CNN's GUT CHECK | for December 17, 2013 | 5 p.m.
– n. a pause to assess the state, progress or condition of the political news cycle
THE RACE FOR THE HOUSE …
Three sitting House members announced their retirements today – presenting opportunities for each party to pick off seats in next year’s midterm elections. Rep. Frank Wolf, R-Virgina, announced he was retiring, as did Rep. Tom Latham, R-Iowa, giving Democrats a shot at winning back these two seats. Meanwhile Rep. Jim Matheson, D-Utah, said he would not seek re-election, presenting a clearer path for Republican challenger Mia Love, who if she wins this seat would make history as the first African-American Republican woman elected to Congress. (Matheson beat Love in 2012 by less than 800 votes.)
OBAMA CONFESSES TO HAVING ‘HOUSE OF CARDS’ ENVY:
President Barack Obama said he wishes Washington worked a little more like it does in the Netflix series “House of Cards.”
Kicking off a meeting with tech executives at the White House on Tuesday, Obama asked if Netflix's CEO Reed Hastings brought advanced copies of the hit web series, which focuses on Kevin Spacey's power-hungry character, Rep. Frank Underwood, as he skillfully maneuvers politics inside the Beltway.
The CEOs laughed and asked if the President would consider a cameo.
"I wish things were that ruthlessly efficient," Obama joked. "It's true... Kevin Spacey, I said, ‘Man, this guy's getting a lot of stuff done.’"
FEINSTEIN CALLS FOR SCOTUS RULING ON NSA PHONE RECORDS: SENATE INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE CHAIR DIANNE FEINSTEIN, D-CALIFORNIA, IN A STATEMENT: “Only the Supreme Court can resolve the question on the constitutionality of the NSA’s program. I welcome a Supreme Court review since it has been more than 30 years since the court’s original decision of constitutionality, and I believe it is crucial to settling the issue once and for all. In the meantime, the call records program remains in effect.”
SNOWDEN'S OPEN LETTER OFFERS TO HELP BRAZIL INVESTIGATE NSA SURVEILLANCE: National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden has written an "open letter to the people of Brazil" offering to help investigate U.S. surveillance of Brazilian citizens … Snowden mentions the need for asylum. "Until a country grants permanent political asylum, the U.S. government will continue to interfere with my ability to speak." – Josh Levs
MICROSOFT EXECUTIVE KURT DELBENE TO SUCCEED JEFF ZIENTS: Tech executive Kurt DelBene, who most recently was president of Microsoft's key Office division, was tapped by the government Tuesday to oversee the continued efforts to fix the troubled Obamacare website. He will replace Jeff Zients, who was brought in to fix the site after the massive problems that prevented people from being able to sign up for health care coverage after the start of the program on Oct. 1. – Chris Isidore
BUDGET OVER THE HURDLE …Tuesday's vote overcame a Republican filibuster attempt that required 60 votes in the 100-member chamber to proceed on the budget measure. The count was 67-33, with a dozen Republicans joining the 55 Democrats and independents in support of the plan. – Ted Barrett and Tom Cohen
THE PAPAL GUT CHECK: Pope Francis marked his 77th birthday on Tuesday by welcoming four homeless men to a Mass and a meal at the Vatican, according to Catholic officials … Afterward, the group sang "Happy Birthday" to Francis, and he invited everyone to eat breakfast with him at the hotel's dining room, according to the Vatican. – Daniel Burke
MARKET WATCH: U.S. stocks end mostly flat as investors await the Fed's decision on whether to taper its stimulus program.
Which presidential campaign does Bradley Byrne say that contributing financially to was, “the biggest mistake” of his life?
Did you miss it?
Leading Brewton Standard: Special Congressional election today
Voters will go to the polls Tuesday, Dec. 17, to determine who will serve as the next representative from the 1st Congressional District, which includes Escambia County. The candidates on Tuesday’s ballot are the Republican nominee Bradley Byrne, the Democratic nominee Burton LeFlore and independent candidate James Hall. The winner of Tuesday’s election will fill the seat left vacant by former U.S. Rep. Jo Bonner, who resigned in August. The winner will complete Bonner’s term and then immediately face re-election in 2014.
