HUFFPOST HILL - Meet Bill Shuster's Lob-bae-ist

The Senate will fast-track the Trans-Pacific Partnership despite the costs of extending the NAFTA superhighway to southeast Asia. Transportation Committee Chairman David Shuster is dating an airline lobbyist, proving you can woo someone even if your first five dates occur at your own Bistro Bis debt retirement luncheons. And questions persist about Hillary Clinton's Chipotle visit. Why did she try to cover up the incident by eating her order? What is she hiding? This is HUFFPOST HILL for Thursday, April 16th, 2015:

LYNCH CONFIRMATION BATTLE GETTING SO REAL - Times: "The fight between Senate Republicans and the White House over the stalled nomination of Loretta E. Lynch for attorney general escalated sharply on Thursday as an administration spokesman took a personal swipe at Senator Charles E. Grassley, the Iowa Republican who heads the Judiciary Committee. Josh Earnest, the White House spokesman, accused Mr. Grassley of an 'astounding degree of duplicity' for repeatedly suggesting that President Obama and Senate Democrats contributed to the delay by not pressing for her confirmation when Democrats still controlled the Senate last November and December...Beth Levine, a spokeswoman for Mr. Grassley, fired back at Mr. Earnest, saying that Democrats chose to pursue other nominations rather than Ms. Lynch’s in their final two months in charge because they did not consider it a top priority, not out of any deference to Republicans. She said Democrats should drop their objections to a stalled sex-trafficking measure so the Senate could take up the Lynch nomination...Senator Harry Reid of Nevada, the Democratic leader, said in an interview for 'The Rachel Maddow Show' on MSNBC that he was preparing to take procedural steps to force a vote on the Lynch nomination. Republicans could block his maneuver, but it would put them in the position of voting down the nomination of the first African-American woman nominated for the post when she otherwise appears to have the support for confirmation." [NYT]

Rick Santorum won't attend your gay wedding but Marco Rubio will.

TED CRUZ LOBBYING HOUSE STAFFERS - Who needs a digital team when you have a bunch of @mail.house.gov addresses in your phone? Roll Call: "On Wednesday, just about a month after Cruz’s official campaign kickoff, Cruz Chief of Staff Paul Teller sent an email around to a handful of congressional offices to see if members wouldn’t mind praising his boss on the record. 'He wants to show as much congressional support as possible, so anything you could say or do (including tipping me off to who else in the delegation might be supportive), we’d so appreciate,' Teller wrote in one email, obtained by CQ Roll Call, to an anonymous House lawmaker. Based on a small sample size of Cruz’s House GOP allies -- those who have in the past attended strategy sessions at local watering hole Tortilla Coast or pizza dinners in his office in the Dirksen building -- Teller’s letter was either not widely disseminated among House offices, or aides had not yet passed them along to their members. Several House Republicans told CQ Roll Call Wednesday afternoon they were unfamiliar with the email — with some members stressing they aren’t nearly ready to wade in with an endorsement beyond saying Cruz is a 'great guy' and a 'friend.'" [Roll Call]

POLITICIAN DATING LOBBYIST - Any hurt feelings between Shuster and Politico will undoubtedly be smoothed over when Mike Allen "likes" their Facebook relationship announcement. Politico: "House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Bill Shuster is dating a top lobbyist for the leading U.S. airline trade association, an organization that spends millions of dollars trying to influence his panel. The Pennsylvania Republican is currently at the center of high-stakes negotiations to enact the most sweeping overhaul of the Federal Aviation Administration in decades. The package could include changes to the nation’s air travel system, including the privatization of the air traffic control system. Airlines for America’s members -- all of the nation’s largest airlines -- have a major interest in the legislation. Shuster and Shelley Rubino, vice president for global government affairs for Airlines for America, have been romantically involved since last summer, according to multiple sources familiar with their relationship. Rubino, a former top House Democratic leadership aide, has been with the trade group since March 2012." [Politico]

