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: Trump tells McConnell to go nuclear if necessary | GOP advances Treasury, HHS nominees after rule change | Senate panel approves Sessions for AG | SCOTUS nominee Gorsuch heads to Capitol Hill

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BREAKING -- TOTALLY NUCLEAR, DUUDE: President Trump urged Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellLincoln Project offers list of GOP senators who 'protect' Trump in new ad State and local officials beg Congress to send more election funds ahead of November Teacher's union puts million behind ad demanding funding for schools preparing to reopen MORE (R-Ky.) to abolish the filibuster for Supreme Court nominees if Democrats block his nomination of Judge Neil Gorsuch.  "If we end up with that gridlock, I would say, if you can, Mitch, go nuclear," Trump told reporters.

ALSO THIS MORNING -- LEVEL 2 OF THE HIDDEN TEMPLE, COMPLETE: A Senate committee voted to approve Sen. Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard Sessions Senate outlook slides for GOP Supreme Court blocks order that relaxed voting restrictions in Alabama Justice Dept. considering replacing outgoing US attorney in Brooklyn with Barr deputy: report MORE (R-Ala.) to be attorney general, 11-9, along party lines. Next step: A vote on the Senate floor, where he is widely expected to be confirmed given the GOP's 52-seat majority. Why this is a huge relief for Trump: The Alabama senator's already difficult path to confirmation was made more contentious by Trump's firing of acting Attorney General Sally Yates, who deemed the president's executive order on immigration illegal and said she would not have Justice Department attorneys defend it.

Happy Wednesday -- it's February! Rabbit, rabbit! If you don't know the back story on that good luck tradition, here's an NPR explanation. For all you history buffs, it involves Franklin Delano Roosevelt. 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.

LATE THIS A.M. -- BOYCOTT IS THE NEW --> Democrats are now boycotting today's committee vote for Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt, President Trump's pick to lead the EPA.

THIS LOOKS LIKE A NEW COUPLE CHOOSING TO SIT ON ONE SIDE OF THE TABLE: Photo of the half-empty committee hearing:

Fun reminder: "The Senate committee currently engaged in a knife fight over nominees is also supposed to do tons of major policy work in near future." (from The Hill's Peter Schroeder) Lol, good times!

SENT TO THE SENATE FLOOR -- TWO CAN PLAY THE TRICKY RULES GAME: Senate Republicans pushed Steve Mnuchin (Treasury nominee) and Rep. Tom Price (R-Ga.) (Health and Human Services nominee) through committee this morning. How they ignored the Democrats' boycott: Republicans changed the committee's standing rules, which normally require at least one member of each party to be in attendance. What's next: Their nominations head to the (ever-tense) Senate floor.

Reminder: "So far, Republicans are virtually all, always backing Trump by voting on his nominees." (from Reuters's Patricia Zengerle)

WELCOME TO THE EVER SO BRIEF HONEYMOON STAGE, JUDGE GORSUCH: President Trump on Tuesday announced his nomination of Judge Neil Gorsuch to replace the late Justice Antonin Scalia on the Supreme Court. 

What to know: Gorsuch is a well-respected conservative who sits on the Colorado-based 10th Circuit Court of Appeal. He was appointed to that court by then-President George W. Bush in 2006.

His views: In 2013, Gorsuch ruled in the controversial Hobby Lobby case, siding with employers in their challenge to the ObamaCare mandate that requires employer health plans cover birth control. I.e.: Conservatives love him.

Why I'm making all these Bachelor jokes: Yesterday resembled a high-drama reality show. President Trump delivered his much-anticipated announcement at prime time in front of a star-studded crowd. And after narrowing down his list of 21 judges, the two finalists both came to Washington, giving the appearance that either could be chosen. "Was that a surprise? Was it?" Trump asked after Gorsuch and his wife joined him on the podium.

