Waking Up From The Senate Slumber Party

Mar 11, 2014 9:12am

By MICHAEL FALCONE (@michaelpfalcone)

NOTABLES

  • PUTTING THE ALL-NIGHTER TO BED: The marathon Senate debate on climate change continued into the morning, with a handful of Democrats pulling overnight duties to continue making their statement that global warming is real, ABC’s JEFF ZELENY reports. It was 35th all-night session in Senate history. Senator Cory Booker, D-N.J., joined the graveyard shift at 2 a.m and again around 4:20 a.m. Sen. Chris Murphy, D-CT, took over after 5 a.m., urging America to “wake up.” He warned about the loss of great American beaches and the rising insurance premiums because of climate change.  “Today, 11 percent of New York City is in a flood-risk zone… Soon, 30 percent will be in a flood-risk zone,” Murphy says at 5:42 am. “The insurance companies are planning on climate change.” Senate Democrats dismiss the suggestion by Republicans that the all-night debate is a stunt, but there is no legislation being introduced and the senators are, quite simply, just talking.
  • WHY DID DEMOCRATS TALK ALL NIGHT? Because that’s all they can do, ZELENY notes. They don’t have enough support — even among their own ranks — to pass climate change legislation. All the talking is intended to send a message to big donors, particularly California hedge fund billionaire Tom Steyer, who has pledged to spend $100 million in this year’s midterm elections supporting candidates who support climate change legislation. “Climate change is the defining issue of our generation,” Steyer said in a statement, praising the senators who talked all night. But who wasn’t on hand for the debate? Senate Democrats with tough re-election fights in red states — Mary Landrieu of Lousiana, Mark Pryor of Arkansas, Kay Hagan of North Carolina, Mark Begich of Alaska — did not take part in the all-night session.

THE ROUNDTABLE

ABC’s JEFF ZELENY: The Senate all-nighter on climate change wasn’t a filibuster, because there’s no legislation to actually delay. And it wasn’t an attempt to win over any skeptical senators. So why did some Democrats spend the night on the Senate floor, drawing attention to climate change? Because that’s all they can do. They don’t have enough support — even in their own ranks — to pass a bill. All the talking was intended to send a message to big donors like California hedge fund billionaire Tom Steyer, who has pledged to spend $100 million in this year’s midterm elections supporting candidates who support climate change legislation. Call it a spectacle or a stunt, but it seemed to please Steyer, who issued a statement praising the effort. At the same time, it gave several red state Democrats a chance to point out — through their absence — that they don’t support the legislation. But you’ve got to wonder if Mary Landrieu, Mark Begich and Mark Pryor would have preferred that their colleagues had gotten a good night’s sleep, instead.

ABC’s RICK KLEIN: Inside the next 24 hours, we will hear from one party that its candidate was fatally flawed, and that he or she had no realistic chance to win in Florida’s 13th congressional district – you know, the one that got all those outside and inside millions over the past few weeks. We’ll know, of course, that’s not entirely true, and that’s the charm of special House elections in battleground districts in election years. The pressure, though, is never distributed quite equally: Tonight, it’s the Democrats with all the expectations to meet. That’s because they have more questions to answer this year, about their ability to message around Obamacare and Social Security, and make the case against Republicans in a district with divided tendencies. Democrats won’t have candidates as seasoned or well-funded as Alex Sink everywhere. And they know privately at least that they’re looking at a dismal 2014 if they can’t win districts like this one.

 

BUZZ

OBAMA, ZACH GALIFIANAKIS GO AT IT IN HILARIOUS ‘FUNNY OR DIE’ VIDEO. It’s not every day you see this. President Obama sat down with comedian Zach Galifianakis for his video series, “Between Two Ferns,” ABC’s ANN COMPTON notes. Obama is deadpan and the two have a few hilarious exchanges. “In 2013 you pardoned a turkey,” Galifianakis asks Obama. “What are you going to do in 2014?” Obama: “We’ll probably pardon another turkey.” Galifianakis: ”What is it like to be the last black president?’ Obama: “What is it like for this to be the last time you ever talk to a president?” President Obama razzes Galifinakis about how Bradley Cooper carried those Hangover movies, and suggests the third version didn’t work out too well,  just as a third Obama term would not be satisfying. The President finally gets around to pitching health care reform for young people, apparently the reason the White House agreed to the 6 minute interview.  During the wonky parts about signing up for coverage, the bored-looking Galifinakis asks, “Is this about drones?” http://abcn.ws/1cQVYyh

BACKSTORY: “Between Two Ferns” is recorded in front of a black drape, the chairs set between two ferns.  Near the end, the President reaches out and pushes a red button on the table next to him. The backdrop noisily crashes to the floor, revealing the session is actually being taped in the White House Diplomatic Room.  President Obama feigns irritation that anyone cleared Galifinakis into the White House at all.

POLL: MAJORITY BACKS SANCTIONS ON RUSSIA ONLY WITH EUROPEAN ALLIES ON BOARD. Most Americans in a new ABC News/Washington Post poll support economic sanctions against Russia for its actions in Ukraine – but only if the United States’ European allies participate, according to ABC’s GREG HOLYK. The result marks a general preference in U.S. attitudes for allied rather than unilateral action on international conflicts. In this case, 56 percent support imposing joint U.S.-EU economic sanctions on Russia. But support for the United States acting alone declines to 40 percent. Views of Barack Obama’s handling of the situation, for their part, are evenly divided, in line with his recent job approval marks overall. His ratings on the issue, as on others, are highly partisan: Seven in 10 Democrats and six in 10 liberals approve, while three-quarters of Republicans and strong conservatives disapprove. http://abcn.ws/1fo6UIg

FOR THE RECORD: THE GOP’S 2016ERS ON RUSSIA, UKRAINE AND CRIMEA. Next Sunday, residents of Crimea, the semi-autonomous peninsular “republic” dangling atop the Black Sea, will cast ballots to secede, or not, from Ukraine and join the Russian Federation. The referendum will take place just short of two years after former Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney said in a TV interview that he considered Moscow ”our number one geopolitical foe.” (Romney was roasted by the Obama campaign then and later by the president himself, who suggested during a fall debate that the GOP nominee was living in the past, that the 1980s were “calling to ask for their foreign policy back because, you know, the Cold War’s been over for 20 years.”)  Today, with Russia’s grip tightening on Crimea, Republicans and conservative commentators have been quick to flag their man’s seemingly prescient diagnosis. Here is what some of the Republican Party’s potential presidential candidates are saying now, courtesy of ABC’s GREG KRIEG: http://abcn.ws/1fo8CcC

 

WHO’S TWEETING?

@edatpost: As he opens the day, Senate Chaplain prays for the staffers of senators who spoke overnight. Asks that God “reward their patriotism.”

@markknoller: At the DNC fundraiser, Pres Obama will chat with 25 supporters paying up to the FEC max of $32,400 to attend.

@karentravers: Reading the reactions to the Obama/Between Two Ferns video is going to be entertaining today. Will be easy to spot who has watched it before

 @postpolitics: The Fix: Why Jeffrey Thompson’s guilty plea matters for Hillary Clinton http://wapo.st/1h9qfKW 

@ABC: Did you know 6.4M Americans have #ADHD? Join us for .@ABC Health tweet chat on the topic today at 1PM, ET. Use hashtag #abcDRBchat.

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