-- What's In The Bill: $1.2 billion for agencies to deal with the influx of undocumented children crossing the Southern border. $5.4 billion to fight Ebola in West Africa. $521 billion in military spending and an additional $64 billion for the fight against the Islamic State, which doesn't count against budget caps. A 1 percent pay raise for military service members and federal employees. (Washington Post)
-- More Goodies: The CFTC and the SEC both got budget increases of more than 10 percent. The bill includes $50 million to address the drought in the West, a top priority of Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.). NIH gets a $150 million increase, to $30.1 billion. The National Science Foundation got a $172 million raise, to $7.3 billion. (Politico) A Republican provision restricts the Clean Water Act, though Democrats blocked riders restricting EPA actions on greenhouse gases. (Roll Call) The bill allocates $73 million to strengthen a federal database aimed at blocking gun sales to the mentally ill and other prohibited buyers. It also extends the ban on state sales taxes on internet sales. (The Hill)
-- Even More: The Hyde Amendment blocking federal funding for most abortions is in the bill. So is $1.3 billion in military aid for Egypt. There's also enough money to implement recommendations from the Benghazi Accountability Review Board, and a ban on spending on a big new embassy in London. The FDA gets a $37 million raise, most of it for the Food Safety Modernization Act. The Obama administration is banned from transferring detainees from Guantanamo to the U.S. The National Museum of African American History gets $24 million. (Washington Post)
-- What's Not In The Bill: The IRS will take a $345.6 million budget cut. The EPA's budget goes down $60 million. (Washington Post) A rider striking school lunch standards backed by First Lady Michelle Obama didn't make it, though a compromise giving school districts more flexibility made it in. (Politico)
-- More Omissions: A compromise between Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas) on the Terrorism Risk Insurance Act will not be in the cromnibus; the House plans to vote on the compromise separately. There's still controversy over a modification to Dodd-Frank. (New York Times) Vice President Joe Biden gets a pay freeze. There's no new money for Libya until the Secretary of State confirms the country is cooperating with the investigation into the attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi. The Palestinian Authority will get cut off if it becomes a member of the U.N. or its agencies without Israel's sign-off. There's a prohibition on taxpayer dollars being used to fund portraits of executive branch employees and lawmakers. And Race to the Top is getting cut. (Washington Post)
-- The Riders: A rider limiting D.C.'s legalized marijuana law made it into the bill. The rider will allow legalized possession of marijuana, but it will prohibit District officials from creating the regulatory system for legal sales and taxation of the drug. (Washington Post) Another rider would allow individuals to give three times the annual cap on donations to national political party committees for conventions, building expenses and recounts. That means a donor who gives, say, the DNC or RNC the maximum $32,400 this year would be able to donate a total of $324,000 on top of that, for a total of almost $1.3 million per couple over the next two years. (Washington Post)
-- The Backstory: The bill was delayed when Sen. Pat Leahy (D-Vt.) objected to an increase in donation limits to political parties (not the same as the rider that was included). In retaliation, sources said Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell threatened to block funds for the office of the President Pro Tempore Emeritus, the office Leahy is about to assume. The PPTE position won't be funded next year. (Washington Post) McConnell aides said he was not behind the increased donation limit rider that was included. (Washington Post)
-- The Endgame: Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said he plans to try to limit debate on the defense policy bill on Wednesday, setting up a possible Thursday vote. The Senate also has to deal with retroactive tax extenders. (Roll Call) The House Rules Committee will meet today at 3 p.m. to debate the cromnibus, with a vote of the full House expected Thursday. (Roll Call) The Post's Ed O'Keefe reports the House will pass the 2-3 day stopgap Thursday morning, giving the Senate until Sunday to act on the larger bill.
-- Winners: The RNC and DNC, who now have a way to pay for conventions (Corollary: The DSCC, which is $20.4 million in debt, has an easier path out of the hole). The Capitol Dome, which gets $21 million in restoration funding. Democrats who blocked curbs on the EPA's power. Republicans who cut the EPA's budget.
-- Losers: The EPA, which now has to do more with less (see above). Nevada politicians who keep trying to kill Yucca Mountain. Funding for the proposed nuclear waste repository remains, in case the feds ever decide it's a safe storage spot. The IRS, which takes a big budget hit. The EPA, which has been cut 21 percent since Republicans retook the House. D.C., which apparently is exempt from the 10th Amendment.
A1: The stories you need to read before your first conference call.
