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A1: The stories you need to read before your first conference call.
-- People who signed up for coverage under the Affordable Care Act were more likely to be prescribed drugs, suggesting they are older and face more serious health problems than people who already had health insurance through their employers, according to a study to be released today by Express Scripts, a pharmacy-benefits management company. It's one of the first looks at the spending habits of those who signed up for coverage under the ACA. (New York Times)
-- A top U.S. Secret Service supervisor in charge of the special operations division has been demoted and almost two dozen staff members have been reassigned in the wake of two more embarrassing incidents in which agents were disciplined for unseemly behavior while on presidential details. Secret Service Director Julia Pierson met with members of Congress last week to assuage their concerns over the recent incidents. (Washington Post)
-- House Republicans, including Rules Committee chairman Pete Sessions (R-Texas), have proposed tying an emergency unemployment insurance extension bill to jobs measures and new tax breaks. A Republican alternative to the bill that passed the Democratic Senate would likely come after the Easter recess. Sessions is eyeing bonus depreciation for business investment, while Rep. Peter Roskam (R-Ill.) suggested that energy legislation -- did someone say Keystone XL? -- could be part of the bargain. (Roll Call)
-- The Australian naval vessel Ocean Shield has once again detected deep-sea signals consistent with an airliner's black box in remote parts of the Indian Ocean, leaving officials involved in the multinational search confident they will locate the wreckage of Malaysian Flight 370 within days. Ocean Shield picked up two more signals on Tuesday, within about 25 miles of the signals it received over the weekend. But the sounds could be coming from anywhere within a 500 square-mile chunk of ocean floor, a U.S. Navy official said. (Washington Post)
-- Front Pages: WaPo leads with Secret Service shakeups. NYT kicks off with new data on payments to Medicare doctors. WSJ covers meetings between U.S. and Chinese defense chiefs. USA Today spotlights Secretary of State John Kerry's warnings that Russia is fueling unrest in Ukraine.
National Roundup: What's happening outside the Beltway.
-- Louisiana: Rep. Vance McAllister's chief of staff said the freshman will ask the FBI to investigate the leaked security video that showed him canoodling with a staffer. A minister in West Monroe says McAllister's office manager, Leah Gordon, leaked the video to local media outlets. (Monroe News Star)
-- Georgia: The outside group Ending Spending Action Fund is dropping $1.3 million on an ad blitz attacking Rep. Phil Gingrey (R) as a Washington insider. The ad will run in the Atlanta, Augusta, Macon and Savannah markets from now through the May 20 primary. It's the second Republican primary the group has waded into, following ads run against Rep. Walter Jones (R-N.C.). Gingrey is running his own ad promising to repeal Obamacare or quit the Senate after one term. (Atlanta Journal-Constitution) Reid's Take: Gingrey is one of two candidates, along with Rep. Paul Broun (R), who Democrats would most like to run against in November. National Republicans are more interested in businessman David Perdue, former Secretary of State Karen Handel or Rep. Jack Kingston.
-- Pennsylvania: A Philadelphia district attorney and federal law enforcement sources are disputing Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane's claim that "federal authorities" viewed a sting operation that caught at least five Democratic legislators accepting bribes as too weak to pursue prosecutions. Neither the U.S. Attorney's office in Philadelphia nor the FBI made such a judgement. Kane has refused to disclose what federal authorities advised her. (Philadelphia Inquirer) Check out the Inquirer's four-column lead. Helpful tip to Kane: This story isn't going away.
