“Vote-a-rama” and Middle East turmoil dominate Saturday Morning Reads

Happy Saturday, y’all. Here are some note-worthy stories:

*The Senate (kind of, sort of) passed a budget for the first time in four years in the wee hours of the morning, after a “vote-a-rama.” As POLITICO’s Ginger Gibson explained, the budget vote was non-binding, and “therefore none of the passed amendments will likely carry the weight of law.”

The vote, which a number of conservative Democrats opposed, included a melange of tax increases and budget cuts, and would reduce the deficit by $1.85 trillion, according to its supporters.

It, however, would probably stand no chance in the extremely right-wing House — a major reason the Senate hasn’t bothered passing a budget in recent years. Last Sunday, John Boehner, who has repeatedly moaned about the lack of a Senate budget, said that “talk about raising revenue is over.”

*A pair of “vote-a-rama” resolutions that were rather significant – the Keystone pipeline caucus appears to consist of a filibuster proof supermajority, according to votes on two separate amendments. John Hoeven, sponsor of one of the amendments, said that the votes “make it very clear that the Senate will approve this project if the president doesn’t.”

[ht POLITICO]

*Islamist rebels in Syria wrested a key air defense base from the hands of the Assad government today. The base, which is near the town of Saida on the Amman-Damascus highway in the country’s south, was overrun after 16 days of fighting, according to the Syrian Observatory on Human Rights. The group said that the base was seized by “the Nusra Front, Yarmouk Martyrs Brigade, and other battalions.”

Reuters, who reported the story, described the Nusra Front as “an Islamist militant group suspected of links to al Qaeda” and has been designated a terrorist organization by the U.S. government.

*After President Obama’s trip to Israel, occupied Palestine, and Jordan, John Kerry is looking to “revive long-stalled peace talks.” According to Reuters, he is scheduled to meet with Palestinian National Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas today in Amman before flying to Israel to talk with Benjamin Netanyahu.

Meanwhile, the President took the day off today to sightsee in Petra. While he was in Jordan, Obama promised to increase aid to the Jordanian government to cope with an influx of refugees from Syria. He also “used his stop in Jordan to ratchet up criticism of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, but he stopped short of promising military aid to Syrian rebels to help end a two-year-old civil war that has claimed 70,000 lives.”

*Yesterday, Propublica detailed how an alleged terrorist’s ongoing trial in Brooklyn could shed light on CIA black sites maintained by the Bush administration. Ibrahim Suleiman Adnan Adam Harun had spent six years in a Libyan prison prior to being released during the uprising against Muammar Qaddafi. “Since Qaddafi’s fall, evidence has emerged of close communication between the CIA and Libyan officials during the Bush administration, despite the Qaddafi regime’s reputation for torture and brutal prison conditions,” the muckraking website said. “Whether or not his trial reveals more about the CIA’s role, at the very least, Harun can be crossed off the list of the missing.“

Samuel Knight

Samuel Knight is a freelance journalist living in DC and a former intern at the Washington Monthly.