Why Gorsuch's beaming smile last night made me feel sorry for him: Just knowing the nasty confirmation battle ahead with Senate Democrats, who are still stung over the GOP blockade against former President Barack ObamaBarack Hussein ObamaNeil Young updates song 'Lookin' for a Leader' opposing Trump, endorsing Biden Bellwether counties show trouble for Trump Trump may be DACA participants' best hope, but will Democrats play ball? MORE's pick, Merrick Garland

HAPPENING TODAY -- TOUR DE CAPITOL HILL: Judge Neil Gorsuch is on Capitol Hill today for meetings. Here's the scene:

Security: Here's a photo of the extra security on Capitol Hill waiting for Judge Gorsuch to arrive:

Throwback: Gorsuch worked as a Senate page when he was in high school.

The train is pretty fun: Here's a photo of Gorsuch on the Senate train with former Sen. Kelly AyotteKelly Ann AyotteBottom line Bottom line Bottom Line MORE (R-N.H.)! Ayotte is in charge of the White House team managing Gorsuch's nomination.

Tidbit: Gorsuch's first call last night was to Merrick Garland, "out of respect" (via NBC News)

REPORT -- THE WHITE HOUSE MAY NOT BE MELANIA'S NEW DIGGS: Via US Weekly, first lady Melania Trump may not move to the White House at any point. "They will reevaluate toward the end of the school year if they will keep this arrangement or if Melania and Barron will move to Washington," a family insider told the publication. "They could go either way right now. They will ultimately do what's best for Barron."

LET'S PLAY: NAME THE WORST PUBLIC SPAT, P.R. WISE, ONE COULD GET INTO...yep, I'd say one with the Holocaust Museum is a solid contender. Anyway, the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum is calling on lawmakers to protect refugees of all countries and faiths. Statement: "The Museum continues to have grave concerns about the global refugee crisis and our response to it. ... During the 1930s and the 1940s, the United States, along with the rest of the world, generally refused to admit Jewish refugees from Nazism due to anti-Semitic and xenophobic attitudes, harsh economic conditions and national security fears." I should mention -- there's a back story here, too.

What started this news cycle: Last Friday, on International Holocaust Remembrance Day, the White House released a statement that had no mention of anti-Semitism or the 6 million Jews who were killed.

The gist: After criticism for failing to mention Jewish people, a Trump spokeswoman responded by citing an article noting that the Holocaust didn't just involve Jewish people, but "priests, gypsies, people with mental or physical disabilities, communists, trade unionists, Jehovah's Witnesses, anarchists, Poles and other Slavic peoples, and resistance fighters."

Firestorm: This got lots of backlash, including from Sen. Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsLincoln Project offers list of GOP senators who 'protect' Trump in new ad The Hill's Campaign Report: Democratic Unity Taskforce unveils party platform recommendations The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Trump backs another T stimulus, urges governors to reopen schools MORE (R-Maine), who said that omitting a reference to the Jewish people from the statement was a "historical mistake."

White House responds to the firestorm: "The president went out of his way to recognize the Holocaust and the suffering that went through it," press secretary Sean Spicer told reporters Monday. "And to make sure that America never forgets what so many people went through, whether they were Jews or gypsies, gays, disability."

Shortly after, the Holocaust Museum released a statement: "Nazi ideology cast the world as a racial struggle ... millions of other innocent civilians were persecuted and murdered by the Nazis, but the elimination of Jews was central to Nazi policy. As Elie Wiesel said, 'Not all victims were Jews, but all Jews were victims,'" the museum wrote in its statement.

THIS MORNING -- PRAISE ALL AROUND: Speaking to a group of African-American leaders at the White House this morning, President Trump praised famed abolitionist Frederick Douglass as "an example of someone who's done an amazing job and is being recognized more and more, I noticed." Douglass, who died in 1895, became a leader in the abolition movement after being freed as a slave.

BREAKING LOCAL NEWS -- ROSSLYN JUST GOT A LOT COOLER:​ Via NBC Washington's David Culver, Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D)is expected to announce that Nestlé will be moving its headquarters to Arlington, Va. Where: Rosslyn, right over the Key Bridge. Let's not forget: Mars Chocolate is right down the road in McLean!



The Financial Times's Duncan Robinson (Haha, this photo!!)
It's all kicking off in the European Parliament 

The Hill's Peter Schroeder
Senate has all the trappings of a bad marriage now. Tit for tat, score settling, bringing up years old grudges.

