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Congress; Shut it down?

“Republicans have decided that the sequester scheduled for March 1 — not a government-funding bill due at the end of March — is where they’ll make their stand on spending cuts,” The Hill writes. “After the bruising political battles of the last Congress, GOP leaders have decided the looming automatic spending cuts provide the best leverage to move President Obama to negotiate on costly entitlement programs.”

A new era… Ted Cruz (R-TX), who was just sworn in a month ago, has made waves with his loaded hearing questions and even accusing Chuck Hagel of being “cozy” with Iran. Now, some conservative are leaping to his defense. “Senator Ted Cruz came to Washington to advance conservative policies, not play by the same old rules that have relegated conservatives, and their ideas, to the back bench,” Michael Needham, president of the influential Heritage Action said.

Menendez watch: “Under investigation for alleged ethics lapses, Menendez traveled to Afghanistan and Pakistan over the weekend for his first foreign trip since taking over as chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee following John Kerry's confirmation as secretary of State,” The Hill writes. “The trip brought renewed unwelcome attention to his troubles at home after the official website of Afghan President Hamid Karzai on Tuesday published photos that purport to show Menendez and Karzai discussing the ‘fight against corruption.’”

How out of control has the Chuck Hagel opposition become? A Daily News reporter says he posed a sarcastic question to a GOP aide of whether Hagel took money from any groups like “Friends of Hamas,” an over-the-top, non-existent group, and the next thing he knew it was a headline on a conservative website.

National Journal says Jim Risch (R-ID) is the Senate’s “most conservative” member. Dick Blumenthal (D-CT) and Tom Udall (D-NM) tied for “most liberal.”