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Republicans are seizing on James O'Keefe's hidden camera prank against NPR executives to bolster their calls to defund the news organization. Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) became the highest ranking lawmaker to weigh in on Tuesday, putting out a press release slamming the "disturbing" video that featured NPR Foundation president Ron Schilling calling Tea Partiers "seriously racist," remaining silent while a fake Muslim group accused Jews of controlling the media, and suggesting that NPR might be better off with out federal funding.

"As we continue to identify ways to cut spending and save valuable resources, this disturbing video makes clear that taxpayer dollars should no longer be appropriated to NPR," Cantor said in a statement. "Not only have top public broadcasting executives finally admitted that they do not need taxpayer dollars to survive, it is also clear that without federal funds, public broadcasting stations self-admittedly would become eligible for more private dollars on top of the multi-million dollar donations these organizations already receive."

In the video Schiller says that NPR might "better off in the long-run without federal funding," since it would allow them to become more independent. The House passed a bill last month that would cut off NPR's funding and Senate Republicans recently introduced similar legislation as well.

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Dick Lugar wins the award for quickest about-face of the day. Unfortunately for him, he stepped in it mid-pirouette. But when it was all said and done he let on that all Republicans will be voting for the House's larded-up spending cut bill.

"I'm going to vote with the Republicans on the issue when H.R. 1 comes up," Lugar said. "It it's strictly an affirmative vote, I will be for H.R. 1 because all the Republicans will be voting for H.R. 1."

Why all the confusion? On his way into the Republicans' weekly policy lunch today he said exactly the opposite. The House CR includes all kinds of policy riders, and slashes State Department spending in a way Lugar has been clear he finds unacceptable. But Republicans have been putting off this vote because they have a lot invested in showing unanimity on that spending cut package, and they want to get everybody in line.

Over the course of the next hour, and what I assume was an impressive amount of arm-twisting, Lugar changed his mind.

"I'm sorry if I misled people," he said later. "I'm going to vote for the Republican resolution, which is as clearly as I can say it."

Unfortunately for him, his tea party-backed challenger, state treasurer Richard Mourdock, noticed the stumble and released a statement. "Senator Lugar's vacillation betrays his liberal instincts."

The White House says its finalizing a strategy to combat violent extremism in America, and is speaking publicly about it just a few days before Rep. Peter King (R-NY) holds hearings on "Muslim radicalization." (On Sunday, in a move The New York Times called "no accident," White House Deputy National Security Adviser Denis McDonough gave a speech at a Muslim center in Virginia, laying out the administration's efforts.)

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The recall efforts in Wisconsin are gathering steam -- and as WisPolitics reports, one of the targeted Republicans, state Sen. Dan Kapanke, now says he expects organizers to gather enough signatures to trigger a recall election against him.

However, Kapanke says he is not backing down from his support of Gov. Scott Walker's anti-union budget proposals:

Still, he said he was undeterred by the effort and remained committed to the guv's budget repair bill.


"I'm willing to stand up and take that vote," Kapanke said.

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Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), who chairs the Senate Intelligence Committee, harshly criticized the CIA and the rest of the intelligence community for failing to forecast the uprising in the Middle East and warned the White House not to intervene in Libya without international support.

"Our intelligence, and I see it all ... was woefully inadequate. [The unrest in] Tunisia was the only intelligence we got right," Feinstein told TPM Tuesday, adding that U.S. intelligence completely missed the instability in Egypt, Yemen and Bahrain.

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Sen Claire McCaskill (D-MO) may face a tough road to reelection in 2012 according to a new PPP poll of registered voters that shows her just barely squeaking past a number of potential challengers.

McCaskill won election to her first term in 2006, but by a slim two-point margin in a year when Democrats romped to victory nationwide. As a result, her seat has been viewed as a toss-up heading into 2012, something the poll's results seem to confirm.

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The narrative in the Wisconsin political standoff over Gov. Scott Walker's budget proposal and its anti-public employee union provisions seems to have shifted very quickly. Just two days ago, the media was abuzz with talk that the state Senate Democrats who had fled the state in order to block budget quorum might come back -- and now, the chatter is about how some key Republican legislators could derail the bill.

On Sunday night, Dems were knocking back a Wall Street Journal report that they were soon to return. Instead, Minority Leader Mark Miller (D) called for a meeting with Walker at the state line.

In response, Walker and state Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald (R) blasted the Dems for the negotiations that had already gone on, and claimed that some of the Dems were on the verge of coming back -- which only led to those same key Dems making clear that they weren't splitting from the caucus.

But with the GOP's efforts to wear the Dems down now stalling out, is it in fact Republicans who might be getting worn down? It appears that more Republican state Senators have been becoming critical of the package. This, too, could very well sputter out -- but Dems only need three defections out of the 19-member GOP caucus to defeat the bill.

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Since late last week, Senate Democrats have been knocking their Republican colleagues for running away from a vote on controversial House spending legislation. Republican leader Mitch McConnell put it on the calendar himself, but every time Democrats have tried to hand them a vote on it, he's demurred.

Ask Republicans what's up, and they say Dems are being disingenuous. They say they have no problem voting on the House plan, and are prepared to do so in the next day or so.

It got so bad that, on Tuesday, Harry Reid accused McConnell et al of reneging on an agreement they all struck together with Joe Biden last week.

So what gives?

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Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is arguing that Democrats should accept IRS penalties on working- and middle-class health insurance consumers as the price of making one key tweak to the health care law.

"The 1099 is something we're going to look at," Reid said at his weekly Capitol briefing with reporters. "Me personally I like the House payfor better than ours, so we'll have to see."

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