-- Michigan: A businessman challenging Rep. Justin Amash (R) in the GOP primary is running a second ad accusing the second-term congressman of voting against conservative principles for opposing a balanced budget amendment and an abortion bill that hit the floor in 2012. Brian Ellis reported raising $507,000 through the end of the year, including a $200,000 check he cut his own campaign; Amash had about $731,000 in the bank at year's end. The Club for Growth has weighed in for Amash with paid TV ads. The primary is Aug. 5. (MLive)
-- Maryland: Gov. Martin O'Malley's most dogged critic these days is a member of his own party. Attorney General Doug Gansler (D) is calling for a special counsel, with subpoena power, to investigate the development of the state's disastrous health insurance exchange. Gansler has used the botched rollout, which cost Maryland taxpayers $261 million, to attack Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown (D), his rival in the race to succeed O'Malley. Bill Clinton on Tuesday endorsed Brown. (Baltimore Sun, Washington Post)
-- Massachusetts: Speaking of intra-party warfare, state Treasurer Steven Grossman (D) is attacking Attorney General Martha Coakley (D) over Coakley's opposition to a proposal limiting the number of guns purchasers should be able to buy to one a month. Grossman's campaign portrays Coakley's position as supportive of "unlimited gun purchases." Polls have showed Coakley ahead, but Grossman, the former DNC chairman, is trying to undermine Coakley's law enforcement credentials. (Boston Globe)
-- Colorado: Legislators pushing for the creation of a Scottish American license plate showed up to testify before the Senate Finance Committee in their kilts. Click for ridiculous photos. (Denver Post)
-- States: State government tax revenue increased by 6.1 percent between Fiscal Year 2012 and Fiscal Year 2013, the Census Bureau said Tuesday. States reported $846 billion in tax revenue, an all-time record and the third consecutive year of growth. Forty-eight states saw tax revenue increase, led by North Dakota (up 27.8 percent), California (15.6 percent), Hawaii (10.5 percent) and Colorado (9.6 percent). Only Alaska and Wyoming saw tax collections fall. (Census Bureau)
DC Digest: What's on tap today in DC.
-- President Obama and first lady Michelle Obama travel to a memorial service in Killeen, Texas this morning, where the president will deliver remarks at a memorial for those killed in last week's shooting at Fort Hood. Obama then heads to Houston, where he will attend a fundraiser for the DNC and a dinner benefitting the DSCC and the DCCC. The Obamas will overnight in Houston. Vice President Biden will remain in Washington, with no public events on the schedule.
-- The White House also said Tuesday that Obama would stop in Oso, Wash., to view damage caused by the landslide that claimed at least 33 lives, on April 22. The visit will come as Obama heads to Asia, with stops in Japan, South Korea, Malaysia and the Philippines. Meanwhile, the Boston Globe reported Biden will attend a ceremony next week marking the one-year anniversary of the Boston Marathon bombings.
-- The House meets at noon to continue debating Rep. Paul Ryan's (R-Wis.) budget proposal, and several substitute budget plans. First and last votes are expected between 5 p.m. and 6 p.m.
-- The Senate meets at 10 a.m. to continue debate over the equal pay bill, with a cloture vote scheduled at 11 a.m. Democrats are not likely to get the five Republicans necessary to secure cloture. The Senate will vote as early as Thursday on a Ninth Circuit nominee and a Labor Department official before leaving on Easter break.
-- A week after losing the primary, D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray (D) is losing top staffers. On Monday, Nicholas Majett, head of the city's Consumer and Regulatory Affairs Department, said he would leave. On Tuesday, city council member Mary Cheh said DDOT chief Terry Bellamy is also bolting. With nine months left in Gray's tenure, they're probably not the last departures. (Washington City Paper)
-- Welcome to the neighborhood: Attorney General Eric Holder has plunked down almost $1.5 million for a new condo at CityCenterDC, the same posh development where Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) just bought a $2.7 million crash pad. (Washington Business Journal)
-- House Oversight and Government Reform Committee chairman Darrell Issa plans to push modifications to the District's height rule in late April. Issa said he will push a bill allowing human occupancy of penthouse apartments, effectively raising the height limit on D.C. buildings by 20 feet, on the House floor after the Easter recess. (Roll Call)
Senate Minute: A 30,000-foot view
-- Wherein we take a weekly timeout to assess the big picture in the battle for the Senate. This week, we surveyed top operatives on both sides to gauge the Democratic-held seats in play. For brevity's sake, we'll keep the analysis to one sentence (We debated using haiku). Here are the Democratic-held seats, in descending order from most at-risk to safest:
-- 1) South Dakota. Say it with us, Sen. Mike Rounds. 2) West Virginia. The better candidate, Rep. Shelley Moore Capito, is capitalizing on a positive environment. 3) Montana. Sen. John Walsh has potential, but this isn't 2012, and Rep. Steve Daines (R) is no Denny Rehberg. 4) Louisiana. If Sen. Mary Landrieu heads to a runoff, which looks likely, a tough race becomes all but impossible to win. 5) Arkansas. Democrats think Republicans are overvaluing Rep. Tom Cotton, but polls show Sen. Mark Pryor well below 50.
