-- Shimkus, whose Energy and Commerce subcommittee has jurisdiction over U.S. nuclear policy, landed in Las Vegas last night. This morning, he'll lead a delegation to Yucca Mountain, the proposed nuclear waste facility that Reid and the rest of the Nevada delegation has fought so hard to block. Shimkus, a longtime Yucca backer, tells us the House will pass appropriations language funding the site this year, though everyone involved says Reid will do everything he can to block that language.
-- What worries Nevadans are the cracks forming in the anti-Yucca monolith. Rep. Cresent Hardy (R-Nev.) said in an op-ed last month that the state should entertain the idea of hosting spent nuclear fuel (Local officials in Nye County, in Hardy's district, want the project to go forward). Hardy and Rep. Mark Amodei (R-Nev.) are both on Shimkus's delegation.
-- The Obama administration called for a ban on "conversion" therapies that promise to cure gay and transgender people. The statement came in response to a petition signed by more than 120,000 people after the suicide of an Ohio teenager who had been subjected to therapy. Two states and the District of Columbia have already banned the practice. (Washington Post)
-- President Obama made a late-night stop at the Bob Marley Museum in Kingston, Jamaica, located in the home Marley lived in from 1975 until he died in 1981. Obama told a museum staffer he still has all of Marley's albums. Obama meets with 15 heads of Caribbean governments today before heading to Panama for a summit on Friday. (Washington Post) Guess we know how Obama voted on D.C.'s marijuana initiative. Oh, wait, he's still a Chicago voter.
-- CIA director John Brennan says Iranian President Hassan Rouhani convinced Ayatollah Ali Khamenei that the nation's economy would collapse under Western sanctions unless they reached a nuclear deal. In comments made Tuesday at the Kennedy School of Government, Brennan said six years of tough sanctions put Iran's regime in jeopardy of collapse. Brennan also indirectly acknowledged that sabotage played a role in getting Iran back to the negotiating table. (New York Times)
-- Rouhani said earlier today that Iran would only sign a final nuclear deal if all sanctions imposed by foreign governments are lifted on the same day. The U.S. says the final agreement would phase out sanctions as Iran complies with elements of the deal. (Reuters) Rouhani also called for an end to the U.S.-backed bombing campaign against Houthi rebels in Yemen, a day after Iran dispatched two warships to the area, ostensibly to fight piracy in the Indian Ocean. (Washington Post)
-- Sen. Tom Cotton's (R-Ark.) assessment of a possible military strike against Iran: "It would be something more along the lines of what President Clinton did in December 1998 during Operation Desert Fox. Several days air and naval bombing against Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction facilities for exactly the same kind of behavior," he said Wednesday in an interview on the Family Research Council's radio show. (BuzzFeed)
-- The Secret Service placed senior supervisor Xavier Morales, a manager in the security clearance division, on leave after a female employee accused him of assaulting her at agency headquarters last week. The woman alleged Morales began making advances during a party at Capitol City Brewing Company on March 31, then grabbed her later that night back at headquarters. Morales was one of the first agents promoted by new agency Director Joseph Clancy when he took over. (Washington Post)
-- Front Pages: WaPo, Los Angeles Times and USA Today all lead with the conviction of Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, found guilty on all 30 counts. NYT reports on fallout from the police shooting in North Charleston, S.C. WSJ reports on mergers, a sign of optimism in the economy. New Hampshire Union Leader, below the fold: "Paul woos NH in first day as an official candidate."
White House 2016
-- Cruz: Super PACs backing Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) expect to have $31 million in the bank by Friday. The groups don't have to report until July, and the eye-popping numbers don't include contributions from some of Cruz's biggest donors. (Bloomberg)
-- Rubio: A super PAC backing Sen. Marco Rubio (R), Conservative Solutions PAC, is launching today. Long-time South Carolina strategist Warren Tompkins will run the group, with Jon Lerner handling polling, Jeff Sadosky running communications and Jon Graham raising the money.
-- Clinton: Hillary Clinton's senior staff is working out of a 7-by-10 office suite in midtown Manhattan until they move into their real office in Brooklyn. Campaign manager Robby Mook makes phone calls in the supply closet. (Los Angeles Times) Google's director of product management for civil innovation and social impact Stephanie Hannon will become the campaign's chief technology officer. She'll oversee engineers, developers and consultants to develop web sites, apps and other technology. (Washington Post) Which is greater, percentage-wise: The pay cut Hannon is taking, or the number of letters she's shaving off her title?
-- Jindal: Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal (R) has hired his first campaign staffer in New Hampshire. Henry Goodwin, who ran communications for 2014 gubernatorial candidate Walt Havenstein (R), will play a similar role on Jindal's team. Jindal sent three staffers to Iowa last week. (Boston Globe)
-- Paul: Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) spent his first full day on the campaign trail sidestepping questions on foreign policy and abortion, while giving Savannah Guthrie tips on how to conduct an interview. (Washington Post) Paul is in Charleston, S.C., today, where he'll rally in front of the U.S.S. Yorktown. He'll be joined by Rep. Mark Sanford (R-S.C.) and state Sen. Tom Davis (R). (Columbia State)
-- Today on the Trail: Jindal is in Iowa. So are Cruz and former Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley (D) (though probably not together). Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) is in New Hampshire, touring a ball bearing plant with Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.).
