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A1: Today's top stories.
-- Welcome To The 114th: The new Congress meets for the first time today, with debates over the Keystone XL pipeline in the Senate and a non-controversial veterans jobs bill in the House kicking off the action. Senate Democrats plan early tests of incoming Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's pledge to allow amendments to Republican legislation. House Republicans will move quickly to their own Keystone vote and a debate over a spending bill for the Department of Homeland Security. (Washington Post)
-- House Speaker John Boehner is likely to win the 218 votes he needs to secure a third term, though at least 11 conservative Republicans have said they won't vote for him. Two more -- freshman Reps. Jody Hice (R-Ga.) and John Ratcliffe (R-Texas) -- said before Election Day they wouldn't vote for Boehner, though they haven't said anything lately. Reps. Steve Pearce (R-N.M.) and Justin Amash (R-Mich.) voted against Boehner in 2013, but they haven't made their intentions known this year. Rebels would need 29 Republicans to deny Boehner a win on the first ballot. (Washington Post)
-- The Supreme Court will meet Friday to consider whether to take up cases that could resolve Circuit Court disagreements over same-sex marriage, the same day another appeals court considers marriage bans in Texas, Mississippi and Louisiana. Justices will consider appeals from five states where district court judges have upheld marriage bans. Florida this week becomes the 36th state where gay marriage is legal, meaning more than 70 percent of Americans live in states where same sex couples can wed. (Washington Post)
-- The Pentagon is preparing the release of two more groups of Guantanamo detainees in the next two weeks, though officials won't say how many prisoners are involved. President Obama expects Defense Secretary nominee Ashton Carter to move more aggressively to empty the prison than outgoing Secretary Chuck Hagel did; Obama's goal is to reduce Gitmo's prison population to 60 to 80 people, a point at which keeping it open would no longer make economic sense. There are 127 prisoners remaining in the facility, down from a high of 680 in 2003. (New York Times)
-- A winter weather advisory is in effect for the D.C. area, in case you haven't looked out your window yet. Snow accumulation is expected to continue through commuting hours and last until mid-to-late morning. Temperatures were around 20 degrees as of 7 a.m. The federal government is open, but check school closings here. (Capital Weather Gang)
-- Front Pages: WaPo leads with same-sex marriage kicking off in Florida, with a left-column preview of Boehner's day ahead. NYT leads with falling arrest numbers in New York City, where police issued 90 percent fewer tickets than the week before two officers were shot. LA Times highlights the beginning of Gov. Jerry Brown's fourth term (see below). WSJ banner as oil falls below $50 a barrel: "Stocks Slide on Oil, Economic Fears." USA Today banners the tragic deaths of two up-and-coming U.S. ski prospects in an avalanche in Austria.
Senate Superlatives: Most likely to ___?
-- Congress is totally like high school. So we asked a handful of Senate watchers to tell us which freshman is most likely to achieve, positively or not, in the coming session. Here are the results of our completely unscientific, just-for-fun Senate superlatives poll:
-- Most Likely To Become A Member of Leadership: Sens. Cory Gardner (R-Colo.), Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), Tom Tillis (R-N.C.).
-- Most Likely To Give First Maiden Speech: Sens. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.), James Lankford (R-Okla.).
-- Most Likely To Be A Behind-The-Scenes Contributor: Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.), Thom Tillis (R-N.C.), James Lankford (R-Okla.).
-- Most Likely To Be A Problem For Mitch McConnell: Sens. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.), David Perdue (R-Ga.), Mike Rounds (R-S.D.) (That last one surprised us, but more than one person pointed out that Rounds isn't happy with the NRSC).
-- Best Messenger: Almost unanimously, Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Colo.).
-- Most Likely To Get Bored After One Term (and/or run for governor): Sens. David Perdue (R-Ga.), Mike Rounds (R-S.D.).
-- Loneliest: Sen. Gary Peters (D-Mich.), the only rookie Democrat. Take heart, Sen. Peters! McConnell was one of only two Republicans in the class of 1984, and Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) was the only Republican freshman in the class of 2006.
-- Most Likely To Get Embroiled In Scandal: Sen. Michael Grimm (R-N.Y.). We kid, we kid.
National Roundup: What's happening outside the Beltway.
-- WH'16: Jeb Bush will host a fundraiser for his new leadership PAC in Greenwich, his dad's old hometown, on Wednesday. The event is being organized by Craig and Debbie Walker Stapleton; he's a former U.S. Ambassador under George W. Bush, and she's one of Jeb's cousins. (CT Politics) New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) will take an RGA victory lap in the next few weeks, attending swearing-in ceremonies for Govs. Rick Scott (R-Fla.), Charlie Baker (R-Mass.), John Kasich (R-Ohio), Bruce Rauner (R-Ill.), Nikki Haley (R-S.C.) and Terry Branstad (R-Iowa). (Newark Star-Ledger)
-- New York: Rep. Chris Gibson (R-N.Y.) will announce his retirement today, the day he's sworn in to his third term. Sources say he's thinking about a statewide bid in 2018. (Roll Call) Rep. Michael Grimm (R) formally resigned his seat Monday, setting the stage for New York's sixth special House election in six years. State law mandates an election between 70 and 80 days of a vacancy being declared, but Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) has plenty of latitude on when he declares the vacancy. (Roll Call) So that means a special sometime after March 16, but probably before the end of that month.
