CONGRESS MOURNS PRINCE – Rubio close to lifting Jacobson hold – WAGNER VS. MCCASKILL? – Mississippi flag won’t return to Capitol — THE…

CONGRESS MOURNS PRINCE – Rubio close to lifting Jacobson hold – WAGNER VS. MCCASKILL? – Mississippi flag won’t return to Capitol — THE…

- in Congress

By Seung Min Kim (skim@politico.com or @seungminkim)

CONGRESS MOURNS PRINCE – CQ Roll Call wraps up the tributes to the legendary musician, who died Thursday at 57, from all over Capitol Hill: “Congress’ in-house music lover, Democratic Rep. Joe Crowley of New York, said, ‘Simply put, Prince was a genius. Whether it was pop, funk, rock, or gospel, the depth of his talent was second to none. The world lost a true legend today.’ He added that Prince’s album ‘Purple Rain’ was the most influential showcase of his personal love and creation of music.” http://goo.gl/9WeXfs

Story Continued Below

–Here’s Al Franken honoring Prince, a Minnesotan: http://goo.gl/7p0hd6

RUBIO CLOSE TO LIFTING HOLD ON AMBASSADOR – Your Huddle host with the scoop: “The Senate is on the cusp of a breakthrough that would allow the confirmation of Roberta Jacobson, President Barack Obama’s long-stalled nominee to become ambassador to Mexico, according to multiple sources. The chief obstacle for Jacobson, a high-ranking State Department official who was chosen by Obama last June, has been Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) — who for months has blocked swift consideration of her confirmation because of her work to normalize relations with Cuba and other foreign-policy concerns.”

–“But key GOP senators who support Jacobson, including Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn of Texas, the powerful second-ranking Republican, have been quietly working with Rubio. In return for lifting his objections, Rubio aims to secure provisions related to Venezuela policy, according to the sources. ‘We’ve been in discussions with the White House to see what can be done,’ a Rubio aide said Thursday.” http://goo.gl/PBUpze

WAGNER VS. MCCASKILL? The Hill’s Scott Wong has the scoop: “What’s next for Rep. Ann Wagner? Possibly a Senate bid in 2018. The Missouri Republican, Bush family loyalist and former top Republican National Committee official is said to be mulling her next steps even with the 2016 presidential race still underway. And while no final decisions have been made, several Missouri GOP insiders say the most likely possibility is that Wagner runs for the Senate seat now held by Democrat Claire McCaskill.”

–“‘She’s immensely beatable,’ Wagner said of McCaskill, ‘but we’re going to take it one election cycle at a time. We’re focused on the ‘16 race.’ … ‘I’m running,” McCaskill declared as she headed to a Senate vote. When told Wagner might be looking to unseat her, McCaskill replied enthusiastically: ‘Bring them on!’” http://goo.gl/aPSMv3

THE 2,296-DAY WAIT FOR A JUDGE – HuffPo’s Jen Bendery: “The Supreme Court has been waiting two months for the Senate to do something about its empty seat. If you think that sounds like a long time, you haven’t heard about the federal circuit court in Wisconsin. It’s been waiting more than six years for a judge, and it’s not looking like Republicans will give the court one anytime soon, either. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit has the longest vacancy of any circuit court in the country, and it’s been a winding and absurd process trying to get someone in there. The delays are largely because of one person: Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.).” Read more here: http://goo.gl/JRS1oJ

** A message from the Coalition for Contact Lens Consumer Choice: Are you one of the 41 million Americans who wears contact lenses? Congress is currently considering legislation that would dramatically increase your costs, reduce your choice, and jeopardize your eye health. Learn more about the anti-consumer bill that aims to roll back basic consumer rights: http://keepcontactlenschoice.org **

MISSISSIPPI FLAG WON’T RETURN TO CAPITOL – WaPo’s Mike DeBonis: “The Mississippi flag, which incorporates the Confederate battle flag, will not return to one place of prominence in the U.S. Capitol complex. The flag was removed from a tunnel between the Capitol and the Rayburn House Office Building last year after the killings of nine churchgoers by a white supremacist in a Charleston, S.C., church last year reignited critiques over the continued use of Confederate symbols.”

