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Monday, July 22, 2024

HUFFPOST HILL – Joe Barton’s Guerrilla Campaign


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The 112th Congress hasn’t even been gaveled into session and the GOP is already having to deal with intra-party dissent. Jim DeMint is corralling votes for an anti-pork resolution. A cadre of RNC bigwigs are trying to return Michael Steele to his former life as a failed state-wide candidate-slash-Redskins promotional video extra. And Rep-elect Alan Nunnelee is taking a David and Goliath approach to dismantling health care reform (which is appropriate as Goliath would historically be denied coverage due to his preexisting gigantism). This is HUFFPOST HILL for Tuesday, November 9th, 2010:

VIVA LA REVOLUCION! JOE BARTON WAGING GUERRILLA CAMPAIGN FOR ENERGY AND COMMERCE GAVEL – Joe Barton, the Republican who apologized to BP after Obama caused the gulf oil spill, has launched an insurrection against House GOP leadership in an effort to keep his Energy and Commerce Committee gavel, GOP sources on and off the Hill tell HuffPost Hill. Barton is term-limited and would need a waiver to stay on; GOP chieftains couldn’t have been much clearer that he’s not getting one. Barton, undeterred, has pushed ahead: The day after the election, The Hill reported he penned a letter to the incoming freshmen soliciting their support for his gavel bid. We hear that Barton and his staff have spent the time since burning up the phone lines, making his case. “So far, so good,” said a Barton aide about the campaign. But what’s the end game? The leadership generally has say over waivers, but technically the House Republican steering committee makes the final decision. That panel is made up of members of leadership and regional representatives (and chairman, but they can’t vote on chair issues). So Barton’s plan is, by all accounts, to persuade every non-leadership member of the steering committee to buck the leaders and back the guy who apologized to BP to be head of the energy committee.

REID TO HUFFPOST HILL: HOUSE OMNIBUS IN WORKS – When we interviewed Harry Reid for our recent profile, a few things wound up on the cutting room floor (how he was feeling that day, small-talk about the weather, the rap battle, etc). One of them was his plan to pass something of a House omnibus before the end of the year. The House has passed hundreds of bills this year that have piled up along the corridor between the two chambers, confusing tourists and bottle-necking vice-presidential entourages. Reid said he wants to stuff as many as he can into a single bill. It would still need 60 votes to get cloture, but not all of the bills are entirely controversial. Many simply fell victim to the Senate’s pace. Reid’s spokesguy Jim Manley would only say that “we have a long list of things we want to do and not a lot of time to do them. Among other things, we have to see what, if any, kind of cooperation we can expect from republicans.” A senior Senate Republican aide who may or may not go by Stew didn’t dismiss it out of hand. “Depends on which bills, I guess,” he or she mused. “If he doesn’t have 60 for them now, he really won’t have 60 for them then.”

Before those hijinks can begin, the Senate has three cloture votes to take, in order: A bill promoting natural gas and electric vehicles; the Paycheck Fairness Act, which advances Lilly Ledbetter; and the food safety bill. The only one considered to have a shot is food safety.

HOYER GETS MAJOR BOOST FROM COMMITTEE CHAIRS – No matter how big a guy might be, Steny would take him on. You beat Steny with fists, he comes back with a Howard L. Berman. You beat him with a knife, he comes back with a Barney Frank. And if you beat him with a gun, you better kill him, because he’ll keep comin’ back and back until one of you is hosting a Saturday-morning panel show on Headline News. Sam Stein: “In a ‘Dear Colleague’ letter sent to the newly elected Democratic caucus, Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass), who chairs the House Financial Services Committee, Rep. Howard L. Berman (D-Cali.), who chairs the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Rep. Nick J. Rahall (D-W.V.) who chairs the House Natural Resources Committee, Rep. Bob Filner (D-Cali.), who chairs the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee, Rep. Silvestre Reyes (D-Tex.), who chairs the House Committee on Intelligence, Rep. Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), who chairs the Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming, and Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Cali.) who chairs the House Energy and Commerce Committee, argue that the Maryland Democrat has earned the right to retain the title of the number two ranking House Democrat.” At least three of those were new endorsements, Frank, Berman and Waxman.

And then Clyburn was all, like nuh-uh: “This is not about playing the numbers game. This is about respecting and honoring the members of our caucus in such a way that they will be comfortable with the process. I don’t see how you maintain a comfort level for all of our members by rolling out these names. I don’t think it does the process any real good. I’ve never done it, I’m not going to do it.” We recall a legendary candidate for office who also insisted that it’s not about the numbers game, an intrepid soul who never backed dow….OH WAIT, NO WE DON’T BECAUSE IT’S AN ELECTION AND IT’S ONLY ABOUT THE NUMBERS GAME. Although if we did his name would be Francis McLoserbutt, he’d drive a Geo Metro and probably have a really impressive collection of Vilsack ’08 memorabilia. The Hill:

“He obviously meant numbers in the paper,” a Clyburn ally tells us jackasses.

