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Congress: Closer to a smaller deal

Politico: “House and Senate negotiators are pushing to finalize a small-scale deal to set spending levels and replace sequester cuts for the next two years, a potential respite in the bitter budget wars consuming Congress. The two congressional budget leaders — Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) and Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) — are considering a plan that would give relief to some of the domestic and defense programs most burdened by the sequester through 2015 by replacing those cuts with budgetary savings in other areas, according to sources familiar with the negotiations. New revenue through fee increases — not tax hikes — is likely.”

HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius will testify again Dec. 11.

Roll Call checks in on why Trey Radel still has a job after being busted for trying to buy cocaine: “According to sources familiar with the matter, it’s in part because they know the old saying that people who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones: There are probably similar skeletons in both parties’ closets.” And: “Florida Democrats have an incentive to keep Radel in office: He might be the only Republican potentially susceptible to a Democratic challenger in a district where 61 percent of voters chose Mitt Romney over Obama in the 2012 presidential election. Republicans, meanwhile, have drawn parallels to former Rep. Patrick J. Kennedy, D-R.I., in 2006, following his middle-of-the-night car crash into a Capitol barricade.”