House GOP Moves to Avoid Partial Shutdown

House Republicans “presented a plan for a stopgap bill that would fund the Department of Homeland Security for three weeks, raising hopes of averting a looming shutdown of the agency,” the Washington Post reports.

“Facing a Friday-night-into-Saturday-morning shutdown deadline, the plan might ultimately win support from lawmakers in both parties on Friday. But its passage would only continue a standoff between the House and the Senate over longer-term DHS funding.”

Politico: “The coming March logjam represents a major failure for the Republican Congress. GOP leaders vowed to avoid them, but legislative cliffs are back.”

Walker Plans Another Foreign Trip

“Just weeks after traveling to London, White House hopeful and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker announced a nine-day, three-nation trade mission to Western Europe,” the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports.

“As a governor, Walker’s natural weak point in a potential 2016 campaign has been a lack of foreign policy experience, and his taxpayer-funded trips abroad could provide either an answer to his critics or further confirm their doubts. So far, the Walker administration has not released the cost to taxpayers of the four-day trade trip to Great Britain.”

Reid Is Still Controlling the Agenda

Sen. Harry Reid’s (D-NV) “uncompromising posture during the flap over homeland security funding and his emerging plans for an upcoming fight over immigration make clear he’s doing little to change the hardball style that defined his tenure as majority leader. This despite losing control of the chamber after last fall’s Democratic debacle and tamping down a coup among centrists seeking his ouster,” Politico reports.

“The 75-year-old Reid, who may seek reelection next year and is in his second stint as minority leader, is betting that Republicans are so nervous about being blamed for a crisis in Washington — as they have been repeatedly before — that they will capitulate again. Naturally, his unyielding stance has maddened Republicans.”

More Unreported Gifts Found for Schock

Rep. Aaron Schock (R-IL) “attended dinner and drinks in 2011 at Windsor Castle, Buckingham Palace and at a swank nightclub London — and never disclosed receiving a single gift on his financial disclosure form,” Politico reports.

“Schock, a fourth-term Republican congressman with a prized seat on the Ways and Means Committee, has hired lawyers and a crisis communications firm amid a burgeoning scandal over his high-spending ways and potential misuse of official and campaign funds. His office said it is performing an internal audit of his official accounts in response to questions over whether he improperly spent money from his House office budget and failed to report gifts.”

GOP Hopefuls Court the Base

The Wall Street Journal reports “it wasn’t clear if any potential candidate was building particular momentum” at the Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington, DC.

“More obvious were signs of what the crowd, which tends to skew younger than the overall GOP electorate, doesn’t want: A centrist nominee, or someone who backs Common Core national education standards or liberalized immigration laws. For some, that disqualified Jeb Bush, a likely candidate who is widely viewed as one of the front-runners.”

Bush Enters the Lion’s Den

Jeb Bush “made certain that he has no plan to pander to his party’s conservative base in pursuit of the Republican nomination when he declared, ‘I’m not backing down from something that is a core belief. Are we all supposed to cower because at the moment people are upset about something? No way, no how,'” the Washington Post reports.

“Bush’s pledge will be tested, though, as he wades into the proverbial lion’s den Friday when he speaks at the Conservative Political Action Conference, an annual speechmaking festival that draws thousands of conservative activists to National Harbor outside of Washington.”

“After two bustling months spent shoring up his natural areas of strength — raising a mountain of cash from the GOP’s monied class, recruiting seasoned policy experts and political operatives, and charming old-guard opinion-makers — Bush is stepping into a new and potentially more perilous phase of his expected candidacy.”

Walker Compares Union Protests to ISIS

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) told conservatives that his experience with union protests has prepared him to confront terrorists, TPM reports.

Said Walker: “I want a commander-in-chief who will do everything in their power to ensure that the threat from radical Islamic terrorists do not wash up on American soil. We will have someone who leads and ultimately will send a message not only that we will protect American soil but do not take this upon freedom-loving people anywhere else in the world. We need a leader with that kind of confidence. If I can take on a 100,000 protesters, I can do the same across the world.”

Missouri Gubernatorial Candidate Dies In Apparent Suicide

Missouri state auditor Tom Schweich (R), a leading contender for the governor’s office in next year’s election, has died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports.

Politico: “The incident sent a shudder through Missouri government and political circles. Schweich had been in the early stages of an already-tense primary against Catherine Hanaway, a former state House speaker and U.S. attorney.”

Jindal Contradicted on Cause of Budget Crisis

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal (R) “has repeatedly claimed that Louisiana’s projected $1.6 billion financial shortfall in the next fiscal year is primarily due to falling oil prices, but the state’s own economist is saying — in no uncertain terms — that this is not the case,” the New Orleans Times Picayune reports.

“Unlike Jindal, Albrecht blamed the majority of the shortfall on Louisiana’s budgeting tactics over the last few years. He said Jindal and the Legislature have relied on piecemeal funding  sources — trusts, revenue from property sales and other things — that don’t replenish themselves year after year. This has lead to the financial crisis.”

