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Congress: Once again, focus on the Senate

The Washington Post: "It is the narrowly divided Democratic-led Senate - not the Republican House - that is most likely to tackle the bipartisan initiatives Obama laid out Tuesday, including free-trade deals, border security and immigration reform, and an overhaul of the corporate tax code."

More: Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (Nev.) and his leadership colleagues have worked behind the scenes with their GOP counterparts to overhaul a set of arcane procedural rules, with the aim of curtailing filibusters and allowing a more free-flowing debate... The Senate is not expected to go as far as the freshmen would like, but senior Senate aides said Reid and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) are close to a gentleman's agreement aimed at curbing disruptive practices. Senators plan to try the new approach with modest initiatives. One starting point under discussion is a slate of pending non-controversial judicial nominations that stalled last year on the Senate floor, aides said." 

The New York Times says that House Republicans are split on cutting military spending. "The discordant Republican voices on military spending have bred confusion on Capitol Hill, among military contractors and within the military itself, where no one is exactly sure what the members backed by the Tea Party will do. It also shows why taking on the military budget will be so hard, even though a widening deficit has led the president and the leaders of both parties to say this time they are serious."

"A Republican-run House hearing on eliminating federal regulations quickly erupted into partisanship yesterday, as GOP lawmakers said many rules cost American jobs while Democrats insisted they protect public health, the environment, and even national security," AP reports.

House Speaker John Boehner now says he made a mistake when he said the retirement age should be raised. "I made a mistake when I did that because I think having the conversation about how big the problem is is the first step," Boehner told CNN. "And once the American people understand how big the problem is, then you can begin to outline an array of possible solutions."

"By voting Wednesday to abolish public financing for presidential campaigns, House Republicans endorsed a policy that could cause serious problems for one particular group: fellow Republicans hoping to run for the White House in 2012," the Washington Post says. (The legislation is unlikely to move any farther than the House, though.)

The Senate Tea Party Caucus kicks off today, but "already, a handful of freshman Republicans who garnered the backing of tea party activists in 2010 have declined to join or claimed to have given the matter little thought. And some veteran GOP Senators, while expressing strong support for tea party principles, doubted the group’s ability to affect policy," Roll Call writes.

That’s the pits, man: Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) "is suing over a sandwich he bought at a U.S. House of Representatives cafeteria nearly three years ago. His lunch contained an unpitted olive, which caused 'serious and permanent dental and oral injuries,' according to the Jan. 3 lawsuit," the New York Daily News writes.