-- 6) North Carolina. The sheer amount of money spent against Sen. Kay Hagan, whose name ID is still low, makes the eventual GOP nominee a slight favorite. 7) Alaska. Sen. Mark Begich can afford to be on TV from now through Election Day, and that matters in a small state. 8) New Hampshire. Former Sen. Scott Brown is an A+ recruit, but Jeanne Shaheen starts with a big lead, and there aren't many Granite Staters who don't know her. 9) Michigan. Rep. Gary Peters is the favorite, but former Secretary of State Terri Lynn Land is stronger than some Republicans hoped. 10) Iowa. Despite Rep. Bruce Braley's dumb comments, he'll benefit from a rough GOP primary.
-- Next week, the vulnerable GOP seats (Spoiler: It's a shorter list). What do you think? Let us know.
B1: Business, politics and the business of politics
-- Toyota is recalling more than 6 million vehicles globally, including 2.3 million in North America, over problems with a defective engine starter, though no injuries or crashes have been reported, the company said Wednesday. (New York Times)
-- Stocks are up a fraction in premarket trading after making small gains Tuesday. The Nikkei dropped 2 percent today, but European markets are trading higher. (CNN)
C1: The long reads you'll need to check out before tonight's cocktail party.
-- Four presidents descend on Austin this week to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act and the man who signed the 1964 law, Lyndon Johnson. Johnson himself is enjoying something of a renaissance, especially for his domestic policy achievements, Karen Tumulty and Peter Baker write in two history-packed pieces on LBJ's term and the Congresses that actually passed big, sweeping laws.
C4: The comics page, fun things to read when you're bored at work
-- "A long-running court battle between a Harrisburg restaurant owner and a former member of Gov. Corbett's cabinet over the preparation of an egg sandwich has ended with a $75,000 settlement, court records show." A chef took the payout two years after accusing the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, and then-Health Secretary Eli Avila, of retaliating against him after the chef cooked an egg incorrectly in 2011. The legal dispute lasted about three times longer than Avila's actual job with the state. (Philadelphia Inquirer)
-- How good is your state at administering elections? Play around with this cool Pew Elections Performance Index, which pits states against each other on 17 performance metrics, from wait times to military ballot rejections. Spoiler alert: If you're in D.C., Virginia or Maryland, get ready to wait in line. (Washington Post)
Attn Matt Drudge: Things conservatives will get outraged by today.
-- Average health insurance premiums have risen 11-12 percent thanks to the Affordable Care Act, according to a study by a research division of Morgan-Stanley. In some states, that number is much higher: Delaware's premiums have doubled, while New Hampshire's rose 90 percent. (New Hampshire Union Leader)
Attn HuffPo: Things liberals will be outraged by today.
-- "Instead of focusing on jobs, [Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid] launched into another confusing attack on the left’s latest bizarre obsession," Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said on the floor Tuesday during debate over an equal pay bill. Democrats accused McConnell of calling equal pay a "bizarre obsession." McConnell's spokesman said he was talking about Reid's attention to the Koch brothers. No doubt, calm and reasoned voices will prevail. (The Hill)