Leading CNNPolitics: Budget deal: Who wins, who loses?
The Murray-Ryan budget plan, which passed a key Senate vote Tuesday, punches way above its weight. The relatively skinny, 77-page bill would affect millions of Americans, as well as programs, fees, companies and, oh, the entire economy for years to come. Here's our scorecard: – Lisa Desjardins
Leading Politico: NSA ruling fallout hits White House
The ruling also underscores the awkwardness of a president who won office in part by railing against the national security state established by President George W. Bush trying to defend much of that establishment while also maintaining his vow to restore civil liberties and bring an end to what seemed like a permanent war on terror.
Leading Drudge: Snowden Dreams Of Brazil
National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden wrote in a lengthy "open letter to the people of Brazil" that he's been inspired by the global debate ignited by his release of thousands of National Security Agency documents, and that the NSA's culture of indiscriminate global espionage "is collapsing." – Bradley Brooks
Leading HuffPo: Frank Wolf, GOP Congressman, Won't Seek Reelection In 2014
Rep. Frank Wolf (R-Va.) won't seek reelection in 2014, the congressman announced Tuesday. Wolf, who has represented Virginia's 10th District for 17 terms, said in a statement that he would retire to focus on humanitarian work.
Leading Dallas Morning News: Cornyn allies launch “Shady Stockman” barrage with Bob Perry $
A Texas SuperPAC with close ties to Sen. John Cornyn is launching a “Shady Stockman” social media campaign to spotlight ethical questions dogging Rep. Steve Stockman, the senator’s top rival in the March primary.- Todd J. Gillman
Leading Star Ledger: W. Va. Sen. Rockefeller seeks federal probe of GWB lane closures
U.S. Sen. Jay Rockefeller of West Virginia has asked the federal transportation secretary to investigate September's controversial George Washington Bridge local access lane closures and determine what oversight authority the government have over the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.- Steve Strunsky
Leading Courier-Journal: Budget deal advances despite Sen. Mitch McConnell's opposition
With help from a dozen Republicans — but not Kentucky’s two senators — the Senate on Tuesday advanced the bipartisan budget agreement aimed at avoiding another government shutdown. McConnell was joined in opposing the deal by Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., and Sen. Dan Coats, R-Ind. Sen. Joe Donnelly, D-Ind., voted in support of advancing the agreement. – James R. Carroll
The political bites of the day
- McConnell explains his vote against Senate’s cloture vote on the budget deal -
SEN. MINORITY LEADER MITCH MCCONNELL, R-KENTUCKY, ON THE SENATE FLOOR: “I voted against this legislation because in my view Congress should continue to adhere to the fiscal restraints that both parties agreed to in the Budget Control Act. I was the principal Republican negotiator of that agreement. I have been particularly invested in its success and was very proud of it. As a result of the Budget Control Act government spending has declined for two years, two years in a row for the first time since the Korean War.”
- Enzi: Wyoming deserves better than this budget deal -
SEN. MIKE ENZI, R-WYOMING, ON THE SENATE FLOOR: “This is not the right path forward. My constituents back home in Wyoming and Americans across this country deserve better. We talk about how we have reduced the deficit. Reduced the deficit? Yeah, that means we used to be overspending a trillion dollars a year and now we are only overspending 500 billion which is half a trillion. That’s still overspending!“
- McCain: Voting against budget deal lacks ‘intellectual integrity’ -
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN, R-ARIZONA, ON THE SENATE FLOOR: “I’d like to know what we do in order to avoid another shutdown of the government. The American people steadfastly reject another shutdown of the government … To somehow vote against it without an alternative to keep the government from shutting down, I think lacks some intellectual integrity.”
