Keeping the Lights On:

A government shutdown has been avoided—at least temporarily. On Wednesday, the Senate passed legislation by a 73-26 vote that will keep the government funded through Sept. 30, the end of the fiscal year. The bill now heads to the House, where it’s expected to pass before March 27, which is when government funding runs out. The measure locks in sequester cuts that were enacted on March 1. The Associated Press reports: “Without changes, the $85 billion in cuts for the current year will swell to nearly $1 trillion over a decade, enough to make at least a small dent in economy-threatening federal deficits but requiring program cuts that lawmakers in both parties say are unsustainable politically. As a result, negotiations are possible later in the year to replace the reductions with different savings.” (Read more)

Bad Marriage: In Monday’s so-called autopsy report, the Republican National Committee offered up “inclusiveness” as a prescription to fix what’s ailing the GOP. But two days later, RNC Chairman Reince Priebus told MSNBC’s Luke Russert that the party still believes marriage should be between a man and a woman—which runs completely counter to a supposed effort to be more tolerant. Priebus explained: “Our party believes marriage is between one man and one woman. But I also know our party’s going to be inclusive, and it’s going to listen to people and it’s going to allow for differences in our party.” Translation: Other than tweaking its rhetoric, the party’s really not doing anything different from before the election. (Read more)

Mixed Signals: Former RNC Chairman Michael Steele had more harsh words for his successor, Reince Priebus, and the party’s post-election analysis of what went wrong in 2012. As Steele pointed out during an appearance on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” on Wednesday, the GOP’s new minority voter outreach initiative is at odds with the party’s push to enforce strict voter ID laws that are considered by many to be discriminatory. “How does Reince Priebus reconcile his approach and his agreement with voter registration policies that many in the black community view as anti-black, racist, whatever the term happens to be,” Steele asked. “You’ve got to reconcile how people feel about your policies, not just the fact that you’re going to show up. You can show up any time. It’s what you say and what you do when you get there that matters most to people.” (Read more)

Family Fortunes: Elizabeth Colbert Busch, the older sister of “Colbert Report” host Stephen Colbert, easily won the Democratic nomination in the special election race for South Carolina’s 1st Congressional District, setting up a possible showdown with Mark Sanford. The former South Carolina governor (and infamous Appalachian Trail hiker) finished ahead of the pack on the Republican side in Tuesday’s election, but didn’t win enough votes to avoid a runoff. Sanford will face either attorney Curtis Bostic or South Carolina state Sen. Larry Grooms, who are locked in a tight battle for second place. (Read more)

Video of the Day: Republican Rep. Michele Bachmann seems to have a new strategy when it comes to dealing with the media—run away! The Minnesota congresswoman did her best to elude CNN reporter Dana Bash as she tried to question Bachmann about some dubious claims she made in her CPAC speech last week.

Watch the video here.

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