-- Highlights of coverage of the Senate's report on CIA interrogation techniques released yesterday: The report includes "dozens of cases" in which the CIA allegedly deceived everyone from Congress to the White House and even their own colleagues over what the interrogation program was achieving. One memo relays instructions from the White House to keep then-Secretary of State Colin Powell in the dark. (Washington Post) One email shows the CIA's head of interrogations calling the program a train wreck "waiting to happen," as far back as January 2003. Former President George W. Bush and former Vice President Dick Cheney said the program was essential to the effort to find Osama bin Laden. (New York Times)
-- The report is largely the product of Senate Intelligence Committee staffers Daniel Jones, a former FBI analyst, and Alissa Starzak, a former CIA lawyer, who read thousands of cables beginning after Democrats took control of the Senate in 2007. Starzak once worked for John Rizzo, the CIA's general counsel; Jones was once on Time's list of 100 most eligible bachelors. They did most of their work in the "cave," a secret location in Northern Virginia where the CIA had established a working space to review agency documents. (Washington Post)
-- In testimony to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Secretary of State John Kerry asked lawmakers on Tuesday not to prohibit the deployment of ground troops in Iraq and Syria as part of the U.S. response to the Islamic State. President Obama has said he has no intention of deploying ground troops, but "that does not mean we should preemptively bind the hands of the commander in chief -- or our commanders in the field -- in responding to scenarios and contingencies that are impossible to foresee." (Washington Post)
-- The Republican Party is benefitting from a post-election bounce. A new Bloomberg poll shows 45 percent of Americans say they have a favorable view of the GOP, with 47 percent viewing them unfavorably. Democrats have a 41 percent favorable, 50 percent unfavorable rating, the lowest numbers in 5 years. But voters say, by a 55 percent to 34 percent margin, that Republicans are driven more by antagonism toward President Obama than by their own vision for the country. (Bloomberg)
-- Front Pages: WaPo banner: "A grim portrait of CIA tactics after 9/11." NYT banner: "SENATE PANEL FAULTS C.I.A. OVER BRUTALITY AND DECEIT IN TERRORISM INTERROGATIONS." USA Today banner: "'AN UGLY TRUTH': CIA torture was brutal, ineffective, report says." LA Times two column lede: "Panel faults CIA for lies and torture." WSJ two columns: Senate Report Blasts CIA on Interrogations."
National Roundup: What's happening outside the Beltway.
-- WH'16: The list of Republican policy experts advising Gov. Rick Perry (R) in advance of his likely 2016 campaign is stunningly long. Organized by Jeff Miller, Perry's top political strategist, and former AEI economist Abby McCloskey, Perry has sat down within the last month with folks like Avik Roy, Lanhee Chen, Tom Pyle, Greg Mankiw, Glenn Hubbard and Tamar Jacoby. And that's just about one-tenth of the list. (Washington Post) Former Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Pa.) has a list of 150,000 activists on whom to call for his second White House bid. A recent push against President Obama's executive actions on immigration grew his email list by 30,000 names. (Washington Post) Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) met with casino magnate Sheldon Adelson on Tuesday. Adelson was a big donor to Walker's three campaigns over the last four years. (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)
-- Kansas: Establishment Republicans are looking for a challenger to take on Rep. Tim Huelskamp (R) in 2016. Huelskamp beat an under-funded challenger in 2014 by just 10 points. Party leaders are looking at state Sen. Garrett Love (R), 26, who took Huelskamp's state Senate seat when Huelskamp moved to Congress. Local OB-GYN Roger Marshall (R) and real estate businessman Tracey Mann (R) are also mentioned. Any consensus candidate is likely to have support from businessman Cecil O'Brate, who spent a quarter million dollars against Huelskamp in this year's primary. (Roll Call)
-- Colorado: Colorado banking regulators have granted a charter to Fourth Corner Credit Union, an institution that hopes to be the first to accept deposits from marijuana distributors. Most banks have refused to accept those deposits because marijuana is still illegal at the federal level. Fourth Corner will open once the Federal Reserve issues it a master account number. (USA Today)
-- Oregon: A Multnomah County judge has rejected efforts to prevent Oregon from certifying election results showing a measure to require labeling of genetically modified foods losing by just a handful of votes. Supporters of the GMO labeling proposal argued Multnomah unfairly rejected 4,600 ballots because of mismatched signatures. The proposal lost by just 812 votes out of 1.5 million cast. Supporters will have to file a challenge in Marion County (Salem) Court. (Oregonian)
-- Montana: A new dress code that prohibits female lawmakers from wearing leggings and open-toed sandals and warns them to "be sensitive to skirt lengths and necklines" on the floor of the state legislature has angered members of the Democratic minority, which is mostly made up of women. Incoming state House Speaker Austin Knudsen (R) says the rules are taken almost verbatim from the Wyoming state legislature. The proposal also bars male lawmakers from wearing jeans. (Reuters) Having just come from the Western Governors Association, we wonder whether Montana Gov. Steve Bullock (D) or Wyoming Gov. Matt Mead (R) own anything but jeans. We're kidding -- kind of.
