CNN's GUT CHECK | for December 18, 2013 | 5 p.m.
– n. a pause to assess the state, progress or condition of the political news cycle
BREAKING: NSA PROGRAM SHOULD STAY IN PLACE… An independent assessment of National Security Agency surveillance ordered by President Barack Obama recommends the controversial collection of so-called metadata of Americans' electronic communications remain in place. But the collection program predominantly covering phone records and e-mail must have tighter constraints and greater transparency, according to the report released on Wednesday. – Jim Sciutto and Evan Perez
SENATE APPROVES BIPARTISAN BUDGET PLAN… The Senate approved the measure late Wednesday afternoon, 64 to 36, sending it to the White House for President Barack Obama’s signature. The bill sets spending levels for two years and removes the threat of a federal government shutdown.
NEW DEADLINE: INSURANCE COMPANIES ANNOUNCE OBAMACARE DELAY…
Health insurers announced Wednesday they will give people buying coverage under Obamacare more time to make the first payment. America's Health Insurance Providers, the industry trade group, said consumers now have until Jan. 10 to make their first payment for coverage retroactive to Jan. 1. – Z. Byron Wolf
ROLL CALL: REID WANTS 8 MORE YEARS AS SENATE LEADER…
“I don’t want to do it more than eight more years,” the Nevada Democrat said of serving as his party’s leader in the Senate during a Wednesday interview with CQ Roll Call.
THE BUZZ: The United States' delegation to the upcoming Winter Olympics in Russia won't include a member of President Barack Obama's family or an active cabinet secretary, but it will include openly gay athletes - a clear jab at Russia's recent anti-gay laws. Billie Jean King, the tennis legend, will join figure skater Brian Boitano at the games' opening ceremonies on February 7. – Kevin Liptak
MARKET WATCH: Dow and S&P end at record highs, with the Dow adding 293 points, after Fed announces decision to ease stimulus. Full story below
During the 1994 midterm election, Republicans defeated two incumbent Democrats in their successful effort to take back the Senate majority? Who were these two lawmakers?
Did you miss it?
Leading CNNPolitics: No-drama budget vote: How can this be?
For the first time in what seems like ages, Congress approved a government spending plan without resorting to last-minute brinksmanship such as midnight negotiations to prevent an imminent government shutdown. – Ted Barrett and Tom Cohen
Leading CNNMoney: Thanks, Ben! Dow and S&P hit record highs
Wall Street stopped worrying and learned to love the taper. The Dow Jones industrial average jumped more than 290 points after the Federal Reserve surprised some experts Wednesday by announcing a modest reduction, or tapering, in its bond buying program. The S&P 500 and the Nasdaq also moved substantially higher. The Dow and S&P both ended at new closing highs. – Ben Rooney
Leading Drudge: 'DUCK DYNASTY' STAR TAKES ON GAYS
One “Duck Dynasty” star called homosexuality illogical. Phil Robertson, one of the stars of the A&E reality show and founder of Duck Commander, made the comments in a recent interview with GQ.
Leading Politico: Fed begins scaling back economic stimulus
The Federal Reserve announced on Wednesday that it will begin pulling back on its efforts to boost economic growth through monthly bond purchases, arguing the economy is gaining enough strength for the central bank to begin its retreat. – MJ Lee
Leading New York Times: Baucus Still Fretting Over Health Law He Shepherded
Senator Max Baucus of Montana, the powerful chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, is also the conflicted architect of the health care law.
Baucus Still Fretting Over Health Law He Shepherded – Sheryl Gay Stolberg
The political bites of the day
John Podesta (@johnpodesta)
In an old interview, my snark got in front of my judgment. I apologize to Speaker Boehner, whom I have always respected.
- Flashback: Podesta uses “cult” to describe faction of GOP -
JOHN PODESTA TO POLITICO’S GLENN THRUSH IN A PIECE PUBLISHED TODAY ON THE OBAMA ADMINISTRATION: “They need to focus on executive action given that they are facing a second term against a cult worthy of Jonestown in charge of one of the houses of Congress.”
- Jarrett: I’m not lobbying for positions -
SENIOR ADVISOR TO PRESIDENT OBAMA VALERIE JARRETT SPEAKING TO POLITICO’S BEN WHITE ABOUT STORIES SUGGESTING SHE IS PLAYING A ‘SHADOW’ CHIEF OF STAFF ROLE: “I'm not the shadow chief of staff. I have very specific responsibilities … I think what people sometimes presume, because I am a friend of the President and the first lady, I’ve known them now for 22 years I think it is, but we compartmentalize. I assure you that when he goes home to the residence, he’s really not interested in talking about his job … I think there is this perception that somehow I am trying to lobby for positions but that’s just not what we do in our free time.”
