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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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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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Former Security of State Hillary Clinton channeled her righteous anger on Thursday to defend the integrity of security officials who protect U.S. diplomats across the globe.

"I would put them up against anybody," Clinton told a GOP congressman during testimony before the House Select Committee on Benghazi. "And I just cannot allow any comment to be in the record in any way criticizing or disparaging them."

The exchange began when Rep. Lynn Westmoreland (R-GA) brought up their abilities during Thursday's Benghazi Committee hearing:

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Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton pushed back at Rep. Susan Brooks' (R-IN) questions about the seeming dearth of emails in the months leading up to the 2012 Benghazi attack by saying she did not conduct most of her business by email.

At the House Benghazi Committee hearing Thursday, Brooks presented Clinton with stacks of email from 2011 and 2012, with the 2011 stack being noticeably larger. The implication from Brooks was that Libya had fallen off Clinton's radar by the time of the Sept. 11, 2012 attack in Benghazi that killed four Americans.

"Well, congresswoman, I did not conduct most of the business that I did on behalf of our country on email," Clinton said. "I conducted it in meetings. I read massive amounts of memos, a great deal of classified information. I made a lot of secure phone calls. I was in and out of the White House all the time. There were a lot of things that happened that I was aware of and that I was reacting to. If you were to be in my office in the State Department, I didn't have a computer. I did not do the vast majority of my work on email."

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House Benghazi committee Chairman Rep. Trey Growdy (R-SC) bashed other GOP-led investigations into the 2012 terrorist attack in Libya on Thursday in an effort to defend the existence of his own.

The Select Committee on Benghazi has been under scrutiny since some Republicans suggested political motivations or effects of the investigation as former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton runs for President.

In his opening remarks ahead of Clinton's testimony on Thursday, Gowdy launched into the questions he said the committee sought to answer.

"Even after an Accountability Review Board and half a dozen congressional investigations, these and other questions still lingered. These questions lingered because those previous investigations were not thorough," Gowdy said. "These questions lingered because those previous investigations were narrow in scope and either incapable or unwilling to access the facts and evidence necessary to answer all relevant questions."

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