A US Navy F-16 fighter jet based at Sigonella airbase on the Italian island of Sicily takes off for operations in Libya. Mario Laporta/AFP/Getty Images hide caption

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Defense Secretary Robert Gates, shown with Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Adm. Mike Mullen, testifies at a House Armed Services Committee hearing last month on the annual defense authorization budget request. Mark Wilson/Getty Images hide caption

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Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), shown in this undated photo, says Republicans are ready and willing to take the lead on overhauling Social Security. "Something must be done," he says. "Where is the president? Suddenly, at the moment when we can actually do something about this, he's silent." Tim Sloan/AFP/Getty Images hide caption

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Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin took a swipe last week at the president's leadership on budget talks, rankling fellow members of his party. The senator is shown sitting by himself last week in the House of Representatives as he awaited an address to a joint session of Congress by the Australian prime minister. Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images hide caption

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Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) sounds like he's ready to make concessions on the budget. Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images hide caption

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House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio, shown at a Thursday news conference, has done little to tamp down speculation about a government shutdown. Alex Brandon/AP hide caption

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Shooting suspect Jared Loughner allegedly customized a Glock semiautomatic pistol like the one above to hold an extended ammunition magazine that would have been illegal six years ago. Tim Sloan/AFP/Getty Images hide caption

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Tom Udall of New Mexico, shown in a 2008 file photo, is leading the fight to change the rules on filibusters in the Senate. Ron Edmonds/AP hide caption

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Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) filibusters the Obama-GOP tax-cut compromise on Friday. C-SPAN.org hide caption

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Job applicants stand in a snaking line in Hanahan, S.C., in April 2009 as they wait to get into a job fair. A short-term extension of jobless benefits for some 2 million long-term unemployed expired at midnight Tuesday as Democrats and Republicans in Congress failed to agree on how those benefits should be further extended. Alan Hawes/The Post and Courier/AP hide caption

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Sen. Jon Kyl (R-AZ) has said he will oppose consideration of an arms-control treaty with Russia known as New START during the lame-duck session. Brendan Smialowski/Getty Images hide caption

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President Obama has said tax cuts on family income under $250,000 a year should be made permanent. J. Scott Applewhite/AP hide caption

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Nevadans vote early at the Meadows Mall in Las Vagas on Thursday. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is locked in a tight race against Republican Sharron Angle, who is backed by the Tea Party. Ethan Miller/Getty hide caption

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