“The House is expected to vote Thursday on a two-year deal that would represent the first bipartisan budget compromise of the new divided-government era,” The Hill writes. “GOP leaders expect their measure will pass, despite complaints from House Democrats that it includes a fix to prevent a cut in doctor payments but does not extend federal unemployment benefits set to expire this month. Most Republicans appear to be backing Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) and GOP leaders, although some conservatives will oppose it over concerns it does not cut spending deeply enough.”
Even though Senate Republicans don’t like the deal, they say it will pass.
The CBO, by the way, says the budget will cut the deficit by $85 billion over the next 10 years.
Wall Street Journal: "House Republican leaders threw their weight behind a two-year budget deal, planning to bring it to a vote Thursday as opposition in both parties failed to gain enough traction to threaten passage. Few lawmakers expressed enthusiasm for the narrowly focused agreement reached by House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan (R., Wis.) and his Senate counterpart, Budget Chairman Patty Murray (D., Wash.), to ease the effect of across-the-board spending cuts known as the sequester."
Washington Post: "The moment seemed to mark a potentially significant shift by House Republicans away from the uncompromising confrontation of recent years and toward a determined era of more functional governance. After multiple standoffs and threatened defaults and one actual shutdown, polls show that the Republican brand has been badly damaged among voters, and even some of the most conservative Republicans said they were ready for a breather."
The Hill: "Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) are headed for a rare split on the budget deal....McConnell and Senate GOP Whip John Cornyn (Texas), who both face Tea Party-backed primary challengers next year, will vote against the bipartisan budget pact."
The Hill: “Shortly after 1 a.m. Thursday, the Senate voted 51-44 to confirm Nina Pillard as the next D.C. Circuit Court judge. Republicans forced Democrats to use all 30 hours of debate on Pillard’s nomination by not agreeing to yield back any time.”
In their talkathon, Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) compared President Obama to the Queen of England.
National Journal: "Senate Republicans are ready to keep the Senate open through 6 a.m. Sunday, with members scheduled to speak on the floor throughout the weekend to decry Majority Leader Harry Reid for changing the Senate's rules. The decision to jab back at Reid over a series of executive nominations was firmed up Wednesday at a conference meeting, Senate GOP aides said. But whether the Senate remains in session through the weekend depends in part on whether Democrats yield back their debate time. Democrats will likely yield back much of the debate time on the 10 pending nominees, but said that whether the Senate stays in session over the weekend was still in flux, a Senate Democratic leadership aide said."
NBC News: "Tennessee Sen. Lamar Alexander, R, placed his chief of staff on administrative leave without pay after the staffer's personal residence was searched in connection to a child pornography investigation. Alexander, a veteran senator who's up for re-election in 2014, said that law enforcement agents had conducted a search this morning of the residence of Ryan Loskarn."
Politico magazine looks at John Boehner’s “pet alligator problem,” aka the tea party.
Politico: “The conservative Republican Study Committee, the bastion of right-wing strategy on Capitol Hill, has fired its longtime executive director Paul Teller, accusing him of leaking conversations with lawmakers.”