Pay Day In Washington

By MICHAEL FALCONE ( @michaelpfalcone )


  • TODAY AT THE WHITE HOUSE: It's Equal Pay Day at the White House, ABC's DEVIN DWYER reports. This morning, President Obama signs two executive orders targeting "pay secrecy." One forces federal contractors to allow workers to discuss their pay with each other; the other requires contractors to report pay data based on sex and race. Meanwhile on Capitol Hill this afternoon, Senate Democratic women and members of the Senate HELP Committee will talk on the Senate floor about paycheck fairness.
  • GOP COUNTER-PROGRAMMING: Three Republican campaign committees are out with a memo titled, " Misleading Paycheck Fairness Act." The memo was penned by Kirsten Kukowski, RNC National Press Secretary; Andrea Bozek, NRCC Communications Director; and Brook Hougesen, NRSC Press Secretary. An excerpt: "The truth is the 'Paycheck Fairness Act' is a desperate political ploy. And Democrats are cynically betting that Americans aren't smart enough to know better. They're forgetting the millions of women who belong to the Republican Party who will speak out. They're missing the fathers, husbands, and sons who believe that women deserve real solutions. The 'Paycheck Fairness Act' doesn't provide paycheck fairness for women. In fact, it will cut flexibility in the work place for working moms and end merit pay that rewards good work-the very things that are important to us."


HILLARY CLINTON'S SPEAKING FRENZY: 4 DAYS, 3 STATES AND $$$. Hillary Clinton embarks on a whirlwind speaking tour of the West Coast this week that, while potentially lucrative, also looks a lot like a campaign-style swing, ABC's LIZ KREUTZ notes. From today through Friday, Clinton will barnstorm three states, making five appearances at corporate events and business conventions covering an array of topics from health care to scrap metal recycling. But the frenzied schedule is a small price to pay for the potential upside. With her personal speaking fees reportedly averaging $200,000 per engagement, Clinton could haul in as much as $1 million in the four-day period. Representatives for Clinton, 66, have not responded to a request for comment about her speaking fees at this week's events.

-THE SCHEDULE: Clinton's tour kicks off today in California where she'll deliver a keynote at a large marketing summit in San Francisco. Later, she'll pop up to Portland, Ore., to headline the World Affairs Council of Oregon's annual International Speaker series. She'll stop by Las Vegas Thursday where she will give closing remarks at a scrap metal recycling expo (and also likely draw attention from politicos taking note of her first appearance in an early primary state this year). Then, it's back to California for a speaker series in San Jose that night, and the following morning she'll wrap up the tour with a speech via satellite to a health care convention in San Diego. And Clinton isn't the only family member with a full lineup this week. Former President Bill Clinton will deliver two speeches today: one in Maryland and the other in South Carolina. Wednesday he speaks at the LBJ Civil Rights Summit in Texas, where President Obama and former presidents George W. Bush and Jimmy Carter are also slated to speak. Thursday he'll raise money in Pennsylvania for Chelsea Clinton's scandal-plagued mother-in-law, Marjorie Margolies, who is running for congressional office in the state. In addition, Chelsea Clinton will speak Thursday at a tech convention in New York City.

-BOTTOM LINE: In total, the Clintons will make appearances at 10 events in eight different states in the course of four days.


SENATE PASSES UNEMPLOYMENT BENEFITS EXTENSION… The Senate passed a bill Monday to temporarily extend unemployment insurance for five months, but it remains unclear whether the bill will face a vote in the House of Representatives, according to ABC's ARLETTE SAENZ. The Senate voted 59-38 on the Protecting Volunteer Firefighters and Emergency Responders Act, which served as the vehicle for the unemployment benefits extension. The Senate's measure would reauthorize unemployment benefits for five months, starting with retroactive payments dating back to Dec. 28, when the previous bill expired.

…BUT FATE UNCERTAIN IN HOUSE. House Speaker John Boehner has indicated that he would only consider extending unemployment insurance if it included provisions to create more jobs. "As the speaker said months ago, we are willing to look at extending emergency unemployment insurance as long as it includes provisions to help create more private-sector jobs - but, last week, Senate Democratic Leaders ruled out adding any jobs measures at all. The American people are still asking, 'where are the jobs?' and House Republicans are focused on our jobs agenda for families and small businesses," Michael Steel, a spokesman for Boehner said Monday.

