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A1: The stories you need to read before your first conference call.
-- A devastating tornado touched down Sunday about 10 miles west of Little Rock, carving an 80-mile path of destruction through Vilonia and other suburbs and killing at least 16 people. It was the largest of several twisters produced by a storm system that hit the central and southern United States over the weekend. (Associated Press)
-- The U.S. and the Philippines signed a 10-year defense agreement Monday, marking the biggest policy achievement to come out of President Obama's week-long trip to Asia. The deal is likely to get criticism from Chinese officials; the Philippines is one of five countries in disputes with China over territory in the South China Sea. The pact is a result of eight months of negotiations, and final i's and t's were dotted and crossed on Sunday. Under the agreement, U.S. ships and planes will head to the Philippines on a more frequent basis. (Washington Post)
-- New American and European sanctions against Russia will be announced as early as today, targeting businessmen and companies close to Vladimir Putin. The sanctions were originally intended to be implemented on Friday, but President Obama decided to hold off at the suggestion of some members of the administration, like Treasury Secretary Jack Lew, in order to move in lockstep with Europe. Some White House officials say the United States has made coordinating with Europe too much of a priority. (New York Times)
-- Rep. Michael Grimm (R-N.Y.) surrendered to the FBI as officials prepared to unseal charges against him alleging mail and wire fraud, filed false tax returns, hired undocumented immigrants and obstructed justice. Grimm has denied any wrongdoing. Over the weekend, Staten Island Republicans pledged their support, but they don't have much choice: The deadline for Grimm to be replaced on the ballot in New York passed two weeks ago. (Washington Post, Politico, New York Times)
-- Congress returns to Washington today for a nine-week slog to Independence Day. Either the House or Senate will be in session for the next two months, though the House gets a break in two weeks and the Senate is taking the week of Memorial Day off. (Roll Call, Associated Press) On the agenda: Messaging bills galore, though behind the scenes key senators are hammering out agreements on a transportation spending bill. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has promised Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.) several weeks of floor time to try to revive the appropriations process.
-- Sen. John Boozman (R-Ark.) was moved from an intensive care unit to a private recovery room last week, and doctors said they expected him to make a full recovery after replacing his ascending aorta. Boozman will be able to resume his duties without restrictions, the doctors said. (Associated Press)
-- Front Pages: WaPo leads with the Philippines agreement. NYT spotlights a therapist whose practice billed Medicare $4 million in 2012. WSJ highlights a proposed deal between GE and Alstom. USA Today dives deep into the ACA's impact on rural Kentucky, and a Pentagon plan to destroy $1 billion in ammunition. And take a look at the incredible destruction in the wake of the Arkansas tornado in today's Baxter Bulletin.
National Roundup: What's happening outside the Beltway.
-- WH'16: Americans for Economic Freedom, a group created by operatives close to Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R), has hired New Hampshire strategist Mike Dennehy to help plan some of Perry's travel around the country. Dennehy is organizing a visit to Austin for about a dozen Granite State activists next month. (NH Journal) Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) spent Saturday and Sunday in New Hampshire, stopping at a Carroll County GOP dinner and a fundraiser in Rye. Cruz also had coffee with former governor John H. Sununu, who last fall criticized the freshman senator for the government shutdown. (New Hampshire Union-Leader, NH Journal)
-- Utah: Former Saratoga Springs mayor Mia Love (R) won the Republican nomination for the seat of retiring Rep. Jim Matheson (D) over the weekend, making her an overwhelming favorite to head to Congress next year. Love lost her first bid for Congress in 2012 by just 768 votes. (Salt Lake Tribune)
-- Virginia: Republicans on Saturday tapped state Delegate Barbara Comstock (R), a veteran of the Bush administration, as their nominee to replace retiring Rep. Frank Wolf (R). Comstock took about 54 percent of the vote in the firehouse primary. She'll face Fairfax County Supervisor John Foust in what's likely to be a competitive race in November. (Roll Call)
-- Florida: Gov. Rick Scott (R) and former governor Charlie Crist (D) are tied at 42 percent apiece, according to a new Mason-Dixon survey of 700 likely voters. A Libertarian candidate clocks in at 4 percent. Crist leads among Hispanic voters by eight points; Scott won Hispanic voters in 2010, when he narrowly beat Alex Sink (D) for the state's top job. (Tampa Bay Times)
-- Kansas: The FBI has spent months investigating top advisers to Gov. Sam Brownback (R) over influence-peddling allegations involving the state's Medicaid program. The FBI is also investigating individual legislators and lobbyists. Three firms that received contracts to operate the state Medicaid program retained a lobbying firm that included former top Brownback aides, including his chief political advisor and 2010 campaign manager. (Topeka Capital-Journal)
-- California: Rep. Mike Honda (D) said Sunday he won't move into the Silicon Valley district he represents in Congress. "I can't afford to move from my home," Honda told an editorial board. He faces Ro Khanna (D), a 37-year-old tech entrepreneur and attorney, in the June primary. (San Francisco Chronicle) Gubernatorial candidate Neel Kashkari (R), trailing in the polls, says he's getting help from former president George W. Bush, former Florida governor Jeb Bush (R) and other Republicans, including Mitt Romney. Kashkari leads the GOP field in fundraising, but he's far behind Gov. Jerry Brown (D). (Los Angeles Times)
DC Digest: What's on tap today in DC.
-- President Obama participated in a ceremony at which several major commercial agreements were signed in Malaysia before departing to Manila today. Obama and President Benigno Aquino held bilateral talks, followed by a press conference and a state dinner. Obama stays overnight in the Philippines before heading home tomorrow.
