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Ryan Budget passes House

By a vote of 221 to 207, the House of Representatives passed the budget authored by Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI). Ten Republicans joined all Congressional Democrats in voting against the Ryan Budget. The 10 Republicans were a combination of Tea Party types — like Rep. Paul Brown (R-GA) and Rep. Justin Amash (R-MI) — along with Republicans in swing districts — like Rep. Chris Gibson (R-NY) and Rep. Joe Heck (R-NV).

Senate Democrats have proposed their own budget – authored by Budget Committee Chair Patty Murray (D-WA) — that is vastly different from the approach taken by the Ryan Budget.

Government shut down averted

A government shutdown was averted this week after both chambers passed temporary funding measures. At one point, observers believed that Tea Party conservatives would force a fight over the issue. Instead of a nasty partisan fight, however, there was a rare sighting in Washington: wide bipartisan agreement. The Senate on Wednesday approved a short-term measure to fund the government after March 27 on a 73-26 vote, and the House followed, passing the measure with a 318-109 vote Thursday.

To blunt the impact of the sequester, the House introduced new priorities for military spending in its bill. The Senate measure added several other areas, including agriculture, commerce, science, justice, and homeland security.

Second term cabinet updates

The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee voted to confirm Sally Jewell as Interior Secretary on a 19-3 vote. Her nomination now moves to the floor for a full confirmation vote.

President Obama’s pick to head the Environmental Protection Agency hit a bump in the road when Sen. Roy Blunt (R-MO) announced he would place a hold on Gina McCarthy’s nomination until he receives an update on a levee repair project in his state.

Also this week, President Obama nominated Thomas Perez, the assistant attorney general for civil rights, as the next Labor secretary.

Paul for comprehensive immigration reform

This week Senator Rand Paul (R-KY), a leading libertarian and Tea Party voice in the U.S. Senate, announced his support for comprehensive immigration reform that includes what he described as a “path to legal status.” Paul, however, avoided going as far as saying he supported a path to “citizenship.” Paul is the latest leading Republican to announce support for comprehensive immigration reform. Paul’s announcement, particularly given his positioning as a potential 2016 candidate for President, shows just how much the Republican Party has moved on the immigration issue since the November elections.

Paul’s public support for comprehensive immigration reform came just days after he won the 2016 Presidential straw poll at the 2013 Conservative Political Action Conference.

Senate gun control bill won’t include assault weapons ban

In a blow to gun control advocate's efforts, it was announced this week that Senate gun control legislation, expected to be introduced after the Easter recess, will not include a ban on assault weapons.

The Democratic-controlled Senate Judiciary Committee has already passed four pieces of gun legislation out of committee: legislation regarding straw purchasing; an assault weapons ban, which included limits on gun magazine sizes; a grant program for school security; and enhanced background checks for gun buyers.

The bill that will hit the floor of the Senate will include the straw purchasing provisions, is likely to include the school safety measure, and may be expanded to include the enhanced background checks.

U.S. oil production to surpass imports

For the first time since 1995, U.S. oil production is set to surpass U.S. oil imports. Read more.

Political bits: Fundraising The National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) raised $2.2M in February, roughly half of the Democratic Senate Campaign Committee’s (DSCC) $4.3M haul last month. In 2013, the DSCC has collected $8.5M to the NRSC's $3.7M. The DSCC is expected to maintain its fundraising edge over its Republican counterpart throughout the cycle. Still, DSCC officials say they expect Democrats in general to be outspent during the midterm elections because Republican outside groups are better funded than their Democratic counterparts. Meanwhile, the National Republican Congressional Committee raised a "record" $14.4M at its annual March dinner this week. House

South Carolina – 1st Congressional District Special: State Sen. Larry Grooms (R) conceded second place in Tuesday's GOP primary. Ex-Charleston Co. Councilor Curtis Bostic (R) will now face ex-Gov. Mark Sanford (R) in the April 2 runoff. The winner of that runoff will face Democratic nominee Elizabeth Colbert Busch — comedian Stephen Colbert’s sister.

Senate

Georgia: Rep. John Barrow (D) told supporters in an email that he is giving the seat "serious consideration" and is seeking their input on a bid. Barrow, one of the House’s most conservative Democrats, would be a formidable challenger. Also in Georgia, Rep. Tom Price (R) met with senior officials at the National Republican Senatorial Committee and is said to be mulling a run.

West Virginia: Attorney Nick Preservati (D), a wealthy, pro-coal Democrat in the style of Sen. Joe Manchin (D), has spoken with the DSCC and is "seriously considering" a bid. Rep. Shelly Moore-Capito (R) is the likely Republican nominee for this seat.

A look ahead:

The House and the Senate will be in recess next week, but here are a few items on the horizon for both chambers:

Look for the Senate to take up gun control after the Easter recess.

As gun-control legislation moves to the Senate floor, it clears the way for the Senate Judiciary Committee to take up its next high-profile topic: immigration.

Washington by the numbers:

$876 — The amount the federal government pays each year to two children of Civil War veterans, the only two individuals left receiving veterans benefits from the Civil War.

Washington humor:

“I’d say this is the loudest gathering of Irishmen in Washington since the last time Joe Biden dined alone.” — Speaker John Boehner at the Friends of Ireland Luncheon Tuesday on the Hill

 Steven C. LaTourette, President | 202.737.8933

McDonald Hopkins Government Strategies LLC
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