The Hill's 12:30 Report

The Hill's 12:30 Report

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--> A midday take on what's happening in politics and how to have a sense of humor about it.*

*Ha. Haha. Hahah. Sniff. Haha. Sniff. Ha--breaks down crying hysterically.


The Hill's 12:30 Report: Sights and sounds from Trump's big speech | Left, right react | Zinke confirmed as Interior chief | Trump to remove Iraq from travel ban list | Drudge hopes for Trump vs. Oprah in 2020 | Peak cherry blossom forecast

BREAKING -- WE GOT THE INTERIOR COVERED NOW: The Senate voted this morning to confirm Rep. Ryan Zinke (R-Mont.) to be President TrumpDonald John TrumpReporters defend CNN's Acosta after White House says he 'disrespected' Trump with question Security costs of Trump visit to Scotland sparks outrage among Scottish citizens Ex-CIA officer: Prosecution of Russians indicted for DNC hack 'ain't ever going to happen' MORE's secretary of Interior. Vote count: The final vote tally was 68-31, with 16 Democrats joining all Republicans to support Zinke. He needed a simple majority to be approved. The new job: The former Navy SEAL will now lead the 70,000-employee department with a wide range of responsibilities, from overseeing wide swaths of federal land to supervising offshore drilling and managing the government's relationships with American Indian tribes. Yeah, no, it doesn't mean decorating the White House.

It's Wednesday. We're under a severe thunderstorm watch in D.C. -- and there's already been a thunderstorm today in New York City -- so naturally I'm freaking out with excitement. What a way to start March! I'm Cate Martel with a quick recap of the morning and what's coming up. Send comments, story ideas and events for our radar to and on Facebook.

SIGHTS AND SOUNDS -- DON'T LET IT FOOL YOU, THIS IS VERY DIFFERENT FROM A STATE OF THE UNION!: President Trump's address to a joint session of Congress last night was the biggest night of his presidency so far. 

First, let's set the scene for you:

The social media joke everyone is making: The C-SPAN feed briefly showed President Trump through a rain-streaked window of his car practicing his address. Lots of people enjoyed this:

Ryan's line of the night: Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanFive GOP lawmakers mulling bid to lead conservative caucus On The Money — Sponsored by Prudential — Trump walks back criticism of UK Brexit strategy | McConnell worries US in 'early stages' of trade war | US trade deficit with China hits new record Tampons sent to Dem who called for free feminine hygiene products in House MORE (R-Wis.) was overheard on the C-SPAN feed saying, "Look, Mulvaney even got a haircut!" Yes, he's referring to Mick Mulvaney, director of the Office of Management and Budget.

Best thing you'll watch all day: ...because we all need light, funny things to cling to these days: IJ Review's Benny Johnson asked lawmakers "Who are you wearing?!" as they processed through the media line in the Capitol. Their reactions are PRICELESS. Watch:

Spotted on the House floor -- Joe Scarborough?: "Morning Joe" co-host Joe Scarborough was spotted in the House chamber, not with media, but sitting next to Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.). Don't forget: Scarborough was a GOP congressman from Florida from 1995 to 2001.

Spotted in the guest balcony -- Sean Hannity?: "[Fox News host] Sean Hannity watching address in guest balcony. NOT IN PRESS BALCONY WITH REAL REPORTERS." (From congressional reporter Matt Laslo)

Also spotted in the visitor section -- err, Cabinet purgatory: "Ben Carson and Rick Perry (both have yet to be confirmed) are sitting together in the visitor section of the gallery."

Spotted in the chamber -- Oh heeey, Alan GraysonAlan Mark GraysonThe Hill's Morning Report: Frustration mounts as Republicans blow up tax message Former Dem Rep. Alan Grayson to challenge for old House seat PolitiFact cancels Alan Grayson hire after backlash MORE: "Former Fla. Rep. Alan Grayson -- clad in a stars and stripes tie -- has a seat on the floor of the chamber." (From BuzzFeed's Alexis Levinson)

Peak inside the White House before the speech:

Why there was a section of the chamber wearing all white: Dozens of female Democrats were seen wearing white in honor of the women's suffrage movement. It really stood out. Photo:

21st century, man: In the chamber before Trump's speech, "Half the House members are up socializing and chatting with colleagues. The other half have faces buried in their phones."

