SEBELIUS’S TAINTED LEGACY – W.H. shuffle: Burwell tapped for HHS, who will lead OMB? – Reid folds...
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Transportation & InfrastructureVideoPhotosEventsPOWERJobsPOLITICO ProSEBELIUS’S TAINTED LEGACY – W.H.
By Scott Wong (swong@politico.
SEBELIUS’S TAINTED LEGACY – “Kathleen Sebelius waited as long as she could,” David Nather writes for the hometown paper. “She waited until the Obamacare enrollment season was over, and the once-broken website was so firmly back on track it held up under the last-minute surge. She even waited for one last high point: her announcement at a Senate Finance Committee hearing Thursday that sign-ups had risen to 7.5 million, thanks to the extra time the Obama administration had granted to people who said they couldn’t finish their enrollments on time. And then, just like that, she was gone.
-- “With her carefully orchestrated departure, Sebelius is leaving the Department of Health and Human Services on her own terms, at a natural breaking point after the enrollment season was finished. But she’s not going to have much control over her legacy, or how she’s remembered as HHS secretary. For all of the accomplishments Sebelius could have been remembered for — getting the massive pieces of the Affordable Care Act underway, negotiating with the states, writing the complicated rules needed to make its interconnected parts work — the one thing that will always define her legacy is the website disaster that happened on her watch. ‘There’s always going to be an asterisk by her name,’ said Jim Manley, a former aide to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.
-- “Democrats have been privately furious at her ever since the sputtering launch. They’re convinced they’ll lose seats in November in large part because Sebelius didn’t prevent the embarrassment of a federal enrollment website that could barely sign up anybody. … No one in Washington missed the fact that Obama brought in outsiders, led by management consultant Jeff Zients, to lead the repair effort that finally restored the website.” http://politi.
-- Obama quickly named Sebelius’s successor: OMB Director Sylvia Mathews Burwell. But the White House budget chief has a marathon in front of her, write POLITICO’s Ben White and Jennifer Epstein: “On a trip to England during the Clinton administration, Sylvia Mathews Burwell accidentally ran a half marathon. Out for a bit of exercise during an otherwise jam-packed trip, Burwell got hopelessly lost. Desperate to get back in time for a meeting, she just kept running until she found her way. She wound up logging 13 miles.
-- “The theory among senior Democrats is that Burwell will be both hard for Republicans in the Senate to reject — they confirmed her unanimously for OMB just a year ago — and hard for them to demonize once she’s in the job.” http://politi.
-- So who might be Obama’s next OMB director? Brian Deese, deputy director at OMB, and Beth Cobert, deputy director for management at OMB, are obvious choices. Danny Werfel, a former OMB controller whom Obama tapped as acting IRS commissioner after a tea-party scandal erupted at the agency, is another possibility. Some on Twitter were floating former Senate Budget Chairman Kent Conrad (D-N.D.) for OMB, but he didn’t get – or didn’t take – the job back when then-OMB director Jack Lew was appointed White House chief of staff in 2012.
HILL REPUBLICANS PILED ON after news broke about Sebelius’s exit, writes POLITICO’s Kyle Cheney: “‘It’s about time,’ tweeted Rep. Tim Huelskamp, who hails from Sebelius’s home state of Kansas. ‘She should have done this six months ago,’ added Louisiana Rep. John Fleming. Sen. Lamar Alexander said the burden of defending the health care law now falls on Sebelius’s successor. ‘This is the right decision,’ Alexander said. ‘The challenge for Ms. Burwell, or any other successor, is to help Congress find the right way to repair the damage Obamacare has done to American families.’” http://politi.
REID THREATENS FRIDAY VOTES, THEN FOLDS – Niels Lesniewski has the explainer from Roll Call: “Fallout from last year’s ‘nuclear’ rules change trumped the proverbial smell of jet fumes in the Senate this week, but only for a while. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., had called a live quorum to summon senators to the floor and declare on the official record what he had said earlier in the afternoon, that he wouldn’t punt on the nomination of Michelle T. Friedland to be a judge on the Ninth Circuit. … Later in the day, Reid set a series of nomination votes for 5 p.m. Friday, but Senate Democrats say it is now anticipated those votes will be postponed until April 28, in what represents a retreat for Reid.” http://bit.
ENTREPRENEURSHIP & PING PONG – Mike Allen talks with Steve Case, AOL co-founder, Revolution chairman and newly named ambassador for global entrepreneurship. Learn Case’s secret for persuading Dems and Republications: www.politico.
JINDAL, OTHERS IN GOP CALL FOR McALLISTER TO RESIGN – AP: “Embattled Louisiana Rep. Vance McAllister issued a less-than-ironclad vow to stay in office Thursday as the state's Republican governor and party chairman demanded his resignation after a videotape showed him in a lingering kiss with the wife of a friend. Gov. Bobby Jindal called the congressman's behavior an embarrassment. … "The best way to get privacy and work on putting his family back together is to resign from Congress," Jindal said. Earlier, accusing McAllister of ‘extreme hypocrisy,’ party chairman Roger Villere said in a brutally blunt statement that ‘a breach of trust of this magnitude can only be rectified by an immediate resignation.
-- “There was milder pressure from Washington, where House Speaker John Boehner said after talking to McAllister, ‘He's got decisions that he has to make.’ The nation's top Republican office-holder added, ‘I expect all members (of Congress) to be held to the highest ethical standards, and this is no different.’” http://fxn.
