Like the famous cherry blossoms forecast to bloom in a few weeks, this time of year is also marked by the arrival of competing, partisan federal budget proposals that political foes immediately declare dead-on-arrival, though not so dead that they can't be used as campaign fodder.
Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) got the process underway Tuesday by introducing the House Republican budget for the coming fiscal year, DOA because it has no chance of getting through the Democratic Senate or to be signed by President Obama.
Some members of Congress have put aside partisan sparring in defense of a legendary fighter. Republican Senator John McCain and Democratic Senator Harry Reid are among those calling for a posthumous pardon for the heavyweight boxing champion Jack Johnson. Johnson became the first black man to win that title back in 1908. His next win in 1910 sparked race riots and his relationships with white women added to the controversy.
Here's actor Samuel L. Jackson as Johnson in the 2005 Ken Burns documentary, "Unforgivable Blackness."
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."
In recent weeks, President Obama has chosen Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., as his next secretary of state; former Sen. Chuck Hagel, R-Neb., to head the Pentagon; counterterrorism adviser John Brennan to be CIA director; and his chief of staff, Jack Lew, to be the next Treasury secretary.
Each nomination will have to be confirmed by the U.S. Senate, and they all could be stopped by a Senate filibuster — that is, the refusal by any one of 100 senators to let a matter come to a final vote.