Block and Tackle

By MICHAEL FALCONE ( @michaelpfalcone )


  • HOUSE REPUBLICANS YESTERDAY took steps to block major provisions of the president's immigration policy, approving legislation to fund the Department of Homeland Security and effectively block Obama's executive action to shield millions of undocumented immigrants from deportation, ABC's MARY BRUCE reports. The White House slammed the move as "bad policy" and "bad politics" and accused Republicans of "mucking around" with DHS funding. The president has vowed to veto any legislation that undermines his immigration policy, but the White House seems open to including some symbolic GOP immigration measure - although it's unclear just how much they are willing to give.
  • TODAY PRESIDENT OBAMA WILL ANNOUNCE a presidential memorandum directing federal agencies to give at least six weeks paid leave to all federal employees who are new parents, ABC's DEVIN DWYER notes. He will also renew his call on Congress to pass a law requiring private sector employers give at least seven days paid sick/maternity to workers. As a third piece of the push, Obama will unveil modest grant programs and commission some studies aimed at helping states enact their own laws on this. Only three states - California, New Jersey and Rhode Island - offer paid family and medical leave, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
  • MEET THE MAN SATISFYING THE SENATE'S SWEET TOOTH: There's one man on Capitol Hill with the responsibility of satisfying the Senate's sweet tooth - Sen. Pat Toomey. The Republican Pennsylvania senator has assumed the role of the Senate candy man, maintaining a special candy desk in the Senate chamber for senators from both sides of the aisle to enjoy a sweet treat at from time to time. "Pennsylvania, as everyone knows, is the candy capital of America. It was totally appropriate that I be the candy man," Toomey told ABC's ARLETTE SAENZ and RICHARD COOLIDGE. WATCH:


ABC's SHUSHANNAH WALSHE: 2016 maneuvering is now the story of the day, every day. Rand Paul was in New Hampshire yesterday calling Libya "Hillary's War," according to ABC affiliate WMUR. He's also making stops in Nevada, the "first in the West" state. Other GOPers like Ben Carson, Scott Walker, Rick Perry, and yes even Mitt Romney are gathering at the RNC Winter Meeting this week where donors, delegates, and reporters will be in San Diego to hear the contenders and of course Romney discuss why he wants to make a third go of it. And there's one name we haven't heard that much from recently, but Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal is heading across the pond and will give what is being billed as a "major foreign policy address" next week in London. In excerpts given to the Weekly Standard, Jindal will accuse Clinton of "empathizing" with our enemies in order to "find some common ground…I have no interest in that kind of mindless naiveté." It looks like no one on the GOP side wants to be forgotten. It may still be early, but it's critical.

ABC's RICK KLEIN: If Republicans blow their shot at 2016, it's going to be hard to blame the Republican National Committee. Quietly, Chairman Reince Priebus has been completing his checklist. This week's meeting in San Diego will have the GOP finalizing an early convention date, and looking to lock in a sharply limited debate schedule. Already, he's brought order (for now) to the calendar process, in addition to cleaning up the messy Michael Steele-era balance sheet. Priebus' "autopsy" report after 2012 has been derided for its lack of impact, but it did put the party on record on some touchy areas where there's limited authority for the party to chart a course. This may be the most wide-open GOP primary in modern history, with ample opportunities for Republicans to tear each other apart. Financially and structurally, at least, it's difficult to see how the party could be in a better place.


ORRIN HATCH ON OBAMA'S 'PITIFUL PRESIDENCY'. Sen. Orrin Hatch says he's confident Republicans will win the White House in 2016. And for that, he says, the GOP has President Obama to thank. "I think President Obama will be one of the reasons," Hatch said, when asked why he thinks the GOP will win the presidency. "I think the American people have come to the conclusion that all this liberal legislation and stuff really doesn't work." Though Hatch, a Utah Republican, calls Obama as a friend, he described his administration in less than friendly terms, ABC's JEFF ZELENY, RICHARD COOLIDGE and JORDYN PHELPS report. WATCH:



OHIO MAN ARRESTED FOR ALLEGED ISIS-INSPIRED PLOT ON US CAPITOL, FBI SAYS. The FBI Wednesday arrested an Ohio man for allegedly plotting an ISIS-inspired attack on the U.S. Capitol, where he hoped to set off a series of bombs aimed at lawmakers, whom he allegedly considered enemies. ABC's PIERRE THOMAS, JACK DATE, MIKE LEVINE, and JACK CLOHERTY report Christopher Lee Cornell, 20, of Green Township, was arrested yesterday on charges of attempting to kill a U.S. government official, authorities said. According to government documents, he allegedly planned to detonate pipe bombs at the national landmark and open fire on any employees and officials fleeing after the explosions. "I believe that we should just wage jihad under our own orders and plan attacks and everything," Cornell allegedly wrote in an online message to the informant in August, according to the FBI.

WHY THIS VIRGINIA LAWMAKER WAS FORCED TO CELEBRATE HIS RE-ELECTION VICTORY IN JAIL. A Virginia state lawmaker is serving time behind bars following an alleged tryst with his former receptionist when she was 17, but voters didn't let that stop them from re-electing him to the state legislature in a special election Tuesday. ABC's ERIN DOOLEY writes, Joseph Morrissey, 57, a former Democrat who renounced his party and ran as an independent following the scandal, celebrated his victory from the unlikeliest of locations: Virginia's Henrico County Regional Jail East. When asked whether he would have ever imagined hearing the news from jail, Morrissey told a reporter for a videotaped interview, "No, no I wouldn't."

WHAT PRESIDENT OBAMA'S PROPOSAL FOR A FASTER, CHEAPER INTERNET MEANS FOR YOU. President Obama wants everyone in the United States to have access to high speed, affordable Internet - even in rural areas of the country. Spurring investment in other rural areas, the White House said new grant and loan opportunities from the Department of Agriculture would be made available for community broadband projects. ABC's ALYSSA NEWCOMB notes, President Obama has been pushing cybersecurity and Internet policies this week ahead of his State of the Union address, which is expected to focus on the topics.


@rollcall: Harry Reid Is Absent, but Still in Charge of Senate Democrats: via @nielslesniewski @hsanchez128

@markknoller: Authorized US travelers to Cuba will be allowed to import up to $400 in goods including up to $100 of alcohol and tobacco products.

@MichaelCrowley: As attention turned to ISIS, Obama's war on al Qaeda in Yemen seems to have stalled: …

@CapehartJ: Is Romney really running to escape the fate of irrelevance suffered by his father after his '68 run?

@davidaxelrod: Interested to see if every '16 GOP hopeful feels it necessary to follow the lemmings in the House over the cliff on immigration. #deathwish