Keeping the Lights On:

The House on Wednesday voted to avoid a government shutdown, passing a temporary budget measure that would extend spending cuts that were enacted March 1 and keep the government funded through Sept. 30, the end of the fiscal year. The measure, passed by a 267-151 vote, would shift billions in order to ease the across-the-board spending cuts on the military. It now heads to the Senate, where a bipartisan coalition will attempt to expand the package to give the same kind of relief to other departments affected by the sequester. Without an agreement, the government will shut down March 27. (Read more)

Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner? In an effort to close the increasingly widening political divide, President Obama has invited a group of prominent Republican senators to dine with him Wednesday night. Among the expected guests: Sens. John McCain of Arizona, Tom Coburn of Oklahoma and Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire. Another Republican senator, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, compiled the guest list on the president’s behalf. In another attempt to reach across the aisle, Obama also requested to hold separate meetings with all House and Senate Republicans on Capitol Hill next week. (Read more)

The Big Picture: Comments made by Attorney General Eric Holder on Wednesday may shed more light on why the government doesn’t prosecute the big banks that many believe are responsible for the country’s financial crisis. Testifying in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday, Holder said, “I am concerned that the size of some of these institutions becomes so large that it does become difficult for us to prosecute them when we are hit with indications that if you do prosecute, if you do bring a criminal charge, it will have a negative impact on the national economy, perhaps even the world economy. And I think that is a function of the fact that some of these institutions have become too large.” In other words, the Justice Department has become afraid to prosecute big banks now because it fears the repercussions that legal action could have on the national economy. It’s a shame Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren doesn’t sit on the Judiciary Committee. (Read more)

Extreme Measures: The Arkansas state legislature overrode a veto by Democratic Gov. Mike Beebe to enact what is now the strictest abortion law in the U.S. The legislation bans the legal—emphasis on legal—procedure after the 12th week of pregnancy. The legislation, which Beebe claimed “blatantly contradicts the United States Constitution,” will most likely face a legal challenge in court. In vetoing the 12-week—and, previously, a 20-week version—of the prohibition, Beebe said he wanted to avoid legal battles and their cost. (Read more)

On the (Cushy) Job: Mitt Romney, who once joked during his failed presidential bid that he was unemployed, has a job once more. Or at least he’ll have a part-time one. According to NBC News, Romney has taken the position of chairman of the executive committee at Solamere Capital, his eldest son Tagg’s investment firm. As part of the gig, Romney will be toiling only one week a month. Nice work if you can get it. (Read more)

Video of the Day: More than two years after a gunshot wound to the head nearly ended her life, Gabrielle Giffords returned to the Tucson, Ariz., supermarket where the shooting happened to speak out in support of background checks on gun purchases. The ex-congresswoman, appearing alongside her husband Mark Kelly, spoke briefly, telling the crowd to “Be bold. Be courageous.” Giffords’ plea comes one day before the Senate Judiciary Committee is expected to take up a bill that would increase penalties for anyone who buys a gun illegally for someone else.

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