Proving that the spirit of bipartisanship isn't dead, the 113th Congress is pretending it's the 114th Congress by approving the Keystone XL Pipeline. Several Senate Democrats didn't vote for Harry Reid to be minority leader -- which is to say, several Democrats will soon know what the true meaning of suffering is. And proving that some things never change, House Democrats managed to alienate a core constituency, splinter into factions and engage in finger pointing ... all in one meeting. This is HUFFPOST HILL for Thursday, November 13th, 2014:
REID RE-ELECTED DEM LEADER, MODERATES NOT HAPPY - "Senate Democrats voted on Thursday to keep Senator Harry Reid of Nevada as their leader, but his victory came only after a nearly four-hour closed-door meeting in which 28 caucus members expressed their frustration with the party’s direction after an Election Day drubbing. The voting was done by secret ballot, but it was not unanimous, reflecting a divide within the party over the need to elevate new faces and younger leaders...'When you have an election like this, common sense says we need to change things,' said Senator Claire McCaskill of Missouri, one of the Democrats who did not vote for Mr. Reid. 'The voice was very loud and unmistakable,' she added. 'To me that means changing leadership, and it was just that simple.'" [HuffPost]
DUCKWORTH SHOT DOWN - At today's House Democratic caucus, according to multiple HuffPost Hill readers, Jan Schakowsky introduced a motion that would allow Tammy Duckworth to vote in next week's leadership elections by proxy, which would be the first exception granted in decades, if ever. She's super pregnant and shouldn't be traveling at this stage. What came next was a parade of Democrats who thought they could follow in the wake of the Iraq war vet and double amputee and get out of the meeting themselves. It began with Gwen Moore, who said she had a funeral to go to, and cascaded downward from there. Jerry Nadler suggested a medical exception, but with as old and rickety as the caucus is, where does that end? Jim Clyburn spoke against the exception and Nancy Pelosi stepped in to say that granting one would create just the slippery slope they were already seeing. Schakowsky pulled the motion. Now, this being a Democratic caucus meeting, it didn't end there. Afterwards, members griped that it was awfully coincidental that Anna Eshoo, whom Pelosi's been supporting with extreme vigor for the top spot on the Energy and Commerce Committee, would benefit from Duckworth's non-vote. But look, rules are rules. And House Democrats don't like anything more than rules. In a statement, Duckworth said she appreciated her colleagues who "made sure my request was considered."
KEYSTONE PASSAGE LIKELY - Kate Sheppard: "Legislation to force the approval of the Keystone XL pipeline picked up support Thursday as more Democratic senators signed on to Sen. Mary Landrieu's effort. ... The Senate can probably muster 60 votes if most the Democrats who have previously endorsed the pipeline vote in favor. Landrieu's bill has 10 Democratic co-sponsors, and a handful of other Democrats have previously expressed support for Keystone and could vote for the bill. The Hill reported Thursday that Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.) said he would support it, and John Rizzo, communications director for Sen. Bob Casey, told The Huffington Post Thursday that the Pennsylvania Democrat would also vote yes. Their votes would put Landrieu at 59 votes, with several other Democrats still on the fence." [HuffPost]
WARREN GIVEN LEADERSHIP ROLE - Amanda Terkel and Ryan Grim: "Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) gained a leadership position in the Senate Democratic caucus Thursday, giving the prominent progressive senator a key role in shaping the party's policy priorities. Warren's new role, which was created specifically for her, will be strategic policy adviser to the Democratic Policy and Communications Committee, helping to craft the party's policy positions and priorities. She will also serve as a liaison to progressive groups to ensure they have a voice in leadership meetings and discussions, according to a source familiar with the role. A source close to Warren told The Huffington Post that the senator was interested in the position because she wanted to have a seat at the table in the leadership meetings in order to influence the agenda." [HuffPost]
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REID CAUTIONS OBAMA AGAINST IMMEDIATE ACTION ON IMMIGRATION - Sabrina Siddiqui and Elise Foley: "Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said Thursday that he has urged President Barack Obama not to take any executive action on immigration until December, amid threats from Republicans that such a move could derail funding for the government. 'The president has said he's going to do the executive action -- the question is when he can do it. It's up to him,' Reid told reporters on Capitol Hill. 'I'd like to get the finances of this country out of the way before he does it.' Reid added that he has expressed his view to Obama, but ultimately 'it's up to him.' Obama could take executive action on immigration -- potentially giving deportation relief to millions of undocumented immigrants -- as early as next week, according to reports. Republicans have said it would be a major overreach of his authority, "poisoning the well" for future immigration reform. But they have also indicated it could lead to a government shutdown, should GOP members insist that defunding the new policies be part of the must-pass funding bill." [HuffPost]
