By MICHAEL FALCONE ( @michaelpfalcone )
ABC's RICK KLEIN: Senators get their first bites at the immigration bill today, in what will be a long chew just in the Senate Judiciary Committee. Lawmakers on the panel have filed 301 amendments. That's the process, sure - any senator should have a chance to improve a bill. But 126 of the proposals come from just two senators - Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., and Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa - who are almost certain to oppose immigration reform if it ends up resembling the Gang of Eight proposal in any meaningful way. So when we're talking Senate rules reform, shouldn't the sponsor of an amendment actually have to want something to become law if he or she is offering it? It's not easy to police that process, but let's be honest about most of what's going on in committee: Senators who don't want the bill to pass are trying to make the compromise taste worse, not better.
ABC's SHUSHANNAH WALSHE: Chris Christie has had quite the week. Tuesday, his lapband surgery was revealed, he held an almost hour long press conference to talk about it, and then he traded barbs at a New Jersey press corps roast. Today, he gets some good news in the form of another gubernatorial re-election poll that shows him with a tremendous lead over Democratic State Sen. Barbara Buono. An NBC-Marist poll out today shows Christie leading Buono 60 percent to 28 percent among registered voters. And he's still very popular, with an approval rating at 69 percent among registered voters. When that's broken down 81 percent of voters approve of Christie's leadership on Hurricane Sandy relief efforts and 56 percent approve of his handling of the state budget. And how about this number: 42 percent of Obama voters in the state support Christie. When it comes to the White House, though, New Jersey voters aren't so supportive. Fifty-five percent of registered voters in the state say they don't want him to run for the top office. http://on.msnbc.com/143SXHq
ABC's GARY LANGER: ABC News-Washington Post polls since 2003 have asked if people think it "should be legal or illegal for gay and lesbian couples to get married"; the number saying this should be legal rose from a low of 32 percent (among registered voters) in 2004 to 58 percent this March. The latest ABC-Post poll out today asks people if they support or oppose "allowing gays and lesbians to marry legally." Support is similar, 55 percent, while strength of sentiment divides more closely. The Supreme Court is expected to rule on two gay marriage cases next month. http://abcn.ws/13CdJyg
CLICK ON THIS
"IS THE ECONOMY GETTING BETTER? DEPENDS WHETHER YOU THINK LIKE AN OBAMA OR A ROMNEY," an interactive graphic by Yahoo! News Columnist CHRIS WILSON. "Last week, the Census released an incredibly detailed set of figures on the number of people employed in over 1,500 industries in 2011. This dataset, called "County Business Patterns," is an annual survey of just about every sector of the U.S. economy, with the notable exception of government employees and some agricultural workers. The absolute figures in this sort of data can be hard to make sense of if, like me, you are not an economist. … In the following interactive map, you can compare any two years of data for any industry and see how they measure up. Use the slider at the bottom to change the time frame and use the menu to select an industry. You can type in a few letters of the word you're looking for to narrow down this long list." http://yhoo.it/ZPDIlN
DEMOCRATS ENCOURAGED BY DINNER WITH OBAMA. President Obama's charm offensive continued Wednesday night, this time with an easier crowd, ABC's CHRIS GOOD reports. After similar meetings with Republicans, President Obama met House Democrats for dinner at the The Jefferson Hotel in downtown Washington, D.C. Lawmakers who attended told ABC News they were encouraged by their time with the president, but they declined to discuss any specifics. "It was great. We had a chance to hear the president's views, and he very graciously listened to ours," Rep. Rob Andrews, D-N.J., told ABC News. They discussed "all the major issues you'd see on the first five minutes of the news, and just ways we can work together fixing problems," Andrews said. "I'm confident in anything this president sets out to do." "It was a very good conversation, a lot of different things, a lot of different topics," said Rep. Joe Crowley, D-N.Y. "We have a myriad of things, of issues to talk about." House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer, D-Md., told ABC News that "the president" picked up the tab. http://abcn.ws/ZQKVlu
FROM THE WHITE HOUSE: A White House officials offered this readout of the dinner: "The President and the members addressed a wide range of issues, including the need to grow the economy, create jobs and strengthen the middle class. The President also discussed ongoing efforts to find common ground with both sides to reduce our deficit in a balanced way. The group also discussed progress being made on a number of other issues including passing comprehensive immigration reform, commonsense measures to reduce gun violence and expanding access to high-quality education. The President also discussed ongoing efforts to ensure all resources remain available as a part of the investigation into the explosions in Boston and commended law enforcement efforts."
