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Congress: Finishing up the budget

"Democrats hope to put an exclamation point on President Obama's first 100 days in office this week by winning final approval of a $3.5 trillion budget that could trigger a war with Senate Republicans," the New York Times says. "The leadership would like the members of the formal House-Senate conference committee to officially sign off on the agreement today and be ready for votes in the House Tuesday and the Senate Wednesday. Though the president does not sign the budget, the administration still sees the Congressional action as a fitting way to celebrate Mr. Obama's 100th day in office since it encapsulates many of his major initiatives on health care, energy, education and transportation."

"Nancy Pelosi didn't cry foul when the Bush administration briefed her on 'enhanced interrogation' of terror suspects in 2002, but her team was locked and loaded to counter hypocrisy charges when the "torture" memos were released last week," Politico writes, adding, "But Pelosi's allies were less prepared to confront the fallout from her convoluted answers during three sessions with reporters last week — answers that raised new questions and handed Republicans a fresh line of attack on a speaker at the height of her power."

"House and Senate Republicans intend to ramp up their attack of the Democratic-sponsored clean-energy legislation this week in an effort to brand the measure a 'national energy tax,'" The Hill reports. "According to a GOP leadership aide, the Democrats' American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009 that minority party members refer to as 'cap and tax' offers them a 'huge opportunity, and we will use it to hammer that tax message in a communications offensive over the next four weeks -- that this bill amounts to a national energy tax that will destroy jobs and increase costs for every single American.'"

There was a little tension between President Obama and House Minority Whip Eric Cantor at that meeting of congressional leaders last week, Politico says. On a letter written by Republican leaders on bipartisanship: "Obama brought up the letter and noted that not a single House Republican had backed his economic stimulus bill. According to a firsthand account of the meeting, Cantor took exception: 'With all due respect, Mr. President, we offered you ideas on the stimulus plan directly, and they were ignored completely.' Cantor suggested that if he were to view the stimulus negotiations through a partisan lens, he would argue Democrats started the 'party of no' name-calling about the same time that Obama was meeting with House Republicans to discuss the stimulus plan.

More: "In response, the president reminded Cantor that Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) had urged House Republicans to unite in opposition to his stimulus plans even before they had met with him to discuss it. … Obama asked Cantor to present him with a list of places where the federal government could save more money. The self-described conservative eagerly agreed. 'You can expect us to have something very soon,' Cantor said, explaining that he's 'looking for wherever there is waste or duplicative spending.'"