-- SEN. DAVID VITTER, a fellow Republican running for Louisiana governor in 2015, has not weighed in on the scandal. His spokesman did not respond to an email and Vitter declined to comment to reporters at the Capitol. Vitter survived his own sex scandal involving the D.C. Madam in 2007.
-- REPUBLICAN RODNEY ALEXANDER, who held the seat before McAllister, told a local paper he might run for his old seat this fall. “I would never say anything is off of the table,” Alexander, Jindal’s secretary for veterans affairs, told The News-Star. http://tnsne.
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GOOD FRIDAY MORNING, APRIL 11, 2014, and welcome to The Huddle, your play-by-play preview of all the action on Capitol Hill. Send tips, suggestions, comments, complaints and corrections to firstname.lastname@example.org. If you don’t already, please follow me on Twitter @scottwongDC.
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SPRING BREAK – The House is out today and for the next two weeks for the Easter recess. The Senate briefly comes into session at 4 p.m. today when Democrats are expected to announce that votes have been postponed until after recess, on April 28.
HOUSE PASSES FINAL RYAN BUDGET – Susan Davis writes for USA Today: “The House approved along party lines a budget plan that would reach balance in 10 years by cutting taxes, repealing President Obama's health care law and cutting social programs in favor of the national defense. … The conservative fiscal blueprint is the final resolution authored by [Paul] Ryan, who is term-limited as Budget chairman. Like all of his previous efforts, it was approved on a party line vote, 219-205. Twelve Republicans voted against it, as did all House Democrats. The Democratic-controlled Senate has no plans to pass a budget plan.” http://usat.ly/1kOrZeJ The dozen Rs who voted no: http://bit.
-- PAUL RYAN, asked by Huddle whether the vote was too close for comfort, replied that it was “exactly what we expected.
HOUSE PANEL VOTES TO HOLD LERNER IN CONTEMPT – “A House panel voted along party lines to hold ex-IRS official Lois Lerner in contempt of Congress on Thursday, paving the way for a full House vote as Republicans turn up the heat on the woman at the center of the controversy over tax-exempt tea party groups. If approved by the full House as expected, it would be one of about a dozen congressional contempt votes in the past 35 years. Republicans voted to hold Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt over the Fast and Furious matter in 2012. The House Oversight Committee voted 21-12 along in a straight party line vote … Democrats compared the process to the 1950s when Sen. Joe McCarthy directed a series of contempt votes on Americans who refused questioning about what he called their ‘un-American’ activities. Lerner, through her lawyer, has maintained that she has broken no laws.” http://politi.
CIA TRIES TO HIT ‘RESET’ WITH SENATE – Manu Raju and John Bresnahan report for POLITICO: “Top officials from the spy agency and the White House are trying to smooth over tensions that erupted last month when Senate Intelligence Committee Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) publicly accused the CIA of interfering with her panel’s investigation of interrogation tactics. CIA Director John Brennan, who denied Feinstein’s claims, is promising the agency will cooperate with a Senate sergeant at arms probe into how Intelligence Committee staffers got hold of super-secret internal CIA records on the agency’s controversial detainee interrogation program. ‘I fully agree that we should find a sensible way to resolve this matter that preserves the crucial equities of both the Legislative and Executive Branches,’ Brennan wrote in a private letter to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, which was dated April 3 and obtained by POLITICO.
-- “Around the same time, Brennan met with Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) for a private chat with the No. 2 Democratic leader, who also oversees part of the agency’s secret budget. Brennan has also spoken privately with Feinstein and Georgia Sen. Saxby Chambliss, ranking member on the panel, to try to cool tempers. The potential ‘de-escalation’ with the Senate is important for the CIA, since lawmakers have the power to set the agency’s budget, authorize key programs and put the agency in even more hot water over the use of harsh interrogation tactics against detainees.” http://politi.
PELOSI: ‘RACE’ A FACTOR IN GOP’S IMMIGRATION DELAY – POLITICO’s Lauren French reports: “House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi suggested on Thursday that Republicans were avoiding a vote on immigration reform because of racial issues. ‘I think race has something to do with the fact that they are not bringing up an immigration bill,’ the California Democrat said at a news conference. ‘I’ve heard them say to the Irish, ‘If it was you, it would be easy.’’ Pelosi was responding to a question on Attorney General Eric Holder’s comments that Republicans treated him disrespectfully during a House Judiciary Committee oversight hearing on Tuesday. Holder, an African-American, got into testy exchanges with Texas Republican Reps. Louie Gohmert and Blake Farenthold.” http://politi.
TWITTER TRAFFIC: HILL REACTS TO COLBERT -- @RepSamFarr: @StephenAtHome does this mean you don't want to get to know CA's Fightin' 20th? http://huff.
-- @RepCohen: Good luck to @StephenAtHome replacing @Letterman on #LateShow. Enjoyed being "better known" http://on.cc.com/1gcEKN0 pic.twitter.
-- @BillPascrell: Congratulations to my friend and former constituent Stephen Colbert on the news that he will succeed David... http://fb.
THURSDAY TRIVIA WINNER – Thomas Campos was first to correctly answer that before the Legislative Reorganization Act of 1946, the House had 48 standing committees (reduced to 19) and the Senate had 35 standing committees (reduced to 15).
TODAY’S TRIVIA – Campos has today’s question: Who was the only member of Congress to vote against what would have otherwise been a unanimous vote for the U.S.
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