ON THE AGENDA: While legislative battles over gun control and government spending have dominated much of the president's agenda this year, President Obama heads to Austin, Texas Thursday to bring attention to job creation and manufacturing as he announces two new executive orders during his first of a series of "Middle Class Jobs & Opportunity Tours," ABC's ARLETTE SAENZ reports. The executive actions are a fulfillment of promises made in President Obama's State of the Union address this year to strengthen manufacturing. The first executive order will launch competitions for three new Manufacturing Innovation Institutes, partnerships focused on developing manufacturing technologies, and will call on Congress to set aside $1 billion for the creation of 15 such institutes modeled off a pilot program in Youngstown, Ohio. The second executive order will require that all new government data be available in "open, machine-readable formats" to help technology entrepreneurs and researchers in their work. While in Austin, the president will deliver a speech at Manor Tech New High School, meet with residents to discuss the state of the middle class, talk with technology entrepreneurs, and speak at Applied Materials, a high tech company in Austin the administration credits with being "a hub for innovation and job creation."
WELCOMING COMMITTEE: Texas Governor Rick Perry will meet President Obama on the tarmac when he lands in Austin, Texas, but as the president is set to highlight the jobs and innovation in Austin, a spokesperson for Perry said that many answers to the economic troubles facing the country can be solved by the economic initiatives put in place in Texas by the governor. "If President Obama is serious about getting our nation's economy working again, then he's come to the right place," Lucy Nashed, a spokesperson for Perry said. "Texas' success didn't happen by accident - it's a result of policies put in place under Gov. Perry's leadership with a laser focus on making Texas a beacon of economic freedom. The simple truth is, Washington can emulate Texas' healthy economy by cutting taxes, cutting spending, providing regulatory relief and passing meaningful tort reform, then getting out of the way and allowing employers to risk their capital and create jobs."
AND IN ROYAL NEWS… Prince Harry is visiting Capitol Hill today, ABC's SUNLEN MILLER notes.Prince Harry will tour the HALO Trust landmine exhibit in Russell Rotunda with Senator John McCain at 3:45 pm. ET.
POLL: MAJORITY ACCEPTANCE OF GAYS FROM THE BASKETBALL COURT TO THE BOY SCOUTS. A new ABC News/Washington Post poll finds further public acceptance of gay rights in the United States, in areas ranging from the professional basketball court to the Boy Scouts, as well as the institution of marriage. Nearly seven in 10 Americans support the decision by professional basketball player Jason Collins to disclose publicly that he's gay, the survey finds. ABC News Pollster GARY LANGER notes that most support the Boy Scouts of America's plan to admit gay scouts, while opposing its continued ban on gay adults. And 55 percent say gays and lesbians should be allowed to marry legally. While partisan and ideological differences on each of these are large, centrist groups - e.g., independents and moderates - tilt the balance, underscoring a dramatic shift in favor of gay rights that's accelerated in recent years. http://abcn.ws/13CdJyg
BIDEN HOPES FOR IMMIGRATION REFORM BY END OF SUMMER. Speaking at the Asian Pacific American Institute for Congressional Studies' gala Wednesday night, Vice President Joe Biden said he hopes immigration reform will be reached by summer's end, ABC's ARLETTE SAENZ reports. "As my grandpop would say, with the grace of god and the good will of the neighbors, Congress will show the wisdom to pass the bipartisan immigration bill by the end of the summer, and I'm optimistic," Biden said at the gala at the Washington Hilton. "What are we about as a country? We are all about possibilities. That to me is the defining feature of America. It's about possibilities. The same possibilities that brought my family and your families here in the first place but that means not only dealing with the millions of people who are undocumented in this country, including 1.2 million Asians, it means fixing and modernizing our legal immigration system," he said.
