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First Read's Morning Clips

A roundup of the most important news stories of the day

CONGRESS: Spending bill passes the Senate

The New York Times delves into the details of the spending bill that passed the Senate late Saturday night.

Here's NBC's story from over the weekend on the late-night passage of the bill:

The Washington Post's Jennifer Rubin: "The vote and drama that preceded it were indicative of the upcoming shift in power in the Senate, not only from Democratic to Republican but from cranks on the far right to constructive conservative legislation. Cruz can annoy and grandstand, but he no longer will affect outcomes of legislative fights, and his reputation as a showboating dilettante is cemented."

The Senate will approve more nominations this week, notes the New York Times.

OBAMA AGENDA: Terror in Australia?

Unfolding this morning, via the Sydney Morning Herald: "A man brandishing a gun and an Islamic flag took customers and staff hostage at a cafe in Martin Place, sparking a terrifying standoff with police and desperate communications by hostages of the gunman's purported demands."

The New York Times on Obama's relationship with John Brennan: "Irritated advisers to Mr. Obama believe Mr. Brennan made a bad situation worse by battling Democrats on the committee over the report during the past year. Some who considered Mr. Brennan the president’s heat shield against the agency when he worked in the White House now worry that since being appointed director, he has “gone native,” as they put it. But in the 67 years since the C.I.A. was founded, few presidents have had as close a bond with their intelligence chiefs as Mr. Obama has forged with Mr. Brennan. "

Former Vice President Dick Cheney kept up his defense of interrogation techniques in an exclusive interview with one of us(!) on Sunday.

The Associated Press: "The release last week of a Senate report cataloging years of such interrogation tactics has revived debate about legal opinions since discredited and withdrawn and about the decision to not prosecute the program's architects or officers who used the methods. Civil rights groups in the United States and abroad are renewing calls to prosecute those who relied on techniques that President Barack Obama has called torture."

Former President George W. Bush visited the 9/11 museum on Sunday night, the New York Post reports.

The New Yorker has a big new piece on Samantha Power.

OFF TO THE RACES: Jeb Bush’s big signal

NBC's Leigh Ann Caldwell writes that GOP donors are worried about a crowded crop of moderates in the presidential race.

The Washington Post: "Jeb Bush’s decision to release a policy-laden e-book and all his e-mails from his time as governor of Florida has further stoked expectations among his allies that he will launch a presidential bid. Bush announced the moves in an expansive interview that aired Sunday on a Miami television station. He mused about the kind of campaign he would run and addressed his views on immigration and education reform that rile parts of the GOP base."

Here's the full interview.

The Post also muses: "Amid Warren buzz, Clinton might do well not to wait too long to announce 2016 bid"

Bernie Sanders writes in the Des Moines Register: "Are we prepared to take on the enormous economic and political power of the billionaire class or do we continue to slide into oligarchy? Those are the most important questions of our time. The answers will determine our country’s future."

ALASKA: Don Young says: "The only time I’ll retire is when people want to retire me."

NEW HAMPSHIRE: Don’t be surprised if defeated Rep. Carol Shea-Porter (D-NH) makes another bid in 2016. "I haven't decided what comes next but I just know that I plan to be engaged and to serve," she told NH1’s Paul Steinhauser. "Everything is on the table," she added.


*** Monday’s “News Nation with Tamron Hall” line-up: Frances Rivera interviews: Former FBI profiler Clint Van Zandt, Daily Beast Reporter in Sydney, Courtney Subramanian, and Fmr. Hostage Negotiator Jim Cavanaugh on the Sydney hostage situation; Matthew Beloni from The Hollywood Reporter on the Sony hacking; and Michael Skolnik from Global Grind on the marches against police violence.

*** Monday’s “Andrea Mitchell Reports” line-up: NBC’s Andrea Mitchell interviews New York Times National Security Correspondent Mark Mazzetti, Fmr. Assistant Secretary of Defense for Special Operations and Low-intensity conflict Michael Sheeran, MSNBC Analyst and retired ATF Special Agent in Charge Jim Cavanaugh, Variety’s Ramin Setoodeh, the Washington Post’s Chris Cillizza and Ruth Marcus, msnbc’s Kasie Hunt and NBC’s Keir Simmons.