-- Another provision drawing fire is a significant change in labor law that would permit multiemployer pension plans to cut benefits to current retirees. The AARP and labor unions objected to the agreement, spearheaded by Reps. John Kline (R-Minn.) and George Miller (D-Calif.), which would allow pension funds in extreme financial distress to make the cuts. (Associated Press)
-- The Supreme Court ruled Tuesday that workers who have to wait to pass through security checks at the end of their shifts do not have to be paid for that time. In a unanimous decision, the Court reversed a 9th Circuit ruling in favor of an Amazon contractor's employees in Nevada. Justice Clarence Thomas, writing for the Court, said the screenings were not the "principal activity" for which workers were hired, citing the Portal-to-Portal Act. (Associated Press)
-- The House on Wednesday passed a measure extending the Terrorism Risk Insurance Program through 2020 by a 417-7 margin. The compromise extension, negotiated by House Financial Services Committee chairman Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas) and Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), includes a provision that would end a requirement under Dodd-Frank that non-financial "end users" follow the same regulations as big banks. The White House said Wednesday it "strongly opposes" that provision, though it did not issue a veto threat. (The Hill)
-- Police in Hong Kong dismantled the last barricades at the main pro-democracy protest site on Thursday and began arresting activists after more than two months of unrest. The Hong Kong government has refused to make concessions to protesters, who want an open elections process to replace Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying in 2017. (Washington Post)
-- A major winter storm will hit California today, where officials are preparing for power outages, floods and mudslides. It's expected to be the biggest storm to hit the California coast since 2008, a "Pineapple Express" that sweeps in from Hawaii sometimes referred to as a "horizontal hurricane." The state Department of Water Resources and the National Weather Service expect a series of floods in major rivers in the northern part of the state. (Sacramento Bee)
-- Two years after the deadly shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Conn., a new survey finds a majority of Americans say it's more important to protect the right to own firearms than it is to control gun ownership. The Pew survey shows 52 percent say it's more important to protect rights, while 46 percent say it's more important to control ownership. Support for gun rights has increased 7 points since January 2013, after President Obama pushed his expanded background check proposal. (Pew Research Center)
-- Front Pages: WaPo one-column lede: "Spending bill draws the ire of liberals." NYT two columns: "C.I.A. First Planned Jails Abiding by U.S. Standards." WSJ leads with two insider trading convictions overturned by a federal appeals court. Shot: USA Today banner: "Falling oil threatens recovery." Chaser: LA Times below the fold: "Falling gas prices may boost the U.S. economy."
National Roundup: What's happening outside the Beltway.
-- WH'16: The State Department has missed a handful of deadlines to turn over documents requested by the AP and others under Freedom of Information Act requests relating to former Secretary Hillary Clinton's tenure at Foggy Bottom. Citizens United sued the State Department on Wednesday over flight records showing those who accompanied Clinton on overseas trips. The AP has asked for copies of her schedule, notes related to aide Huma Abedin, details on State's role in capturing Osama bin Laden and the NSA's surveillance practices and her role overseeing a big defense contractor. (Associated Press)
-- California: Supporters of a plastic bag ban passed by the legislature this year are kicking off a small advertising buy aimed at stopping plastics manufacturers from putting a referendum on the ballot to strip the bag ban. The industry has until the end of December to gather enough signatures to force the measure onto the ballot; some of the top plastics manufacturers have already donated a combined $2.7 million to the signature-gathering effort. (Sacramento Bee)
-- Louisiana: Rep. John Fleming (R) says he's "very interested" in replacing Sen. David Vitter (R) if Vitter wins the governorship next year. Fleming said he had spoken to Vitter, though he hasn't asked for a commitment. Fleming considered running against Sen. Mary Landrieu (D) this year, but he deferred to Rep. Bill Cassidy (R). (Roll Call)
-- Virginia: Republicans in the legislature and Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) are competing to see who can propose the lowest possible gift limits in the wake of former Gov. Bob McDonnell's (R) conviction. Republicans on Wednesday proposed a $100 cap on gifts and travel, lower than the $250 cap proposed by a McAuliffe-appointed panel. An hour later, McAuliffe issued a statement saying he too would support the $100 cap, which he had already imposed on his own administration. (Washington Post)
-- New Jersey: Trustees of the state's largest pension fund filed suit against Gov. Chris Christie (R) on Wednesday for cutting $2.4 billion in pension fund payments promised as part of a 2011 reform deal. The lawsuit asks a court to force Christie to make the payments. Christie used the money to balance budgets over two years after revenue fell short. (Newark Star Ledger) A Quinnipiac poll shows Christie's approval rating even, at 48 percent approve, 47 percent disapprove. (Newark Star Ledger)
-- Maine: Gov. Paul LePage (R) will propose cutting the state income tax and limiting the powers of public and private sector unions, his administration has hinted. With control of the state Senate in Republican hands, LePage will pitch right-to-work laws that will put Democrats on defense. Similar legislation was rejected when Republicans held majorities in both chambers in 2011 and 2012. (Portland Press-Herald)
DC Digest: What's on tap today in DC.