DUCK DYNASTY-BACKED CONGRESSMAN 'VERY SORRY' FOR KISSING STAFFER. Rep. Vance McAllister, the married, freshman lawmaker who was captured on video making out with his district scheduler, asked for forgiveness and privacy as he owned up to kissing his staffer yesterday, according to ABC's JOHN PARKINSON. "There's no doubt I've fallen short and I'm asking for forgiveness," McAllister, R-La., said in a statement today. "I'm asking for forgiveness from God, my wife, my kids, my staff, and my constituents who elected me to serve." The incident, which was captured on surveillance video, occurred on Dec. 23, 2013, inside McAllister's congressional office, about a month after he took office. The woman who McAllister was seen smooching with for about 30 seconds is Melissa Anne Hixon Peacock, 33, who is also married. McAllister, who won a special election last fall to succeed Rep. Rodney Alexander, wrote that he has "always tried to be an honest man" and ran for Congress "to make a difference and not to just be another politician." ABC's JEFF ZELENY reported on the latest on McAllister's case for "Good Morning America" today:

BLACKWATER SPENT $$ ON PRICEY AIRFARE, DEEP FAT FRYER. The controversial private security firm formerly known as Blackwater received $1 billion in funds that the State Department did not properly keep track of, a department inspector general report found, ABC's ALI WEINBERG reports. While Blackwater was providing personal protection for State Department officials in Iraq in 2006 and 2007, the firm spent more than $100,000 of taxpayer money on nicer-than-coach-class airline tickets, skimping on the number of required security team members and purchasing (and then losing track of) at least one deep fat fryer. The Blackwater money is part of $6 billion in contractor payments that department Inspector General Steve Linick revealed last week were inadequately recorded and tracked over the past six years, which Linick called a national security vulnerability. "It creates conditions conducive to fraud. … It impairs the ability of the Department to take effective and timely action to protect its interests, and, in turn, those of taxpayers. Finally, it limits the ability of the Government to punish and deter criminal behavior," Linick said in his "management alert" made public Thursday.

-BACKSTORY: The Inspector General alert cites a 2009 audit of Blackwater's security services in Iraq beginning in 2005, when the State Department needed to fill vacancies among its diplomatic security corps. During that period, 17 Iraqi civilians were killed during a Baghdad massacre, for which four Blackwater guards currently face manslaughter charges (not necessarily those involved in the State Department assignment). The Blackwater employees who were in Iraq to protect high-profile diplomats also seemed to travel like them. Between May 2006 and December 2007, the firm spent $127,364 on "airfare in excess of coach fare" and only reimbursed about 45 percent of the money to the State Department.

CAN BILL CLINTON BOOST CONGRESSIONAL HOPES OF SON-IN-LAW'S MOM? Eleven years ago, President Bill Clinton took to the campaign trail in an effort to help vulnerable Pennsylvania Congresswoman Marjorie Margolies-Mezvinsky hold on to her House seat, ABC's BETSY KLEIN writes. At a December 1993 entitlement spending summit in Bryn Mawr, Pa, Clinton offered an impassioned defense of Margolies-Mezvinsky's decision to cast a controversial vote in favor of Clinton's Budget. But the president's pleas to the voters of the state's 13th District didn't work. Margolies-Mezvinsky went on to lose to her Republican opponent that year by 4 percentage points. Now, more than a decade later, Clinton is swooping in to help her again.

-BUT TIMES HAVE CHANGED: Margolies (she divorced her husband in 2007 and dropped his name) is now part of the extended Clinton clan. Her son, Marc Mezvinsky, is married to Chelsea Clinton. Out of public life since the mid-1990-s, Margolies is running to reclaim her old House seat. And her political career is as uncertain as ever. With the May 20 primary just six weeks away, Margolies will welcome President Clinton to the district for a fundraiser this Thursday. For $1,000, donors can attend an hors d'oeuvres reception and hear Clinton's remarks. A little bit more - $5000 - buys a private VIP reception and photo opportunity with Clinton. The event is not open to the public without a donation . The Margolies campaign has touted the event with numerous emails to the campaign supporter list, and donors at any level are automatically entered into a sweepstakes to meet Clinton and have a photograph taken with him.


@AndreaBozek: READ the @GOP @NRCC @NRSC MEMO: Misleading Paycheck Fairness Act here

@RichardHaass: US, Europe must set severe sanctions to be added vs #Russia if it raises interference in #Ukraine & let Moscow know

@ArletteSaenz: . @BobbyJindal will headline the SC GOP's Silver Elephant Dinner in June. Ted Cruz headlined in 2013, Marco Rubio in 2012.

@HotlineJosh: Re-upping from last night: Chamber to endorse Thom Tillis in #NC, will spend BIG on ads for him in primary. …

@RealClearScott: GOP establishment/donor types have been clamoring for Jeb the loudest, but he has some cred among evangelicals, too: …

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