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A1: Today's top stories.
-- White House officials are beginning preparations to shut down the Department of Homeland Security over the weekend as Congressional Republicans remain divided over a funding solution. Senate Democrats blocked the GOP's funding proposal for a fourth time on Monday. (Washington Post)
-- Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said he will hold separate votes overturning President Obama's executive action on immigration later this week, a move that could allow a clean bill to come up for a vote. But there's still reluctance in the House, where Speaker John Boehner has sided with conservative groups like Heritage Action in demanding votes on the executive actions. (Washington Post, New York Times) Some senators said a one- or two-month stopgap continuing resolution is under discussion. (Reuters)
-- The Obama administration on Monday asked District Court Judge Andrew Hanen to lift his own injunction blocking the executive actions on immigration. The administration said the 26 states that sued over the executive actions lacked legal standing. Hanen is unlikely to lift the injunction, but the filing is meant to convey a sense of urgency to other courts. A Texas assistant attorney general said in a letter to Hanen that the states wanted at least a week to respond. (Los Angeles Times)
-- President Obama is poised to veto the Keystone XL pipeline bill today, The Post's Juliet Eilperin reports. It'll be Obama's third veto of his presidency, and by far the one with the most significance.
-- U.S. and Iranian diplomats are contemplating a deal that would prevent Iran from creating enough nuclear material to make a bomb for at least a decade, but would then allow them to slowly build up its capabilities. That deal would represent a big compromise by the U.S., which wanted to limit Iran's nuclear activity for up to 20 years. The U.S. wants a freeze that would establish a 12-month "breakout period," meaning Iran would remain a year away from being able to fuel a bomb. Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) said ten years isn't enough. (Wall Street Journal)
-- Diplomats from Russia, Ukraine, France and Germany are holding peace talks in Paris amid ongoing violence even after a cease-fire was signed two weeks ago. Ukraine delayed its pullback from the front lines on Monday, citing attacks from rebels. (Associated Press)
-- Front Pages: WaPo leads with the GOP's schism over DHS funding. NYT leads with a federal court's $655 million award of damages against the Palestinian Authority and the PLO for attacks that injured or killed Americans. WSJ reports from Geneva on U.S.-Iranian nuclear talks. USA Today banners President Obama's call for new rules on financial advisers. WaPo, NYT and LA Times all front a new study on peanut allergies.
White House 2016: The long, strange road to Pennsylvania Ave.
-- Debates: Salem Media Group will partner with CNN to broadcast three Republican primary debates this fall, both outlets said Tuesday morning. Salem's Hugh Hewitt will help question Republican candidates at the first of CNN's debates, on Sept. 16 at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, Calif. (CNN)
-- Christie: A federal judge ruled Monday that New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) broke state law by cutting $1.57 billion from a scheduled payment to the state's pension system, leaving lawmakers and the governor's office scrambling to fill a significant hole in the budget. State Assembly Leader Lou Greenwald (D) said filling the gap in the $32.5 billion budget would require "draconian" cuts. (Newark Star-Ledger) Christie will announce during his annual budget address today that he and the state's teachers union have been engaged in weeks of secret talks in hopes of closing the pension deficit. The union has agreed to what a Christie aide called a "road map" for reform. (New York Times)
-- Jindal: Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal (R) spent about 45 percent of 2014, or about 165 days, outside his home state. Only one trip, an economic development tour of Asia, was for official state business. Taxpayers have spent $314,000 on out-of-state travel to cover Jindal's security detail. (Baton Rouge Advocate)
National Roundup: What's happening outside the Beltway.
-- Battle for the Senate: The Post's Sean Sullivan files three takeaways from a long briefing with NRSC senior staff: 1. Party leaders are trying hard to convince Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) to run for reelection, even as he shows increasing interest in running for president. 2. Nevada and Colorado are the party's best pickup opportunities. 3. They salivate at the chance to unseat Minority Leader Harry Reid, and they plan to be critical if he runs and doesn't waive off DSCC help like Mitch McConnell did with the NRSC in 2014.
-- More on the Senate Field: The fight for control comes down to seven blue or purple states, six of which will be White House swing states: Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Ohio, North Carolina, New Hampshire, Florida and Illinois. In an era of straight-ticket voting, tell us how the presidential contest shakes out and we'll be pretty confident in guessing which side will control the Senate come 2017.
-- Illinois: Rep. Aaron Schock (R) has spent at least $40,000 in taxpayer and campaign money on flights aboard private planes owned by some of his biggest donors. Schock also requested more than $18,000 in mileage reimbursements since 2013, one of the highest in Congress. The AP used data embedded within photographs posted to his Instagram account to correlate images with flight records showing airport stopovers. (Associated Press) That sound you hear is 100 members of Congress deleting their Instagram accounts.
