Senate's Making A List And Checking It Twice

By MICHAEL FALCONE ( @michaelpfalcone )


  • IN CASE YOU MISSED IT: In a rare Saturday session, the Senate approved a $1.1 trillion spending measure that would fund most of the government for nine months, capping off a week of high-stakes drama over the funding bill and avoiding any government shutdown in the near future. ABC's ARLETTE SAENZ reports the Senate voted 56 to 40 to approve the measure. The bill will now head to the White House for President Obama's signature. The spending measure will fund the government, except for the Department of Homeland Security, through next September. The DHS will be funded through Feb. 27, a timeframe designed to give Republican lawmakers an opportunity to tackle Obama's executive action on immigration.
  • THIS WEEK ON THE HILL: The Senate crossed off a major item on its to-do list this weekend when it passed the $1.1 trillion spending bill, clearing the way for the upper chamber to move on to other items, ABC's ARLETTE SAENZ reports. Today the Senate will vote on the nomination of Vivek Murthy to be Surgeon General. The White House was forced to pull his nomination last spring after intense pressure from the NRA. Republican Senators oppose Murthy because of his anti-gun rights beliefs. Other to-do list items this week include: more nominations, tax extenders and a renewal of the Terrorism Risk Insurance Act.


ABC's SHUSHANNAH WALSHE: It was a weekend chock full of 2016 news. First, former Florida governor and potential presidential candidate Jeb Bush told our Miami affiliate WPLG not only was he planning on releasing an e-book, but with it 250,000 e mails or "all of my e-mails," according to Bush. It's a sign towards a presidential run, but also a warning against his potential rivals. It's a sign of transparency, but also a warning shot against possible primary opponents, as well as a general election rival (namely, Hillary Clinton). Every one of his e mails from his time in office will be on display, will theirs? And it wasn't just Jeb Bush making news. Late last night, the group "Ready for Romney" showed they weren't exactly ready, but possibly trying. They sent out a press release announcing their existence to a group of reporters, but many-if not all-received e mails back from that group or other reporters looking for information about the group or to be added to their list. Not exactly ready. Mitt Romney-of all potential candidates-is likely more "ready" than others with former staff and donors able to rev up a new campaign pretty quickly. Of course, he's repeatedly denied wanting to run again…and his wife agrees.

ABC's RICK KLEIN: The disorganized end of the "cromnibus" debate bought a fiscal year's worth of (mostly) budget peace. But it came with costs not reflected in the $1.1 trillion price tag. Among them, it's now clear that there's no single Democratic Party any more than there's been a single Republican Party. Functionally, there are four parties that need to be taken into account in the Senate: two party establishments, and two wings that are arguably more in touch with the vocal grassroots. There are the McConnell Republicans and the Reid Democrats, and then the Cruz Republicans and the Warren Democrats. One group won't be close to powerful enough to do anything by itself next year. And the four parties will begin doing battle on the 2016 playing field, possibly with some of their Senate leaders in the mix. It's dizzying to think about the alliances could emerge; it's dispiriting to think about the divisions that could dominate.



WHY JEB BUSH IS RELEASING A GIANT BATCH OF E-MAILS FROM HIS YEARS AS FLORIDA GOVERNOR. Jeb Bush says he is planning to release 250,000 e-mails from his years as governor of Florida as well as a new e-book -perhaps the firmest indication to date he is moving toward a presidential run, ABC's RICK KLEIN and MICHAEL FALCONE report. In an interview with ABC's Miami affiliate WPLG-TV, Bush said he plans to "make up my mind in short order" about jumping into the 2016 race. Bush said the e-mails would be made public early next year. He decided to release them, he said, in the interest of "transparency" and in order to "let people make up their mind."

FORMER CIA DIRECTOR MICHAEL HAYDEN ACKNOWLEDGES 'HUMAN TOLL' ON INTERROGATORS. Former CIA Director Gen. Michael Hayden acknowledged the "human toll" taken on by CIA interrogators who participated in the use of so-called "enhanced interrogation techniques" in the years following 9/11, ABC's BEN BELL reports. "I would be very, very disappointed if this did not take a human toll on our CIA interrogators, because after all, although that person across the table from you was a terrorist, he's also a human being," Hayden told ABC's MARTHA RADDATZ on "This Week." Hayden told Raddatz he thought the use of EIT's was successful, but said his support for the use of waterboarding would "depend on the totality of circumstances at the time."

REP. JOE BARTON: COLLEGE FOOTBALL PLAYOFF WILL 'FAIL EVERY YEAR'; CONGRESS MAY EXAMINE NEXT YEAR. A leading congressional critic of college football's old Bowl Championship Series believes the new playoff system is an improvement - but far from perfect after two big-name schools from his home state were left on the outside looking in, ABC's RICK KLEIN reports. Rep. Joe Barton, R-Texas, said the inaugural four-team playoff that shut out Baylor and Texas Christian University never could have been broad enough to include top teams from the five "power" conferences plus high-profile independent schools. "The system as they have it now is going to fail every year," Barton said on the ESPN/ABC News podcast "Capital Games." Barton previously used his perch as chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee to convene hearings on the much-maligned BCS, even pushing legislation to prod the NCAA to ban it in favor of a playoff system. Now, he said, additional oversight hearings on the new system could be in order, under the leadership of Chairman Fred Upton, R-Mich.

BILLIONAIRE DAVID KOCH SAYS HE'S A SOCIAL LIBERAL. Reclusive billionaire David Koch, a powerful donor in American conservative politics, says he's a "social liberal." "I'm basically a libertarian, and I'm a conservative on economic matters, and I'm a social liberal," Koch told ABC's BARBARA WALTERS during an interview for her special, "The 10 Most Fascinating People of 2014."

FACEBOOK INTERACTIONS RELATED TO HILLARY CLINTON TRIPLE THAT OF ELIZABETH WARREN. The number of Facebook interactions related to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton are more than triple those related to Democratic Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts when measured since late August, according to data provided to ABC from Facebook. From Aug. 22 to Dec. 11, there were 10.2 million interactions on Facebook related to Clinton. 3.8 million people were part of those interactions. During the same time period, 1.2 million people were part of 3.3 million interactions related to Warren. ABC's BEN BELL reports that in terms of sentiment -56 percent of the conversation was positive around the former secretary of state while 57 percent was positive around the Massachusetts senator.


HERE'S WHAT RETIRING LAWMAKERS WILL MISS MOST ABOUT CONGRESS. As the 113th Congress draws to a close, departing lawmakers have taken to the floor of the House and Senate to say goodbye. These farewell addresses, a tradition on Capitol Hill at the end of each two-year session, are a chance for soon-to-be former elected officials to give thanks, reflect on work, call for bipartisanship and push for policies one last time. But according to ABC's KIRSTEN APPLETON and VERONICA STRACQUALURSI, this year we learned what lawmakers will miss most about being on the Hill.


@joelmsiegel: Scoop: Pataki meeting with NY GOP leaders today, seeking help for White House bid, @Klnynews reports

@DavidNakamura: The biggest Pinocchios of 2014, per @GlennKesslerWP …

@Lis_Smith: BIG news: former DGA ED @Cocomartun & former RGA ED Phil Cox teaming up for bipartisan, states-based consulting firm …

@DanielStrauss4: Gwen Moore thinks Russ Feingold would clear the Dem primary field in the race for Sen. Johnson's Senate seat …

@ByronYork: From @dcexaminer editorial: Cruz, Lee actions in funding fight 'did not prove helpful to their cause.'