-- President Obama sits down with his Export Council in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building this morning to discuss trade. That's the only thing on his public schedule today.
-- Vice President Biden has breakfast with the President's Export Council, along with Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker, in the EEOB today. He has other unnamed meetings at the White House this afternoon.
-- The House meets today to take up the $1.01 trillion spending bill, one of its last duties before adjourning for the year. Votes are expected between 11 a.m. and 2:30 p.m.
-- The Senate continues consideration of the National Defense Authorization Act this morning, with a roll call vote on cloture scheduled for 10:30 a.m. Without an agreement between the majority and the minority, they could take up to 30 hours to debate the measure.
-- Obama announced a $1 billion public-private early childhood initiative on Wednesday aimed at boosting the number of children enrolled in preschool. The Department of Education awarded almost $250 million in grants to 18 states out of 36 that applied, and HHS sent another $500 million to 40 states to expand Early Head Start and child care programs for those under 4 years old. (Associated Press)
-- The IRS paid at least $6 billion in child tax credits in 2013 to people ineligible to receive them, according to Treasury's IG for tax administration. More than 36 million families claimed about $57 billion in child tax credits in 2013. An expanded child tax credit in the 2009 stimulus bill made more families eligible to claim it; the expansion expires at the end of 2017. (Associated Press)
B1: Business, politics and the business of politics
-- DSCC chairman Jon Tester (D-Mont.) officially took over on Monday aiming to retake control of the Senate in 2016. Republicans will defend seats in seven states President Obama won twice -- Illinois, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, New Hampshire, Ohio, Florida and Iowa. But Democrats will face entrenched incumbents like Sens. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) and Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) in those states, meaning picking up the five they need to get back to the majority is no small task. (Roll Call) We hear Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) is interviewing possible staffers.
-- Outgoing Rep. Paul Broun (R-Ga.) needs a job, and he's not being coy about it: "I could possibly go on some board of director position if offered, a paid position on a corporate board. I would entertain a leadership position in some organization that is out there today, and I’m just looking for whatever position is available," Broun told reporters. He also said he might found his own tea party group if Americans for Prosperity or FreedomWorks doesn't hire him. (Atlanta Journal-Constitution)
C1: The long reads you'll need to check out before tonight's cocktail party.
-- Incoming Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell will rely heavily on long-time Hill staffer Sharon Soderstrom, an aide to three straight Republican leaders. Soderstrom, McConnell's leadership chief of staff since 2010, started her Senate career in 1990 with Sen. Dan Coats (R-Ind.) before joining then-leader Trent Lott (R-Miss.) in 1999. Former McConnell chief Kyle Simmons, on McConnell's leadership strategy: "We started by recruiting Sharon first and then building around her." (Roll Call)
C4: The comics page, fun things to read when you're bored at work
-- Ten governors elected in November won with less than 50 percent of the vote, only the third time that's happened since 1900 (2002 and 2010 were the other two years). Govs. Bill Walker (I-Alaska), John Hickenlooper (D-Colo.), David Ige (D-Hawaii), John Kitzhaber (D-Ore.), Peter Shumlin (D-Vt.), Rick Scott (R-Fla.), Sam Brownback (R-Kan.) and Paul LePage (R-Maine) and Govs.-elect Gina Raimondo (D-R.I.) and Charlie Baker (R-Mass.) all won without a majority. (Smart Politics)
-- More statistics: More than 226 million Americans live in states in which one party controls both Senate seats. There are 123.7 million residents in states with two Democratic senators and 102.4 million folks in states with two Republican senators. Only 89.4 million live in states with one Democrat and one Republican (when you count Sens. Bernie Sanders and Angus King as Democrats). (Fair Vote)
Attn Matt Drudge: Things conservatives will get outraged by today.
-- Appearing in Nashville to tout his executive action on immigration on Tuesday, President Obama cited a saying found in "the good book" that isn't actually found in the Bible. "The good book says, don't throw stones in glass houses. Or make sure we're looking at the log in our eye before we are pointing out the mote in other folks' eyes," Obama said. There's no mention of glass houses in the Bible. That saying comes from Chaucer's "Troilus and Criseyde." (Washington Post)
Attn HuffPo: What outrages liberals today
-- Ohio lawmakers this week are trying to pass a strict abortion restriction bill in the waning days of the legislative session by tacking it onto another measure aimed at reducing the state's infant death rate. State Rep. Matt Lynch (R) offered the abortion bill, which would ban the procedure after six weeks, to a measure that's already passed the state Senate. Members are still using procedural moves to delay what could be their last vehicle for the abortion provision. (ThinkProgress)