Wisconsin public servants descended on their statehouse in hopes that Governor Scott Walker would retire to the Egyptian coastal resort town of Sharm el-Sheikh. Tim Pawlenty will be the keynote speaker at the upcoming Tea Party Policy Summit, leaving the rest of the 2012 field scrambling to deliver the introductory remarks at the “Facts: Fact or Fiction?” seminar. And If you’re a sick polar bear seeking family planning whose habitat has been decimated by global warming and is in desperate need of UN peacekeepers to maintain the political stability of the ice floe that is carrying you out to sea, this was not your day. This is HUFFPOST HILL for Friday, February 18th:
JACKIE SPEIER’S UNDENIABLE CHUTZPAH – In Washington, political “courage” generally means taking a position that is popular with banks but will hurt everyday people like, say, cutting Social Security. But California Democrat Jackie Speier displayed the real kind on the House floor late last night. Before she took the floor, New Jersey Republican Chris Smith used his time to graphically describe the process of an abortion. That’s when Speier decided to scrap her planned remarks. “That procedure that you just talk about was a procedure that I endured,” she told a hushed chamber. In an interview with HuffPost’s Elise Foley, Speier elaborated, “As the night wore on, the vitriol and grotesque commentary got worse and worse…I sat there thinking, none of these men on the other side have even come close to experiencing this, and yet they can pontificate about what it’s like. It just overwhelmed me.” Speier underwent a dilation and evacuation at 17 weeks into her pregnancy in her early 40s, while she was serving in the California Assembly in the 1990s, because medical difficulties made it impossible to continue the pregnancy. The procedure used was the same type that Smith’s book described. As she listened, Speier said she became more emotional and made the decision to speak out. “This was a wanted pregnancy, it was the second miscarriage I had had…What they express doesn’t come close to the experience that a woman goes through when she is losing a baby or when a pregnancy is terminated. It’s a painful, gut-wrenching loss.”
Planned Parenthood president Cecile Richards to HuffPost Hill on the GOP voting to de-fund Planned Parenthood: “I don’t think they have any idea how far they overreached.”
AFGHANISTAN #FAIL? – A proud day for us: Our very own Jeff Muskus has filed an in-depth, beautifully crafted piece on the state of the surge in Afghanistan. He’s a local boy made good: Capitol folks may remember The Muskraker for his Hill reporting a few years back. Jeff spent two weeks in the country and his piece is the first from a HuffPost reporter with an Afghanistan byline. “In many ways, the success of the surge will be linked to how many well-paved roads, honest and functioning courts, clean health clinics, open schools and steady jobs are left behind when it finally comes to an end. There’s no denying that some key roads and government structures have been spruced up. The differences between “before” and “after” photos are stunning. But it’s slow going, and only one part of the U.S. efforts to build a central government in a place that’s never really had one. The military and a small cadre of civilian counterparts are also trying to install a skeletal legal system here, develop a network of social-services providers like schools and clinics, and build more sophisticated intelligence-sharing and policing operations that might enable locals to take control more effectively when the Americans depart.” Short version: It ain’t working. [Longer Version]
IT’S GETTING REAL IN WISCONSIN – With Senate Democrats still on the lam, Wisconsin public employees, labor activists, and people generally supportive of the idea of paying the people who educate our children a livable wage, tens of thousands of people continued to protest Governor Scott Walker’s plan to neuter state employees’ collective bargaining framework. Writes Amanda Terkel, who is on the ground in Madison: “Individuals amassed in the Capitol are working extra hard to be respectful and be on their best behavior, with signs in the women’s restroom even admonishing fellow protesters to keep the area neat and tidy. There is also a lot of sympathy for the security officers overseeing the scene, noting that some of them will be affected by Walker’s proposal to take away collective bargaining rights. And it seems the feeling is mutual. One protester told The Huffington Post that officials from the local sheriff’s office even brought boxes of donuts for individuals who spent the night in the Capitol.” Word also is that Tea Party members are planning a counter protest this weekend. That’ll be…interesting. [HuffPost’s Liveblog]
Gerald McEntee, the President of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, says his organization is planning a recall of Walker. The biggest hurdle is that under the Wisconsin constitution, Walker can’t be recalled for a year, meaning that the earliest an effort to oust him could technically work is January 2012. “We will be leading a recall petition on this guy but we can’t until he is in there a year,” McEntee said in an interview with Sam Stein. “The problem is, he is trying to do enough harm in the first four months.”
