IN THE NEWS: Republican Sen. Kirk endorses gay marriage … How the NRA is winning … Turnout sparse in S.C. runoff … PAC’s shadow campaign for Hillary … Fannie Mae has largest profit ever … Explaining plot to rig NYC election … Inside N. Korea’s ‘Hotel of Doom’
Shooting Holes in the Gun Bill?
If you read the news, things don’t look so good for Democratic Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s push to pass major gun legislation this spring.
First came his move to jettison from the legislation an assault weapons ban and limits on magazine size, a nod to the long-understood political reality that these measures didn’t have the votes to pass.
And now, sweeping background checks, what was to be the crown jewel of Reid’s gun measure, look to be in trouble. At least five GOP senators have threatened to block any legislation that smells of gun restrictions.
But Democrats and Republicans on Capitol Hill agree that the Filibuster Five are largely interested in headlines. If Democrats and Republicans can reach a compromise on background checks, there will be plenty of votes to end a filibuster. And if no deal is reached, Democrats will try to put something on the floor that Republicans will be hard-pressed not to support.
REPUBLICAN SEN. KIRK ENDORSES GAY MARRIAGE. Sen. Mark Kirk, R-Ill., announced his support for same-sex marriage today, The Chicago Tribune reports. “Our time on this earth is limited, I know that better than most,” wrote Kirk, who suffered a stroke early in his Senate tenure. “Life comes down to who you love and who loves you back – government has no place in the middle." Delaware Democrat Tom Carper also endorsed gay marriagetoday, meaning that fully half the chamber now favors the idea. Read more
- Here are the 7 Democratic holdouts in the Senate on gay marriage.
WHY GUN CONTROL IS IN TROUBLE. After an intense lobbying campaign by firearms advocates, the prospects for any new gun-control laws are looking dimmer, The Washington Post reports. This is despite months of negotiating among key senators, who have been unable to agree on a plan for near-universal background checks. “Another provision that garnered bipartisan support — making gun trafficking a federal crime — could be gutted if Republican lawmakers accept new language being circulated by the National Rifle Association,” The Post reports. National Journal’s Fawn Johnson reports on how the NRA is once again winning the debate. Read more
- National Journal’s Jill Lawrence argues it’s too soon to accuse Obama and Congress of foot-dragging on big issues like guns and immigration—and too soon to assume failure.
TURNOUT SPARSE IN S.C. HOUSE RUNOFF. Turnout has been light in today’s runoff for the Republican nomination in South Carolina’s special House election, The Charleston Post and Courier reports. Former Gov. Mark Sanford is expected to beat former Charleston County Council Member Curtis Bostic, but a small turnout makes the vote less predictable. Polls close at 7 p.m. tonight. The winner will take on Democrat Elizabeth Colbert Busch in next month’s general. Read more
- Colbert Busch recently deleted roughly 800 tweets on her Twitter account – most of them were retweets of others.
PAC CONDUCTS SHADOW CAMPAIGN FOR HILLARY. Hillary Rodham Clinton hasn’t decided whether she’ll run for president, but if she does, the people at Ready for Hillary PAC, will be, well, ready, Slate reports. The PAC’s 27-year-old executive director, Adam Parkhomenko, began campaigning for Clinton in high school. The group aims to make up for the four years Hillary has spent outside of politics and unable to build her campaign apparatus. Read more
NORTH KOREA TO RESTART NUCLEAR-WEAPONS ACTIVITIES. North Korea announced today that it would reopen dormant nuclear facilities and use all of its facilities for the expansion of its nuclear arsenal, The New York Times reports. The announcement represents the latest in a weeks-long series of belligerent escalations by Pyongyang. China, North Korea’s patron state, is signaling its disapproval of the move. “We have noticed the statement made by the D.P.R.K. and feel regretful about it,” said a spokesman for China’s foreign ministry. Read more
EXPLAINING THE PLOT TO RIG THE NYC ELECTION. The Washington Post has a handy guide that explains how a state senator and city council member attempted to rig the upcoming New York City mayoral election. Read more
- @MichaelPaulson: "Every time a politician is arrested in New York, it should not feel like a scene from Groundhog Day. And yet it does." – U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara
FANNIE MAE HAS BIGGEST PROFIT EVER. Five years ago, Fannie Mae was on the brink of collapse after making bad bets on risky mortgages. On Tuesday the U.S.-owned mortgage giant announced a record profit of $17.2 billion for last year, with more profits to come “for the foreseeable future,” the Associated Press reported. Taxpayers have funneled $116 billion to Fannie since 2008, of which $35.6 billion has been paid back. Read more
CRUZ TRIP TO S.C. FUELS 2016 TALK. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, will deliver the keynote address at the South Carolina Republican Party’s Silver Elephant Dinner in May, CNN reports. The fiercely conservative Cruz arrived in the Senate only in January, and 2016 is a long way off, but the high-profile engagement in this crucial primary state is sure to spur speculation about a presidential run. Read more
OBAMA CALLS FOR $100 MILLION TO MAP THE BRAIN. President Obama unveiled a proposal Tuesday to invest $100 million over the next year in research to better understand the brain, pointing to the economic benefits of scientific advancement, The Washington Post reports. “When we invest in the best ideas before anyone else does, our businesses and our workers can make the best products and deliver the best services before anyone else does,” he said. The proposal calls for combining the federal money with private funding. Read more
OBAMA GOES TO DENVER TO TALK GUN CONTROL. On Wednesday, Obama will travel to the Denver area, where he will continue to urge Congress to pass “common-sense measures to reduce gun violence.” The president will meet with local law-enforcement officials and community leaders to discuss the new measures the state recently put in place. Later in the day, he will travel to San Francisco to attend events for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. He will remain overnight in San Francisco.
