Now the hard part

NOW THE HARD PART: The budget deal passed both chambers of Congress, but the deal only set a top-line number — lawmakers still have to figure out how to spend that money. “Appropriators from both parties and both sides of the Capitol have opened intentionally secretive negotiations on the mammoth and complex measure necessary to make good on the budgetary truce just called by Congress. The two-dozen or so members involved have given themselves less than three weeks to agree on the several thousand line items in the bill, which will be written as non-amendable legislation dictating all of the government’s discretionary spending for the final 37 weeks of this budget year,” writes David Hawkings. Lawmakers must work together to create the solution that is best for America: David Hawkings for Roll Call: Now the Hard Part: 3 Weeks to Apportion $1 Trillion
DEBT CEILING DATE: Treasury Secretary Jack Lew yesterday said the government will hit the debt ceiling in late February or early March after the department has exhausted extraordinary measures. “The creditworthiness of the United States is an essential underpinning of our strength as a nation … Increasing the debt limit does not authorize new spending commitments. It simply allows the government to pay for expenditures Congress has already approved,” Lew wrote in a letter to Congress. It appears, though, another debt ceiling fight is approaching as Republicans have come out in favor of demanding something for raising the debt ceiling while President Obama has said he will not negotiate: Annie Lowrey for The New York Times: Congress Is Warned Anew Not to Breach Debt Ceiling
DEAL IN PLACE: The Senate has reached a deal on nominations after many Republicans said they were leaving Washington early, causing Democrats to push through nominations. The most important part of the agreement, outside of stopping the political games, was the delay on the vote for Janet Yellen to lead the Federal Reserve. The vote will occur sometime in 2014: Pete Kasperowicz for The Hill: Senate hatches last minute deal
DEFENSE BILL PASSED: In a 84-15 vote, the Senate passed the National Defense Authorization Act. The $630 billion bill passed the House last week and is on its way to be signed by the president. If the bill did not pass, it would have been the first time in 50-plus years Congress did not pass the defense bill. Rather than wait until the last minute, Congress needs to govern for the future and start passing bills before the 11th hour: Michael Crittenden and Siobhan Hughes for The Wall Street Journal: Senate Passes Broad Defense Bill
NO LABELS RADIO: NBC News Chief White House Correspondent Chuck Todd joins No Labels Radio with Gov. Jon Huntsman this week to discuss this year in review. Tune in tomorrow at 10 a.m., Eastern time, to SiriusXM's P.O.T.U.S. station (channel 124) and join the conversation by tweeting with #NoLabelsRadio.
STAT OF THE DAY: The U.S. economy grew at a 4.1 percent annual rate in the third quarter. This is the highest percentage since 2011: Josh Mitchell for The Wall Street Journal: GDP Grows 4.1% in Third Quarter; Biggest Gain Since 2011

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