- Kerry expresses regret for the treatment of an Indian diplomat in N.Y. last week -
SECRETARY OF STATE JOHN KERRY IN A CALL TO A TOP INDIAN OFFICIAL CITED BY A STATE DEPARTMENT SPOKESMAN IN A STATEMENT: "As a father of two daughters about the same age as Devyani Khobragade, the secretary empathizes with the sensitivities we are hearing from India about the events that unfolded after Khobragade's arrest. In his conversation with National Security Advisor Menon he expressed his regret, as well as his concern that we not allow this unfortunate public issue to hurt our close and vital relationship with India.”
- Paul Ryan admits he wants key position -
REP. PAUL RYAN, R-WISCONSIN, TO THE WALL STREET JOURNAL TUESDAY ABOUT HIS PLAN TO RUN FOR HOUSE WAYS AND MEANS CHAIRMAN: "That is my plan."
- Matheson may not retire completely from politics -
REP. JIM MATHESON, D-UTAH, TO THE DESERET NEWS, ONE DAY AFTER HE ANNOUNCED HIS RETIREMENT FROM THE HOUSE: “I'm committed to public service. I've been looking at all the offices that are out there … But I don't want to oversell you on this. There's no specific plan for 2016. … I've always assumed there were going to be different chapters to my career. Fourteen years is a substantial amount of time to serve in the House. I believe it's time now to look for the next chapter. That's really what the motivation is."
- Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg says you should serve until you no longer are mentally and physically able -
JUSTICE RUTH BADER GINSBURG AT AN EVENT HOSTED BY THE NORTHERN VIRGINIA TECHNOLOGY COUNCIL ON TUESDAY IN RESPONSE TO A QUESTION ABOUT WHETHER JUSTICES SHOULD TIME THEIR RETIREMENTS: "I think one should stay as long as she can do the job … (Ask yourself) Can you do the job? Can you think as well? Can you write with the same fluency? At my age you take it year by year. I'm OK this year.”
- Murray: Compromise was necessary on military pension cuts -
SEN. PATTY MURRAY, D-WASHINGTON, TO CNN’S KATE BOLDUAN: “At the end of the day, if we couldn't find a compromise on how we move forward, then we would be facing a 20 billion dollar hit to our defense industry – meaning layoffs, uncertainty and a lot of furloughs, harming a lot of families across the country … If somebody's got a better way and has an opportunity to do that, this, military action doesn't take effect for two years so we welcome anybody coming with a better way to do it that want to offer it and get it through a divided Congress.”
What stopped us in 140 characters or less
Marc Abanto (@MAbanto)
It's (officially) a sweep! Obenshain to concede. Dems to hold all statewide offices in VA for first time since 1797, or thereabouts.
amy walter (@amyewalter )
In wake of retirement trifecta @CookPolitical rating changes:
VA-10 Sold R ->Lean R
IA-03 LikelyR ->Toss Up
UT-04 Lean D->Likely R
Neel Kashkari (@neelkashkari)
At the risk of triggering a bunch of unfollows, excited to have my 1000th follower today! Now I am at 0.1% of @JerryBrownGov 😄
Hala Gorani (@HalaGorani)
Beginning in January, the Fed will buy $75 billion in bonds each month, down from the $85 billion it had been buying: cnnmon.ie/J5PzpN
Rebecca Sinderbrand (@sinderbrand)
Or FLOTUS's, or the VP's, or Bush's... MT @reidepstein: Carney on Olympic delegation: Obama's sked "does not allow him to travel to Sochi"
Senate Finance Cmte (@SenateFinance)
Pleased to have met with Glenn Close this morning to support her push to end stigma surrounding mental illness @BC2M pic.twitter.com/JGObR9XooI
National Zoo (@NationalZoo)
Bao Bao will make her public debut starting 1/18! @FONZNationalZoo members to visit Bao Bao 1/11-1/17. http://s.si.edu/18Rsv5h
TRIVIA ANSWER from @sarafischer
During the 1994 midterm election, known famously as the “Republican Revolution,” the GOP was able to pick up eight Senate seats. Two of which were earned by Republican candidates beating incumbent Democrats.
Former Sen. Rick Santorum, who at the time was a Pennsylvania congressman, defeated Sen. Harris Wofford and Dr. Bill Frist defeated Sen. Jim Sasser in Tennessee.
Both Santorum and Frist left the Senate in 2007. The GOP also took back the House that year winning 54 House seats.
GUT CHECK WINNER’S CIRCLE
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Congrats to Melanie Parker (@parkerml) for correctly answering today’s Gut Check Trivia question.
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