Outside The Beltway:
-- Nevada: Former Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto (D) will run for retiring Sen. Harry Reid's (D) seat in 2016, she said Wednesday. Masto left her job as executive vice chancellor of Nevada's System of Higher Education on Tuesday to launch her campaign. (Associated Press) Dems just landed a top-tier candidate, the one Reid wanted to replace him from the beginning.
-- California: Rep. Lois Capps (D) will retire next year after 17 years representing her Santa Barbara-area district. Her daughter, Laura Capps, is likely to run for the seat, but she won't be alone: Assemblyman Das Williams (D), Santa Barbara Mayor Helene Schneider (D) and county supervisor Salud Carbajal (D) are all contemplating bids. Actor Chris Mitchum (R), who lost to Capps by just four points in 2014, is thinking about a second try. (@AmyEWalter, Roll Call, Washington Post) President Obama won Capps's district 54 percent to 43 percent in 2012.
-- New Jersey: The federal investigation into lane closings at the George Washington Bridge is likely to lead to indictments as early as next week. Subpoenas indicate the investigation now includes conflicts of interest and bribery. Gov. Chris Christie (R) has delayed his own presidential campaign as the investigation has dragged on. Investigators are also looking into whether former Port Authority chairman David Samson pressured United Airlines to maintain a once-a-week flight from Newark to an airport close to his weekend home in South Carolina. (New York Times)
-- Kansas: Gov. Sam Brownback (R) signed legislation on Tuesday banning a type of abortion known as dilation and evacuation, a procedure doctors commonly use after 16 weeks, when medical abortions or other surgical procedures are no longer viable. The procedure is only used in about 9 percent of abortions. Abortion rights groups said they planned to challenge the new law in court. (Washington Post)
-- President Obama begins his day with a guest book signing at Jamaica House in Kingston. He'll sit down with Prime Minister Portia Simpson-Miller for a bilateral meeting before participating in a meeting with Caribbean Community leaders at the University of the West Indies. He'll hold a town hall meeting with young leaders before laying a wreath at National Heroes' Park War Memorial. Obama takes off this evening for Panama City, where he'll meet Embassy staff and their families tonight.
-- Vice President Biden meets with senior advisors this morning before addressing the National Defense University on U.S. policy in Iraq. This afternoon, he and Dr. Jill Biden head to San Francisco, where he'll attend a DCCC fundraiser. Jill Biden will visit De Anza College in Cupertino to promote community colleges.
-- The House and Senate have just a few days left to chill out before coming back.
-- President Obama talks trash. Like, a lot of it. Washington Wizards star John Wall said Obama made sure Paul Pierce knew it when he made the game-winning shot in a friendly pick-up game Monday at the White House. "I'm clutch, I'm clutch," Obama taunted Pierce. Wall said Obama had "the weirdest jump shot release." (FishbowlDC)
-- Get your cameras out: Peak bloom of the cherry blossoms around the Tidal Basin comes this weekend. The National Park Service said its indicator tree, which blooms a week ahead of the rest of the trees, peaked last weekend. This weekend's weather is expected to be partly sunny with spring-like highs. (Washington Post) That big blot on the weather radar isn't rain, it's a horde of tourists rushing, fanny packs first, toward the Jefferson.
Business, Politics and the Business of Politics
-- The Changing Business of Politics: Streaming services are becoming a huge threat to small cable channels as consumers look to shrink their bills. MSNBC, History, Bravo, BET, USA and Comedy Central have all seen their audiences fall by double digits over the last year. Viacom, which owns Nickelodeon, MTV and Comedy Central, is starting its own streaming service, but cable networks are increasingly dropping channels that don't pull in big ratings. (Washington Post) Who's going to be the first candidate to advertise on a streaming service?
-- CBS's Bob Schieffer will retire this summer after 46 years with the network. CBS president David Rhodes is considering Major Garrett, Norah O'Donnell, John Dickerson, CNN's Jake Tapper and ABC's Jonathan Karl as possible replacements on "Face the Nation." (Politico)
-- Stock futures are down a hair before the bell today after the Dow tacked on 27 points, or a little more than one-tenth of a percent, on Wednesday. Asian and European markets are all trading higher today. (CNN)
-- Seattle is the most liberal city in Washington. Tiny Addy, on the Okanagan Plateau, is the most conservative. Miami Gardens votes most reliably left in Florida, while Baker, in the Panhandle, is in the GOP's pocket. Check out your state's most liberal and most conservative cities and towns here.
-- The Golden Bear's Still Got It: Jack Nicklaus hit a hole in one on the par 3 fourth hole at Augusta National on Wednesday. Click here for the best golf video you'll see today.
Attn Fox News
-- The University of Michigan has reversed its decision to cancel a screening of American Sniper. The university's Center for Campus Involvement initially nixed the screening after 300 students complained about what they called the film's anti-Muslim message. But university vice president Royster Harper called that decision a mistake; the movie will be shown as originally scheduled on Friday. The Center initially said it had cancelled the film because "the impact of the content was harmful, and made students feel unsafe and unwelcomed at our program." (The College Fix)
-- Voters in Springfield, Mo., on Tuesday repealed an ordinance providing gays and lesbians with protections against discrimination in housing and hiring. Preliminary results show the repeal passing with 51.4 percent of the vote. The Springfield city council passed the anti-discrimination ordinance in October. (Associated Press)