***We've revamped our afternoon Slatest newsletter to deliver a text-heavy recap of the day's top stories to our subscribers' inboxes. The most recent edition is below. Sign up here to receive The Slatest PM in your inbox daily.***
You Don't Say: Washington Post: "Competing partisan proposals to avert potentially devastating budget cuts due to take effect Friday failed to advance in the Senate on Thursday as Congress prepared to leave Washington for the weekend without taking action to deal with the looming sequester. The measures had been expected to fail — they were largely intended to allow each party to demonstrate that their political opponents were resisting reasonable ideas that could lessen the impact of the $85 billion across-the-board cuts."
So When Does the Sequester Officially Start: Any time that the White House wants tomorrow, but most likely at 11:59 p.m.
Moneybox: A Cheer or Two for Sequestration
What Else Didn't Washington Do Today: Reuters: "The Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday postponed consideration of four bills to curb gun violence after Republicans said they needed more time to study the proposed ban on military-style assault weapons. The one-week delay by the Democratic-led committee appears unlikely to change the fate of the bills, all of which appear headed to the full Senate for a vote. ... Besides the bill to ban assault weapons, which faces an uphill fight to pass the full Senate, the other bills call for expanded background checks for prospective gun buyers, a crackdown on the illegal trafficking of firearms, and various improvements to school security. Support generally has been strongest for the background checks bill, but senators have not reached a detailed, bipartisan agreement even on that proposal."
What They Did Get Done: Associated Press: "House Republicans raised the white flag Thursday on extending domestic violence protections to gays, lesbians and transsexuals after months of resisting an expansion of the Violence Against Women Act. GOP leaders, who had tried to limit the bill before last November's election, gave the go-ahead for the House to accept a more ambitious Senate version written mainly by Democrats. Democrats, with a minority of Republicans, were key to the 286-138 House vote that sent to President Barack Obama a renewal of the 1994 law that has set the standard for how to protect women, and some men, from domestic abuse and prosecute abusers."
Girls Gone Bankrupt: USA Today: "In a strategic move to protect itself from multimillion-dollar debts and legal awards, the company that produces the Girls Gone Wild videos has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. The company's videos feature college-age women drinking, exposing themselves or having sex, usually at parties, clubs and events. GGW founder Joe Francis has lost high-profile lawsuits that have saddled his firm, GGW Brands, with more than $13 million in jury awards and $2 million in other debts."
The World Is Officially Pope-Less: New York Times: "Benedict XVI ceased to be pope at 8 p.m. local time (2 p.m. Eastern) Thursday when his resignation took effect, leaving the leadership of the Roman Catholic Church vacant while its leading clerics consider who should succeed him. Benedict left the Vatican by helicopter on Thursday afternoon to spend the final hours of his scandal-dogged papacy and the first of his retirement at a summer residence used by popes for centuries. Onlookers in St. Peter’s Square cheered, church bells rang and Romans stood on rooftops to wave flags to see him off as he flew from Rome to the summer residence at Castel Gandolfo, a hilltop town southeast of the city. More carillons heralded his arrival there, and he was greeted by a vivid contingent of silver-suited firemen, gendarmes in red capes, and bishops in black and pink."
The Slatest: Obama Urges SCOTUS To Strike Down Prop 8
Woodward vs. White House: Chicago Tribune: "When not fighting with Republicans, the White House has been tangling with one of the capital’s best-known and best-sourced reporters. But the Bob Woodward vs. White House sideshow moved to the center ring on Thursday. And much of the city paused to watch. That’s when Politico published an email exchange between Woodward, the celebrity investigative reporter and chronicler of presidents, and Gene Sperling, President Obama’s top economic aide. Although Woodward had accused an Obama aide of rough treatment and veiled threats, the emails showed a much softer, genial exchange."
U.S. Ramps Up Aid to Syrian Rebels: New York Times: "Secretary of State John Kerry said on Thursday that the United States would provide food rations and medical supplies to the Free Syrian Army, the military wing of the opposition that is fighting to depose Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. The assistance represents the first time that the United States has publicly committed itself to sending nonlethal support for armed factions that are battling the Assad government in the two-year-old uprising. But the supplies Mr. Kerry announced fell well short of the weapons and equipment Syrian rebels have requested. ... In addition to the nonlethal aid, the United States is providing $60 million in assistance to help the political wing of the Syrian anti-Assad coalition improve the delivery of basic services like sanitation and education in areas it has already wrested from the government’s control."
Whoever Hires Him Gets 40% Off: Wall Street Journal: "Groupon Inc. said on Thursday it is replacing Chief Executive Andrew Mason effective immediately. ...The company named Executive Chairman Eric Lefkofsky and Vice Chairman Ted Leonsis to the newly created office of the chief executive to serve in this role on an interim basis. ... Groupon lost more than a fifth of its value earlier in the day after reporting another disappointing quarterly loss that renewed questions about the daily-deals site's aggressive growth strategy and expansion into the direct-sales business."
A Few More Quick Hits From Slate—
Map of the Week: The City With the Worst Traffic in America
XX Factor: Marissa Mayer Thinks Feminists Are a Drag
See you back here tomorrow. Until then, tell your friends to subscribe, or simply forward the newsletter on and let them make up their own minds.
TODAY IN SLATE
The Democrats’ War at Home
How can the president’s party defend itself from the president’s foreign policy blunders?
Congress’ Public Shaming of the Secret Service Was Political Grandstanding at Its Best
Michigan’s Tradition of Football “Toughness” Needs to Go—Starting With Coach Hoke
A Plentiful, Renewable Resource That America Keeps Overlooking
Windows 8 Was So Bad That Microsoft Will Skip Straight to Windows 10
Cringing. Ducking. Mumbling.
How GOP candidates react whenever someone brings up reproductive rights or gay marriage.
You Deserve a Pre-cation
The smartest job perk you’ve never heard of.