GOP Can’t Find Votes to Pass Its Own DHS Bill

Republican leaders in the House tried to prevent the midnight shutdown of the Department of Homeland Security by passing a stopgap bill that would fund the department for three weeks, leaving time for both parties to debate what should be in the final budget. It didn't work.

The final vote was 203 to 224, with many conservative and tea party Republicans voting nay, as well as most of the Democrats in the minority. Conservative Republicans want to include a provision defunding President Obama's executive order on immigration, while House Democrats want to vote on the bill that would fund DHS through the year, which has already passed in the Senate. With only a few hours left to go before the end of the day, options for avoiding shutdown are running out. Representatives were warned that additional votes tonight and this weekend may be necessary. 

Russian Opposition Leader Boris Nemtsov Reported Dead

Russian news outlets have reported that Boris Nemtsov, a former deputy prime minister under Boris Yeltsin and prominent critic of Russian President Vladmir Putin, was shot in the streets of Moscow, near the Kremlin, on Friday night. One of Nemtsov's fellow opposition leaders, Illya Yashin, told one Russian news website, "Unfortunately I can see the corpse of Boris Nemtsov in front of me now. At the Bolshoy Zamoskvoretsky Bridge. I see the body and lots of police around it."

The politician, who led several opposition parties over the course of his career, was scheduled to help lead a march on Sunday. 

The Guardian notes that it has been a decade since the last assassination of a politician in Moscow. 

How Net Neutrality, Unloved by Very Powerful People, Made It

On Thursday, the Federal Communications Commission approved new net-neutrality rules, and, as you'd expect, everyone on the internet is now wondering what it all means

But seeing as the rules still need to survive bureaucratic lethargy, Congress, and litigation threats, who knows exactly what the change could mean, and if consumers will even notice. (The New York Times reports that the Netherlands still exists despite similar regulations having been in place there for two years.)

The question of why net-neutrality rules were approved yesterday despite massive protest from powerful broadband companies with armies of lobbyists and the Republican majority in Congress, as well as the fact that the FCC is currently chaired by someone many pro-net-neutrality advocates have been skeptical about, is a slightly easier thing to unpack.

The chain of events leading to yesterday's vote began when a federal appeals court in D.C. struck down existing net-neutrality rules in 2014 and the FCC began to consider whether broadband companies should be able to charge websites for better access, among other changes coveted by that industry.

The FCC opened up the debate over these possible changes to the public, and the agency was flooded with millions of public comments being filed — taking the telecommunications outrage record from those who complained about Janet Jackson's Super Bowl wardrobe malfunction in 2004. The Sunlight Foundation analyzed the comments and found that a majority seemed to support net neutrality.

After the commenting period closed, President Obama — who is on the record in support of net neutrality since at least 2007 — weighed in with a pro-net neutrality statement and mentioned that the FCC should listen to what the public was telling them. On Thursday, he tweeted about the FCC’s decision, again calling attention to the activists: “That's the power of millions making their voices heard.” He also sent a note to Reddit congratulating the efforts of its users: "Earlier today, the FCC voted to protect a free and open internet — the kind of internet that allows entrepreneurs to thrive and debates over duck-sized horses and horse-sized ducks to persist." White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest noted yesterday that the new rules were "in line and consistent with the position that the President had articulated last November."

If there’s anything we’ve learned about the president during his career and campaigns, it’s that he loves nothing more than being able to #humblebrag about his grassroots support. And after the electoral losses that occurred right before Obama's big net-neutrality announcement, the White House was a bit hungry for some love from its base.

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Kristol: Netanyahu Loves America More Than Obama Does

The endless ethno-nationalist conflict in American politics has, of late, revolved around two related dramas. One is a debate over President Obama’s patriotism, or Christianity, or alleged lack thereof. Another is a debate over Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s speech before Congress. Neoconservative activist and intellectual William Kristol brings the two episodes together in a fit of inadvertent insight, arguing in the same column that “Giuliani had struck a nerve,” and that Netanyahu is “more of an America-lover than Barack Obama.” Yes, that’s right. Kristol is simultaneously impugning the patriotism of the president of the United States and comparing him unfavorably to a foreign leader. Because the tension between these two beliefs has not even occurred to him, Kristol has brought together two arguments conservatives needed to keep apart.

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Republicans Realize Obamacare Lawsuit Would Destroy Them, Not Obamacare

Liberals have spent months freaking out about King v. Burwell, a right-wing lawsuit that they believe would cripple or even destroy Obamacare. I argued recently it would do no such thing, one reason being that Republicans would pay a heavy political price for standing by and doing nothing as 11.5 million mostly middle-class Americans immediately lose their insurance.

My argument was based on assessing the political calculus from the outside. We now have a lot of information about what Republicans think from the inside. And the case looks even stronger than I initially suspected.

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Scott Walker Says Battling Wisconsin Protesters Prepared Him for ISIS

Being a Republican presidential candidate in 2016 is so tough. Saying something vaguely offensive can be good, since it shows you'll stand up to the liberal media and lets certain members of the base know that you think there's something fishy about President Obama, too. But where's the line? Do you want to suggest that Americans who exercised their right to protest your policies are sort of like ISIS? As Scott Walker learned at the Conservative Political Action Conference, probably not.