CQ Now's Ryan McCrimmon
Senate committee meets at 9:40
Postpones vote on OMB nominee
Sings happy birthday to a senator
Adjourns at 9:50



The House and Senate are in. 

Today: Secretary of Defense James Mattis takes his first overseas trip in his new post to South Korea and Japan.

1:30 p.m. EST: First votes in the House.

2 p.m. EST: Stephanie Cutter, who managed Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor's confirmation process, chats on the Sidewire app.

2:30 p.m. EST: The Senate will proceed to a roll call vote on the confirmation of Rex Tillerson for secretary of State. 

4 p.m. EST: Former State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf chats with Naval War College professor Tom Nichols on the Sidewire app about President Trump's foreign policy.

4:15 p.m. EST: Last votes in the House.

5:30 p.m. EST: President Trump participates in a legislative affairs strategy session. The session comes as the White House gears up for a fight over Gorsuch's nomination.

May 26, 2017: Announced today, Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonHillicon Valley: Facebook civil rights audit finds 'serious setbacks' | Facebook takes down Roger Stone-affiliated accounts, pages | State and local officials beg Congress for more elections funds OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Sanders-Biden climate task force calls for carbon-free power by 2035 | Park Police did not record radio transmissions during June 1 sweep of White House protesters | Court upholds protections for Yellowstone grizzly bears GOP Miami mayor does not commit to voting for Trump MORE will return to Wellesley College to speak at her alma mater's commencement ceremony.



1:30 p.m. EST: White House press secretary Sean Spicer gives the daily press briefing. Live stream:

2 p.m. EST: Vice President Mike PenceMichael (Mike) Richard PenceWatch live: White House coronavirus task force briefing Trump campaign taps White House aide to oversee rallies Dallas megachurch that hosted Pence approved for millions in coronavirus aid MORE will join Rush Limbaugh's radio show.

6 p.m. EST: Intelligence Squared U.S. Radio is hosting a debate, titled "Give Trump a Chance," at George Washington University. Speakers include: former George W. Bush speechwriter David Frum, former Bill ClintonWilliam (Bill) Jefferson ClintonKanye West says he had coronavirus The Hill's 12:30 Report- Presented by Facebook - Trump threatens schools' funding over reopening Fox News apologizes for 'mistakenly' cropping Trump out of photo with Epstein, Maxwell MORE speechwriter Michael Waldman, Economist correspondent Clive Cook and conservative columnist Gayle TrotterLive stream:

Tonight: Judy Woodruff interviews Vice President Mike Pence on the PBS NewsHour.

(!) Tuesday, Feb. 7: Sens. Bernie SandersBernie SandersTammy Duckworth is the epitome of the American Dream On The Money: Deficit rises to record .7 trillion amid pandemic: CBO | Democrats sidestep budget deal by seeking 0B in emergency spending | House panel advances spending bill with funding boost to IRS Biden-Sanders unity task force calls for Fed, US Postal Service consumer banking MORE (I-Vt) and Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzLincoln Project offers list of GOP senators who 'protect' Trump in new ad How conservative conspiracy theories are deepening America's political divide Gianforte halts in-person campaigning after wife, running mate attend event with Guilfoyle MORE (R-Texas) will have an ObamaCare showdown on CNN. Jake Tapper and Dana Bash will moderate the debate. Guys, this should be fun to watch. I'll remind you as it gets closer, but This. Will. Be. Epic.



Today is National Baked Alaska Day. Meh?

IF YOU CLICK ONE THING TODAY -- I PROMISE YOU WON'T BE DISAPPOINTED: There's a new Twitter account that has magically matched a single 26-second video of Winnie the Pooh dancing to different songs. It's laugh-out-loud funny. Some of my favorites: 

I COULDN'T MAKE UP A BETTER NAME IF I TRIED: The ever-popular "Hooters" restaurant is creating a fast-casual wings restaurant, but without scantily clad servers. It's name? Wait for it! -- Hoots! 

LOOKING FOR VALENTINE'S DAY PLANS?: The Italian Embassy is hosting a wine tasting on Saturday, Feb. 11.

And because you read this far, here's the view of a controlled avalanche from downtown Telluride, Colo.


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