- Graham: Budget will pass because everyone wants to go home -
SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM, R-SOUTH CAROLINA, ON THE SENATE FLOOR: “This budget is probably going to pass because everybody is hell bent to get out of town and not shut down the government. Nobody wants to shut down the government. Here is the question: is the choice between keeping the government open and screwing all the military retirees? Is that the right choice? How about doing both? How about protect the veteran and the military retiree and keep the government open? If we wanted to we’ve got until January 15th.”
- Feinstein believes now more than ever that Hillary should run -
SEN. FEINSTEIN IN AN OP-ED FOR POLITICO TITLED ‘HOPES FOR A TRASFORMATIVE PRESIDENT’: “I was an early and enthusiastic supporter during Hillary’s run for the White House in 2008. I believed she would be a spectacular leader and a transformative president for our country. I still believe that. Now more than ever.”
What stopped us in 140 characters or less
Vaughn Sterling (@vplus)
JUST IN: White House Presidential delegation to 2014 Oympics in Russia include Janet Napolitano, Billie Jean King, Brian Boitano
Mark Knoller (@markknoller)
Releasing his "2013 Wastebook" of "egregious" federal spending, Sen Tom Coburn R-OK says it contains $30-billlion in "stupid" spending.
Senator Harry Reid (@SenatorReid)
Budget deal is not perfect, but it is a step forward. It's significant that a number of Rs in House and Senate have voted against extremism.
Heritage Foundation (@Heritage)
#BudgetDeal: "Don’t make promises you can’t keep and don’t break the promises you do make." - @PocketLiberty http://herit.ag/1kdTiAz
Betsy Woodruff (@woodruffbets)
If you give Stockman's campaign $10, you can get an "Official Obama Barf Bag," "make your Tea Party friends jealous" pic.twitter.com/2mjMmI4pgo
Council on Cyber (@CouncilonCyber)
FEC website hacked during government shutdown, after warnings that site was vulnerable. #Cybersecurity http://cnn.it/1kRXymS
M.G. Leatherwood (@megtl)
Center for American Progress releases list of corporate donors after founder moves to White House http://dailycaller.com/2013/12/13/center-for-american-progress-releases-list-of-corporate-donors-after-founder-moves-to-white-house/ … via @dailycaller
Scott Bland (@HotlineScott)
Rep. Jim Matheson's (D) retirement makes #UT04 a likely GOP pickup in 2014: http://www.nationaljournal.com/hotline-on-call/matheson-s-exit-likely-to-result-in-gop-pickup-20131217 …
NYDN Politics (@NYDNPolitics)
Weiner's sext pal .@sydneyelainexo replaces Charlie Sheen's ex as new face of sugar daddy dating site @ArrangementX http://nydn.us/1c0ozS8
Sen. Robert Menendez (@SenatorMenendez)
Good #NJ news! RT @njdotcom: The E Street Band will be joining Bruce in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. http://nj-ne.ws/rQgbQ #springsteen
TRIVIA ANSWER from @sarafischer
Congressional candidate Bradley Byrne said that the “biggest mistake” of his life was contributing $500 to President Bill Clinton’s 1992 presidential campaign.
Bryne is on the ballot today in the special election to represent Alabama’s 1st congressional district. (Former GOP Rep. Jo Bonner resigned in August.)
Opponents tried to peg Byrne as a Clinton acolyte. Byrne told AL.com, a website that features articles from The Birmingham News and the Mobile Press-Register, that he regrets his contribution to Clinton’s campaign.
Byrne defeated Tea Party challenger David Young in the Republican Primary earlier this year.
GUT CHECK WINNER’S CIRCLE
(why aren’t you in it)
Congrats to Steve Liguori (@SteveL3877) for correctly answering today’s Gut Check Trivia question.
Tips or comments? Our inbox awaits: firstname.lastname@example.org
Anyone can sign up for Gut Check by emailing email@example.com
WANT TO SIGN UP?
Do you have a friend who wants to sign up for GUT CHECK or our new CNNPolitics Breaking News Alerts? Click here, log on and scroll down.