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Congress: Still no sign of compromise

David Rogers: “The outlook [on a sequester compromise] is not promising, and all signs indicate the cuts must first go into effect Friday before there can be any real movement toward a deal.

Roll Call: “Speaker John A. Boehner’s decision to wait on the Senate before taking up a sequester replacement bill may be more tied to his own difficulties getting the votes for one than to a calculated political messaging strategy.”

“The Republicans’ message on the sequester couldn’t be clearer: They don’t have a unified one,” Politico writes. “There seem to be three distinct camps: Most congressional Republicans appear willing to let the sequester happen since they can’t replace it in time. Others want the cuts to be even deeper. And still others wish that House Speaker John Boehner and President Barack Obama would just get in the same room and negotiate a deal, even if it includes the tax hikes that most Republicans abhor. But in the spin war with Obama — who has had one consistent message of late: that the massive, across-the-board spending cuts set to take effect March 1 will gut cherished programs — the message muddle has put the GOP at a disadvantage.”

But: “Behind the rhetorical war over who is to blame for the sequester, Senate Democrats and Republicans are putting forward proposals that could be the foundation of a future deal to replace the automatic spending cuts likely to take effect Friday,” Roll Call notes.

“Ask Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett and Utah Gov. Gary Herbert what they think of Hill Republicans’ strategy on the sequester, and you get the exact same response: ‘What strategy?’ Politico notes. “It’s a sign that Republican governors might be still giving President Barack Obama a lot of the blame for the sequester — but they're fed up with their own side, too. Their message for House Speaker John Boehner and other GOP leaders: It’s not OK to just sit on the sidelines. It’s time to do something to stop the automatic cuts, and fast.” For example, Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell: “They need to stop having press conferences and start meeting. The time for shows is over. We’ve had 18 months.”

Politico: “It's a reality check moment for the Republican Party, with state leaders fearing they'll be left to clean up the economic disaster back home if Washington can't overcome its partisan stalemate.”

The challenge even gun background checks face in Congress… Tom Coburn says the Senate’s not that close to a deal on even background checks.

And: “The National Rifle Association’s Wayne LaPierre told a crowd of about 1,200 in Salt Lake City Saturday that the federal government wants universal background checks to generate lists of registered firearms so they’ll be easier to seize by federal officials,” the Salt Lake Tribune reports. LaPierre said, “It’s aimed at registering your guns. And when another tragic opportunity presents itself, that registry will be used to confiscate your guns." More: "Picture this: your name, your address on a map giving directions to your home that could include a list of all the specific firearms you own," LaPierre said. "That’s a pretty handy list if you’re a seasoned criminal or a drug dealer or a gang member, isn’t it? How safe to do you think that government list would be?"

Ex-Sen. Judd Gregg (R-NH) says both sides should work together on fiscal issues and hints that that means increasing revenue as well as cutting spending. “If interest costs for the federal government simply return to their historic levels, it will add $400-or-500 billion of new expenses to the annual federal balance sheet.  This will overwhelm any tax increase even this president can contemplate and any spending cuts that even the most ardent House Republican could pursue,” he writes.