"If I can take on 100,000 protesters, I can do the same across the world," Walker said. »

Senator Refutes Climate Change by Throwing Snowball in Capitol

This afternoon, Senator Jim Inhofe (R-Oklahoma), chair of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, approached the Senate floor accompanied by a small Ziploc bag and a large chart of the igloo his grandkids had built during "Snowpacalypse," the mythical name for the record amounts of snow that fell on Washington, D.C., five years ago.

The items were exhibits A and B in his impending refutation of climate change.

"In case we have forgotten," Inhofe said, "because we keep hearing that 2014 has been the warmest year on record, I ask the chair, do you know what this is?" He had removed the frozen weapon from its plastic cage and floated it above the floor. "It's a snowball, from outside here. So it's very, very cold out. Very unseasonable."

He then threw the snowball onto the Senate floor.

Bush Tax Cuts Worked Brilliantly, Argues Republican Economist Lawrence Kudlow

Lawrence Kudlow, the CNBC pundit and Republican adviser, has co-founded the “Committee to Unleash American Prosperity” to lobby for supply-side economic policy. CUAP recently hosted Scott Walker, who appears highly congenial to the committee’s agenda. The interesting thing about Kudlow’s continuing influence over conservative thought is that he has elevated flamboyant wrongness to a kind of performance art. He has argued continuously, since Bill Clinton raised taxes on the rich in 1993, that higher taxes on the rich must necessarily destroy economic growth, and that lower taxes on the rich must necessarily bring prosperity. As (perhaps owing largely to unfortunate coincidence) the exact opposite has happened instead, he has resorted to a series of frantic post-hoc revisions.

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FCC Approves Net Neutrality Rules, and Broadband Companies Are Miffed

The Federal Communications Commission voted to adopt "net neutrality" regulations on Thursday, which made the White House and tech companies very happy, and broadband companies very mad. 

The changes will keep broadband companies from blocking legal content, prioritizing some web traffic over others, or discriminating at all when it comes to providing internet access. Verizon responded to the news by posting a #TBT post on its blog written completely in Morse code, saying the FCC was imposing "1930s rules on the Internet." They also sent out a press release written in a very smudged typewriter font. 

There are plenty of ways the net neutrality rules could be overturned — some broadband companies are planning to sue the FCC or Congress could pass legislation reversing the rules (and many of the Republicans in the majority have opposed net neutrality) — and the regulations still need to be approved by the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs.

 

How Downton Abbey Office Décor Morphed Into a D.C. Spending Scandal

About a month ago, Washington Post reporter Ben Terris got an email from one of his sources on Capitol Hill offering a tip. The tipster, who did not want to be identified, worked in the same congressional office building as Illinois Representative Aaron Schock and had noticed that the Republican congressman was doing some “really decadent” renovations to his office — he thought Terris should check it out.

Terris writes features and profiles for the paper’s style section — office décor might make for some nice details in the context of a larger story, but it didn’t strike him as worthy of investigation by itself. “I was like, eh, no thanks, that's not the kind of stuff I do,” he says. Still, he decided to reach out to Schock’s spokesman Ben Cole for coffee. Since being elected at the tender age of 27, Schock had built a solid reputation for being a globe-trotting, Instagram-snapping, media-friendly lawmaker. Even without the Men’s Health cover or GQ spread, he seemed to be living a charmed life, even by the standards of a politician, and it was enough to establish him as one of the Hill’s more interesting personalities — in other words, a perennial media profile subject. Terris suggested to Cole that they meet at a congressional coffee shop, but Cole told him to come by the office. What happened next would lead to Cole losing his job and his boss going from one of the Republican party’s rising stars to the subject of a spending scandal that, nearly a month later, isn’t over. The saga would also become an object lesson in how Washington spending scandals are reported — or not. Thanks to Congress's complex ethics rules and the general sense of moral compromise that pervades the capital, it can be difficult for journalists to sort out what's kosher and what's not.

Read More  »

Video of the day

Charlie Rangel Opens Debate With Fake Phone Call

Congressman Joe Garcia Picks Ear, Eats It on Live TV

Sarah Palin Thinks Chelsea’s Baby May Make Hillary ‘Open Her Eyes’ About Abortion

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In The Mag

Back on the Trail

When Mark Sanford decided to run for office again, he asked his ex-wife, Jenny, for her blessing. Whether he has her vote is another matter.

By Jason Zengerle

Reading List

Wonkblog Jan. 21, 2013

The Case for Deficit Optimism

For all the sound and fury, Washington’s actually making real progress on debt.

By Ezra Klein
Salon Jan. 15, 2012

The NRA's Democratic Helpers

Harry Reid and other pro-gun Democrats leave Obama in need of unlikely allies.

By Steve Kornacki

From the Archives

New York Magazine / Nov. 5, 2010

Boehner's Army

After November's glitch, Boehner, McConnell and Congress strike familiar poses.

By John Heilemann
New York Magazine / Jan. 25, 2009

With Friends Like These

Obama drew progressive ire from day one.

By John Heilemann
New York Magazine / Nov. 30, 2008

Hiding In Plain Sight

How one undocumented family lives in our sanctuary city.

By Jeff Coplon