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A Guide to the 113th Congress

The latest updates and debate on the 113th Congress covering key issues such as immigration, defense, cybersecurity and taxes along with demographics, historical data and biographies of the newest members of the Senate and House of Representatives.

House GOP accuses agencies of failing to prepare for sequester cuts

By Tom Howell Jr. - The Washington Times

House Republicans on Tuesday accused federal agencies of failing to prepare for the automatic sequester cuts, saying they had two years to get ready but instead the administration spent time on "scare tactics." Published March 19, 2013

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Sen. Bob Corker, Tennessee Republican (Associated Press)

Sen. Bob Corker: 'Grand bargain' fiscal deal 'possible'

- The Washington Times

Sen. Bob Corker, Tennessee Republican, said Sunday that his GOP colleagues would support a "grand bargain" — a long-term deal addressing the country's fiscal problems — that includes additional tax revenue if President Obama and the Democrats will back substantive reform in entitlement programs.

House Speaker John A. Boehner (left), Ohio Republican, and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, Kentucky Republican (Associated Press)

McConnell and Boehner: Republicans united on sequesters

- The Washington Times

They spent the weekend blaming each other for the $85 billion in sequestration cuts that began taking effect Friday — but top Democrats and Republicans were careful Sunday to keep the door open to a breakthrough deal on the federal budget.

House Majority Eric Cantor, Virginia Republican (Associated Press)

Congress passes bill renewing anti-violence law

- Associated Press

The House on Thursday passed and sent to President Obama a far-reaching extension of the Violence Against Women Act. The vote came after House Republican leaders, cognizant of divisions in their own ranks and the need to improve their faltering image among female voters, accepted a bill that cleared the Senate two weeks ago on a strong bipartisan vote.

**FILE** Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, Kentucky Republican, speaks to reporters on Capitol Hill in Washington on Feb. 12, 2013. (Associated Press)

White House ups rhetoric on dangers of sequester

- The Washington Times

The Obama administration amped up its offensive Sunday with Republicans over the $85 billion in across-the-board federal spending cuts scheduled to kick in Friday, releasing fresh warnings of a "real impact on people's lives" despite GOP claims the White House is exaggerating the potential ill effects.

President Obama and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, California Democrat, want to repair their injured party after devastating congressional election losses but have diverging mandates at a critical time. (Associated Press)

Obama's liberal agenda seen as risky for red state Democrats

- The Washington Times

House Speaker John A. Boehner's new "Senate first" strategy could put red state Democrats — especially those facing potentially tough re-election battles in 2014 — in a tough spot: Reject the White House's liberal second-term agenda and run afoul of party leaders, or back the president and alienate voters back home.

**FILE** Sen. Rand Paul, Kentucky Republican (Andrew Harnik/The Washington Times)

Obama leak of visa plan draws fire

- The Washington Times

Congressional Republicans on Sunday accused the White House of poisoning the well on immigration reform by leaking a draft proposal while senators from both parties are working toward a compromise on the issue, saying the move shows President Obama is more concerned with scoring political points than passing legislation.

** FILE ** Social Security Administration Commissioner Michael J. Astrue speaks at a news conference on the Social Security and Medicare trustees report at the Treasury Department in Washington on Aug. 5, 2010. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)

Social Security head Astrue: Program fraying from neglect

- Associated Press

Outgoing Social Security Commissioner Michael J. Astrue has some parting shots for Congress, the White House and advocates for seniors. They have all "really walked away from Social Security," he says, leaving the program "fraying because of inattention to its problems."

President Barack Obama gestures as he gives his State of the Union address during a joint session of Congress on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday Feb. 12, 2013. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak, Pool)

Obama skips solutions for Social Security

- The Washington Times

Left out of President Obama’s State of the Union address Tuesday night was any mention of shoring up Social Security or Medicaid — two of the three entitlement programs that will drive the growth of federal debt over the coming decades.

Military chiefs give warnings on sequestration

- The Washington Times

Automatic defense spending cuts set to begin Friday will hurt troops’ morale, readiness and their families and could damage the Pentagon’s ability to recruit an all-volunteer force, military chiefs told Congress on Tuesday.

Sen. Richard J. Durbin (Associated Press)

Political split on gun rights evident during Senate hearing

- The Washington Times

Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee argued Tuesday that a balance exists between enacting new gun laws and protecting the Second Amendment, while Republicans cautioned that any ban on so-called assault weapons treads dangerously on the U.S. Constitution — an ideological divide seared into the current gun debate that hard-liners on both sides are unlikely to cross.

House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio listens at right as President Barack Obama gives his State of the Union address during a joint session of Congress on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday Feb. 12, 2013. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak, Pool)

Obama outlines activist second term in State of the Union

- The Washington Times

Laying out an activist, big-spending second-term agenda, President Obama called on Congress in Tuesday night's State of the Union address to spend more on job-creation proposals for the middle class and claimed it would not add to the nation's huge budget deficits.

