A1: The stories you need to read before your first conference call.
-- Army Spc. Ivan Lopez, who killed three and wounded 16 others at Fort Hood on Tuesday, was being treated for depression, anxiety and sleeping disorders, but was cleared by an Army psychiatrist in March. Army Secretary John McHugh told a House committee on Thursday that Lopez had served four months in Iraq, but that he didn't see combat action during his deployment. Lopez arrived at Fort Hood in February. (Austin American-Statesman, Washington Post)
-- Press Secretary Plan-Ahead: Jobs numbers are out today at 8:30 a.m. ET. Economists expect the Bureau of Labor Statistics to report employers added 195,000 jobs last month. (Associated Press) Democratic talking point: Strongest month since November! Republican talking point: Participation rate still near historic lows!
-- Secretary of State John Kerry said Friday the U.S. is reevaluating its role in the Mideast peace process after Israel cancelled a planned prisoner release and after Palestinians sought greater recognition from the United Nations. Kerry, in Morocco, is returning to the U.S. today. (Associated Press, Washington Post)
-- The White House tried to convince broadcast networks to give it prime-time air space on Tuesday to brag about the 7 million people who had signed up for health-care coverage under the Affordable Care Act. The networks said no. (BuzzFeed)
-- The House on Thursday voted to redefine what it means to be employed full-time, in order to help businesses get around the employer mandate within the Affordable Care Act. The bill isn't going anywhere in the Senate; it was the 55th anti-Obamacare vote the House has taken since Republicans took over. (Washington Post) Eighteen Democrats, mostly those with targets on their backs this year, voted with Republicans to pass the bill, including Reps. John Barrow (D-Ga.), Pete Gallego (D-Texas), Patrick Murphy (D-Fla.), Nick Rahall (D-W.V.) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.).
-- President Obama on Thursday signed into law the Gabriella Miller Kids First Research Act, which diverts $126 million previously used to finance national political conventions to the NIH, in part to support research into childhood cancer and other pediatric diseases. The measure is named for a Leesburg fifth grader who passed away on Oct. 26 after a bout with brain cancer. (Washington Post) An idea for future convention funding: Take the matching funds that come from tax filings. It's not like that money is going to be used by major party nominees in the future.
-- Front Pages: WaPo and WSJ lead with the aftermath in Fort Hood. NYT looks at Fort Hood and this weekend's Afghanistan presidential election. USA Today tops with Letterman's retirement and the top-paid CEOs in America.
National Roundup: What's happening outside the Beltway.
-- Nebraska: Name to know: Ben Sasse, the president of Midland University running to replace retiring Sen. Mike Johanns (R) in November. Sasse raised $850,000 last quarter, outpacing former state Treasurer Shane Osborn (R), and Sasse is getting support from outside conservative groups desperate for a win. (Twitter, release) The primary is May 13; after a gaffe involving Osborn and a fake letter from the U.S. Navy (read about it here), Sasse has become a, if not the, front-runner.
-- Pennsylvania: Businessman Tom Wolf (D) is laps ahead of the rest of the Democratic gubernatorial field after spending millions of his own money on an early ad blitz. A new Franklin & Marshall poll shows Wolf with 33 percent of the vote, well ahead of Rep. Allyson Schwartz's 7 percent. State Treasurer Rob McCord is at 6 percent, and former state Environmental Protection Secretary Katie McGinty takes 4 percent. Schwartz is banking her strategy on a late ad blitz before the May 20 primary. (Philadelphia Daily News)
-- California: Gov. Jerry Brown (D) on Thursday signed legislation expanding the power of the Fair Political Practices Commission, the state's answer to the FEC, to investigate or seek injunctions before an election takes place. It's one of a handful of measures put in place in an effort to stem the influx of outside money into state campaigns and ballot initiatives. (Sacramento Bee, San Francisco Chronicle) Also: The proposal to split California into six different states is serious enough that top Democratic and Republican strategists are forming a committee to oppose it. (San Francisco Chronicle)
-- Wyoming: In the past week, two county Republican Parties have censured Gov. Matt Mead (R) over a measure he signed that stripped the Superintendent of Public Instruction of control over the state Department of Education. The censures will go to the state GOP convention in May. Mead is seeking re-election this year. (Casper Star-Tribune) Quote of the day, from state Sen. Hank Coe (R), under fire for the same bill, on the effectively meaningless censures: "What are they going to do? Make me go to bed early at night? … They're all crazy."
