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Congress: Testiness at Vote-A-Rama

“An exhausted Senate gave pre-dawn approval Saturday to a Democratic $3.7 trillion budget for next year that embraces nearly $1 trillion in tax increases over the coming decade but shelters domestic programs targeted for cuts by House Republicans,” USA Today writes. “While their victory was by a razor-thin 50-49, the vote let Democrats tout their priorities. Yet it doesn't resolve the deep differences the two parties have over deficits and the size of government.”

National Journal’s headline: “From Hoops to Harry Potter: Behind the Scenes of the Senate's All-Nighter.”

“Ted Cruz’s effort to tie United Nations funding to China’s abortion policy provoked a sharp, private rebuke from Mary L. Landrieu on the Senate floor Saturday morning,” Roll Call writes. 

The New York Times: “The nation’s 11 million illegal immigrants would have to wait a full decade for a green card but could earn citizenship just three years after that, under a provision being finalized by a bipartisan group of eight senators working to devise an overhaul of immigration law, several people with knowledge of the negotiations said. Taken together, the two waiting periods would provide the nation’s illegal immigrants with a path to United States citizenship in 13 years, matching the draft of a plan by President Obama to offer full participation in American democracy to millions who are living in fear of deportation.”

Roll Call: “The Senate’s bipartisan immigration working group split along party lines during a contentious budget vote to prevent illegal immigrants who receive legal status from receiving federal health benefits. The Senate early Saturday morning defeated the amendment to the budget resolution which would have put the Senate on record as opposing access to health care under Medicaid or the Affordable Care Act for undocumented immigrants who get a green card. The amendment, which failed 43 to 56, was offered by Senate Budget ranking member Jeff Sessions, R-Ala. All Democrats — including gang members Dick Durbin of Illinois, Bob Menendez of New Jersey, Charles E. Schumer of New York and Michael Bennet of Colorado — opposed the amendment. They were joined by Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, and Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska. All other Republicans — including immigration negotiators Marco Rubio of Florida, John McCain of Arizona, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Jeff Flake of Arizona — supported the amendment.”

“Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) has emerged as a key player if Senate Democrats are to have any chance of passing legislation to expand background checks for private sales of firearms,” The Hill writes. “McCain and Sens. Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Dean Heller (R-Nev.) are at the top of a list of Republicans considered most likely to sign on to legislation expanding background checks after talks with Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) stalled earlier this month. Sen. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) has signaled he will likely support the yet-to-be-finalized proposal he negotiated with Sens. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) to expand background checks to cover private gun sales, according to Senate sources.”

But, Roll Call writes that  “Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., doesn’t believe the gun violence legislation that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid plans to bring to the floor early next month has a chance to become law without significant changes.”

Now, Claire McCaskill’s (D-MO) is in favor of gay marriage. Said McCaskill: “I have come to the conclusion that our government should not limit the right to marry based on who you love. While churches should never be required to conduct marriages outside of their religious beliefs, neither should the government tell people who they have a right to marry.”

Money, money, mon-ay… “Republican fundraisers say the changing views of gay marriage in their party could unlock big money from GOP donors in places like New York, California and Florida — where some Republicans have kept their checkbooks closed over what they saw as misplaced priorities, at best, or intolerance, at worst, at the highest ranks of the party,” Politico writes. “Several Republicans pointed to Sen. Rob Portman’s switch in support of gay marriage as a watershed moment for the party. And more than two dozen high-profile Republicans asked the Supreme Court to back gay rights. And even Foster Friess, Rick Santorum’s top benefactor, has softened his stance on domestic partnership.”

Speaking of money… “The growing clout of Latino donors and voters has quietly boosted the fortunes of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, which has gained members, political leverage and fundraising power in the 113th Congress,” Roll Call reports.

Ted Cruz, per Politico: “The biggest surprise has been the defeatist attitude of many Republicans in Washington. A lot of Republicans felt beaten down, and that there was nothing they could do to stop the erosion of liberty in this country,” he told The Dallas Morning News. ““I’m referring to those who have been here a long time and have suffered some difficult election results and who I think were discouraged about being able to get anything done.”

“People pretending to work for Sen. Mark Pryor (D-Ark.) are calling Arkansas homes to find out how many guns families own, according to the lawmaker’s Twitter account,” The Hill writes.