-- More Illinois: Voters head to the polls today to pick a mayor. Polls show incumbent Mayor Rahm Emanuel (D) will win a plurality, but it's not clear whether he'll win an outright majority necessary to avoid a runoff in early April. The most recent Chicago Tribune survey put Emanuel at 45 percent. Cook County Commissioner Jesus "Chuy" Garcia is running in second place. Polls close at 7 p.m. Central Time, 8 p.m. Eastern. (Chicago Tribune)
-- Alaska: Marijuana officially becomes legal in Alaska today, after voters approved a ballot measure last fall. Alaska is the third state, after Washington and Colorado, to legalize marijuana. Oregon will allow recreational use beginning this summer, and a law in Washington, D.C. appears set to go into effect this Friday, unless Congress steps in the way. (Washington Post)
-- Georgia: Gov. Nathan Deal (R) signed an executive order on Monday ending a requirement that people with criminal histories disclose that information in job applications. The order only applies to those looking for work with a state agency. Georgia is the fourteenth state to implement so-called "ban the box" policies. (Atlanta Journal-Constitution) About 1,300 people are released from prison each month in Georgia, Deal's office said.
DC Digest: What's on tap today in DC.
-- President Obama meets with Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al Thani, the Amir of Qatar, this morning in the Oval Office. This afternoon, he'll hold a meeting with law enforcement officials in the Oval Office. Later, he hosts members of Congress in the Cabinet Room for a meeting on criminal justice reform.
-- Vice President Biden hosts the Qatari Amir at the Naval Observatory this morning before heading in to the White House. He'll sit in on the bilateral meeting, and on President Obama's meeting with law enforcement. This afternoon, Biden delivers remarks to the annual meeting of the National Association of Attorneys General at the Ritz Carlton. And tonight, the Bidens hold a reception at the Naval Observatory commemorating Black History Month.
-- The House meets at noon, with first votes postponed until 6:30 p.m. They'll take up three measures under suspension, one on drinking water, one on the FCC and one on STEM education.
-- The Senate meets at 10 a.m. this morning before recessing at 12:30 p.m. for weekly caucus lunches. There are no roll call votes scheduled yet. The DHS clock is ticking.
-- Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert McDonald apologized Monday for falsely claiming last month he had served in U.S. Special Forces. McDonald, who graduated from West Point in 1975, served in the 82nd Airborne Division, but he told a homeless veteran last month in Los Angeles that he had served in the Special Forces. The White House said it accepted McDonald's apology. (New York Times)
B1: Business, politics and the business of politics
-- CIA Director John Brennan is planning a major expansion of cyber espionage capabilities as part of an agency-wide restructuring. Brennan's plans call for more use of cyber capabilities in almost every category of operations, from identifying foreign officials to recruit as informants to confirming identities of drone strike targets. The changes are meant to model the CIA's Counterterrorism Center, which has grown massively since the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks. (Washington Post)
-- Stock futures are flat today after the Dow shed 23 points on Monday. Asian and European markets were mixed on Tuesday, while light crude was again trading below the $50 a barrel mark. (CNN)
C1: Take time to digest the long reads
-- The Iranian government wields power in Iraq through the Popular Mobilization Committee, or Hashid Shaabi, created by former Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki. The committee unites dozens of paramilitary Shiite militias and takes a leading role in many Iraqi security operations. The Hashid Shaabi is led by Jamal Jaafar Mohammed, a former opponent of Saddam Hussein who American officials say participated in the bombing of the U.S. Embassy in Kuwait in 1983. Billboards in Baghdad show the glowering face of Iranian General Hamid Taghavi, who was killed in northern Iraq in December. (Reuters)
Attn Matt Drudge: What outrages conservatives today
-- Vermont's state auditor says MIT health care expert Jonathan Gruber overbilled the state by at least $48,000 for work he did on a plan to establish universal health care. Tax forms submitted by Gruber show he paid a research assistant far less than he billed the state. Both Auditor Doug Hoffer and Secretary of Administration Justin Johnson said they are working with Vermont's attorney general to explore options. (Breitbart)
Attn HuffPo: What outrages liberals today
-- A spike in gun sales and memberships helped the National Rifle Association increase its revenue about 40 percent after the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School in December 2012. Newly released documents filed with the IRS show the NRA grossed about $348 million in 2013, up from $256 million in 2012. The NRA increased its lobbying budget by $10 million. (ThinkProgress)