DIPLOMAT: AMBASSADOR IN BENGHAZI SAID, 'WE'RE UNDER ATTACK'. Gregory Hicks, who became the top diplomat in Libya after Ambassador Christopher Stevens was killed during an attack on the U.S. compound in Benghazi, Libya, Sept. 11, 2012, told a congressional committee today that the attack left him scrambling for help that failed to arrive in time, ABC's JOHN PARKINSON reports. "Is anything coming?" Hicks said he asked a defense attaché as he worked to coordinate a response from Tripoli, Libya, during the attack. "Will they be sending us any help? Is there something out there?" Hicks said requests for military help were denied and later that State Department officials tried to keep him from cooperating with a House investigation. During more than four hours of testimony, Hicks recounted for the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform the terrorist attack initially described by some in the Obama administration as a protest. http://abcn.ws/12iyU6L
WHAT WE'RE READING
" LINDSEY GRAHAM FACES DOWN PRIMARY CHALLENGE," by Politico's Jonathan Martin. "If any Senate Republican up for re-election next year would seem ripe for a primary defeat it's Lindsey Graham. Running in a conservative, Southern state that has proven friendly to insurgents in recent years, Graham has repeatedly poked his finger in the eye of the GOP base. He supported both of President Obama's Supreme Court justices, muses about higher taxes to get a fiscal grand bargain and is among the leaders of the push to create a pathway to citizenship for illegal immigrants. Yet a year out from his primary, Graham is in surprisingly good shape. He had over $5.4 million in the bank at the end of March, second only to Senate GOP Leader Mitch McConnell among senators up in 2014, and his approval ratings remain solid if not spectacular. What's more, the intensity on immigration has receded here and a set of issues has arisen that have benefited the incumbent. The irony of Lindsey Olin Graham is that he's significantly responsible for both his stronger political positioning and the fact that he's in jeopardy in the first place." http://politi.co/18vx72N
IN THE NOTE'S INBOX
"TIME TO END THE MYTH OF TAX-SUBSIDIZED BIG OIL," an Investor's Business Daily Op-Ed by National Taxpayers Union Executive Vice President Pete Sepp. "[Businesses] of all stripes - not the least of which is the oil and gas industry - have their day of reckoning with the tax collector. Contrary to the myth spread by detractors, there are no special subsidies for the industry, which supports more than 9 million jobs. In fact, one overview from Forbes.com pegged the overall effective tax rates of the Big Three oil and gas firms at 41.5% to 48.3%, depending on the company. … Despite clear evidence that oil and gas companies are already paying their fair share, the industry remains a favorite whipping boy for politicians in Washington. Almost every major policy proposal, speech, or campaign rally seems to contain the requisite railing about 'Big Oil's special tax breaks.' On further examination, some of these 'tax breaks' are widely available and are put in place to take a bit of the pain away from one of the worst corporate tax bites in the world. It's hard to argue energy gets special treatment." http://bit.ly/ZRnecQ
@FrankBruni: Ted Cruz has reached that point where there's a budding genre of journalism not just about him but about the fixation on him.
@ByronYork: On KSL radio this morning, Mike Lee on Gang of Eight bill: 'As it is written, it is something that I am not comfortable with.'
@SenatorHagan: I look forward to a productive & candid meeting w President's top advisors today at WH to fix the problem of sexual assault in our military
@politicalwire: MA-Sen candidate Gabriel Gomez took a questionable tax break on his home http://politicalwire.com/archives/2013/05/09/gomez_took_questionable_tax_concession_on_home.html …
@brianjameswalsh: Globe reports that Ed Markey broke his 1984 pledge to not accept PAC $$$ & has reaped millions. Yes, btw - 1984. http://www.bostonglobe.com/news/politics/2013/05/09/markeymoney/EAdeUiSu92BG8E09lmRtZI/story.html …