DAILY DELANEY DOWNER – Florida’s jobless will be eligible for 20 weeks of state-funded benefits instead of the standard 26 if the state’s Republican leaders and biz lobbyists get their way. (They’ll still be eligible for 73 weeks of federal benefits, though, as long as they receive the fed bennies before their expiration at the end of the year.) Here’s the money quote from bill-sponsor Doug Holder: “This is a great way to give unemployed Floridians a hand up, and not a hand out.” [WCTV]
After Harry Reid aides Jim Manley, Rodell Mollineau, and Regan Lachapelle left the majority leader’s office, we took solace in the knowledge that we could still bug Erin Skinner Cochran. Word is Erin’s leaving the majority leader’s office to work for Madeleine Albright. D’oh.
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HOUSE VOTES TO DE-FUND PLANNED PARENTHOOD – A CR amendment from Mike Pence that would discontinue funding to Planned Parenthood passed 240-185 this afternoon. Despite its well-known reputation as an abortion provider, such services make up a tiny fraction of what it does. One in five women have visited a Planned Parenthood at one point for health services and access to HIV-testing, contraceptive distribution and cancer screenings. These are, of course, bad things and must be wiped from the face of the Earth. Like the HCR repeal measure and, well, everything else the House does for that matter, the likelihood of it making it through the Senate is slim. The likelihood of President Obama then signing the bill is even slimmer. [HuffPost’s Elise Foley]
NOW PRESIDENT DROPS THE NUANCE – HuffPost Hill asked Terry O’Neill how she could explain the House GOP’s aggressive efforts to defund contraception, cancer screening and other women’s health care services: “Because they hate women. There’s no other explanation. They hate women. The only way that you can — the only way that you could sign on to the Chris Smith bill is, you must hate women. In fact, I call the bill, ‘You Must Hate Women To Like This Bill Bill.’ That’s the name of that bill.”
HOUSE VOTES TO DE-FUND HEALTH CARE REFORM IMPLEMENTATION – “House Republicans voted Friday to bar the federal government from spending money on the health-care overhaul, the latest GOP effort to derail the Obama administration’s top domestic initiative. The House voted 239 to 187 to approve an amendment by Rep. Denny Rehberg (R., Mont.) that blocks the Obama administration from spending to carry out the overhaul. The provision was added to a bill funding the federal government through the remaining months of fiscal 2011. The chamber also approved three other amendments with the same aim.” [WSJ]
HOUSE VOTES TO BLOCK GREENHOUSE GAS REGULATIONS – The House voted 249-177 to prohibit the Environmental Protection Agency from regulating the greenhouse gases that countless scientists have proven to be a leading cause of global warming. The chamber then took a break so its members could enjoy today’s lovely 70-degree February weather. Heh.
JEFF BINGAMAN TO RETIRE – News broke today that the veteran New Mexico Senator, a member of the upper chamber since the early 1980s, will retire at the end of this congressional session. Bingaman’s retirement makes the Dems’ efforts to hold onto the Senate exponentially harder. They are already prepping for hard-fought contests in Virginia, North Dakota and Connecticut where senators are vacating their seats. “It speaks volumes about the state of the two political parties that as strong Republican candidates step forward in key races, Senate Democrats in important battleground states are stepping aside,” a National Republican Senatorial Committee spokesman in a statement according to the Washington Post. “Like the earlier retirements in North Dakota and Virginia, Senator Bingaman’s decision immediately presents another strong pickup opportunity for Senate Republicans.” So begins the scramble for Jeff Bingaman’s seat. This being New Mexico, the candidate to beat is his spirit animal, Chochokpi the Coyote. And don’t underestimate Chochokpi’s ability to build up a good ground game. Plus he’s big in the unions. Also he appears in your dreams when your marriage is on the rocks. [WaPo]
Bizarre fact about Bingaman: He’s a huge HuffPost fan.
@DaveWeigel: Just ran into Gary Johnson. He’s not running for Bingaman seat, will keep exploring prez bid.
