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Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) was traveling on an official trip to China last week when his scandal-scarred Nevada GOP colleague, John Ensign, announced his resignation so he hasn't had a chance to comment until now.

Reid told reporters on a conference call Wednesday that he thinks the Senate Ethics Committee will issue a final report on the charges surrounding Ensign's affair with a top staffer's wife and the creative steps he took to keep it quiet.

In fact, he said, the panel doesn't have a choice.

"They are obligated to come up with a report," he said, noting that he had previously served as chairman of the ethics panel for many years.

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Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) will force Republicans to vote on the House GOP budget, Medicare privatization and all. That's a shrewd move no matter the result -- either a lot of Republicans vote for it, and then own it politically, or it splits the party and validates the view that supporting the plan is an extreme position.

But it's also the Senate, and that means the minority can swing right back at the Democrats.

"While Sen. Reid may think that's a clever move, how is he going to explain to his members that they have to vote on the President's budget, or any of the House Democrat budgets that they can't possible support," notes a Senate Republican aide. "The President's budget alone would split the hell out of his conference. We've seen this movie before when he held a vote on H.R. 1 [the House Republican spending bill] and a vote on the Dem alternative -- it backfired because the House bill got MORE votes than the Senate Dem bill. I can't imagine very many of the Senate Dems could defend the President's budget."

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Rep. Dean Heller (R-NV) is officially the newly appointed Senator for Nevada, the Las Vegas Sun reports. He'll take the seat being vacated in early May with the resignation of Republican Sen. John Ensign.

Heller had already been running for the seat, following the scandal-plagued Ensign's announcement that he would not run again in 2012. When Ensign announced his resignation last week, Heller became the immediate favorite to be appointed by Republican Gov. Brian Sandoval.

"The people of Nevada deserve a new senator who can begin work immediately," Sandoval said in a press release, mounting an apparent defense of his appointment of an already active candidate. "Too many important issues face our state and our nation to name a caretaker to this important position; Nevada needs an experienced voice in Washington, DC."

This appointment gives Heller an initial incumbency in 2012 against his Democratic challenger, Rep. Shelley Berkley. A recent survey from Public Policy Polling (D) gave Heller a narrow lead of 47%-43% over Berkley in this perennial swing state.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) is following the White House's lead by seizing on the populist idea of ending subsidies for the five largest oil giants.

Reid said he would hold a vote as soon as possible on a bill to eliminate the tax breaks for the five largest oil companies, Exxon Mobil, BP, Chevron, Royal Dutch Shell and ConocoPhillips, which have reported record profits in recent weeks and months.

"We have to take away the subsidies for these five major oil companies," he told reporters on a conference call Wednesday. "There's no need for these subsidies. The companies have broken records [with their] profits."

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Unlike his Republican counterparts, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (R-NV) says he'll make no ironclad demands in negotiations over raising the national debt limit. But he hinted that he favors an approach that's at odds with Republican goals, and the stated goals of members of his own party.

"We're not going to be drawing any lines in the sand," he told reporters on a conference call Wednesday afternoon.

That suggests Dems have given up on the idea that they can force Republicans to raise the debt limit without attached measures aimed at reducing deficits, particularly by cutting spending. Reid says Congress will be able to mix and match ideas from a number of floating plans, including the House GOP budget, a forthcoming budget authored by Senate Budget Committee Kent Conrad, the bipartisan Gang of Six's soon-to-be released deficit reduction plan, and the fiscal framework President Obama outlined in his deficit speech earlier this month.

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Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) confirmed on a conference call with reporters Wednesday that he'll force Senate Republicans to vote on the controversial House GOP budget.

"We're going to have an opportunity in the Senate to vote for the [Paul] Ryan budget," Reid told reporters, to "see if Republicans in the Senate like the Ryan budget as much as their colleagues [in the House] did."

That budget, which passed in the lower chamber with near-unanimous GOP support, includes a policy agenda that would phase out Medicare, dramatically slash Medicaid, while reducing the tax burden on the wealthiest Americans. It has become the source of significant heartburn for vulnerable House Republicans, who have had to face down angry constituents in their districts during the current two-week recess.

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President Obama's decision to release his long form birth certificate comes amid Donald Trump's three-ring circus on the issue, but prominent conservatives have flirted with the birther movement since its earliest inception. From insisting Obama release more records, to waffling on questions about his citizenship, to sponsoring legislation winking at conspiracy theorists, there's been no shortage of birther curious behavior over the last several years.

TPM reached out to over 20 lawmakers and public figures who have indulged in such behavior to determine whether Obama's release of the Rosetta stone of birtherism has settled the issue, receiving few responses.

TPM SLIDESHOW: There's The Birth Certificate: TPM's Best Of The Birthers

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The Wisconsin Supreme Court recount has already hit a snag in Waukesha County -- the heavily Republican county that has been at the center of the vote-counting controversies -- and in the first bag of votes that they counted, too.

Waukesha County Clerk Kathy Nickolaus (R), whose handling of the vote-count has attracted so much attention -- with her announced discovery of un-tabulated votes in the City of Brookfield, which she blamed on her own human error in importing the data into the county's database -- has recused herself from heading up the county's canvassing board in the recount.

Regardless, errors abound.

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President Obama sat down with a local reporter from Ohio on Tuesday and laid into the anti-collective bargaining bill signed into law by Gov. John Kasich (R) last month.

SB5, as the law is known, eliminates the right of thousands of state workers to collectively bargain for benefits and makes going on strike illegal. Democrats and union supports have vowed to fight the legislation at the ballot box, and they've said the issue has done a lot to fire up the base after big Republican wins (including Kasich's) in 2010.

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