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Obama agenda: President huddles with Senate Democrats

“Senate and White House aides are offering few details about Obama’s appearance Wednesday at the Democrats’ annual retreat at a hotel in Annapolis, Md., but Obama is expected to address senators before engaging in a candid discussion about the toughest issues ahead,” the AP writes. On the agenda: Immigration, gun control, and spending cuts.

Tomorrow: “House Democrats will hear from Obama at their annual retreat Thursday in Leesburg, Va.”

“Top officials at three domestic agencies say they were instructed by the White House not to talk about the looming sequester cuts unless their talking points were first cleared by the Office of Management and Budget,” Politico writes. “The direction from the White House so infuriated Senate Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Barbara Mikulski that she’s planning a hearing next Thursday to give domestic agencies a chance to make their case by inviting officials from OMB, Treasury, Health and Human Services, Education, Housing and Urban Development and Homeland Security.” She said, “It’s been under a gag order. I’m against gag rules.”

The White House says it “also told the Cabinet that it was taking the lead in message operations on sequestration, according to three senior Obama administration officials. Yes, the agencies have a green light to talk about the spending cuts. But they must go through the OMB for coordination to avoid ‘causing mass confusion’ for millions of federal employees. ‘You don’t want to send mixed messages,’ said one senior aide.”

Josh Gerstein: “The leak of a secret Justice Department memo on using drones to kill U.S. citizens threw kerosene onto a simmering legal debate — but with most lawmakers showing no appetite to confront President Barack Obama publicly over the strikes, the politics of the issue remain frozen. Still, there’s little doubt the ‘white paper’ made its way to NBC News in an effort to draw more attention to drone questions just as Obama counterterrorism adviser John Brennan heads to his CIA director confirmation hearing Thursday.”

“President Barack Obama’s speeches have a familiar ring these days — no matter if it’s guns, immigration or the budget,” Politico notes. “Tout what he’s already done. Say the public’s in his corner. Demand Congress do something. Lament Washington dysfunction. Lay out his own plan. Avoid details. Urge voters to keep up the pressure. Warn it won’t be easy. Bask in the applause.”

The decision on whether to lift the national ban on gay members and troop leaders to the Boy Scouts is expected today. President Obama said he believes the Scouts should overturn their policy. Conservatives, like Texas Gov. Rick Perry and former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum say they should not.

Reuters: “The Boy Scouts touched off fierce lobbying by groups both for and against changing the policy when it said late last month that it was considering removing the national restriction based on sexual orientation and leaving the decision to local chapters. The national executive board, which lists more than 70 members, has been meeting privately since Monday at a hotel near Boy Scouts headquarters in Irving, Texas. The Boy Scouts released no details about the deliberations on Tuesday.”