PELOSI NEGOTIATING END TO HOYER-CLYBURN CONTEST – Steve Dennis in Roll Call: “Speaker Nancy Pelosi (Calif.) is trying to negotiate an end to the race between Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (Md.) and Majority Whip James Clyburn (S.C.) for Minority Whip, a senior Democratic aide confirmed Tuesday…Pelosi has been under increasing pressure from her Caucus to intervene in the Hoyer-Clyburn contest, with Members worrying that a protracted race will cause a lasting damage. Some Members have said Pelosi bears responsibility to get involved because her decision to run for Minority Leader precipitated the fight.”

Clyburn is on his way back to South Carolina, so discount any future reports of face-to-face meetings with Hoyer and Pelosi this week, unless they get lucky on ChatRoulette.

From Pelosi’s USA Today op-ed, out this afternoon: “The results of last week’s elections reflected the genuine frustration of the American people, who are justifiably angered by the continued high unemployment rate. While Democrats are also disappointed at the rate of job growth, it does not diminish what we have accomplished…Democrats will strive to work with the new Republican majority to create jobs, strengthen the middle class and reduce the deficit. And we will always fight to protect Social Security and Medicare, health care reform and Wall Street reform.”

Lucia Graves: “Rep. Jim Clyburn said Tuesday he has ‘no interest’ in backing out of his contest with Rep. Steny Hoyer for the minority whip position in the 112th Congress. Hoyer allies have argued the Maryland Democrat has already secured the support he needs to win, but Clyburn isn’t buying it: ‘I wouldn’t be making calls or talking to these members if I didn’t think I could win,’ Clyburn told POLITICO. Clyburn called his race ‘a mission’ for the Congressional Black Caucus; the CBC formally endorsed Clyburn in a statement sent this afternoon. ‘With our country at a crossroads, it is vitally important that we have a leadership team in place that recognizes and reflects the strength and diversity of both the Democratic Caucus and our great nation,’ wrote CBC leader Rep. Barbara Lee. ‘As we transition into the minority, it is even more important that Congressman Clyburn continue in his role as Whip.'”

STERN-CONNECTED BIOWARFARE DEFENSE FIRM TRIPPED UP – Alicia Mundy in WSJ: “A small biotechnology company that was told by the government last month that it was the likely winner of a smallpox-drug contract valued at as much as $2.8 billion may lose that job because of ties to billionaire investor Ronald Perelman. The Department of Health and Human Services intended to award the contract to Oregon-based Siga Technologies Inc. under a program that sets aside some government work for small businesses. But the Small Business Administration told the company in a letter late Friday that Siga doesn’t qualify as a small business because it “is controlled by and affiliated with” privately held MacAndrews & Forbes Holdings Inc….In June, Andy Stern, former president of the Service Employees International Union, joined Siga’s board as a director.”

IT WON’T REDUCE THE DEFICIT, BUT AT LEAST IT KICKS THE POORS IN THE SHIN – The Republican Study Committee on Monday recommended reducing the deficit by cutting a welfare program that lards the federal budget with $2.5 billion in wasteful spending every year. The Committee called for cutting the $2.5 billion Emergency Fund created by the stimulus bill to help states subsidize jobs via the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program, formerly known as welfare. “The goal of welfare programs should be to help people get back on their feet as quickly as possible rather than simply expanding dependence on government,” said Rep. Tom Price (Ga.). “In addition to saving taxpayers $25 billion over the next 10 years, cutting the emergency fund from the President’s failed stimulus package will refocus temporary assistance on its rightful role.” Problem is, the TANF Emergency Fund has already expired, along with the 240,000 jobs progressive economists say it created. Jim McDermott: “What’s next — claiming savings for cutting New Deal work programs that were terminated over 70 years ago?”

