BUDGET BATTLES AHEAD: House Republicans are expected to release their budget tomorrow while Senate Democrats are expected to release their version on Thursday, leading to plenty of debate ahead. “A Senate budget debate is never for the faint of heart and this year is going to be especially difficult," says Sen. Ron Wyden. Meanwhile, President Barack Obama has yet release his budget. Presenting a budget is just the first step — leaders need to come together to pass a budget and all appropriations bills and present a plan for our country's long-term financial future: Erik Wasson and Bernie Becker for The Hill: Senate Dems strain to get budget over finish line by Easter recess
BREAKING THE ICE:
While gridlock has kept our elected officials from reaching long-term solutions for our country's problems, E.J. Dionne says that the partisan ice may be breaking. He points to the progress made on gun reform and immigration as opportunities for Democrats and Republicans to work together. "Hope about anything in our politics seems outlandishly risky these days. But we have had a taste of how less-rigid partisanship can enliven and add substance to our debates. We might get to like it," he writes: E.J. Dionne for The Washington Post: Is Congress seeing a break in the partisan ice?
STARTING TO TALK:
Rep. Paul Ryan said that the lunch he had with President Barack Obama on Thursday was the first conversation that he has had with the president that lasted longer than two minutes. That lunch was a good first step, because without meetings like that how can Washington govern effectively? Byron Tau for POLITICO: Ryan: Lunch was first real talk with Obama
Lawmakers are quietly optimistic that President Obama's new approach of reaching out to members in the Republican party may produce results. "I think he would actually like to solve the problems of the country, and it would be to his benefit and certainly every American's benefit if he did that. It's time to start leading, and the way you do that is quit poking your fingers in people's eyes and start building relationships, and I think he's got a great chance to accomplish a big deal," Sen. Tom Coburn said: Kevin Liptak for CNN: Republicans, while skeptical, welcome Obama outreach
AGREEMENT ON IMMIGRATION:
Members of the Gang of Eight have privately agreed on one of the most controversial parts of immigration reform, how to offer legal status to the 11 million illegal immigrants currently in the country. While there is still work to be done, immigration experts are saying that the news is encouraging, comparing immigration policy to a Rubik's Cube with more sides matching in color than ever before: Brian Bennett for the Los Angeles Times: Senators agree on path to legal status for illegal immigrants