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Who is Brian Schatz?

Neil Abercrombie’s head-scratcher

The most expensive votes of 2012, in one chart

Record number of Americans oppose handgun ban

The price of failure on the fiscal cliff


* With the Senate returning to business Thursday, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (Nev.) charged that House Speaker John Boehner (Ohio) was running the House as a "dictatorship," and called the chances of going over the "fiscal cliff" increasingly likely. Boehner, meanwhile, told House Republicans he is “not interested” in passing a deal to avert the fiscal cliff with mostly Democratic votes. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (Va.) told lawmakers to “plan on being in town through the following week to conduct the business at hand." 

* Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa Jackson will soon resign, she announced Thursday. Jackson will step down from her position shortly after President Obama's State of the Union address next month. The move is not a major surprise; many expected that Jackson would not stay on for Obama's second term. 

* Longtime Rep. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) will run in the anticipated special election for the seat Sen. John Kerry (D) is expected to vacate next year. Obama has nominated Kerry to become the next secretary of state, a position for which the Senate Foreign Relations Committee chairman is expected to be easily confirmed. Markey, who has served in the House since 1976, is the dean of the Massachusetts delegation. "I refuse to allow the Tea Party-dominated Republican Party to lead us off the fiscal cliff and into recession. I won’t allow the NRA to obstruct an assault weapons ban yet again," Markey said in a statement. 

* Former Hawaii lieutenant governor Brian Schatz (D) was officially sworn in as the newest U.S. senator Thursday afternoon. Hawaii Gov. Neil Abercrombie (D) on Wednesday tapped Schatz to succeed late Democratic senator Daniel Inouye in the upper chamber. 


* Rep. Colleen Hanabusa (D-Hawaii) is reportedly facing "a lot of pressure" to challenge Abercrombie in 2014. "She's getting a lot of pressure primarily to challenge Abercrombie," said a source close to Hanabusa in the report. Abercrombie's decision to tap Schatz to replace late Inouye defied Inouye's last wish, which was for Hanabusa to replace him. The report is anonymously sourced, suggesting it might just be sour grapes. 

* According to financial records, incoming National Republican Senatorial Committee Chairman Jerry Moran (Kan.) spent more from his congressional office budget in 2012 than any other senator during the 2012 fiscal year. Moran, who joined the Senate Tea Party Caucus in 2011, spends as much because he has to travel back and forth to Kansas to meet his constituents, his spokeswoman said. The spending numbers are not final yet. 

* Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton (D) has undergone spinal surgery procedure that will likely sideline him for the rest of 2012. He is recovering at the Mayo Clinic. 


#10 is pretty amazing.

With Aaron Blake