They see me trollin' they hatin': "In another sign that the country is in for a tough two years of battles between the White House and Congress, incoming Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) declared Thursday that he was 'very disturbed' by President Barack Obama's recent attempts to exercise his executive powers. Those include moving ahead on dealing with undocumented immigrants, cutting adeal with China on climate change and suggesting that the Internet should be regulated like a utility under so-called net neutrality rules. 'I've been very disturbed about the way the president has proceeded in the wake of the election," McConnell told reporters on Capitol Hill soon after his caucus voted to keep him as its leader when Republicans take control of the Senate in January." [HuffPost's Mike McAuliff]
TESTER OFFICIALLY GIVEN DSCC CHAIRMANSHIP - Tester, not taking our advice and taking a starring role in a Joel McKinnon Miller biopic, is instead going to head up the Dems' 2016 Senate efforts. Amanda Terkel and Sam Stein: "Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.) was named the next chair of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee on Thursday, placing a red-state Democrat with a populist streak in charge of recruiting 2016 candidates for the party. Tester's new role was announced after Democrats in the Capitol held their leadership elections...The appointment of the Montana Democrat comes as the DSCC has reached a crossroads. After four straight relatively successful election cycles -- with some unexpected victories in the latter two -- the committee suffered terrible setbacks in 2014. Eight Senate seats were lost to Republicans, with a ninth expected to be go following the runoff election in the Louisiana race...But the next DSCC chair is also looking at an enviable political map in two years. Only 10 Senate Democrats are up for re-election in 2016, the residual benefit of the shellacking they took in 2010 when tea party Republicans swept into office. Republicans, meanwhile, will have 24 seats to defend, including five in states that President Barack Obama won twice." [HuffPost]
BOGGS NOMINATION GETS A DEAFENING 'MEH' FROM ISAKSON - Well, at least one soul-crushing debate won't be repeated this Congress. Jen Bendery: "Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.) says he would support renomination for Georgia's beleaguered judicial nominee Michael Boggs next year. But he's not exactly vowing to fight to make that happen. Isakson conceded Wednesday that Boggs has little chance of getting confirmed this year to the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia...But Boggs would likely fare better in the Senate next year, when Republicans are in the majority. The question is whether Georgia's senators plan to push President Barack Obama to renominate him to the lifetime post. It's going to take a push, too: The reason Obama nominated Boggs this year is because he was part of an all-or-nothing package of Georgia judicial nominees, some picked by Democrats and some, such as Boggs, picked by Republicans. Everyone else in that package has advanced, so Obama would have to be willing to renominate Boggs on his own -- and pick a big fight with his party." [HuffPost]
OBAMA ISSUES NCLB ORDER - "The Obama administration is inviting states to apply to renew their waivers from the No Child Left Behind Act. And according to guidance issued Thursday, these renewed waivers could last all the way through the 2018-2019 school year -- locking down some of President Barack Obama's education policy changes well into the next presidency. The new guidelines don't radically change the criteria for escaping the law's strictures. According to an Education Department document, states will have to ensure that schools cannot receive top ratings for accountability if they are not closing 'significant achievement or graduation rate gaps' between different groups of students. Some states have struggled to keep promises they made under the 2011 waiver guidelines to improve low-performing schools. Under the new guidance, states must update their lists of such schools 'to ensure that interventions are being implemented in the lowest-performing schools.'" [HuffPost]
BECAUSE YOU'VE READ THIS FAR - Here's a cat who likes tape.
GOVERNMENT ADMITS WHOOPSIE IN SURVEILLANCE DEFENSE - Matt Sledge: "The U.S. government has admitted that it made a significant courtroom mistake in arguments over a controversial surveillance technique. The Justice Department claimed in court last month that companies receiving FBI letters demanding business records can reveal those requests even in the face of gag orders. But in a Nov. 6 letter made public Thursday, the government acknowledged that lawyer Douglas Letter made 'an inadvertent misstatement.' FBI gag orders really do gag their recipients from revealing even the fact that they have received government surveillance orders. The use of the special "national security letters" -- which carry the weight of a subpoena but do not require a judge's approval -- was vastly expanded under the post-9/11 Patriot Act." [HuffPost]
- This is what clams do. We honestly didn't know the answer to that question before.
- Bryan Cranston reads from "You Have To F**king Eat," a hilariously perverse children's book.
- A BBQ smoker made to look like a locomotive.
- Parrot does killer Matthew McConaughey impression.
@nycsouthpaw: going to write a play about this decade called Benghazi, Bengruber
@daveweigel: It’s always weird when a spox or “message” expert gets on TV and issues a stream of “uhhhhs."
@pourmecoffee: All due respect to Mr. Tom Brokaw, but the real Greatest Generation landed on a comet and shared photos of a shiny bare ass today.
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