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Senate Leaders Optimistic About Debt, Shutdown Deal After House Plan Collapses

The Senate’s leaders appear to have a path forward on a legislative package to avert a default and reopen the government, but a lot of staff work remains before reaching the finish line.

“They’re still working out the details between Sens. McConnell and Reid, and we’re close,” Senate Majority Whip Richard J. Durbin said.

“They had a basic agreement of what would be included. The staff is now working on a lot of — action going on right now on a lot of different items, but all pointing in the right direction at this moment,” the Illinois Democrat told reporters a few minutes later.

To that end, senior aides from the Budget and Appropriations committees, as well as others, were seen in the vicinity of Majority Leader Harry Reid’s second floor suite.

Read More on Roll Call: Senate Leaders Optimistic About Debt, Shutdown Deal After House Plan Collapses

Clark Wins Democratic Nod in Massachusetts Special Election

State Sen. Katherine Clark won a crowded special primary in Massachusetts’ 5th District on Tuesday night, defeating  four other Democrats and most likely becoming the sixth woman ever elected to Congress from the Bay State.

Clark received 30 percent of the vote, beating Middlesex County Sheriff Peter Koutoujian, who recieved 22 percent of the vote, with 83 percent of precincts reporting, according to the Associated Press.

Read More on Roll Call: Clark Wins Democratic Nod in Massachusetts Special Election

Ted Cruz, House Republicans Meet in Secret at Tortilla Coast

Sen. Ted Cruz met with roughly 15 to 20 House Republicans for around two hours late Monday night at the Capitol Hill watering hole Tortilla Coast.

The group appeared to be talking strategy about how they should respond to a tentative Senate deal to reopen the government and raise the debt ceiling without addressing Obamacare in a substantive way, according to sources who witnessed the gathering. The Texas Republican senator and many of the House Republicans in attendance had insisted on including amendments aimed at dismantling Obamacare in the continuing resolution that was intended to avert the current shutdown.

Sources said the House Republicans meeting in the basement of Tortilla Coast with Cruz were some of the most conservative in the House: Reps. Louie Gohmert of Texas, Steve King of Iowa, Jim Jordan of Ohio, Raúl R. Labrador of Idaho, Justin Amash of Michigan, Marlin Stutzman of Indiana, Thomas Massie of Kentucky and Tim Huelskamp of Kansas.

The group is a collection of members who have often given leadership headaches in recent years by opposing both compromise measures as well as packages crafted by fellow Republicans. And, it seems, leadership unwittingly became aware of the meetup.

Read More on Roll Call: Ted Cruz, House Republicans Meet in Secret at Tortilla Coast

No Deal at White House, but Both Sides Will Keep Talking

Updated 10:33 p.m. | A lengthy meeting between top House Republicans and President Barack Obama failed to reach a deal, but staff on both sides will continue to talk this evening in an effort to agree on a plan to reopen the government and extend the debt limit.

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., said the afternoon meeting between President Barack Obama and GOP lawmakers was “constructive” and “clarifying.”

“We had a constructive conversation. Agreed to continue discussions. Talks will continue tonight. And hopefully we’ll have a clearer way, path forward,” he said.

Other Republicans said the two sides were effectively negotiating — something they have been demanding all along.

House Appropriations Chairman Harold Rogers, R-Ky., said, “We agreed to try to make conditions for a CR,” which would reopen the government. “We’ll get back with each other tonight,” he added.

“We’re negotiating,” said Budget Chairman Paul D. Ryan of Wisconsin. “He didn’t say yes and he didn’t say no.”

Read More on Roll Call: No Deal at White House, but Both Sides Will Keep Talking

Can John Lewis Break Democrats’ Losing Streak in Montana?

While Democrats have controlled both Montana Senate seats since Jon Tester’s initial victory in 2006, and the party has had no trouble winning the governorship, the state’s at-large House district has been much more elusive. John Lewis hopes to break the streak.

No, it’s not that John Lewis you’re thinking of.

This one is a 35-year-old Democrat who spent a dozen years working for Democratic Sen. Max Baucus. Baucus is retiring next year and the state’s lone House representative, Republican Steve Daines, is expected to run to succeed him. Meanwhile, Lewis is the lone Democrat in the race to replace Daines. His journey won’t be easy.

Democrats haven’t won a House race in Montana since 1994 when incumbent Rep. Pat Williams won re-election with 48.7 percent. The seat has been open three times in the past two decades (1996, 2000 and 2012). Republicans won each of those contests but with 52 percent twice and 53 percent last year.

Read More on Roll Call: Can John Lewis Break Democrats’ Losing Streak in Montana?