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Sen. Lee joins Rand Paul's filibuster. An unexpected move to block Medicaid expansion. Gun background checks widely supported by Utahns.

Happy Thursday. Actor Rob Lowe went on Twitter late Wednesday and posted this: "There is a real life West Wing episode being played out in D.C. tonight."

For nearly 13 hours, Sen. Rand Paul and a group of supports including Utah's Mike Lee held an old-school filibuster, blocking a vote on CIA nominee John Brennan because the White House has refused to detail its justification for using drones on U.S. citizens and whether those strikes can happen in the United States. [CBSNews] [Politico] [NYTimes] [WaPost]

While Paul's dramatic filibuster went on, President Barack Obama dined with a dozen Republican senators at the city's Jefferson Hotel, part of a charm offensive meant to kick start negotiations over a budget deal that would revamp the tax code and reform programs like Medicare. [Politico] [WaPost] (for those wondering Obama picked up the check. [WaPost])

Topping the news: In an unexpected move, Utah House Republicans amended a bill late Wednesday to prevent Utah from expanding Medicaid coverage under Obamacare to more than 130,000 low-income people. [Trib] [DNews]

-> Sen. Mike Lee says the Senate Judiciary Committee members should be able to see top secret legal memos on drone strikes — specifically pushing for the documents that the Obama administration used to justify targeting U.S. citizens branded as terrorists. [Trib]

-> A new poll by BYU shows that Utahns are in favor of broad background checks for gun purchases, but oppose banning high-capacity magazines. [Trib]

Tweet of the day: From @NoahCRothman: "Washington D.C. closed today in anticipation of a winter storm that never came. Think on that."

From @ktumulty: "Sorry to hear POTUS picked up the check on dinner w GOP sens. Negotiating to split it might have been good practice for all of them."

In other news: Eagle Mountain residents, dissatisfied by utility rates that they say were significantly higher than last years, have gotten the attention of state auditors who say they'll investigate the claims — eventually. [Trib] [Herald]

-> Peg McEntee warns that a push to move the Utah State Prison could also mean a push for privatizing the state's prison system. [Trib]

-> Pat Bagley gives his take on Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez's death. [Trib]

Heard on the Hill: "As you can see, I don't have three eyes or extra ears or anything." — Sen. Jerry Stevenson, R-Layton, on HB72, a safe water drinking act bill.

"I could reach out and give a hug I love this bill so much. I'll refrain." — Sen. Jim Dabakis, D-Salt Lake City, to Sen. Stuart Adams, R-Layton, SB275, promoting natural-gas fueled vehicles.

"I believe this country is the lone super power on Earth because of Pee Wee Football." — Rep. Greg Hughes, R-Draper, honoring the Alta Pee Wee Football team he helped coach.

"I brought donuts for everyone. I thought there would be more policemen here." — Rep. Dan McCay, R-Riverton, after his bill on public employee union bargaining failed.

From the Hill: Here's your daily legislative schedule. [Trib]

-> Utah House Speaker Becky Lockhart is urging lawmakers to delay prison relocation bill until a special section, saying she's concerned about how quickly the deal is moving. [Trib] [DNews]

-> For the fourth time in five years, lawmakers are bringing forth an anti-discrimination measure that protects gay Utahns and its expected to generate intense and heated debate. [Trib] [DNews] [Herald]

-> An attempt to create an online website sponsored by the state school board to teach parents how to talk to their kids about sex was nixed in the House, despite having passed the Senate unanimously. [Trib] [Herald]

-> Despite being apprehensive about signing it into law, Gov. Gary Herbert said he supports the concept of banning smoking in cars where kids under 15 are present. [Trib]

-> Utah's liquor laws could see some minor changes under a bill passed by a Senate committee. [Trib]

-> The Senate passed a bill 22-3 that would delay the start of Utah's guest worker program, giving Congress time to enact their own immigration legislation. [Trib] [Herald]

-> Voters may soon be able to register on Election Day and cast a provisional ballot, thanks to a new bill advanced by a House committee. [Trib]

-> A House committee shot down a bill that would have opened government employee unions' negotiating talks up to the public. [Trib]

-> Mentally ill Utahns who have been successfully rehabilitated could be able to petition to have their names removed from a registry barring them from owning guns, thanks too a new bill. [Trib] [DNews]

-> A House committee rejected a bill that would require parents be notified if their child's teacher is carrying a gun at school. [Trib]

-> House lawmakers unanimously passed a bill allowing the state forester to restrict target shooting areas during wildfire season. [Trib]

-> A Senate committee advanced a bill that would put more natural gas vehicles on the road, despite concerns from consumer advocates that it would hike prices for ratepayers. [Trib]

-> Lawmakers moved closer to allowing bikers and motorcyclists to turn left on red lights — provided that traffic was clear and they wait 90 seconds before proceeding. [Trib]

-> A House committee advanced a bill that would reorganize the Department of Veterans Affairs, with lukewarm support from Utah veterans' groups. [Trib]

-> Alarmed at Utah's high suicide rate — the state is ranked tenth nationally for teen suicides — a House committee passed a bill creating statewide suicide prevention coordinators. [DNews]

-> Two bills expanding and regulating defibrillator usage are advancing in the Senate. [DNews]

-> If you're a mid-level employee of the executive branch of Utah's government, you may be barred from doing outside work, thanks to a new bill that passed the Senate unanimously. Think of it as the Swallow bill. [DNews]

-> House lawmakers passed a cut-down version of a bill that would tax electronic cigarettes, declining to tax the devices themselves, but instead levy a charge on the filler substance. [DNews] [Fox13]

-> The Senate narrowly passed a constitutionally-questionable bill seeking to collect sales tax from online retailers. [UtahPolicy]

Nationally: After taking his chances in politics, Republican hopeful and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney says he's returning to the private sector to work with his son, Tagg in a venture capital firm named after an area of Utah. [NBC]

-> Washington's "snowquester" turned out to be a flop, despite all the dire warnings and government shutdown. But that's par for the course in D.C. these days. [WaPost]

Where are they?

Rep. Rob Bishop hits two House Armed Services subcommittee hearings and meets with representatives from the Civil Air Patrol.

Rep. Jason Chaffetz has a House Judiciary Committee hearing and speaks to the National Federation of Republican Women.

Rep. Chris Stewart speaks to the National Federation of Republican Women, meets with the Rocky Mountain Research Station and the U.S. Forest Service.

Gov. Gary Herbert meets with the Republican joint leadership, has a Wells Fargo regional meeting, hits an event for the Utah Restaurant Association Hall of Fame, hits an anti-bullying assembly at Bryant Middle School and has a water discussion.

Salt Lake County Mayor Ben McAdams has a Utah Association of Counties legislative council meeting and Council of Governments meetings.

SLC Mayor Ralph Becker meets with community liaisons, meets with Community and Economic Development director Eric Shaw and has a Salt Lake Council of Governments meeting.

WVC Mayor Mike Winder has a legislative caucus meeting, hits planning meetings for UTA, meets with the Salt Lake Council of Governments and hits Valley Junior High School's musical "Once on This Island."

President Barack Obama signs the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act and delivers remarks. He has lunch with Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wisc.

Got a tip? A birthday, wedding or anniversary to announce? Email us at If you haven't already, sign up for our weekday email and get this sent directly to your inbox. [Trib]

— Matt Canham and Emily Andrews and

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