Yikes!: Check out how the extraction team at the Capitol suited up. They are not messing around:

No. Sudden. Movement.: "House gallery staff warned a Breitbart reporter not to make any gestures from press balcony"

This is like tenting for Duke basketball tickets!: "Prime real estate goes to Louie Gohmert and Billy Long, who had camped out in their aisle seats for several hours leading up to the speech." (From IJ Review's Joe Perticone)

How the speech went:

The gist of Trump's reception: Good! Media on the left and right give Trump's speech thumbs up.

Five takeaways from The Hill's Niall Stanage:  

1. Trump's speech was conventional -- to the GOP's relief
2. Out with the grim 'carnage' talk, in with the sunny 'new chapter'
3. Trump is an American nationalist -- love it or hate it
4. He wants healthcare utopia
5. He got a better fact-checker

Good read breaking down each: 

Full text of the speech:

The moment we'll remember for years: Liberal commentator Van Jones praised President Trump for honoring the widow of a Navy SEAL killed during a raid in Yemen. "He became president of the United States in that moment, period. There are a lot of people who have a lot of reason to be frustrated with him, to be fearful of him, to be mad of him, but that was one of the most extraordinary moments you have ever seen in American politics period," Jones said on CNN. Watch:

Standing ovations say a lot: Sen. Joe ManchinJoseph (Joe) ManchinRed-state Dem tells Schumer to 'kiss my you know what' on Supreme Court vote Dem infighting erupts over Supreme Court pick Beto O'Rourke is dominating Ted Cruz in enthusiasm and fundraising — but he's still headed for defeat MORE (D-W.Va.) was seen joining Republicans in giving Trump a standing ovation to the "make America great again" line.



NEW -- DETAILS ON TRUMP'S IMMIGRATION ORDER, TAKE II: Via AP's Matthew Lee and Vivian Salama, "President Donald Trump's new immigration order will remove Iraq from the list of countries whose citizens face a temporary U.S. travel ban, U.S. officials said Tuesday, citing the latest draft in circulation. ... Citizens of six other predominantly Muslim countries -- Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen -- will remain on the travel ban list ... those bans are effective for 90 days."

PICK ME. CHOOSE ME. LOVE ME.: Via The Hill's Alexander Bolton, Senate Republicans were expected to pick off red-state Democrats to support their legislative agenda, but two months into 2017, centrist Democrats say they aren't being wooed at all. Who and what: While President Trump has invited centrists such as Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), Jon TesterJonathan (Jon) TesterDem infighting erupts over Supreme Court pick Dems in terrible bind on Kavanaugh nomination Election Countdown: Latest on the 2018 Senate money race | Red-state Dems feeling the heat over Kavanaugh | Dem doubts about Warren | Ocasio-Cortez to visit Capitol Hill | Why Puerto Ricans in Florida could swing Senate race MORE (D-Mont.) and Claire McCaskillClaire Conner McCaskillRed-state Dem tells Schumer to 'kiss my you know what' on Supreme Court vote Analysis: Dark money groups have funded 44 percent of 2018 congressional ads Beto O'Rourke is dominating Ted Cruz in enthusiasm and fundraising — but he's still headed for defeat MORE (D-Mo.) to the White House, Senate Republican leaders have made almost no effort to court them on the president's top priorities: healthcare and tax reform.

TIME TO GET OUT THE CELEBRATORY AX: Via The Hill's Devin HenryPresident Trump has launched the opening salvo in his assault on the Environmental Protection Agency. Cuts, cuts, cuts: Trump is tearing into the EPA's budget by a reported 24 percent, which if approved by Congress would slash the agency's $8.1 billion budget to George H.W. Bush-era levels and reduce the EPA's workforce by one-fifth.

FUELING SPECULATION -- THE MAINE GUY IS IN TOWN: Via The Portland Press Herald, Maine Gov. Paul LePage has spent much of his time in the past two weeks in Washington, D.C., not revealing his daily schedule. Hmm: "LePage's activities have fueled some conjecture that Maine's governor could be in the running for an appointment to Trump's administration, but [his communications director] declined to comment on that Tuesday, saying only that Maine's newspapers, a frequent target of the governor's criticism, would be the last to know if LePage is offered a post." Fueling the speculation: "But [comms director Peter Steele] did little to dispel any rumors. 'The president is pretty impressed with all the accomplishments the governor has made over the last six years that the Maine media have ignored,' he said."

