Wall Street Journal: "House Republican leaders threw their weight behind a two-year budget deal, planning to bring it to a vote Thursday as opposition in both parties failed to gain enough traction to threaten passage. Few lawmakers expressed enthusiasm for the narrowly focused agreement reached by House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan (R., Wis.) and his Senate counterpart, Budget Chairman Patty Murray (D., Wash.), to ease the effect of across-the-board spending cuts known as the sequester."
Washington Post: "The moment seemed to mark a potentially significant shift by House Republicans away from the uncompromising confrontation of recent years and toward a determined era of more functional governance. After multiple standoffs and threatened defaults and one actual shutdown, polls show that the Republican brand has been badly damaged among voters, and even some of the most conservative Republicans said they were ready for a breather."
The Hill: "Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and
Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) are headed for a rare split on the budget deal....McConnell and Senate GOP Whip John Cornyn (Texas), who both face Tea Party-backed primary challengers next year, will vote against the bipartisan budget pact."
New York Times: "With a modest, bipartisan blueprint on taxes and spending, Mr. Ryan is taking a risk he has previously shied away from, putting what party leaders see as a crucial need — ending the debilitating budget wars in Washington that have crippled the Republican brand — over his own self-interests with the conservative activists that dominate the early Republican presidential primaries. For the first time, the conservative wunderkind and former vice-presidential nominee is taking withering fire from movement conservatives who see the deal as a betrayal by a former ally. Potential rivals for the Republican presidential nomination in 2016 immediately went on the attack, blasting the deal and challenging Mr. Ryan’s status as the thinking man’s conservative."
National Journal: "Ryan—also a possible presidential candidate—now finds himself in the awkward position of trying to sell an agreement blessed by President Obama to a conservative base that reflexively opposes anything with a whiff of bipartisanship. It's a spot Rubio knows all too well: He doggedly pitched an immigration-reform bill earlier this year only to get hammered by tea-party activists and watch his poll numbers flop."
Politico: Conservative activists are hitting back. More than 50 high profile conservatives signed onto a statement Wednesday responding to both House Speaker John Boehner’s harsh words for conservative groups earlier in the day and to the firing of the Republican Study Committee’s long-time executive director Paul Teller."
National Journal: "Senate Republicans are ready to keep the Senate open through 6 a.m. Sunday, with members scheduled to speak on the floor throughout the weekend to decry Majority Leader Harry Reid for changing the Senate's rules. The decision to jab back at Reid over a series of executive nominations was firmed up Wednesday at a conference meeting, Senate GOP aides said. But whether the Senate remains in session through the weekend depends in part on whether Democrats yield back their debate time. Democrats will likely yield back much of the debate time on the 10 pending nominees, but said that whether the Senate stays in session over the weekend was still in flux, a Senate Democratic leadership aide said."
NBC's Carrie Dann: "Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius on Wednesday pledged a “relentless” push to continue improving the HealthCare.gov website and formally announced an inspector general review of the process that led to its botched rollout."
NBC News: "Tennessee Sen. Lamar Alexander, R, placed his chief of staff on administrative leave without pay after the staffer's personal residence was searched in connection to a child pornography investigation. Alexander, a veteran senator who's up for re-election in 2014, said that law enforcement agents had conducted a search this morning of the residence of Ryan Loskarn."
CALIFORNIA: The Hill: "California House candidate Carl DeMaio wants to be known as a GOP problem solver, not as one of two openly gay Republicans running for Congress this year....In an interview at the National Republican Congressional Committee’s offices, he expressed frustration with his party’s focus on gay marriage, abortion and other social issues, and argued it was costing the GOP votes."
FLORIDA: Roll Call's Abby Livingston: "Former game show host Bob Barker will endorse GOP lobbyist David Jolly in a television ad on Thursday that will air during a special episode of “The Price is Right.” 'Because with Jolly, the choice is right,” says Barker in the spot."
NEW HAMPSHIRE: Nashua Telegraph: "Scott Brown has yet to become a candidate in New Hampshire, but he’s under attack from the right and the left leading up to his top billing appearance at a state Republican fundraiser in Nashua next week. The Telegraph has confirmed the conservative New Hampshire Firearms Coalition has issued a call to arms of its membership to picket Brown’s remarks at the Hunt Memorial Building for a holiday fundraiser benefiting the Republican State Committee."
NORTH CAROLINA: Politico's Manu Raju travels to the Tar Heel State to look at the state of play against Sen. Kay Hagan (D). "The race underscores the larger challenges facing both parties nationally as they head into the midterms. Democrats are struggling to survive in conservative states as they try to combat Obama’s growing unpopularity and antipathy to the health care law they helped enact. But Republicans are at risk of overreaching with a sharply conservative agenda at a time when their elected leaders are shifting further to the right and independent voters are angry at both parties."
SOUTH DAKOTA: The Hill: "Rick Weiland doesn’t yet have the support of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), but he is confident that will happen soon enough. Reid and Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee Chairman Michael Bennet (Colo.) have been skeptical of Weiland’s candidacy to replace retiring Sen. Tim Johnson (D-S.D.). They have been looking in vain for another candidate, and the filing deadline is just a few months away."