WASHINGTON, Dec. 7 (UPI) -- Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., used a filibuster to block action on his own call for a vote on a White House offer to deal with the debt limit.
McConnell requested a vote Thursday morning on an administration proposal that included an offer on resolving the so-called fiscal cliff. The White House proposal suggested giving the president the authority to raise the federal debt limit, while providing Congress could disapprove any such increase, Politico reported.
The U.S. government has $16.3 trillion in debt, putting it just below the $16.4 trillion limit set by Congress following contentious debate that at one point led to a lowering of the U.S. credit rating.
After initially objecting to McConnell's proposal Thursday, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said he wanted a Thursday afternoon vote, having secured the 51 votes to pass the proposal on a straight, up-or-down vote.
"Senator McConnell made a serious offer dealing with the debt ceiling of this country, one of the most important issues facing the country," Reid said. "It's a serious offer. I personally haven't read it. My staff has looked at it. It's important enough that I would like to have a vote on it this afternoon."
McConnell objected, requesting the vote clear the 60-vote filibuster threshold.
"What we're talking about here is a perpetual debt ceiling grant in effect to the president. Matters of this level of controversy always require 60 votes," McConnell said. "So I would ask my friend, the majority leader, if he would modify his consent agreement."
Reid characterized the Kentucky Republican's objection as a "case of Republicans refusing to take 'yes' for an answer."
Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said Senate Democrats had at least 51 votes, commenting that McConnell's "usually very astute political radar is off today."
Axelrod shaves mustache for charity
NEW YORK, Dec. 7 (UPI) -- David Axelrod, U.S. President Obama's senior strategist, shaved off the mustache he has sported for 40 years Friday to raise funds for epilepsy research.
Axelrod, whose daughter suffers from epilepsy, shaved his upper lip Friday morning live on NBC's "Today" show in an attempt to raise $1 million for Citizens United for Research in Epilepsy, the charity run by his wife.
"There are people who have lost a lot more than a mustache to epilepsy -- 50,000 people a year lose their lives," Axelrod said while having his mustache shaved.
Axelrod was joined by "Morning Joe" hosts Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski. Axelrod and Scarborough had a wager prior to November's election stating the Obama adviser would shave his mustache if the president failed to carry Minnesota, Michigan and Pennsylvania. Axelrod won the bet but shaved his mustache anyway to benefit the charity.
Man blames parking ticket on thieves
OSTERSUND, Sweden, Dec. 7 (UPI) -- A Swedish man said a failed attempt to steal his car and a slow response after he reported the theft to police, resulted in him getting a $91 parking ticket.
Pontus Persson of Ostersund said he was getting ready to leave for work Tuesday morning when he discovered his car had been moved about 30 feet with some windows smashed, his GPS device missing and his steering column broken, Swedish news agency TT/The Local.se reported Friday.
"I understood immediately that the car thieves had tried to steal the car but hadn't pulled it off," Persson said.
Persson said he left the car in place so as not to disturb any evidence and reported the incident to police.
However, he said he came outside the following day to discover a $91 ticket left on the car by police for the vehicle being improperly parked. He said police never called him back about the theft.
Etiquette expert: Put phone away on toilet
WASHINGTON, Dec. 7 (UPI) -- A Washington business etiquette expert says people should learn to put down their smartphones while sitting on the toilet.
Kate Zabriskie, owner of Business Training Works, said using the phone for any reason while sitting on the toilet runs counter to the cause of cleanliness, NBC's "Today" show reported Friday.
"If you're in the stall touching the buttons on the phone, that's not good," Zabriskie said. "Those just aren't clean hands. And even if they're immaculate hands ... it's just not an image that I would think most people would want to project."
However, Zabriskie said convincing people to put their phones down at any time is a tall order.
"It's just almost become an appendage," she said.
Zabriskie said she hopes workers will at least make an attempt to hide their restroom phone use from colleagues.
"Use sense," she said. "If you are going to secretly shop in the bathroom, put your phone away before you walk out of the stall."