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$20 MILLION CAMPAIGN LAUNCHED TO SCARE OLD FOLKS SO THEIR GRANDCHILDREN WILL DIE IN SQUALID POORHOUSES – Hugh Jidette just went from being a Victorian-era adult film star to a pawn in the ongoing Social Security debate. “The Peterson Foundation launched on Tuesday a $20 million TV ad campaign to promote the need for a major discussion on debt and deficit reduction, a discussion they no doubt hope will end with cuts to Medicare and Social Security, also know as the burn-the-village-to-save-it strategy. Titled ‘OweNo,’ the campaign, which promotes a mock presidential candidate named Hugh Jidette.” Get it? Sam Stein:

FIXING SOCIAL SECURITY BY DOING NOTHING – Economist Dean Baker makes the case that when it comes to Social Security, Congress should do what it does best: Delay. Baker’s four reasons why later is a better time to deal with Social Security: 1. There is good reason for believing that the public will be better informed about the financial state of Social Security in the future, in part because of the weakening of some of the main sources of misinformation; 2. Many more people will be directly dependent on Social Security in the near future. These people and their families will likely be strong defenders of the program; 3. The group of near-retirees, who may be the victims of early action, will desperately need their Social Security since they have seen much of their wealth eliminated with the collapse of the housing bubble; and 4. The concern over “maintaining the confidence of financial markets” is an empty claim that can be used to justify almost any policy.

REPUBLICAN INFIGHTING OVER EARMARKS INTENSIFIES – For reals, there hasn’t been this much acrimony over the role of pork since the Trefa Banquet of 1883, are we right? Are we right? Never mind (read about it here, or don’t: WSJ: “Sen. Jim DeMint (R., S.C.) has rounded up half the 12-member freshman class of Senate Republicans to cosponsor his proposal to ban earmarks, including high-profile tea party allies Marco Rubio of Florida and Rand Paul of Kentucky…Other cosponsors of the rules change were freshmen senators-elect Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania, Mike Lee of Utah, Ron Johnson of Wisconsin and Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire.”

Mitch McConnell, meanwhile, is digging in his heels. Manu Raju and John Bresnahan in Politico: “In a series of one-on-one conversations with incoming and sitting senators, McConnell is encouraging his colleagues to keep an open mind and not to automatically side with DeMint, whose plan calls on Senate Republicans to unilaterally give up earmarks in the 112th Congress, according to several people familiar with the talks. While McConnell is not demanding that rank-and-file Republican senators vote against the earmark ban, he’s laying out his concerns that eliminating earmarks would effectively cede Congress’ spending authority to the White House while not making a real dent in the $1 trillion-plus budget deficit.”

RNC POWER PLAYERS ORCHESTRATING STEELE TAKEDOWN – Chris Cillizza: “There is an active effort underway among prominent Republican National Committee members to recruit a serious alternative to Chairman Michael Steele if and when he decides to stand for a second term early next year, according to a series of sources familiar with the conversations. Henry Barbour, the nephew of Gov. Haley Barbour and a committeeman from Mississippi, has approached Reince Priebus, who served as the chairman of Steele’s first run for chairman in 2009, about the possibility of challenging the incumbent early next year.
As chairman of the Wisconsin Republican Party, Priebus helped the GOP win the governorship, a Senate seat, two U.S. House seats and seize control of both the state House and Senate last Tuesday.”

TODAY’S TERKEL TAKEDOWN – Amanda Terkel: “Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.) called for compromise and cooperation between Democrats and Republicans during remarks in Virginia on Monday, and equated the Tea Party movement on the right with progressive activists…[R]esponded MoveOn Executive Director Justin Ruben in a statement to The Huffington Post: “Senator Warner’s response is to falsely equate 5 million MoveOn members, including over 102,000 in Virginia..with the racist and xenophobic far-right wing of the Republican Party.”

DAILY DELANEY DOWNER – What a lapse in unemployment benefits can do when you can’t find work: Lori Hancock, a 52-year-old woman in Weldon, Ill. said she lost her job in November 2008. Thanks to Congress, she received no benefits for two months starting in June and fell behind on car payments. “I’d been submitting 20 to 30 job applications a week, and finally I got a job. But, after working for only 2 weeks, my car was repossessed, and without any transportation to get to work, I lost that new job,” wrote Hancock. “If Congress hadn’t let those benefits lapse last summer, I’d still have my car and my new job. Now I have neither. What happened to me could happen to almost anybody.”

DARRELL ISSA WALKS BACK ANTI-OBAMA COMMENTS – In an interview aired on last night’s “Situation Room,” the California Republican and incoming chair of the House Oversight Committee said he regretted saying President Obama is one of the most “corrupt” presidents in recent history. Issa — who we mustn’t forget hosted an ice cream social fundraiser a while back called “Issa Cream” — made the comments on Rush Limbaugh’s show prior to last week’s midterms. “Do I think the president is personally corrupt, no,” he said to Wolf Blitzer. “I should never have implied that, or created that in a quick statement on a radio call-in.” As Politico reported yesterday, Issa is planning “[S]even hearings a week, times 40 weeks” in the next session of Congress to prove how not personally corrupt the president is (Rumored hearings: “Turning A Blind Eye: Is the president helping his neighbors take out their trash?” “Streaming or Stealing? Is the White House overdosing on Megavideo?” etc.). Well OK, then!