DC Digest: What's on tap today in DC.
-- President Obama delivers remarks at the White House Summit on Early Education, where he'll announce new campaigns to expand preschool programs in low-income communities. He'll head to Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling in the afternoon to deliver toys and gifts to the Marine Corps' Toys for Tots campaign.
-- Vice President Biden meets Estonian Prime Minister Taavi Roivas in the Roosevelt Room this morning. He lunches with President Obama before delivering remarks to the early education group in the South Court Auditorium this afternoon. Tonight, he heads to New York City to give remarks to the Vital Voices "Voices of Solidarity" Award Ceremony. He heads back to D.C. tonight.
-- The House continues its consideration of non-controversial bills under suspension while the Rules Committee meets to debate the cromnibus. The spending bill is likely to hit the House floor on Thursday.
-- The Senate meets at 9:30 a.m. to continue consideration of the National Defense Authorization Act today. A cloture vote is expected today, with passage likely tomorrow.
-- Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said Tuesday the upper chamber will consider nine judicial nominees and nominees to serve as Social Security administrator, Surgeon General and head of ICE. Reid said he had given a list of those nominees he wants to clear before the end of this Congress to Republican leaders, and "it's up to them" to decide how long Congress stays. (Politico)
-- Incoming House Oversight Committee chairman Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) has asked committee staffers to reapply for their jobs, an effort to carve a clean break from outgoing chair Darrell Issa (R-Calif.). Chaffetz has already tapped Podesta Group principal Sean McLaughlin and former Tom Coburn counsel Andrew Dockham for top staff spots. (Politico)
-- D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray (D) is dropping a request to shut down part of I-395 for a year and a half to expedite a major construction project after local complaints. DDOT continues to support closing one of the highway's ramps, thought the region's congressional delegation has objected. (Washington Post)
B1: Business, politics and the business of politics
-- Harry Reid blames the rollout of the Affordable Care Act for Democrats' losses in 2014. "We never recovered from the Obamacare rollout," Reid said in an interview. "I’m not going to beat up on Obama. The rollout didn’t go well. We never recovered from that." He insisted he'll run for re-election in 2016, and he said chief of staff David Krone hasn't yet told him he'll leave in the new Congress. On whether he's worried about whether Gov. Brian Sandoval (R) will run to replace him: "Brian Sandoval and I have a good relationship; if he wants to run, it’s a free country, let him run." (Politico)
-- The surge of oil and gas production in the U.S. will drive GDP up by 1 percent by 2040, according to a new study from the CBO. The study estimates U.S. tax revenue will be about $35 billion higher in 2020 and even higher than that 20 years later than it would have been without shale development. (Reuters)
-- Stock futures are barely down in pre-bell trading after a mixed day on Wall Street Tuesday. The Nikkei fell more than 2 percentage points Wednesday, but European markets are trading higher before their close. (CNN)
C4: The comics page, fun things to read when you're bored at work
-- Bill Clinton is famous for his mulligans on the golf course -- or, as he called them, presidential pardons. Does President Obama fib about his golf game? Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.), who golfed with Obama last year, says Obama had an off day that day. "I know what he said his handicap is," Chambliss said. "He didn't play his handicap." (Washington Post)
-- Illinois Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka (R) has died, just a day after suffering a stroke. Topinka was admitted to the hospital Tuesday, where she lost consciousness. She was pronounced dead just after 2 a.m. local time. (Capitol Fax) Rich Miller: "Damn, I'm gonna miss that woman."
Attn Matt Drudge: Things conservatives will get outraged by today.
-- Plenty of fodder for Fox News in the cromnibus: There's no effort to defund the Affordable Care Act, Obama's executive actions on immigration or the EPA's rules on carbon emissions.
Attn HuffPo: What outrages liberals today
-- Plenty of fodder for MSNBC in the cromnibus: The Hyde Amendment survives (it was never going away anyhow), the 10th Amendment apparently doesn't extend to the District of Columbia because a legislator from the Eastern Shore of Maryland knows better than the citizens of D.C., and there's NO PAY RAISE FOR SAD JOE BIDEN!!!