-- Vice President Biden spends the morning at the White House, then delivers a speech on budget and economic policy at The George Washington University at 2 p.m.
-- The House meets at 2 p.m. today to consider nine bills under suspension of the rules. First votes will happen after 6:30. The Senate will meet at 2 p.m, with first votes expected at 5:30. Senators will consider nominations of a Ninth Circuit Court judge, a Labor Department official and an assistant secretary at Housing and Urban Development.
-- "House of Cards" will remain in Maryland to film season three after reaching deal with the state that will give producers $11.5 million in tax credits. Filming is expected to begin in a few months. (Baltimore Sun)
TV Time Out: Our exclusive look at who's advertising, and where
-- Oklahoma: His onetime lead disappearing quickly, Rep. James Lankford (R) will begin his first big ad blitz on Tuesday in his bid to replace retiring Sen. Tom Coburn (R). Lankford will drop $211,000 on TV ads over the next two weeks. Outside groups have spent the most on television ads on behalf of former state House speaker T.W. Shannon (R) so far.
-- Arkansas: Another day, another Arkansas ad blitz, this one from Rep. Tom Cotton (R). Cotton's campaign has purchased about $130,000 in broadcast and cable TV ads set to begin running Wednesday through May 6.
-- Arizona: Here's a primary you don't hear much about. State Treasurer Doug Ducey (R) will start introducing himself to Republican primary voters with a new flight of ads beginning tomorrow. The ads will cost Ducey's campaign about $170,000. Businesswoman Christine Jones is the only other candidate in the crowded Republican field to go up on air so far. The primary is August 26.
-- North Carolina: House Speaker Thom Tillis, fighting off a pair of conservative primary challengers, is getting an assist from National Right to Life. The anti-abortion group is spending about $50,000 on mailers supporting Tillis's campaign, according to FEC filings.
The Buried Lede: The nuggets that deserve the spotlight.
-- "When [Sarah] Palin took the stage at the Hy-Vee Conference Center [in Des Moines] under a banner that read 'Heels On, Gloves Off' on Sunday at a event for Senate candidate Joni Ernst, the ballroom was half-full, with a couple hundred attendees scattered in clumps. Three people held signs and, while Palin was received warmly, only about 50 people stayed after to shake her hand on the rope line."
-- More on Palin, a diminished figure in the GOP just six years after leaping onto the national stage, from The Washington Post.
B1: Business, politics and the business of politics
-- More than a decade after President George W. Bush created the Department of Homeland Security in the wake of the September 11 terrorist attacks, DHS's objectives have greatly expanded. "Today, in addition to protecting America’s borders and airports, the department is interrogating people suspected of pirating movies at Ohio theaters, seizing counterfeit NBA merchandise in San Antonio and working pickpocket cases alongside police in Albuquerque. Homeland Security agents are visiting elementary schools and senior centers to warn of dangers lurking on the Internet."
-- DHS initially included 180,000 full-time workers across 22 federal agencies. Today, its workforce has grown to 240,000. Its budget has doubled from $29 billion in 2003 to $61 billion this year. (Albuquerque Journal)
-- Political action committees that back tea party candidates are much better at paying their own consultants than they are at funneling cash to candidates. After the Tea Party Patriots promised to put its money where its mouth was in backing Kentucky Senate candidate Matt Bevin (R), the group sent $56,000 in mailers to voters -- less than half the amount they paid Jenny Beth Martin, the group's president, in consulting fees. Less than one-fifth of money spent by six tea party groups has gone to actual, real life candidates. (Washington Post)
-- Stock futures are up in premarket trading after U.S. markets took a hit on Friday. Asian markets traded lower today, but European markets are up. (CNN)
C1: The long reads you'll need to check out before tonight's cocktail party.
-- "In the early going in races across the country, Democrats and Republicans alike are airing campaign ads that are all about women — how well they know them, how well they have treated or would treat them, whether they care about issues women care about, even if they are one."
-- How much does the gender gap matter? Consider last week's Quinnipiac poll in Colorado: Sen. Mark Udall (D) and Rep. Cory Gardner (R) were virtually tied, 45-44. Udall led among women by 17; Gardner led among men by 15. More on candidates explicitly targeting women voters from The Washington Post.
Attn Matt Drudge: Things conservatives will get outraged by today.
-- House Republican Conference Chairwoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers made waves late last week in an interview with her hometown newspaper when she said the Affordable Care Act is unlikely to be repealed. "We need to look at reforming the exchanges," McMorris Rodgers said. (Spokane Spokesman-Review) Her comments led Drudge all weekend. "These people need to go," wrote Gateway Pundit Jim Hoft, in a post representative of much of the conservative blogosphere.
-- Chayo Mexican Kitchen & Tequila Bar, a new hotspot on the Las Vegas Strip, is dropping Casamigos tequila from its shelves after a dispute over Obamacare. The restaurant's owners said it would stop serving the tequila, which is partially owned by actor George Clooney, after Clooney and casino magnate Steve Wynn got into a shouting match over the Affordable Care Act earlier this month. The owners say they stand by Wynn. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Attn HuffPo: What outrages liberals today
-- Major corporations that back sweeping pension reforms will host an all-expense paid conference for judges in Charleston, S.C., next week. The funders include the Charles G. Koch Foundation, the Chamber of Commerce, the American Petroleum Institute, ExxonMobil, Google, Wal-Mart and others. Federal judges who attend privately funded education seminars don't have to disclose their attendance for a month. The event is being put on by George Mason University's law school. (Center for Public Integrity)