House GOP Defends Budget Deal: Washington Post: "House Republican leaders defended a new bipartisan budget agreement Wednesday, as some conservatives and liberals voiced objections to an $85 billion compromise that would fund federal agencies through the fall of 2015. The deal, announced late Tuesday by House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) and Senate Budget Committee Chairman Patty Murray (D-Wash.), immediately came under criticism from conservatives on and off Capitol Hill, with some outside groups such as the influential Heritage Action for America announcing their opposition a full day in advance. The agreement is aimed at averting another government shutdown and ending the cycle of crisis that has paralyzed Washington for much of the past three years."
Boehner Lashes Out: NBC News: "House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, lashed out at conservative advocacy groups that have encouraged GOP lawmakers to oppose a budget framework .... 'They're using our members and they're using the American people for their own goals,' an animated Boehner told reporters at the Capitol. 'This is ridiculous.' ... If conservatives balk at supporting the legislation, Boehner would need to turn to Democrats to help advance the package through the House. The speaker did just that in passing legislation to end the government shutdown earlier this year."
Floor Timing: USA Today: "The U.S. House is on track to vote Thursday on [the] bipartisan budget deal....The House will adjourn for the year on Friday. The Senate is expected to vote on the package next week, and President Obama said Tuesday that he will sign it."
Saving Paul Ryan: Politico: "House conservatives are blasting the bipartisan budget deal — but not its architect, Rep. Paul Ryan. The Wisconsin Republican, who chairs the Budget Committee and was his party’s 2012 vice presidential nominee, doesn’t seem to be losing support from the far right members of his party even as they bemoan the deal he crafted with Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) for doing too little to tame the deficit. ... Some simply wonder whether Ryan is putting too much faith in Democrats to be able to deliver votes. Some Democrats are just as upset about the budget deal as Republicans, frustrated that it doesn’t extend emergency unemployment benefits."
Paying Their Respects: CBS/AP: "World leaders and thousands of South Africans on Wednesday filed past the flag-draped casket containing the body of Nelson Mandela, having a final look at the anti-apartheid icon in the amphitheater where he was sworn in 19 years earlier as the country's first black president. Some made the sign of the cross, others simply gazed at Mandela's face through a glass bubble atop the coffin at the Union Buildings, the government offices in South Africa's capital, Pretoria. Mandela was dressed in a black and yellow patterned shirt, a trademark style that he adopted as a statesman. His eyes were closed. His white hair swept up from his forehead."
Obamacare Crunch Time: Associated Press: "New signup numbers Wednesday showed progress for President Barack Obama's health care law, but not enough to guarantee that Americans who want and need coverage by Jan. 1 will be able to get it. Crunch time is now, as people face a Dec. 23 deadline to sign up if they are to have coverage by New Year's. That means more trouble for the White House, too, after months of repairing a dysfunctional enrollment website. ... The Health and Human Services Department reported that 364,682 people had signed up for private coverage under the law as of Nov. 30. That is more than three times the October figure, but still less than one-third of the 1.2 million that officials had projected would enroll nationwide by the end of November. The administration's overall goal was to sign up 7 million people by next March 31, when open enrollment ends."
US, UK Suspend Non-Lethal Aid to Syir: Reuters: "The United States and Britain suspended non-lethal aid to northern Syria after Islamist fighters seized Western-backed rebel weapons warehouses, highlighting fears that supplies could end up in the wrong hands. The rebel Free Syrian Army fighting President Bashar al-Assad said the U.S. and British moves were rushed and mistaken. 'We hope our friends will rethink and wait for a few days when things will be clearer,' FSA spokesman Louay Meqdad said. In Washington, White House spokesman Josh Earnest said the United States was concerned about reports that Islamic Front forces had seized the buildings belonging to the Syrian Military Council, which is nominally in charge of the FSA. ... The suspension underlines a crisis for the FSA leadership, which needs international backing to reinforce its credibility and to stop its fighters joining al Qaeda-backed Islamist militants who now dominate the war with Assad."
Police Stand Down in Kiev: Associated Press: "Ukrainian police on Wednesday pulled back as protesters claimed victory after an overnight face-off in which authorities removed barricades and tents and scuffled with demonstrators occupying Kiev's main square. Squadrons of police in helmets and bearing metal shields converged at about 1 a.m. on Independence Square, but thousands of protesters put up fierce resistance for hours, shoving back at police lines to keep them away from key sites. The Ukrainian chief of police issued a statement insisting there would be no attempt to break up the demonstrations. Protesters have been gathering around the clock to demand the resignation of the government in a crisis that threatens the leadership of President Viktor Yanukovych."
Pre-Asiana Crash Worries: Los Angeles Times: "The captain flying the Asiana Airlines flight that crashed in San Francisco in July told accident investigators the approach for landing was 'very stressful' and he thought the plane's automatic throttle was always working, according to a federal report released Wednesday. Lee Kang Kuk, 46, who was landing at San Francisco International Airport for the first time, told National Transportation Safety Board officials in an interview the visual approach was difficult to perform in the large Boeing 777 because the runway's light system that helps guide pilots was out of service. According to the NTSB report, Lee said he was "very concerned" about his ability to bring the plane in without the lights and instrument landing systems. Other pilots in the cockpit told investigators Lee appeared nervous."
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