Rep.-elect Alan Nunnelee of Mississippi has vowed to support a government-shutdown in order to block implementation of health care reform. It’s a challenging task for someone to take on by themselves but a small one-man fighter should be able to penetrate health care reform’s outer defense, maneuver straight down a trench and skim the surface to a small thermal exhaust port, right below its main port. The shaft leads directly to the reactor system. A precise hit will start a chain reaction which should destroy health care reform.”I agree with Congressman Boehner,” Nunnelee said in an interview on the American Family Association’s radio show. “We need to do whatever is necessary to make sure this bill never goes into effect. It’s the worst piece of legislation to pass the Congress in over a century.” ThinkProgress:

RETIRING CHRIS DODD TAKES SWIPE AT ELIZABETH WARREN – In an interview with Charlie Rose at a Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association conference (the same cocktail of white guys, money and Connecticut that will define his retirement), the outgoing Grinder State senator criticized the CFPB special advisor for her supposed lack of political appeal. “It doesn’t matter if you are qualified, you gotta produce the necessary 60 votes,” Dodd said of Warren’s confirmability, “and I’m suggesting based on my observations that that would pose some difficulties.” On HuffPost Hill’s scale of lame-duck classlessness, this falls somewhere between refusing to telephone one’s opponent and throwing a rager in your hideaway office, thereby leaving the walls coated in a thin film of vomit and the floors padded with flattened Bud Light boxes, mud and unconscious interns. New York Post:

Ron in Florida writes to HuffPost Hill: “Please tell John Boehner to stop with the water works, he is making my remote rust. Thanks, Ron!

JEREMY THE INTERN’S WEATHER REPORTTonight: It’s amazing how a sunny day with great temperatures can brighten the mood. Today was such a day. We can expect light cooling, but only to the 40s, with a clear sky above. Tomorrow: More of the same, as we are graced with a northern jet stream, bringing this warm air up for our enjoyment. Thanks, JB!


– The song “Caveman Blues” is every bit as bad as you would expect it to be. Imagine Huey Lewis if he made a career of performing at Six Flags.

– Antoine Dodson’s bed intruder hasn’t been caught yet but he remains undaunted.

– Google has some pretty rad advice for traveling from Japan to China (go to direction number 43).

– Biker dudes dancing to Justin Beiber.

– “30,000 Dutch households have been issued marijuana-scented scratch cards in an effort to help uncover illegal urban cannabis plantations.”

– A treasure trove of cats and dogs photobombing each other.

– Gorilla photobombs are a bit scarier.

– So two Michael Caines walk into a bar and this happens.


@SarahPalinUSA: 2 PA school speech; I’ll intro kids 2 beauty of laissez-faire via serving them cookies amidst school cookie ban debate;Nanny state run amok!

@KagroX: When is a door not a door? When it’s ajar. With a fetus in it.

@greeneforsenate: Good luck to York County which suffers a 14% unemployment rate. You voted 69.2% for DeMint.


TONIGHT: Anthony Weiner and Zach Wamp are on Hardball. Jan Schakowsky. TOMORROW: Mark Warner weighs in on the new Congress and Nora Ephron discusses HuffPost Divorce on Morning Joe.



6:00 pm – 7:30 pm: Muckrakers Happy Hour brings together journalists, Hill staffers, NGO types and other lions of self-importance. For fun, when someone tells you where he or she works, say you’re unfamiliar with their employer. Great sport [Thunder Grill, Union Station].

7:00 pm: The National Geographic Society screens Bouncing Cats, a musical documentary about a man’s efforts to teach Ugandan children about creavity through hip-hop and break-dancing [National Geographic Society, 1600 M Street NW].


4:30 pm: Demos, the Economic Policy Institute, the Schwartz Center for Economic Policy Analysis at The New School and the Pension Rights Center host a panel entitled “The Failure of the 401(k): Reinventing Retirement Savings Plans For a More Secure Future” [SVC 203-02, Capitol Visitors Center].

6:00 pm: U.S. Chamber Watch, Public Citizen and Americans United for Change present a screening of “The Loaded Chamber” which examines the Chamber of Commerce’s impact on governing. RSVP to [Public Citizen, 1600 20th Street NW].

6:30 pm: Here’s your chance to drink with Washington’s biggest gluttons for punishment that don’t work in print media. DC Rollergirls will be chilling out for a happy hour in Dupont [Science Club, 1136 19th Street NW].

Got something to add? Send tips/quotes/stories/photos/events/fundraisers/job movement/juicy miscellanea to Eliot Nelson (, Ryan Grim ( or Nico Pitney ( Follow us on Twitter @HuffPostHill ( Sign up here:

From The Huffington Post