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- "The Obama administration said Sunday that it had met its goal of improving the online health-insurance marketplace so that it works well for the vast majority of users but acknowledged it still has extensive work to do to buttress a troubled Web site that has marred the rollout of President Obama's signature health-care initiative." (Washington Post)
- "About 100,000 people signed up for health insurance through the online federal exchange last month, a roughly four-fold increase from October even as a team of U.S. government and contractor programmers was fixing the troubled Affordable Care Act website, said a person familiar with program's progress." (Bloomberg News)
- "The Obama administration is moving to rein in the influence of tax-exempt groups in elections by creating rules to restrict their spending on a wide range of campaign-related activities." New IRS rules proposed last Tuesday "could at once help to curb the explosion in political spending by nonprofit groups, such as conservative heavyweight Crossroads GPS and the liberal Priorities USA, while setting clearer standards that could help the government avoid future dust-ups with politically active nonprofit organizations." (Wall Street Journal)
- In HI SEN, former Rep. Charles Djou (R) "is likely to get in" the race "after the holidays, sources say." (Politico)
- In NH SEN, former Sen./2010 FL SEN candidate Bob Smith (R) "said he has changed his mind and will try to defeat" Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D) "for his old seat next year." (WMUR-TV)
- In KY SEN, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce "is launching a heavy TV ad buy" this week "in defense of" Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R). (Politico)
- In LA SEN, the conservative group Judicial Crisis Network is launching a new TV ad on Monday "to attack" Sen. Mary Landrieu (D) "for supporting ... Obama's judicial nominees." (Washington Post)
- In MS SEN, state Auditor Stacey Pickering (R) said last Tuesday "that he would definitely run" if Sen. Thad Cochran (R) "doesn't seek a seventh term" but won't run if Cochran mounts a reelection bid. (Jackson Clarion-Ledger)
- In WY SEN, Americans for Job Security, a conservative nonprofit group, "is set to launch a TV attack ad Monday intimating that" Sen. Michael Enzi (R) "is less than pure in his opposition to Obamacare." (Politico)
- In NJ-03, Assemb. David Wolfe (R) says he is "actively pursuing a ... run and that he's already reached out to fellow GOP officials." (PolitickerNJ.com)
- In IL GOV, businessman Bruce Rauner (R) reported last week "he gave his campaign $500,000 on Nov. 18," bringing the total in personal contributions to "nearly $1.3 million." (Chicago Tribune)
Hotline editors weigh in on the stories that drive the day
• How well is the Healthcare.gov fix going? Expect red-state Democrats like Landrieu and Mark Pryor to continue to keep their distance from the rollout. But if senators like Dianne Feinstein remain critical between now and the end of the year, it's a sign that the "tech surge" isn't likely to make a dent in the administration's health-care headache.
• Rep. Joe Heck (R-NV) is working on a DREAM Act-style bill, the latest move in a local back-and-forth over immigration reform. From a political perspective, this hits the target Heck has been aiming for, between doing nothing -- which would probably have consequences next year -- and a comprehensive bill he says has no chance of passing the House. Also of note: This bill specifically addresses the policy that Heck took a tough vote on last year, when he joined most House GOPers in voting to defund the executive action version of the DREAM Act.
HAIR OF THE DOG
"Longmont (Colo.) police: 'Topless' barber arrested for practicing without a cosmetology license" (Longmont Times-Call)
FRESH BREWED BUZZ
- Virginia state Sen. Mark Obenshain (R) filed a petition for a recount last Wednesday in the state's attorney general race. State Sen. Mark Herring (D) leads by 165 votes. (Richmond Times-Dispatch)
- "Those perpetuating the conventional wisdom should take notice: In the end, voters were calling out for action on gun violence, and they flocked to the candidate who offered progress and a sensible, mainstream approach to protecting Virginians." -- Herring campaign manager Kevin O'Holleran, arguing that Herring's support for stricter gun laws helped him edge Obenshain (Washington Post)
- "It really is upsetting. ... As I sit here and work on focusing on my family and health with people coming and harassing me." -- Rep. Trey Radel (R-FL), confronted by reporters outside an addiction treatment facility in Naples, Fla. (Naples Daily News)
- "Six same-sex couples marry on historic first day in Hawaii" (Honolulu Star-Advertiser)
- "Top officials from past presidential campaigns have quietly formed a group to push for major changes in the general election debates, with recommendations expected by late spring. ... The working group is questioning the debates' format, moderator-selection process and location: Might a TV studio make more sense than a college town? Members said a major goal is to make more allowance for changing technology and the rise of social media. A likely recommendation is an earlier start for the debates, in response to the increase in absentee voting." (Politico)
- "Eye on '16, Clintons Rebuild Bond With Blacks" (New York Times)
- "Imagine two million passengers, hurtling through space, trapped in 17-inch-wide seats, yapping their innermost thoughts." -- Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN), urging the FCC to ban use of cell phones on airplanes (Roll Call)
- "Singer claims Toronto Mayor Rob Ford stole his seat at Bills game" (Los Angeles Times)
- "Postscript: Peter Kaplan" (New Yorker)
- "Lara Logan, the CBS correspondent at the center of a discredited October 27 report about the attack on the U.S. diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya, is taking a leave of absence from work, the network said" last Tuesday. (CNN)
- "Long on Cutting Edge of Print, New York Magazine Cuts Back" (New York Times)
- "Amazon Unveils Futuristic Plan: Delivery by Drone" (CBS News)
- Today's weather, from the National Weather Service:
- The House returns at 2 p.m.
- The House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform meets to consider changes to D.C.'s Height Act. (2154 RHOB, 10 a.m.)
- The Wizards hope to reach the .500 mark when they host the Magic. (Verizon Center, 7 p.m.)
- Have an event for us to highlight? Email us!
- Sens. Walter Edge (R-NJ) and Edward Edwards (D-NJ) will represent New Jersey at the start of the new season of "Boardwalk Empire."
- The winner is Tim Green, and here's his Swizzle Challenge: "Edwards defeated then-Sen. Joseph Frelinghuysen (R-NJ) to win his seat. How many Frelinghuysens have served in the Senate?" The 3rd correct answer gets to submit the next question.
NJ'S EARLY BIRD SPECIALS
- The Hotline's Senate Race Rankings: Democrats on Defense
- Can Democrats Still Win With a Women-Centered Strategy?
- Countdown to Another Fiscal Fail
- Farm Bill Is Closer Than Many Think
- Why Obama Has Room to Maneuver on Iran
"It's wonderful for them to be moaning and groaning. But it's sour grapes. They started this crap." -- Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT), on Democrats' efforts to restrict filibusters on executive nominations (New Yorker)
Lisa: Dad, do you know what Schadenfreude is?
Homer: No, I don't know what "shaden-frawde" is. Please tell me, because I'm dying to know.
Lisa: It's a German term for "shameful joy", taking pleasure in the suffering of others.
Homer: Oh, come on Lisa. I'm just glad to see him fall flat on his butt! He's usually all happy and comfortable, and surrounded by loved ones, and it makes me feel ... What's the opposite of that shameful joy thing of yours?
Lisa: Sour grapes.
Homer: Boy, those Germans have a word for everything! ("The Simpsons")
Steven Shepard, Editor-in-Chief