In it, but not of it. TPM DC

WASHINGTON — The budget debate that kicked off on Capitol Hill this week forces difficult decisions on the four Republican senators eying a run for president in 2016.

Their votes could be critical to avoiding an embarrassing failure for the party, which needs 51 of its 54 senators to pass the budget resolution. It poses an early test for the four White House hopefuls by forcing them to reconcile the tough choices required to govern with their competing agendas and the lofty promises they're making to voters at an early stage in the race.

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WASHINGTON — An ambitious agreement by Speaker John Boehner and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi to fix a major funding gap in Medicare and make some separate long-term cuts appears in good shape to pass the House.

A floor vote is planned for Thursday, House leadership aides said, after the top Democrat and Republican successfully resolved concerns about abortion language.

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LYNCHBURG, Va. — Ted Cruz's widely anticipated announcement here on Monday that he'll run for president is guaranteed to spook his fellow Republican hopefuls.

Not because he's necessarily better positioned to win the 2016 nomination than others such as Jeb Bush and Scott Walker. Rather, he has a unique appeal to the hard-core conservative base that produces ample votes in GOP primaries, and he has a knack for portraying solidly conservative Republicans as establishment hacks and squishes.

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