Afternoon Reads

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–In an 87-13 vote, the Senate passed the three-week stopgap measure to fund the government through April 8, sending the bill to the President’s desk.

–Meanwhile, the House Republicans passed a bill de-fund NPR, but the measure is expected to die in the Senate.

–It didn’t take long for Jim DeMint, through an anonymous proxy, to walk back his forgiving comments about Romneycare. A source tells The Hill that DeMint, who backed Romney in 2008, “would never consider backing Romney again unless he admits that his Massachusetts health care plan was a colossal mistake.”

Mike Pence challenges John Boehner to defend the cost-cutting hard-liners who are making his life difficult. Pence’s remarks raise an important point: While the 87-member House Republican freshman class are often cast as Boehner’s chief antagonists, in many cases more senior members have been both more likely to buck party leaders and more vocal about their defiance. Of the 54 defectors on this week’s CR vote, just 22 were freshmen. A number of senior dissenters are nursing higher ambitions. Pence (who bowed out of his leadership role and is considering a run for Indiana governor), RSC chair Jim Jordan (whose draconian spending-cut proposal made the party’s initial effort seem paltry by comparison) and Michele Bachmann (who’s testing the waters for a presidential bid) have been among the noisiest critics of the piecemeal approach that has trimmed $10 billion off the budget over the last five weeks.

–The Atlantic’s Chris Good wonders whether Haley Barbour’s call to rethink U.S. policy in Afghanistan will play with GOP primary voters.

And a new Pew Internet study shows just how critical a good online game is for political candidates.