TODAY IN ONE PARAGRAPH: New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie fired a top aide over revelations that his office directed the Port Authority to close part of the George Washington Bridge to exact political revenge against a mayor who refused to endorse him. Christie held a 107-minute press conference in which he denied any knowledge of the plot and said he delegates "enormous authority" to his staff. Sen. Tom Coburn is fighting cancer and may have to resign early as he undergoes chemotherapy. Republicans and Democrats in the Senate may be close to bipartisan support for an unemployment-insurance bill, including an amendment to offset the bill's cost. And lawmakers aren't convinced President Obama will take action to reform the NSA's spying programs.
CHRISTIE SAYS HE'S 'NOT A BULLY' IN MARATHON PRESS CONFERENCE: Christie said he was "embarrassed and humiliated" by the lane-closure scandal and denied knowing anything about the plot for political retribution. In a somewhat rambling press conference, he described reading the news on his iPad in his bedroom and feeling "incredibly sad." Some news outlets questioned if Wednesday's revelations could end his political career, but Christie pushed back against the idea that he has lost the public trust. When asked if he would consider resigning as governor, Christie said, "Oh God, no....That's a crazy question, man." (Resnick/Berman, NJ)
AND FIRES TOP AIDE OVER BRIDGEGATE: Christie blamed a deputy chief of staff for ordering the lanes to be closed, calling her "stupid" and "deceitful" and saying she betrayed him. He said he was "blindsided" by Wednesday's revelations. (Santora/Rashbaum, NYT)
COBURN FIGHTING CANCER, MAY RESIGN EARLY: Coburn is undergoing chemotherapy and said he may have to leave office before his term is over. He had already said he would not seek reelection in 2016. (Jake Miller, CBS News)
SENATORS MAY STRIKE A DEAL ON UNEMPLOYMENT INSURANCE: Sens. Jack Reed, D-R.I., and Dean Heller, R-Nev., may have found common ground on a bill to extend unemployment insurance. Republicans have pushed for corresponding spending cuts to make up for the cost of the bill, and they may have gotten enough concessions to support the bill. (Michael Catalini, NJ)
LAWMAKERS NOT HOLDING THEIR BREATH ON NSA: Some of the lawmakers who met with President Obama today are not convinced he will take any steps to reform the NSA. Obama's aides have said he is still deciding how to change the agency's data-collection practices without undermining national security. White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said Obama is "at that stage still where he's listening and discussing with a variety of stakeholders [on] these issues." (Dustin Volz, NJ)
BOEHNER SAYS OBAMA ISN'T DELIVERING ON IRAQ: The House speaker said the president needs to take more of an active role in Iraq, especially as reports come in that al-Qaida militants are defeating Iraqi security forces. The U.S. has promised to provide the Iraqis with surveillance drones, but Boehner said Obama was still not engaged enough and has delegated important responsibilities to Vice President Joe Biden. (Matt Fuller, Roll Call)
TOMORROW IN ONE PARAGRAPH: The House is expected to consider the Exchange Information Disclosure Act and the Health Exchange Security and Transparency Act of 2014. The Senate is in session.
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GUN MISFIRES? WHOOPSIE DAISY: Kentucky state Rep. Leslie Combs accidentally fires her handgun inside the state Capitol. But don't worry, things like this happen sometimes. (Abby Ohlheiser, The Wire)
MOVING AWAY FROM OPPORTUNITY: Why are young adults migrating from wealthy states to poorer ones? ( Peter Coy, Bloomberg)
SOTOMAYOR'S MILLION-DOLLAR SMILE: In case you are wondering, the Supreme Court Justice does not wear dentures. (Robert Barnes, WaPo)
THE P WORDS: Why have presidents stopped talking about poverty? Because it polls poorly. (Jeff Shesol, New Yorker)
GUERRILLA ICE SKATING: An NJ reporter tries to make the most out of the freezing temperatures by attempting to ice skate along the C&O Canal, and lives to tell the tale. (Alex Brown, NJ)
LAST NIGHT'S LATE-NIGHT FUNNIES IN UNDER 3 MINUTES: Members of Congress say unemployment benefits pay people to not work, a privilege that should be reserved for Congress. Jimmy Fallon breaks down the genius marketing strategy behind the Obama administration's plan to advertise during the Winter Olympics. (Reena Flores, NJ)
THE MOMENT NIAGARA FALLS FROZE: The polar vortex brought temperatures so cold to upstate New York that Niagara Falls froze. (Daily Mail)
SCANDALOUS POP QUIZ: Match the political scandal to the apology. (Tim Murphy and Matt Connolly, Mother Jones)