Sen. Lindsey Graham, South Carolina Republican, waits Feb. 12, 2013, on Capitol Hill to make a statement in opposition to President Obama's choice to run the Pentagon as the Senate Senate Armed Services Committee considers the nomination of former Sen. Chuck Hagel of Nebraska to be secretary of defense. (Associated Press)

Party-line vote sends Pentagon pick Hagel to Senate floor

- The Washington Times

The Senate Armed Services Committee voted Tuesday along party lines to recommend the nomination of Chuck Hagel as the next secretary of defense, setting up a showdown in the full chamber as outspoken Republicans threatened to thwart the former Nebraska senator's nomination.

**FILE** Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Welsh III (Associated Press)

Air Force would have its wings clipped amid budget cuts

- The Washington Times

Two-thirds of active duty Air Force combat units will drop below "acceptable readiness levels" by mid-May and be "completely non-mission capable" by July if automatic defense budget cuts occur on March 1, Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Welsh III said Tuesday.

Sen. Thomas R. Carper (right), Delaware Democrat, succeeds the now-retired Sen. Joe Lieberman, Connecticut independent, as chairman of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee. The ranking Republican is also new. (Associated Press)

Obama will take the lead protecting cybernetworks

- The Washington Times

Having failed to pass cybersecurity legislation for the third consecutive year, Congress this year will take a back seat to the Obama administration in trying to secure critical networks such as transportation, banking and communications from Internet attacks.

The Capitol dome is seen on Capitol Hill in Washington on Tuesday, Dec. 11, 2012. (Associated Press)

Once again, fights on spending, taxes and debt dominate the debate

- The Washington Times

After Republicans won control of the House in the 2010 elections, they triumphed in the first showdown with the White House on spending. Six months later, they and President Obama dueled to a draw on the debt. And Mr. Obama has emerged the victor in last week's tax fight. Now, all sides are gearing up for even bigger battles over entitlement spending and broad tax reform.

**FILE** President Obama talks with Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa Jackson on Jan. 10, 2012, at EPA headquarters. (Associated Press)

Lawmakers seek leverage on Obama energy push

- The Washington Times

America's energy outlook this year will be, more than ever before, tied to how the federal government approaches the issue of climate change — and how much leverage the new Congress will have to help or hinder those efforts.

This combo of two photos shows, at left, an Associated Press photo taken Jan. 3, 2013, of House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi posing with female House members on Capitol Hill in Washington, and at right, a screen grab from Pelosi's Flickr page of an altered photo of Pelosi with female House members on Capitol Hill in Washington. (Associated Press)

Pelosi defends altered photo of congresswomen

Associated Press

For House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, the swearing-in of a record number of Democratic women was a historic moment worth a photograph. And, she decided, history needed a little digital help.

**FILE** Sen. Dianne Feinstein, California Democrat (Associated Press)

PRUDEN: A miracle cure with estrogen in Congress

- The Washington Times

John A. Boehner thinks there’s too much of Barack Obama in Washington. Most of the Democrats think there’s a surplus of impertinent Republicans. Chris Christie says it’s Congress that turned Washington rancid. Everybody agrees something is rotten on the Potomac.

Senate welcomes new members

- The Washington Times

After two years marked with partisan gridlock, the Senate kicked off the new Congress on Thursday with 13 new members and welcomed back Sen. Mark Kirk, who made an emotional return to the Capitol after suffering a stroke almost a year ago.

A statue of President George Washington is seen in the foreground at the Rotunda of the U.S. Capitol. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite) ** FILE **

Congress ushering in new members, with old divide

- Associated Press

Congress is ushering in the new and the old — dozens of eager freshmen determined to change Washington and the harsh reality of another stretch of bitterly divided government.

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** FILE ** President Barack Obama, flanked by Vice President Joseph R. Biden and House Speaker John A. Boehner of Ohio, gives his State of the Union address during a joint session of Congress on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, Feb. 12, 2013. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak, Pool)

MILLER: The State of the Union gun grab

- The Washington Times

President Obama's State of the Union speech Tuesday was carefully staged to promote his gun-grabbing second-term agenda. Arrangements were made so TV cameras would pan to the faces of victims of gun violence in the House galleries.

House Speaker John A. Boehner of Ohio walks in House of Representatives chamber on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, Jan. 3, 2013, as the 113th Congress began. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

WEINER AND MANN: Boehner puts country before politics

Despite outward statements of widespread support from his caucus after his re-election Thursday, Rep. John A. Boehner's speakership was hanging by a thread, within three votes of mandating a second ballot, largely because he allowed the "fiscal cliff" deal to go through the House.

"The 'Fiscal Cliff'" (Illustration by Alexander Hunter/The Washington Times)

WOLF: Grappling on the 'fiscal cliff'

- The Washington Times

"Et tu, GOP?" tweeted writer and comedian Stephen Kruiser upon watching the Republicans cave to President Obama's so-called "fiscal cliff" tax and spending hikes. "Kidding, I knew you had the knife."

House Speaker John A. Boehner holds the gavel after narrowly being re-elected to lead the U.S. House of Representatives in the 113th Congress on Thursday, Jan. 3, 2013, at the U.S. Capitol in Washington. (Andrew Harnik/The Washington Times)

MILLER: Boehner's challenge

- The Washington Times

Rep. John A. Boehner was re-elected speaker on Thursday, but his grasp of the oversized gavel is less firm. Nine Republicans abstained or voted to have someone lead the House, unlike two years ago, when the ranks were unified behind him.

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