–“Rep. Candice Miller (R-Mich.), chairman of the Committee on House Administration, said Thursday that the flag — along with the flags of the 49 other states, the District of Columbia and U.S. territories — would not return following a renovation. Replacing them, she said, will be ‘a reproduction of the commemorative quarters issued by the U.S. Mint.’” https://goo.gl/uyj19E

TRANSITIONS — Josh Falzone is joining Sen. Bob Corker’s (R-Tenn.) team on Monday as his press secretary. He has served as the rapid response communications director for Scott Walker’s presidential campaign and most recently the communications manager at CRAFT Media & Digital. (h/t Daniel Lippman)

TGIF! IT’S FRIDAY, APRIL 22, 2016 and welcome to the Huddle. My pal Burgess Everett is taking charge of Huddle next week; give him a shout at beverett@politico.com or on Twitter at @burgessev. As always, I’m at skim@politico.com and @seungminkim.

My new followers include @IanKullgren and @PeterRDurkin.

TODAY IN CONGRESS – Both chambers are blissfully out.

AROUND THE HILL – Nothing.

GYROCOPTER PILOT GETS 120 DAYS – CNN’s Eli Watkins: “A postal carrier who flew a gyrocopter onto the grounds of the U.S. Capitol last year to protest big money in politics was sentenced to 120 days in jail Thursday, the Department of Justice said. Douglas Hughes pleaded guilty in November to a felony charge of operating as an airman without an airman’s certificate, accepting a plea deal that included the forfeiture of his gyrocopter … Hughes told CNN Thursday he had no regrets and said he would keep pursuing campaign finance reform.” http://goo.gl/WS8j4L

DAILY GARLAND: HOEVEN’S STRONG OPPOSITION – New York Times’ Emmarie Huetteman: “Senator John Hoeven, Republican of North Dakota, met quietly with Judge Merrick B. Garland on Thursday, and after their sit-down expressed unusually pointed opposition to Judge Garland’s Supreme Court nomination based on concerns about his record. Mr. Hoeven said he would not support Judge Garland, who is the chief judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, because he had not alleviated his discomfort about his perspective on gun rights and federal regulations that would affect those working in farming, ranching and energy sectors.” http://goo.gl/eSNAlQ

STUTZMAN DEFENDS CAMPAIGN SPENDING FOR TRIPS – More from Brian Slodysko of the AP, who broke the news: “US Representative Marlin Stutzman on Thursday defended his decision to have his Senate campaign pay more than $2,000 for a six-day trip to California last summer that his wife described on social media as a family vacation. Federal Election Commission guidelines forbid using campaign funds for personal expenses.”

–“The congressman, who is running for US Senate in the May 3 primary, said in a written statement Thursday that he has ‘always been fully transparent with Hoosiers and it is irresponsible to imply that I have not always done my best to be in compliance with all FEC rules and regulations.’” https://goo.gl/HYbygB

RYAN DODGES ON ‘BATHROOM’ LAW – The Hill’s Scott Wong: “Speaker Paul Ryan on Thursday declined to take a position on North Carolina’s controversial law forcing transgender people to use public restrooms that correspond to their biological sex. But the Wisconsin Republican also said there should be a ‘well-maintained balance’ as states address lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) issues. ‘I’m not going to comment on what various different states are doing,” Ryan told reporters at a news conference.” http://goo.gl/OZ7KR7

THURSDAY’S TRIVIA WINNER – Jeremy Berkowitz and Marshal Shemtob answered within seconds of each other that Hugh Scott was the former Republican Senate minority leader who participated in the first Earth Day celebration in 1970.

TODAY’S TRIVIA – Jeremy has today’s question: In honor of next week’s Maryland primary, name the last U.S. senator from Maryland who did not previously serve in the U.S. House or the Maryland House of Delegates, and what years did he serve? The first person to correctly answer gets a mention in the next day’s Huddle. E-mail skim@politico.com.

GET HUDDLE emailed to your Blackberry, iPhone or other mobile device each morning. Just enter your email address where it says “Sign Up.” http://www.politico.com/huddle/.

** A message from the Coalition for Contact Lens Consumer Choice: Contact lens consumers should have the right to buy their lenses at affordable prices whenever and wherever they wish, whether it’s online, over-the-phone, or in a store. We fought for this, achieving victory in 2003 when Congress passed vital consumer protections that addressed the numerous anti-competitive practices in the contact lens market. But a new Senate bill, misleadingly named the Contact Lens Consumer Health Protection Act (CLCHPA) is a blatant attack on these protections.

THIS ANTI-CONSUMER LEGISLATION WOULD REDUCE CHOICE AND INCREASE COSTS FOR 41 MILLION CONTACT LENS CONSUMERS – it’s just the latest in a long line of efforts to control the contact lens market and increase optometrist profits at the expense of patients. Don’t let contact lens manufacturers and optometrists hold patients “hostage” and deny consumers their right to easily and affordably buy contact lenses online. Get the facts at: http://keepcontactlenschoice.org **

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