In it, but not of it. TPM DC

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) on Monday accused Republicans of inviting the prospect of another partial shutdown of the federal government by pushing to attach anti-environment, pro-coal measures to appropriations legislation.

"We've had enough sequestrations and government shutdowns that I hope my Republican colleagues aren't headed in that direction again, given the importance of appropriations legislation and the need to keep our government operating," he said on the Senate floor.

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Democrats have said they have a virtually once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to win a U.S. Senate seat in Mississippi but only if tea party darling and Mississippi state Sen. Chris McDaniel (R) beats incumbent Sen. Thad Cochran (R-MS) for the Republican nomination. So it's easy to imagine the response when news broke that a Democratic operative has actually been helping Cochran's re-election efforts.

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Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) said on Friday that he planned to act administratively to expand health coverage in his state, defying the Republican-controlled legislature that maneuvered to block him from expanding Medicaid under Obamacare.

The specifics of McAuliffe's plan aren't clear. But he vetoed an item in the Virginia budget Friday that would have required the legislature to approve any expansion and asserted that he planned to "move administratively" to expand coverage to as many as 400,000 low-income Virginians.

"We are very encouraged," McAullife said at a news conference. His administration "has several options that we're looking at, but we're going to provide health coverage to our citizens," he added. "We're moving forward."

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The next third-ranking leader of the House Republican conference is a fierce conservative who has often voted against the initiatives of Speaker John Boehner and makes the existing leadership team look rather moderate by comparison.

Majority Whip-elect Steve Scalise was first elected to the House in a 2008 special election. He represents a deeply conservative district in southern Louisiana that was most recently represented by Bobby Jindal and David Vitter and hasn't elected a Democrat since 1977.

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