TIM PAWLENTY SCORES KEYNOTE SPOT AT TEA PARTY POLICY SUMMIT – The former Minnesota governor has landed the most coveted speaking spot at the first annual Tea Party Policy Summit. The conference will convene in Arizona from the 25th to the 27th of this month. “With more than 3,000 affiliated organizations across the county, this summit will be an important opportunity for Tea Party Patriots to come together to celebrate and recommit to the ideals and values that are responsible for the dramatic victories in the November election,” said Jenny Beth Martin, the top organizer for the Tea Party Patriots, in a statement. You better believe we’re having a fun time generating seminars for this thing: “Truth: Don’t Believe The Hype” “Reality: Is Yours Sufficiently Skewed?” “Empiricism: Is It Infiltrating Our Schools?” “Tricorn Hats: Why Brown Is This Year’s Black,” “Over-sized T-Shirts With Eagles On Them: Choosing The Right One For You,” “Touching The Face Of God: Is Your Hair Bump High Enough?” “The Articles Of Confederation: A Lost Gem.” [NYT]
JANET NAPOLITANO OPTS OUT OF ARIZONA SENATE RUN – Unless she starts proposing that we electrify things, she probably wouldn’t have had a real shot, anyway. The former Arizona governor and Homeland Security secretary is viewed by some to be the strongest Democratic contender, should Gabrielle Giffords not recover in time for a run for the seat being vacated by Jon Kyl. “She cares deeply about Arizona, but the Secretary intends to continue doing the job that the President asked her to do — protecting the American people from terrorism and other threats to our country,” DHS spokesman Sean Smith said in a statement. “She’s focused on continuing to strengthen our counter-terrorism initiatives, border security, immigration enforcement, transportation and cyber security, and disaster preparedness.” Despite her name recognition, Napolitano’s numbers have been dropping in the Grand Canyon state where she has become increasingly associated with the Obama administration’s immigration enforcement policies. [The Hill]
In the nick of time, the DSCC reports that it broke its own fundraising records in January. The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee pulled in a $2.63 million haul last month, the highest-ever for the first month of a campaign cycle. That is still $200,000 less than the NRSC but the DSCC’s cash on hand, $2.65 million, is five-times that of its GOP counterpart. No word yet on how much Carl Levin’s Valentine’s Day kissing booth brought in. [Roll Call]
BECAUSE YOU’VE READ THIS FAR – Waiting for Godot: the video game. Here are the rules. To wait, hit ‘X’. Here is a game guide: Keep hitting ‘X’. Congrats, you won.
The White House says it will update the @PressSec Twitter account “soon” to account for Jay Carney assuming the role of White House press secretary. Robert Gibbs will now have to dust off his old Twitter handle, @PixieGrl423.
MAN ELECTS DOG – “She had a name,” said Robin Klein Browder, who grew up in the neighborhood and moved back after she got married. “It wasn’t Spot or Rover. It was a first and last name, so everyone thought she was human. I’m not thrilled. I’m embarrassed.” [WaPo]
JEREMY’S WEATHER REPORT –A beautiful weekend begins with a pleasant evening with temperatures in the 40s, some clouds (making it a bit cooler). Tomorrow: Beautiful, but windy. High in the 50s. Sunday: Winds disappear, 50s return. Sunday’s your best bet, as it will be beautiful, making you forget that it’s still February. Enjoy it while you can! Thanks, JB!
– An Australian morning show host lightheartedly tells his colleagues about the sword he keeps handy by his bed to impale intruders. This leads to a conversation about blunt instruments for the ages. [http://bit.ly/dVZXlA]
– Speaking of swords, here’s an incredible clip of samurai shadow-fighting in front of a light-display. [http://bit.ly/gf03ek]
– People of Walmart fight back. [http://bit.ly/g9AJ4K]
– The “Like A G6” Harry Potter remake you’ve been so desperately waiting for. [http://bit.ly/d3FvXw]
– Tetris art is a burgeoning medium. This guy is its da Vinci. [http://bit.ly/e3wdqc]
– Short film featuring a baby totally trashing a hotel as if it drums for The Who. [http://bit.ly/icK9Da]
– A cat falls behind its friends but thankfully a man is around to give the lost feline directions. [http://bit.ly/gzcZJm]
@pourmecoffee: Please be patient. House will de-fund your special interest grievance in order of campaign contribution amount.
@markknoller: Suggtested new Amendment to H.R. 1: Prohibit federal funding for Winter on any Winter’s day on which the outdoor temperature tops 50Â°F.
@evale72: Dogs with shirts! http://yfrog.com/gymwvdamj
Meet the Press: Dick Durbin, Lindsey Graham, Susan Rice, Jennifer Granholm, Harold Ford Jr, Ed Gillespie, Rick Santelli.
Face the Nation: Paul Ryan, Chris Van Hollen, David Sanger.
State of the Union: Donald Rumsfeld, Charles Schumer, Richard Lugar.
If you find yourself in Naples, Florida: A. You’re lucky and B. There are several evening fundraisers
8:00 pm: Spend several hours afloat with Vernon Buchanan, some drinks, and your wallet, freshly relieved of $1,000.
8:30 pm – 10:00 pm: Rep. Connie Mack hosts a “Drinks, Desserts, Cigars and Beach Music” at the Ritz. Jeez, would it kill Mack to maybe treat his benefactors to something nice for a change? [Ritz Carlton, Naples, Florida]
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