TODAY IN ONE PARAGRAPH: Paul Ryan and Patty Murray appear close to sealing the deal on their budget deal, but a couple last hurdles remain in the way. An agreement could be announced tonight. The long-awaited "Volcker Rule" was adopted by government regulators today, three years after the Obama administration began pushing the bank-trading restriction named for the former Federal Reserve chairman. The rule says banks cannot make trades only for profits and prohibits their ownership of hedge and private-equity funds. Obama and dignitaries from 60 nations met in Johannesburg at Nelson Mandela's memorial, and the president earned headlines for both his eulogy as well as a handshake with Cuban President Raul Castro. The exchange is still being thoroughly dissected by pundits and politicians alike, but it's unlikely it bears too much significance. D.C. again overreacted to an overhyped snowstorm, but any excuse to show up late for work is always appreciated. The post-nuclear Senate approved Patricia Millett's nomination to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, and Rep. Mel Watt is on deck for the Federal Housing Finance Agency.
BUDGET DEAL CLOSE TO COMPLETION: From our Hill reporters: "Budget negotiators were tantalizingly close Tuesday afternoon to reaching a two-year budget deal that would set annual spending levels around $1 trillion and replace some automatic spending cuts with non-tax revenue, according to aides and lawmakers familiar with the situation. A few sticking points remain, but Rep. Paul Ryan and Sen. Patty Murray, co-chairs of the budget conference committee, are working to finalize an agreement that could be announced as soon as Tuesday evening."
'VOLCKER RULE' APPROVED AFTER YEARS OF INFIGHTING: The banks did all they could to lobby against the restrictive regulation, but after years of resistance the heart of the 2010 Dodd-Frank financial overhaul law is being implemented. The rule aims to limit the ability of banks to make risky bets for profit, as those wagers could leave taxpayers footing the bill (see the 2008 financial crisis). (Danielle Douglas, WaPo)
WHY THE VOLCKER RULE MATTERS: The regulation has lots of skeptics. Here's why their six biggest arguments against are wrong. (Mike Konczal, WaPo)
AND HERE'S WHY IT DOESN'T: The difference between "prop trading" and "market-making" aren't so easily discernible, and "its central premise makes no sense." (Matt Levine, Bloomberg)
SENATE CONFIRMS PATRICIA MILLETT: The post-nuclear Senate confirmed her today to a post at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. And the world didn't end. Up next is Mel Watt for the Federal Housing Finance Agency. (NJ)
'LIBERAL JOHN CORNYN' FACES TEA-PARTY CHALLENGE: Steve Stockman announced a bid Monday night to unseat Cornyn, deriding him as a liberal who "wakes up every morning and works to make the Senate a more liberal place." But Cornyn actually had the second-most conservative voting record in the Senate in 2012. Whatever the facts, we're in for a fun campaign. (Matt Berman, NJ)
TOMORROW IN ONE PARAGRAPH: Biden will deliver remarks at a national memorial service for Nelson Mandela at the Washington National Cathedral at 11 a.m. Kerry departs for a weeklong trip to Israel, West Bank, Vietnam, and the Philippines. Sebelius is expected to testify before a House Energy and Commerce Committee hearing on the health care law at 11 a.m in Rayburn 2123. The Senate Judiciary Committee is expected to hold a full committee hearing on "Continued Oversight of U.S. Government Surveillance Authorities" at 2 p.m. in Dirksen 226.
PRESIDENTS ON A PLANE: The current president, a former president, and possibly the next president shared a flight to South Africa. What it was like to be on that plane. (Michael Shear, NYT)
MORE THAN A HANDSHAKE? Don't read into Obama's highly public handshake with Raúl Castro. It was just good manners, plain and simple. (Economist)
HOW WE FUND OBAMACARE, IN ONE CHART: Turns out there's a lot of redistribution going on. This might be the only time The New Republic ever sports the headline "Republicans Are Right." (Jonathan Cohn, TNR)
GIRL POWER: Get up to speed on Mary Barra, the first female CEO of General Motors. (William O'Connor, Daily Beast)
RENT IS WAY TOO HIGH: Renting is no longer the more affordable option of housing. Fifty percent of Americans are paying more than they can afford on housing. (Peter Coy, Businessweek)
GOD LOVES POKER: At least that's what Rep. Joe Barton thinks. The Texas lawmaker invoked divine intervention as a reason to support his poker bill. (NJ)
MANDELA TRIBUTE: Obama: "His struggle was your struggle. His triumph was your triumph. Your dignity and hope found expression in his life, and your freedom, your democracy, is his cherished legacy." (NYT)
STEVE MCQUEEN ON 12 YEARS A SLAVE: McQueen says his film is not only a great film within the slave genre, but a great film--period. (Dan Lee, NY Mag)
THE WEEKEND'S LATE-NIGHT FUNNIES IN UNDER 3 MINUTES: No one is safe from the prying eyes of the NSA. Their newest target: World of Warcraft gamers. Daily Show correspondent Aasif Mandvi, er, Greychalk of Dunmoro, reports from Azeroth. (Reena Flores, NJ)HISTORY OF WOMEN IN THE SENATE: The first female senator held her seat for 24 hours. Ninety years later, women make up a fifth of the Senate. We've come a long way. (New Yorker)