't waste its limited resources in court trying to save it, Conway said." [Herald-Leader]

We're in the 7th inning of LGBT rights, it's a blowout and people are streaming to the exits: "A majority of Arizona voters approve of Republican Gov. Jan Brewer’s veto of a controversial anti-gay bill, and a plurality now believe that gay couples should be allowed to marry legally in Arizona, according to a poll released Tuesday by the Democratic firm Public Policy Polling. The survey found that 66 percent of Arizona voters disapproved of the proposed law that would have allowed Arizona businesses to refuse service to same-sex couples based on the owners' religious beliefs. Just 22 percent expressed support for the bill, while 12 percent said that they were not sure. The bill, passed by the Arizona state legislature, was subsequently vetoed last week by Brewer." [HuffPost's Stephen Calabria]

WOW TEXAS DEMOCRATS DO NOT HAVE GAME - SMH. Amanda Terkel: "Kesha Rogers, a political activist who wants to impeach President Barack Obama and has compared Obamacare to the policies of the Nazi regime, has unexpectedly surged in the race to become Texas' Democratic nominee for U.S. Senate. Rogers is a follower of Lyndon LaRouche, who heads a fringe political movement that has been compared to a cult. His supporters are often seen carrying signs depicting Obama with a Hitler mustache. One of Rogers' own campaign posters features that image, and reads, 'Down with the Traitor! Impeach!' Five candidates are facing off Tuesday in the Democratic primary election for the chance to unseat Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) in November. A Feb. 24 poll by The University of Texas and The Texas Tribune showed Rogers leading the field." [HuffPost]

BECAUSE YOU'VE READ THIS FAR - Here is a cat with poor spatial orientation.

OOOOOKLAHOMA, WHERE THE WIND COMES SWEEPING DOWN OUR GODLESS SCHOOLS - Santa Claus must be so glad he retained the services of Patton Boggs. AP: "The Oklahoma House has approved legislation that authorizes public school students, teachers and other school staff members to greet each other with traditional phrases like merry Christmas, happy Hanukkah and happy holidays. The House voted 73-10 for the measure Monday and sent it to the Senate. The bill says public schools can display scenes or symbols associated with traditional winter celebrations on school property providing they include more than one religion or one religion and at least one secular symbol. Republican Rep. Bobby Cleveland of Norman authored the bill and says the legislation will protect Oklahoma schools from lawsuits over religious-based holiday displays. Opponents say such displays are already allowed. A proposal to include Kwanzaa, a celebration that honors African heritage, was tabled." [AP]


- The most popular surnames by country. [http://bit.ly/1i1hdQY]

- Arnold Schwarzenegger appeared on "Epic Meal Time." [http://bit.ly/1i4qV5e]

- The ten-most expensive cities to live in. [http://cnn.it/1dYhm4P]

- Animal GIFs with sound overlayed onto them. [http://huff.to/1f2IkIa]

- Photos of some of Kim Jong-un's ridiculous possessions [http://bit.ly/1crlT4X]

- The funniest joke in the world, as proven by science, isn't all that funny, [http://huff.to/NRo8TB]

Jimmy Fallon, The Roots and Idina Menzel sang "Let It Go" on last night's "Tonight Show." [http://bit.ly/1lvHrAa]


@KagroX: Who controls the British crown? Who keeps the metric system down? Benghazi.

@EvanMcSan: since everyone in DC is tweeting about #normcore these days i assume it was actually cool/in fashion like 13 yrs ago or so.

@pourmecoffee: Its National Grammar Day, so check you're grammar!

@zachdcarter: I don't care too much for honey, 'cause honey can't buy me gloves. #bitcoin http://t.co/Mjkjt1CSz9

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