The Toxic Consequences of Netanyahu’s Speech

Dan Drezner: “The thing about most foreign policy decision-making is that a lot of it is irrevocable. In some cases it’s literally impossible: The United States can’t un-invade Iraq, for example. In other cases, the cumulative effects of certain choices renders a particular policy essentially locked in. The United States can’t really renegotiate NAFTA or dramatically curtail its economic opening to China, for example…”

“This makes Netanyahu’s decision to deliver this speech all the more confusing. The marginal value-added of addressing Congress (as opposed to just AIPAC, which he was going to do anyway) is not that great… The speech is such an obvious effort by Netanyahu to bolster his domestic position that the head of Israel’s election commission has ruled that the speech will be broadcast on a five-minute delay to excise any blatant campaigning.”

“Benjamin Netanyahu is many things, but stupid is not one of them. Why is he pursuing the course of action he is pursuing despite the fretting of his national security team?”

Republicans Only Trust Fox News

Public Policy Polling: “The extreme polarization in what media outlets people trust continues this year. Fewer than 25% of Republicans trust ABC, CBS, Comedy Central, MSNBC, CNN, and NBC. They’re closely divided on PBS with 37% trusting it and 39% distrusting it. But really they just trust Fox News and nothing else with 66% saying they put their faith in it to just 25% who don’t.”

“It’s almost the opposite story when it comes to Democrats. Majorities of them trust ABC, CBS, CNN, MSNBC, NBC News, and PBS. And more of them than not (44/30) trust Comedy Central as well. The only outlet they don’t trust is Fox News, although 33% who do trust it is still more than the share of Republicans who trust any of the major networks.”

‘House of Cards’ Turns to Policy

House of Cards began as a fun-house-mirror reflection of Washington, an outlandish sendup decked out in the pinstripes-and-Prada props of real-life politics. This Netflix series about a conniving congressman wasn’t realistic, but it was sly and knowing enough to pass as a naughty behind-the-scenes peek at government,” the New York Times notes.

“Fittingly enough, the first several episodes of Season 3 are weighed down with the same burden that bedevils real politicians when they come to power: After all the campaign high jinks and maneuvering come to an end, it’s time to actually govern.”

“And policy is not nearly as sexy and exciting. As a result, the series, whose new episodes all debut on Friday, gets off to a surprisingly sluggish start. The pace picks up and the subplots thicken by the fourth episode, and by the fifth the series recaptures some of its early panache, but given that there are only about 13 hours per season, that’s quite a slow windup. Viewers who intend to feast on the entire season should beware: Before dessert, there’s a heavy, overcooked first course that is hard to swallow.”

Bush Is Running Like a Grown Up

Joe Klein: “In a week during which Rudolph Giuliani went crusader-­ballistic questioning President Obama’s ­patriotism—­indeed, questioning his ­upbringing—Jeb Bush gave a speech about foreign affairs, the third serious policy speech he’s given this winter. Giuliani got all the headlines, of course. That’s how you do it now: say something heinous and the world will beat a path to your door. And Bush’s speech wasn’t exactly a barn burner. His delivery was rushed and unconvincing, though he was more at ease during the question period. He was criticized for a lack of specificity. But Bush offered something far more important than specificity. He offered a sense of his political style and temperament, which in itself presents a grownup and civil alternative to the Giuliani-­style pestilence that has plagued the Republic for the past 25 years.”

“It has been the same in each of bush’s three big speeches. He is a political conservative with a moderate disposition. And after giving his ­speeches a close read, I find Bush’s disposition far more important than his position on any given issue. In fact, it’s a breath of fresh air. I disagree with his hard line toward Cuba and the Iran nuclear negotiations, and I look forward to hearing what he has to say about reforming Obama­care. His arguments so far merit consideration, even when one disagrees with them.”

Why Walker is the GOP Frontrunner

Steve Kornacki: “Going strictly by the poll numbers, no one is off to a better start than Scott Walker. And yes, it’s easy to dismiss this — it’s so early. There were polls that showed Herman Cain ahead last time! The establishment candidate always wins in the end! But there’s also a good case to be made that it’s much more than a fleeting blip and that Walker is a genuine contender for the GOP nomination — maybe even (gulp) the favorite.”

“This is a testament both to Walker’s strengths and to the vulnerabilities of Bush, who is generally regarded as the front-runner and who is quickly establishing himself as the favorite of the party’s donor class.”

Paul Says Bush Is a Hypocrite on Pot

Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) repeatedly slammed Jeb Bush for his “hypocritical” stance on marijuana, Business Insider reports.

Said Paul: “I think if you talk to young people, they’re not very tolerant of hypocrisy. Jeb Bush admits that — when he was at an elite prep school, where very wealthy kids went to school — that he smoked pot. But he’s still willing to put someone in jail for medical marijuana in Florida. … When Jeb was a very wealthy kid at a very elite school, he used marijuana but didn’t get caught [and] didn’t have to go to prison. I think it shows some hypocrisy.”