-- California: Gov. Jerry Brown (D), who was sworn in to his record fourth term on Monday, used his State of the State address Monday to push an increase in renewable energy use to 50 percent of consumption levels in the next 15 years. Brown said the state can reduce petroleum use in vehicles, double energy efficiency in existing buildings and make heating fuels cleaner by 2030. (Associated Press)
-- More California: How's this for heading off speculation about a coming collision of political titans-to-be: Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) was sworn in to a second term on Monday by Attorney General Kamala Harris (D). Rumors abound that the two are headed for a showdown, either over an open Senate seat in 2016 or the governor's mansion in 2018. They share a team of political consultants, the San Francisco-based SCN Strategies. (Sacramento Bee)
-- North Carolina: Gov. Pat McCrory (R) says he will speak with President Obama and Sens. Richard Burr (R) and Thom Tillis (R) today in Washington to discuss shaping a state-specific Medicaid expansion plan, his latest hint that he's interested in accepting federal money. About 320,000 low-income residents would be eligible for the expanded program, if North Carolina uses the 138 percent of the poverty level threshold. A study by two pro-ObamaCare foundations estimates the state stands to lose $51 billion through 2022 if it doesn't take federal money. (Associated Press)
-- Massachusetts: Gov.-elect Charlie Baker (R) says he supports the creation of a regulatory framework to govern ride-sharing services like Uber, Lyft and Sidecar. Outgoing Gov. Deval Patrick (D) issued new regulations for those companies on Friday, to the loud objections of the taxi industry, which says they unfairly benefit the new companies. Patrick's rules would require ride-share companies to be certified by the Department of Public Utilities, along with insurance and background check requirements. (Boston Herald)
-- Virginia: Former Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) will be sentenced today in a Richmond courthouse, four months after being convicted of 11 corruption charges. Sentencing guidelines recommend 121 to 151 months in federal prison, though McDonnell's attorneys have sought community service. U.S. District Court Judge James Spencer will hand down the sentence at 10 a.m. Maureen McDonnell will be sentenced Feb. 20. (Richmond Times-Dispatch, Washington Post)
DC Digest: What's on tap today in DC.
-- President Obama holds a bilateral meeting this morning with Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto in the Oval Office, before hosting Pena Nieto for a working lunch. This afternoon, he'll meet with Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper (D), Utah Gov. Gary Herbert (R) -- the chair and vice chair of the National Governors Association -- and other governors in the Oval Office. Later, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel swings by for his own Oval sit-down.
-- Vice President Biden starts his day hosting the second U.S.-Mexico High-Level Economic Dialogue in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building, where he and Mexican Finance Secretary Luis Videgaray will deliver remarks. Biden heads to the Capitol at noon to swear in new members of the Senate, then he's back in the Oval Office for the meeting with Hagel.
-- The House convenes for the first time in the 114th Congress at noon for the formal swearing in and the roll call vote to elect a speaker. They'll consider H.R. 5, a resolution establishing the rules for the 114th Congress, and a bipartisan veterans jobs bill sponsored by Rep. Rodney Davis (R-Ill.) under suspension of those rules, before calling it a day. They're back tomorrow morning at 10 a.m.
-- The Senate comes back at noon, when all the new freshmen present their certificates of election and get sworn in by Vice President Biden. There's nothing beyond that formality on the calendar.
-- CIA Inspector General David Buckley is resigning effective Jan. 31, the agency said Monday. Buckley has been at the CIA for more than four years, and both the agency and officials on Capitol Hill said his departure has nothing to do with his investigation of the dispute between CIA and Senate aides over the handling of records of the CIA's detention and interrogation activities. (Reuters)
-- Marion Christopher Barry, son of the late D.C. mayor and council member, said Monday he will run for his father's old Ward 8 seat in an April 28 special election. Barry usually goes by Christopher, but he'll appear on the ballot as Marion C. Barry. (Washington Post)
Names To Know: The new Senate staffers you'll need to know.
-- A few weeks ago, we previewed the top staffers to incoming senators, with a few missing names. Here's the complete list, starting with the folks we missed on the first go-round:
-- Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) is bringing most of his House staff with him: Doug Coutts will remain chief of staff, Eliza Baker will become deputy chief, Lesley Nelms will become state director, and Jonny Hiler will remain legislative director. (Southwest Arkansas Times Record) Sen. Steve Daines (R-Mont.) is also bringing his House chief, Jason Thielman, with him to the Senate side. Wally Hsueh will be legislative director, Charles Robison will serve as state director, and Alee Lockman will continue as his comms director.
-- Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.) will keep Greg Slavonic on as chief of staff, and Michelle Altman as his legislative director. D.J. Jordan will leave the House Small Business Committee to take over as Lankford's comms director, and district director Mona Taylor is getting the promotion to state director. (House.gov) Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) will keep her chief of staff, Joel Brubaker, from her House days. Adam Tomlinson will serve as legislative director, Mary Elisabeth Eckerson will be state director, and Amy Graham has been hired as deputy communications director.
-- Sen. Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska) has hired former Department of Natural Resources commissioner Joe Balash to serve as chief of staff. Sullivan campaign spokesman Mike Anderson will play the same role in his Senate office. Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Colo.) is bringing his old House chief of staff Chris Hansen with him to the Senate. Natalie Farr, who replaced Hansen when he went to manage Gardner's campaign, will be deputy chief of staff.
-- Sen. David Perdue (R-Ga.) tapped Derrick Dickey, his campaign consultant, to be chief. Perdue's campaign spokeswoman Megan Whittemore will run communications in the Senate office. Sen. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) turned to NFIB vice president Lisa Goeas to run her Senate office as chief. Retired insurance executive Cam Sutton will be Ernst's state director, and NRSC press secretary Brook Hougesen will become her comms director.
-- Sen. Gary Peters (D-Mich.) is taking his old House chief, Eric Feldman, with him to the other side of the Capitol. Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.) has hired Heritage Foundation vice president Derrick Morgan to run his office. Sasse's campaign manager Tyler Grassmeyer and former Hill aide Shelly Blake will be deputy chiefs, and outgoing Sen. Mike Johanns's (R) legislative director Patrick Lehman will play the same role in Sasse's office.
-- Sen. Thom Tillis (R-N.C.) named Carleson Center for Public Policy executive director John Mashburn his chief of staff. Tillis's top aide in the state House, Chris Hayes, will be deputy chief, and Tillis's campaign manager Jordan Shaw will be state director. Sen. Mike Rounds (R-S.D.) picked his campaign manager and former gubernatorial chief of staff, Rob Skjonsberg, to run his Senate office. He hired AIPAC deputy director Gregg Rickmann to serve as legislative director and Natalie Krings, Johanns' communications director, to run his own comms shop.
B1: Business, politics and the business of politics
-- Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel is moving to save the University of Chicago's bid to host Obama's presidential library, scheduling two community hearings and securing long-term rights to land in Washington Park and Jackson Park, the two proposed locations. (Chicago Sun-Times) Our sources were convinced there was no way Rahm was going to let the hometown bid flop.
-- Dish Network is launching a new service that will allow viewers to live-stream a handful of popular channels, including ESPN, CNN and the Food Network, on tablets, laptops, smart phones and TVs, without paying a cable or satellite bill. The $20 monthly service, dubbed Sling TV, will debut sometime this month. Sony plans its own online viewing of its most popular channels. (Washington Post) Why the ESPN part matters: Sports are just about the only thing anyone watches live these days.
-- Stock futures are up this morning after major U.S. indices took a beating on Monday, when the Dow fell nearly 2 percentage points. The Nikkei was off more than 3 percent today, but European markets are mixed so far. (CNN)
C1: Take time to digest the long reads
-- "Palestinians have begun to translate a series of ... symbolic steps, culminating in last week’s move to join the International Criminal Court, into a strategy that has begun to create pressure on Israel. While many prominent Israelis have called for unilateral action to set the country’s borders, it is Palestinians who have gained political momentum with moves made outside of negotiations. The Palestinians are, in effect, establishing a legal state." (New York Times) A long-term story with huge geopolitical implications.
-- An internal memo authored by top Air Force officials warns the Pentagon's fleet of drones is being strained because of too many missions and too few pilots. Air Combat Command head Gen. Herbert "Hawk" Carlisle says in the memo to Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Welsh he is "extremely concerned" with the demand on the drone pilots. The Air Force has been forced to pluck students out of its schools for drone operators to man squadrons that are already flying combat missions over Iraq and Syria. (Daily Beast)
Attn Matt Drudge: What outrages conservatives today
-- How much fun will Drudge have with this one: "For years, Harvard’s experts on health economics and policy have advised presidents and Congress on how to provide health benefits to the nation at a reasonable cost. But those remedies will now be applied to the Harvard faculty, and the professors are in an uproar." (New York Times)
Attn HuffPo: What outrages liberals today
-- The number of states with at least half a dozen abortion restrictions on the books jumped from five in 2010 to 18 in 2014, according to a new report from the pro-choice Guttmacher Institute. Fifteen states passed 26 new abortion restrictions in 2014, which was actually a slower pace than the year before, when 70 new laws passed. (Washington Post)