TODAY IN ONE PARAGRAPH: Twelve Republicans joined Senate Democrats to take the bipartisan budget deal a step closer to securing passage, which could come as soon as this evening. Reps. Jim Matheson and Frank Wolf both announced they're done with Congress, and both decisions have 2014 implications. Obama met with an influential Silicon Valley delegation in an attempt to assuage concerns broiling over about the NSA's surveillance activities, and the White House announced Microsoft's Kurt DelBene will replace Jeffrey Zients in overseeing the ongoing repair of the Obamacare site.
BUDGET DEAL INCHES CLOSER TO SENATE PASSAGE: With room to spare, the Senate voted 67-33 to end debate on the budget accord today, paving the way for a final vote as soon as this evening. (O'Keefe/Montgomery, WaPo)
THE DOZEN REPUBLICANS THAT JOINED DEMS TO END DEBATE: Lamar Alexander of Tennessee, Roy Blunt of Missouri, Saxby Chambliss of Georgia, Susan Collins of Maine, Jeff Flake of Arizona, Orrin Hatch of Utah, John Hoeven of North Dakota, Johnny Isakson of Georgia, Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, John McCain of Arizona, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, and Rob Portman of Ohio. (Niels Lesniewski, Roll Call)
A REFRESHER: HOW THE BUDGET BILL STACKS UP IN ONE CHART: There's more discretionary spending in this package than under sequestration or the House Republican budget, but less than in the budget Senate Democrats passed back in March. (NYT)
OBAMA TALKS DOMESTIC SPYING WITH TECH EXECS: A statement issued after the White House meeting said the president would "consider their input as well as the input of other outside stakeholders as we finalize our review of signals intelligence programs." (Jared Favole, WSJ)
JIM MATHESON, FRANK WOLF LEAVING CONGRESS AT END OF TERM: Wolf, a Virginia Republican, announced today he would not seek an 18th term in the House. Hours later, Matheson, a Blue Dog Democrat from Utah, took to Facebook to announce his plans to retire. Wolf's departure leaves open the possibility that his right-leaning district could be hotly contested in 2014, but Matheson's exit all but guarantees a GOP pickup.
TOMORROW IN ONE PARAGRAPH: The Senate is in session and may hold a vote on the budget agreement if the chamber doesn't do so tonight. The House is out of session. John Kerry returns from foreign travel.
NEW OBAMACARE REPAIRMAN: Jeffrey Zients is out as the point man for fixing the federal health exchange site. Enter Microsoft exec Kurt DelBene. (Sam Baker, NJ)
POST-NUCLEAR SENATE: Thirteen presidential nominees have been confirmed since the chamber returned from recess. Democrats and Republicans will ultimately split the benefits of the rule change, but it's unquestionably a win for people wanting Congress to function more smoothly. (Alex Seitz-Wald, NJ)
UKRAINE BAILOUT: Russia is footing $15 billion to help the cash-strapped country amid continuing street protests. (Korsunskaya/Heritage, Reuters)
JAMIE DIMON'S CHRISTMAS MESSAGE: Things are looking up for finance, if the Dimon family's Christmas card is any indication. (John McDuling, Quartz)
TWEEN TALK: A helpful guide for how to explain the budget deal to your kids. (Matt Vasilogambros, NJ)
ALAN GREENSPAN WON'T BACK DOWN: The former chairman of the Federal Reserve has suffered reputational damage since the Great Recession, but the "maestro of monetary policy" still thinks his decisions leading up to the crash were the right ones. (Robert Solow, TNR)
ANXIOUS? BLAME YOUR PARENTS: "The next time you experience déjà vu, it's possible you're simply experiencing a sensation your ancestors have already felt. (Dana Smith, The Atlantic)
MR. POPEULAR: Pope Francis's public remarks have made him popular around the world. But will his public statements translate into action? (James Carroll, New Yorker)
LAST NIGHT'S LATE-NIGHT FUNNIES IN UNDER 2 MINUTES: Fox's Megyn Kelly says Santa Claus is undoubtedly, most assuredly white … just kidding! Colbert creates an infallible technology to prevent the NSA's insatiable spying from entering your webcam. (Reena Flores, NJ)