EARLY JOBS NUMBERS DUE. The ADP Employment report will be released Wednesday. The precursor to Friday’s jobs report doesn’t always line up with the government’s figures but is expected to show approximately 205,000 new jobs for February. (ADP showed 198,000 jobs gained in February versus an upwardly revised 215,000 in January. The Bureau of Labor Statistics’ private payroll number for February was 246,000).
"The senator and I have become like brothers, like friends. I talk to him weekly. I see him once a month. Not right now, since this whole thing has started. But we enjoy each other's company." -- Dr. Salomon Melgen, donor to Sen. Robert Menendez. (Bloomberg)
FIRST FOREIGNER SETS FOOT INSIDE NORTH KOREA’S ‘HOTEL OF DOOM.’ Five-times taller and shinier than anything else in Pyongyang, North Korea, the perpetually unfinished, 105-floor, glass-covered Ryugyong Hotel has been called the “Hotel of Doom” by many, “the worst building in the history of mankind,” by Esquire, and “a colossal monument to the insanity of North Korea,” by Simon Parry in the Daily Mail. Last December, Parry became the first foreigner to get inside the hulking structure, which has mostly lain dormant since 1987, when North Korea broke ground, hoping to show up South Korea during the Seoul Olympics of 1988. Construction shut down after the Soviet Union collapsed in 1992 but mysteriously started again in 2008. The place is set to open this summer with 1,500 rooms—about the number of Western visitors to the country in a single year. Read more
PLAY OF THE DAY
EGG ROLLS AND PANDA DATING. Monday was holiday-centric on late-night television. Jay Leno noted Al Gore’s 65th birthday. David Letterman tied April Fools’ Day to Gore’s combatant in the 2000 election, former President George W. Bush. Easter was a huge point of humor, though, with the White House Easter Egg Roll happening Monday. Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move” initiative brought out food jokes, while the entire happening – egg-rolling and yoga gardens, specifically – made Jimmy Kimmel question how much fun the event actually was.Fallon also talked panda reproduction at the National Zoo. Read more
WILL TAX REFORM EVER SEE A VOTE? House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp, R-Mich., has long promised that his panel would pass a tax-reform bill. “We intend to move a comprehensive tax-reform bill in 2013—no matter what,” Camp said in November, and House leaders set it as the House’s top priority, reserving H.R. 1 as the bill number. But as both the House and Senate move forward, widespread doubt has taken hold as to whether these efforts have any real chance of evolving into votes this year—or in 2014, or even a year after that, as National Journal’s Billy House reports. Read more
PROFILE AT A GLANCE
- Why he’s in the news: Obama nominee for deputy director of Office and Management and Budget (Washington Post)
- Current job: Deputy director of National Economic Council
- Age: 35
- Education: B.A. in political science from Middlebury College, 2000; J.D. from Yale Law School, 2009
- Helped design the auto bailout as special assistant to the president for economic policy (NYT)
- Deputy economic policy director for 2008 Obama campaign
- Senior analyst for economic policy at the liberal Center for American Progress during the Bush years (CAP)
- Co-authored the 2002 book “Delivering on Debt Relief”
- Grew up in Mitt Romney’s hometown of Belmont, Mass.
- Co-hosted a college radio show called “Bedknobs and Beatniks” (The Middlebury Campus)