-- Maine: Did anybody notice that Sen. Susan Collins's Democratic opponent, Sheena Bellows, outraised the Republican incumbent in the last quarter of 2013? Collins isn't going to lose, and she's certainly not going to be beaten on the fundraising circuit; she picked up the pace and pulled in $870,000 this quarter, almost three times her lackadaisical pace during the end of 2013. (Portland Press Herald)
DC Digest: What's on tap today in DC.
-- President Obama meets with Treasury Secretary Jack Lew this morning, then with Tunisia Prime Minister Mehdi Jomaa this afternoon. This evening, Obama hosts a reception for Greek Independence Day. Notably absent on his schedule: Any mention of throwing out a first pitch at the Nats' home opener. Vice President Biden attends the Lew and Jomaa meetings and the reception this evening.
-- The House and Senate are gone for the week. The Senate on Monday will pass a retroactive extension of long-term unemployment benefits that expired in December after the bill cleared a final procedural hurdle yesterday. Sen. Dean Heller (R-Nev.), the top Republican sponsor of the bill, said he wanted a meeting with House Speaker John Boehner to push for the bill, but Boehner and other House Republicans have made clear it's dead on arrival. (Washington Post)
-- The 3-0 Washington Nationals face the Atlanta Braves in their home opener today. First pitch is at 1:05 p.m. Boss out of town? Tune to MASN. Planning to head to the game? Bring a coat. Game time temperature won't be much above 55 degrees, and there's a 40 percent chance of rain.
What We Learned: What this week in politics taught us.
-- Chris Cillizza says: The most dangerous place for a politician in Washington is as mayor. (As you might have guessed: Vincent Gray wins Worst Week in Washington this week)
-- Aaron Blake learned: Campaign finance limits exist, but they're in jeopardy. In his majority decision in McCutcheon this week, Chief Justice John Roberts called the $2,600 individual gift limit to candidates a "prophylactic measure" -- not exactly a ringing endorsement.
-- Reid's Take: Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) is still raising money for her leadership PAC even as she heads toward retirement. That money is more likely to go toward lining the pockets of consultants than helping elect like-minded candidates; Bachmann's PAC raised $1.25 million in the 2012 cycle and spent less than a tenth of that on actual candidates. Let the donor beware.
B1: Business, politics and the business of politics
-- A debate over whether to allow tolls on the nation's Interstates is heating up in Congress, where the surface transportation bill expires on Oct. 1. The 18.4-cent federal gas tax, which isn't indexed to inflation, hasn't been raised since 1993 and isn't enough to cover infrastructure projects. Companies like McDonald's and FedEx don't want to see tolls, but transportation trade groups want to use the money to clear a backlog of infrastructure improvements. (New York Times) Our own Ed O'Keefe told us earlier this week that Obama and Boehner want to go big on a transportation bill, but that the odds of that happening are low.
C1: The long reads you'll need to check out before tonight's cocktail party.
-- More than 800 veterans of George H.W. Bush's administration will gather today in College Station for the start of a weekend-long reunion and 25th anniversary of the 41st president's term in office. Bush "has benefited from a wave of historical revisionism that has transformed him from the biggest incumbent loser since William Howard Taft to, by at least one measure, the most popular former president of the past half century." (New York Times)
C4: The comics page, fun things to read when you're bored at work
-- Sen. Dan Coats (R-Ind.) showed up at an appropriations subcommittee hearing on Wednesday afternoon and began asking a Treasury undersecretary a question. An aide slipped him a piece of paper, and Coats stopped. "I just got a note saying I'm at the wrong hearing," Coats said. He headed down the hall of the Dirksen Office Building and found the right subcommittee. (Washington Post, with bonus video)
-- President Obama greeted Olympians at the White House Thursday, and one gold medal winning snowboarder came away impressed that Obama was so "chill" and "down" with the lingo (Salt Lake Tribune's quotes, not ours). Obama made a point to ask Olympians if they had brought "anything you weren't supposed to," which just proves that he read this New York Post article from 2012.
Attn Matt Drudge: Things conservatives will get outraged by today.
-- A federal appeals court ruled Thursday that New York City school officials can ban a small Bronx congregation from holding Sunday worship services in Department of Education buildings. The court found the city's prohibition on church services in public schools is constitutional. (Associated Press)
Attn HuffPo: Things liberals will be outraged by today.
-- Off message much? Former White House spokesman Robert Gibbs told a visibly surprised audience at the 2014 Benefits Selling Expo he thinks the employer mandate within the Affordable Care Act won't go into effect. "I think it will be one of the first things to go," Gibbs said. The mandate has already been delayed twice. (BenefitsPro)