Someone just shored up the 8-year-old girl vote: "Sen. Pat Roberts (R-Kan.) apparently forgot to silence his cell phone during work Thursday, because his ringtone, 'Let It Go' from the Disney movie 'Frozen,' went off during a Senate Finance Committee hearing... 'Just let it go, mister,' Roberts told [Agriculture Secretary Tom] Vilsack as he silenced his ringer. Snickers and laughs filled the room from senators and staffers." [HuffPost]

Good news, people who get jokes about Martha's Vineyard: "The House of Representatives voted Thursday to give a tax break worth $269 billion to the richest few thousand estates in the country, and add that cost to the federal debt. Called the Death Tax Repeal Act of 2015, the bill would end the nearly 100-year-old federal estate tax. All but three Republicans voted in favor, while all but seven Democrats voted against. The legislation passed 239 to 179. The measure benefits only the top .2 percent of the population because the other 99.8 percent of the country doesn't own enough wealth to ever pay the tax. Only estates worth more than $10.9 million for couples and $5.4 million for individuals fall under the tax." [HuffPost's Mike McAuliff and Jesse Rifkin]

Old Chewbacca has clearly been rocking Bob Menendez's hair coloring treatment.

Haircut: Amanda Terkel (h/t Amanda Terkel)

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SENATORS REACH TPP AGREEMENT - Some minors points need to be hashed out, like whether your job will be shipped overseas via UPS or FedEx, but otherwise things are in order. Mike McAuliff: "Congress’ tax committees announced an agreement Thursday to speed through a bill to give President Barack Obama the fast-track authority that he will need to push mammoth new trade deals through Congress. While a deal had been believed to be in the works, news that it was actually done came as a surprise to members of both the House Ways and Means Committee and the Senate Finance Committee, which had been called to a hearing on the deal less than 12 hours earlier. The 'trade promotion authority' bill, or TPA, would allow the White House to cut new trade deals with Asian and European nations, and then pass them through Congress using expedited procedures. Under these rules, the deals cannot be amended or obstructed, and they get a simple up-or-down vote. The fast-track authority would likely pave the way for both the controversial Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership agreement with the European Union and the Trans-Pacific Partnership with a dozen Asian nations. Both deals are vastly larger than NAFTA, and would involve about two-thirds of the entire world’s economy. Currently, the United States has trade agreements covering just 10 percent of world trade." [HuffPost]

They were trying to raise awareness about campaign finance reform.

CLINTON TO ACCEPT PAC AND LOBBYIST DOLLARS - Hillary for you and me, bring back our democracy! Sam Stein and Paul Blumenthal: "Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign will accept donations from lobbyists and political action committees, a difference in policy from the man she's hoping to replace, President Barack Obama. The Clinton campaign confirmed that there would be no prohibition on such donations, after The Huffington Post was tipped off by two lobbyists supportive of the former secretary of state's run for the White House. 'Hillary Clinton has a long history of taking on tough fights against special interests, whether or not they’re donors to her campaigns,' said Jesse Ferguson, a spokesman for the campaign. 'She strongly supports campaign finance reform and has voted for tough lobbying reform, but as long as Republican groups and candidates are going to spend millions attacking Hillary, we need the resources to fight back.'" [HuffPost]

CLINTON NOT WAFFLING ON IDS FOR UNDOCUMENTED THIS TIME - Elise Foley: "Eight years ago, it was the topic of driver's licenses for undocumented immigrants that first tripped up the seemingly inevitable presidential candidacy of then-Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y.). During an October 2007 debate in Philadelphia, Clinton was asked whether she supported the efforts of her home-state governor, Eliot Spitzer, to pass a bill authorizing those licenses. Spitzer was arguing that it would make the roads safer since undocumented immigrants with licenses would more likely to get insurance and cooperate with police…As she makes her second bid for the presidency, Clinton's position is far clearer and decidedly different. 'Hillary supports state policies to provide driver's licenses to undocumented immigrants,' a campaign spokesperson told The Huffington Post." [HuffPost]

Great read on the history of the Capitol's basketball court.

