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1. CONGRESS

Bucking trend, Senate takes lead -- and momentum -- on big bills

From its creation, the Senate has been the guard against the "fickleness and passion" of the House, as James Madison once described it, holding back while the House moved more quickly on large bills. In recent history, the Senate has been almost a "graveyard" for House-passed legislation, said Sarah Binder, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution who studies Congress. But in this Congress, it has been the Senate taking a leading role in two of the largest bills -- transportation reauthorization and the farm bill -- while the House has hung back. While it's "not unprecedented," Binder said, it is unusual.

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