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Tierney Sneed

Tierney Sneed is a reporter for Talking Points Memo. She previously worked for U.S. News and World Report. She grew up in Florida and attended Georgetown University.

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A massive Pentagon surveillance blimp broke free from its tether in Aberdeen, Maryland, outside of Washington, Wednesday. The blimp -- technically an "aerostat" in the $2.7 billion Joint Land Attack Cruise Missile Defense Elevated Netted Sensor System (JLENS) program -- is floating somewhere above Pennsylvania, The Baltimore Sun reported.

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Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) kicked off what will likely be a round of the GOP's presidential candidates bashing the bipartisan fiscal deal by vowing to filibuster the bill in the Senate. An aide for Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) was quick to point out, however, that Paul can't do much more than delay the process.

Paul -- who has been lagging in the polls -- made his vow to block the budget bill Tuesday afternoon in front of a group of reporters in Denver ahead of Wednesday's GOP presidential debate.

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Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) -- who is expected to be elected Speaker of the House later this week -- trashed the process by which congressional leaders cobbled the big fiscal budget deal that will raise the debt ceiling and fund the government for two years.

"About the process, I can say this. I think this process stinks," Ryan said on MSNBC Tuesday. "This is not the way to do the people's business and under new management we are not going to do the people's business this way."

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Before Speaker John Boehner hands over his gavel to Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI), as expected later this week, he's offering the current Ways and Means chair an enormous gift: a big, almost-miraculous fiscal deal that takes off of the table most of the contentious issues facing Congress between now and the 2016 election.

According to initial reports, the emerging deal includes a hike to the debt limit, a two-year funding bill and even a re-balancing of the Social Security disability trust fund, which was expected to dry up next year. Additionally, short-term transportation legislation giving lawmakers a few more weeks to finish a multi-year bill is also moving forward. If those deals can make it through Congress as planned in the next few days, the initial months of Ryan’s presumed speakership will be a cake walk compared to the high-stakes deadlines he was previously facing.

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A deal between the White House and congressional leaders that would raise the debt ceiling and include two-year spending legislation could be announced as soon as Monday evening, anonymous sources told The Hill.

“Hopefully we’re able to announce something this evening,” an unnamed Senate source said, according to The Hill. The Hill report said that word of the deal had reached sources on the House GOP appropriation staff, and it would possibly be brought up at the Monday Republican leadership meeting.

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Mitt Romney is finally ready to take credit for Obamacare.

Speaking to the Boston Globe for their obituary of Staples founder Thomas G. Stemberg, who died Friday, the former Massachusetts praised Stemberg for his involvement in pushing “Romneycare,” which in turn, Romney said, led to Obamacare, giving “a lot of people” health coverage.

“Without Tom pushing it, I don’t think we would have had Romneycare,” Romney said. “Without Romneycare, I don’t think we would have Obamacare. So, without Tom a lot of people wouldn’t have health insurance.”

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The House of Representatives passed Friday what was supposed to be their best shot at an Obamacare repeal measure to get through the Senate and onto the President's desk. The only problem is, yet again, it faces a math problem in the Senate: not because of filibustering Democrats this time, but a few Republicans who say it doesn't go far enough.

The plan for the bill, The Restoring Americans’ Healthcare Freedom Reconciliation Act, was that it would overcome a Democratic filibuster in the Senate by using a legislative maneuver known as reconciliation, which only requires a majority in the Senate for passage. That makes it immune to a filibuster from minority Democrats. But the process is complicated, in part because reconciliation can only be used on measures that decrease the federal deficit. Full-scale Obamacare repeal, the Congressional Budget Office has said, would add $353 billion.

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Tea Party hardliners are hoping they can use the chaos in the House leadership to insulate themselves from a Chamber of Commerce seeking to dethrone them. But the Chamber is show no signs of backing off, given the far right's obstruction of many of its key priorities.

Speaking to reporters Friday in Washington at a breakfast sponsored by the Christian Science Monitor, Chamber President and CEO Thomas Donohue said it planned to "double down" in fighting the opposition it faces from hard right groups. He scoffed at reports that Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI), who is expected to be elected to speaker next week, had discussed with members of the House Freedom Caucus blocking the influence of the Chamber of Commerce in primary challenges. The Freedom Caucus -- the conservative group of members that have rocked the GOP conference -- has signaled that a speaker, as a condition of their support, would need to be willing to step in to block outside groups from funding candidates who challenge them.

"I'm glad about that," Donohue said, pointing to his earlier comments about doubling down in opposing the hard right.

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Over 10 hours into the Benghazi Committee's hearing on Thursday, Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD) got the first applause line.

As the energy to the room slowed into a slog over discussion of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's private email server, Cummings took his turn in the third round of questioning to issue an impassioned indictment of the committee's direction.

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If one knew nothing about the 2012 Benghazi attack before Thursday’s special committee hearing, he or she would think that Sid Blumenthal -- a former aide to President Clinton -- had led the attacks.

Time and time again, Republicans returned to Hillary Clinton’s relationship with Blumenthal, who has never been in Libya nor served in Clinton’s Department of State. On numerous times they brought up the emails that he sent her, the influence of his advice, where his missives were passed along and whether his communications were truly unsolicited.

Their justification for their focus on a side character in Clinton's universe seemed Clinton emailed Blumenthal -- a personal friend of the Clintons-- more than she did Ambassador Christopher Stevens, one of the four Americans killed in the attack. The name Sidney Blumenthal has become something of a dog whistle in right-wing circles -- for Clinton cronyism, rank politicization, and self-dealing -- but it remained unclear after hours of testimony how his emails further implicated Clinton in the Benghazi tragedy.

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