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Answering supercommittee co-chair Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., for a show of hands, from right to left, former Senate Budget Committee Chairman Pete Domenici, R-N.M., former White House Budget Director Alice Rivlin, and former Sen. Alan Simpson, R-Wyo., and Erskine Bowles, co-chairs of the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform, respond during a hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, Nov. 1, 2011. Murray asked whether "we need both spending cuts, including entitlement reform, and revenue increases," to reach a deal that trims the federal deficit by at least $1.2 trillion over 10 years. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite) 

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Congress sputters on deficit cuts, spending bills

WASHINGTON — A sputtering Congress enveloped in an atmosphere poisoned with politics and distrust enters its final weeks of the year struggling to complete a lengthy to-do list on the budget.

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