TRUMP VS. OPRAH VS. KANYE, MAYBE WITH CURT SCHILLING AS SENATOR — THE WORLD MAY EXPLODE: Matt Drudge, founder of the conservative Drudge Report, issued a rare tweet Wednesday imploring talk-show star Oprah Winfrey to launch a presidential bid against President Trump in 2020 after she indicated she had reconsidered whether she could be president. "Trump vs. Oprah would be the most epic race in American history. MAKE THIS HAPPEN...," Drudge tweeted.



Politico's Jennifer Haberkorn
Spotted on the Hill: former Sen. Kent Conrad. It really is 2009 again.

Morning Consult’s Eli Yokley (Lol)
I wish there was a gif of Sen. John ThuneJohn Randolph ThuneGOP senators introduce resolution endorsing ICE The real reason Scott Pruitt is gone: Putting a key voting bloc at risk Hillicon Valley: Lawmakers eye ban on Chinese surveillance cameras | DOJ walks back link between fraud case, OPM breach | GOP senators question Google on Gmail data | FCC under pressure to delay Sinclair merger review MORE trotting to the Senate subway because it'd look something like this 



The House and Senate are in.

Today: Former Vice President Joe BidenJoseph (Joe) Robinette BidenBooker seizes on Kavanaugh confirmation fight The Hill's Morning Report — Trump denigrates NATO allies, floats 4 percent solution Dems mull whether Warren is the one to take on Trump MORE receives the Bipartisan Policy Center's Congressional Patriot Award.

Today–tomorrow: No Labels is hosting 800 citizens from all 50 states on Capitol Hill to demand that both parties in Congress "Fix Not Fight." 

12:30 p.m. EST: President Trump has lunch with House and Senate leadership.

2 p.m. EST: First votes in the House. Their schedule today:

4 p.m. EST: President Trump holds a legislative affairs strategy session in the Oval Office.

6 p.m. EST: Last votes in the House. 

6:30 p.m. EST: President Trump has dinner with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.

9:15 a.m. EST Thursday: No Labels citizen leaders meet with members of the Congressional Problem Solving Caucus on the steps of the East side of the Capitol.



No on-camera White House press briefing today.

9 p.m. EST: CNN hosts a town hall with Sens. John McCainJohn Sidney McCainSenate Dems tell Trump: Don't meet with Putin one-on-one McConnell: Senate to confirm Kavanaugh by Oct. 1 Overnight Defense: Fears rise over Trump-Putin summit | McCain presses Trump to hold Putin 'accountable' for hacking | Pentagon does damage control after NATO meet MORE (R-Ariz.) and Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamOvernight Health Care: Watchdog finds Tom Price improperly used funds on flights | Ex-Novartis CEO sent drug pricing proposal to Cohen | HHS staffers depart after controversial social media posts HHS staffers depart after controversial social media posts: report Senate takes symbolic shot at Trump tariffs MORE (R-S.C.), moderated by CNN's Dana Bash

9 p.m. EST: Oprah Winfrey will appear on The David Rubenstein Show on Bloomberg Television. You can also watch the segment here: 



Today is National Fruit Compote Day!

JUST ANNOUNCED -- ​ALERT TO TOURISTS EVERYWHERE: Via WTOP Radio, "National Cherry Blossom Festival organizers have announced the peak bloom dates to see this year's blossoms as March 14 to 17. Peak bloom -- the optimal period to see the trees around D.C.'s Tidal Basin area -- is when 70 percent or more of the cherry blossoms are open. The blossoms can remain on the trees for around four to 10 days, depending on weather conditions."

MACCHIATOS FOR ONE, MACCHIATOS FOR ALL!: Macchiatos at Starbucks are buy-one-get-one-free tomorrow through Monday between 2 p.m. and 5 p.m. Details:

FOR THE SUPERSTITIOUS ONES IN THE GROUP: Via IJ Review's Sara Vallone, a teen took a selfie with her brother and a mysterious person appeared in the back of the photo -- sorta.

And because you read this far, here are mesmerizing illusions made with thousands of pieces of paper glued together. So. Cool.:


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