PENCE'S POLL NUMBERS DROP AFTER 'RELIGIOUS FREEDOM' BILL - Amanda Terkel: "Indiana Gov. Mike Pence (R) has seen a significant drop in his approval rating since signing a widely criticized 'religious freedom' law, with one longtime political observer in the state saying the fall is historic for a governor…A new HPI poll by pollster Christine Matthews of Bellwether Research shows Pence's favorable rating at just 35 percent, and his unfavorable rating at 38 percent. In 2013, an HPI poll found Pence faring much better than he is now. Then, he was at a 52 percent favorable rating and a 20 percent unfavorable rating. Fifty-nine percent of respondents in the new poll said the "religious freedom" law was unnecessary, compared to just 30 percent who thought it was needed. Another 50 percent said the controversy surrounding the law will have a 'negative impact on the economy' even after it 'isn't front page news.'" [HuffPost]


THE AMERICAN PEOPLE DESERVE GYROCOPTER ANSWERS, AND CHUCK SCHUMER IS GOING TO FIND THEM - Why did(n't) the government order the gyrocopter to stand down? Laura Baron-Lopez: "Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) wants to know “how the heck” a man was able to fly a small aircraft, known as a gyrocopter, onto the Capitol Hill lawn on Wednesday. The pilot of that gyrocopter, Doug Hughes, is a mailman from Ruskin, Florida. Hughes had told the Tampa Bay Times that he would fly his gyrocopter to the Capitol to deliver letters to every member of Congress 'demanding reform and declaring a voter's rebellion.' Schumer appeared quite perturbed when asked about the incident on Thursday, saying it 'raises a whole lot of questions.' 'How the heck did it happen?' he asked. 'Just saying it’s a little helicopter or it’s one person or it’s harmless does not answer these questions, and we need to know what happened.' When asked what his other questions might be, Schumer sounded off: “How’d it happen? How’d the helicopter get through? Why weren’t there alarm bells that went off? Why wasn’t it intercepted? Did we know about it? How far from the Capitol grounds did we know?” [HuffPost]

Was the pilot on Four Loko?

BECAUSE YOU'VE READ THIS FAR - Here are some corgis in slow-motion.

EARL BLUMENAUER'S PLAN FOR A STRIP CLUB TOTALLY CRUSHED - Only a matter of time until Madeleine Albright's stripclub, Broaches, follows suit. Lou Chibbaro Jr.: "[F]ormer D.C. Council member Jim Graham (D-Ward 1)...is helping the owner of a female nude dance club on Georgia Avenue transform the adult nightclub every Sunday night into a male strip club catering to a gay clientele. In a development likely to surprise his former Council colleagues, Graham said he’s working as special events director for The House at 3530 Georgia Ave., N.W., which has operated at that location since 1979. Graham said he will promote the Sunday night gay male stripper venue as well as a weekly Thursday night event at the club featuring male strippers catering to a straight female clientele...In a takeoff on his well-known use of bowties as a fashion statement during his years as a Council member, Graham said all of the nude male dancers will be wearing one of the hundreds of bowties he has in his wardrobe." [Washington Blade]


- Scientists have figured out what happens when joints crack.

- Video from the South West Scythe Festival.

- Thanks be to the 1980s for Komputer Kindergarten


@HayesBrown: Free idea: a parody video of Hillary singing about the hot takes about her campaign called "Takes On Me."*

*please don't do this

@BrettLoGiurato: Twitters, ranked:
1. Star Wars Twitter

972. Chipotle Politics Twitter

@SimonMaloy: "burrito" is Spanish for "little donkey"

The donkey is the symbol of the Democratic Party...

brb, pitching editor

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