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Senate Republicans are threatening openly to throw up their hands and let Democrats vote to raise the debt limit on their own if President Obama doesn't cave and agree to trillions of dollars in entitlement cuts and zero tax increases. Here's how NRSC chairman John Cornyn (R-TX) put it, speaking to reporters Tuesday:

"I am wondering if as the deadline approaches, whether our Democratic colleagues in the Senate have realized that unless the President's willing to do a grand bargain that's good for the American people how much he's opening his own political party -- candidates running for 2012 in the United States Senate -- to a referendum on his failure to reach a grand bargain," Cornyn said. "Obviously if it's possible to deal with the spending problem and the entitlement reforms, that's our first choice. But if the President and his party refuse to do the right thing, then in the Senate they're going to be required to vote to raise the debt limit and we'll have a referendum in 2012 on that decision. I don't think if I were a senator on the other side of the aisle I would view that prospect with a lot of pleasure."

Translation: give us what we want, or we'll leave it to you to avoid default, then spend the next year and a half running against you on the grounds that you voted to give President Obama a blank check for massive government spending.

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Gov. Bev Perdue (D-NC) on Monday vetoed a bill that would have required women seeking abortions to wait for 24 hours and receive ultrasound images of the fetus along with descriptions of what they are seeing before having the procedure.

"This bill is a dangerous intrusion into the confidential relationship that exists between women and their doctors. The bill contains provisions that are the most extreme in the nation in terms of interfering with that relationship," Perdue said in a statement to the Raleigh News & Observer.

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Tim Pawlenty went full climate denier on Tuesday, embracing fringe claims that the vast international consensus on the issue is "bad science."

"So there is climate change, but the reality is the science of it indicates that most of it, if not all of it, is caused by natural causes," Pawlenty told FOX News. "And as to the potential human contribution to that, there's a great scientific dispute about that very issue."

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A ethics watchdog is asking the FBI to investigate whether Rep. Laura Richardson (D-CA) was misusing her congressional staffers to by forcing them to work at campaign events and run personal errands, a violation of federal law.

The group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) said in a letter to the FBI's Washington field office that "requiring staff members to engage in campaign-related activities undermines the basic principle that government funds should not be spent to help incumbents gain re-election."

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By Nicki Gordon-Bloomfield

For the past week or so the famous Pikes Peak in Colorado has rung with the sound of cars and motorcycles climbing the 12.42 mile course to its 14,110 foot summit.

But yesterday for a few minutes, the mountain was a little quieter as an electric car climbed the summit, completing the would-renowned hill-climb course in a breathtaking 12 minutes and 20 seconds breaking the course record for an electric car which it set the previous year.

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Legal experts say that whether Sen. Ron Johnson's (R-WI) $10 million parting gift from his company potentially violates campaign laws depends on when it was negotiated. But asked by TPM to directly address the timing, Johnson repeatedly ducked the question.

Johnson's collected $10 million in deferred compensation from his former company, Pacur, a figure that Wisconsin papers have noted lines up conveniently with the $9 million he spent on his Senate campaign in 2010 against incumbent Democrat Russ Feingold. The freshman lawmaker has offered few details on how or when the company worked out the $10 million number, but legal experts told TPM that if the package was negotiated after his Senate run it could potentially count as an illegal corporate donation to his campaign.

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The investigations are now proceeding in Wisconsin of the alleged incident on the Supreme Court, in which liberal Justice Ann Walsh Bradley has accused conservative Justice David Prosser of grabbing her neck in a chokehold, during an argument. As it turns out, for one of the ongoing investigations into the problems on this very polarized and acrimonious state Supreme Court, the ultimate arbiter of the controversy would be...that very Supreme Court.

Assuming both Prosser and Bradley recused themselves, that would leave the court's now very polarized wings at 3-2 for the conservatives. But even this could be a hairy situation -- how would recusal work when multiple other justices were witnesses to the incident in question?

On Monday, the Dane County (Madison) Sheriff's Office announced that it was taking up the investigation of the alleged assault, after the case was handed over to it by the Capitol Police (who in turn consulted with the Supreme Court itself on the decision). In addition, the Wisconsin Judicial Commission, which investigates alleged misconduct involving judges, released a statement Monday that it, too, was looking into the alleged incident, and would have no further comment about the case.

To be clear, both of these investigations could potentially continue, separate from one another.

According to the commission's web site, the commission consists of "one court of appeals judge, one circuit court judge, and two attorneys, all appointed by the Supreme Court; and five non-lawyer members appointed by the governor with Senate confirmation." The commissioners are appointed to three-year terms, with a limit of two consecutive terms. The current members of the commission were appointed over a spread of the past six years.

TPM called up the commission, seeking a basic civics lesson in how the commission and its investigations work, keeping in mind that they could not comment on the specifics of this case.

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How big are the stakes on Capitol Hill right now? According to one of the most influential economists in federal policy making, the next four weeks will make the difference between a slow glide toward economic recovery, and a severe tumble into a new recession.

[TPM SLIDESHOW: More Than Just Forms: Tax Day Tea Party-Style]

Moody's chief economist, and former McCain economic adviser Mark Zandi is forecasting GDP growth of 4 percent by the end of the year and into next. But in response to a question from TPM, he told reporters at a breakfast meeting hosted by the Christian Science Monitor that his forecast would be "blown out of the water," if Congress fails to "reasonably gracefully" raise the national borrowing limit.

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Proponents of the Proposition 8 gay marriage ban are appealing a federal judge's refusal to vacate Judge Vaughn Walker's ruling on the measure, because, as they have argued, the decision represents a conflict of interest because Walker is gay.

Reuters reports that Matthew McGill, who is representing two same-sex couples challenging the measure, called the appeal part of a "smear campaign" against Walker.

"The only thing surprising about this development is doing so in the face of such a well-reasoned opinion," McGill said.

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