(We updated the top of this post at 1:30 p.m. ET.)
Looking to head off deep, automatic spending cuts set to kick in on March 1, President Obama on Tuesday afternoon said that to avoid the negative economic effects that come with "political disfunction," Congress should move quickly to pass "a smaller package of spending cuts and tax reforms" that won't hurt the economy.
The U.S. Capitol at sunrise on Monday, before President Obama's second inauguration. While the president raised big issues in his inaugural address — climate change, gay rights, immigration, the shooting of schoolchildren — none of them appear to top the agenda of Congress, which returned to work Tuesday.
The Senate picked up Tuesday exactly where it left off nearly three weeks ago. By a twist of the rules, the Senate chamber remains in its first legislative day of the 113th Congress.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said he's kept things at the starting point so that he and his fellow Democrats have the option of changing the rules on the filibuster by a simple majority vote.
"The Senate will take action to make this institution that we all love, the United States Senate, work more effectively," Reid said Tuesday. "We'll consider changes to the Senate rules."
President Obama "welcomes" the plan by House Republicans to vote Wednesday on a three-month extension of the nation's borrowing limit, White House press secretary Jay Carney told reporters today, and "would not stand in the way of the bill becoming law." (The Hill)