TPM News

In his weekly Capitol briefing with reporters, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid confirmed the Senate will quickly pass a two-week stop-gap measure to keep the government funded through mid-March. But, he said, Republicans have artificially limited the timeframe to increase their bargaining power ahead of a possible government shutdown on March 18, and he criticized them for behaving irresponsibly.

"It's a terrible way to govern, and no one is more of an expert on that than presidential candidate John McCain's chief economic adviser Mark Zandi, who's now the head of Moody's, who says that if the Republicans get what they want...700,000 jobs we're going to lose," Reid said.

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At the same press conference where Dane County, Wisc., District Attorney Ismael Ozanne told reporters he found nothing criminal in Gov. Scott Walker's comments to a prank caller last week, Dane County Sheriff David Mahoney spoke about law enforcement's role in the push and pull over access to the Capitol building in Madison. Mahoney revealed that yesterday he pulled his officers from a duty to guard the building's entrances.

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Attorney General Eric Holder said Tuesday that the FBI has declined to prosecute in connection with a series of incidents where a man entered Planned Parenthood and claimed to be a pimp operating a sex trafficking ring. Those incidents were later revealed to be part of a video "sting" by the anti-abortion group LiveAction.

"It is my understanding that the FBI actually has looked at that matter" and "prosecution was declined in that matter," Holder's commented in a hearing of the House Appropriations subcommittee.

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Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-MD) weighed in on the calls for Oregon Rep. David Wu's resignation today, saying they were "premature."

"I understand that he has said he is seeking mental health services and that's the appropriate step for him to take. If he had a broken arm, he'd get it fixed," he said. "I believe that mental illness and physical illness both are treatable, and we ought to treat them both as illnesses."

He added that while he has not spoken to Wu or his staff about the matter, he "would personally believe talks of resignation are not appropriate at this time."

Wu is facing growing pressure to resign after detailed reports emerged of the seven-term congressman's erratic behavior around last November's midterm elections. His bizarre conduct -- including emailing a photograph of himself dressed in a tiger suit to employees -- led staffers to stage multiple interventions and request he check into a psychiatric hospital.

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Tim Pawlenty continues his Michael Bay-like metamorphosis, releasing yet another video, this time lauding the Tea Party as "a great addition to the conservative coalition and the coalition for change in this country. They are part of the energy, the passion, the call for change."

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House Republicans and Senate Democrats have arrived at detente on spending, which should prevent a government shutdown through the Ides of March.

But it's a brief and fragile detente, and for now only masks a greater divide between the parties -- one that's less about spending levels and more about the right of the Obama administration to undertake routine functions in an era of divided government.

After a weeks-long stare-down over spending, both sides blinked last week, when they came to terms on a two week measure to keep the federal lights on after funding runs out March 4.

But Democrats blinked fastest.

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Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-MD) labeled Republicans as hypocrites for accusing Wisconsin Democratic senators of obstruction for fleeing the state to avoid giving Republican Gov. Scott Walker a quorum for a bill that would weaken collective bargaining right for state employees.

Speaking to reporters Tuesday, Hoyer said that Washington Republicans' numerous Senate filibusters should destroy any credibility they have on the issue.

"38, 39, 40, 41 Republicans did that consistently over the last four years in the United States Senate," he said. "Now, they were here, but they simply would not vote to bring measures to the floor of the United States Senate. I see no substantive difference."

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