TPM News

After a dramatic 24 hours filled with vote delays, arm-twisting, and the Tea Party flexing its political muscle, in the end House Republicans managed to pass Speaker John Boehner's (R-OH) debt bill quite easily in a party-line vote of 218 to 210.

Boehner ended up agreeing to include a balanced budget amendment -- even though it has no chance of passing in the Senate. The concession was enough to attract a majority of Republicans, many of whom were elected on pledges to slash spending. The real heavy-lifting now begins between Boehner and Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) who must forge a compromise that can pass both chambers and be signed by the President before the rapidly approaching Aug. 2 deadline for default.

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As expected, President Obama on Friday unveiled an agreement with the auto industry that establishes a new fuel economy standard that requires fleets to average 54.5 miles per gallon by 2025.

"This agreement on fuel standards represents the single most important step we've ever taken as a nation to reduce our dependence on foreign oil," Obama said Friday morning at a White House event.

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Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) recovered Friday after a set of bruising setbacks this week, but his real test will come over the weekend when he's forced to quickly negotiate a bill that will attract enough Democratic support to offset the inevitable GOP losses on his right flank while not alienating his base of support and losing too many Republicans -- all under incredibly tight time pressure as the August 2nd default deadline looms ever larger.

Just how he threads the needle will be the most difficult test of his leadership yet.

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It was supposed to happen Wednesday, then again on Thursday. It was supposed to be a squeaker, and potentially a viable measure to avoid default. But in the end there was no suspense, and the vote was mostly ceremonial. Early Friday evening, House Republicans passed legislation to raise the national debt limit -- their final symbolic gesture in a partisan debate that has raged for months and seen the GOP bring the country to the brink of economic collapse.

The final vote was 218 in favor to 210 against. Zero Democrats joined the majority, and only 22 Republicans voted with the Democrats.

When discussions between Boehner and President Obama over pairing a the debt limit extension and deficit reduction measures fell apart, the task of avoiding default fell to Congress -- and presented Boehner with a major challenge: How could he be both a responsible steward of the country and usher through bipartisan legislation to avoid a catastrophic default, and not break faith with his members.

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Employees of the New York Post were instructed Friday to "preserve and maintain" any documents that may relate to the practice of phone hacking or bribing of public officials.

The legal department for News Corp, the Post's parent company, explained in a memo to Post staff that "we are sending this notice not because any recipient has done anything improper or unlawful. However, given what has taken place in London, we believe that taking this step will help to underscore how seriously we are taking this matter."

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If you've still got an unlimited AT&T data plan that you're holding onto for dear life to stream gigs and gigs of Spotify and Netflix and god knows what else, your life is about to suck a lot more.
Even if you're grandfathered in with one of those good-old-days unlimited plans, the all-you-can-eat-as-fast-as-you-want data plan as we know it is gone. But it gets worse.

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John Boehner's debt limit bill, dead-on-arrival in the Senate, is on autopilot for passage in the House this evening. If as expected he sends it over to the upper chamber to be killed, he will actually speed up the process by which the Senate can pass its final debt limit bill, for parliamentary reasons outlined at the bottom of this post.

So the great guessing game in the Capitol right now is figuring out 1). Which Republican Senators will ultimately support Harry Reid's debt limit bill, and 2). What changes will have to be made to it between now and midnight to make sure enough of them are on board so the bill doesn't go down in flames in the wee hours of Sunday morning.

Right now, Democrats are looking to about 11 gettable GOP votes: Sens. Olympia Snowe (R-ME), Susan Collins (R-ME), Bob Corker (R-TN), Mark Kirk (R-IL), Scott Brown (R-MA), Lamar Alexander (R-TN), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX), Saxby Chambliss (R-GA), Mike Crapo (R-ID), and Tom Coburn (R-OK). The last three were the Republican members of the Gang of Six deficit reduction group.

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John "Jack" Marburger, President George W. Bush's much-maligned science adviser, died Thursday afternoon, according to a note sent out late Thursday by the Office of the Vice President of Research at Stony Brook University.

The former chief of the Bush White House Office of Science & Technology policy, known to his friends and colleagues as "Jack," last served as vice president of research at the university.

Newsday reports that Marburger suffered from non-Hodgkins lymphoma.

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