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Republican leaders on Capitol Hill are divided over whether to push the Democrats so hard for budget cuts that the government shuts down next Friday. What do Planned Parenthood, healthcare reform and NPR have to do with it? Also, President Obama pushes for lower oil imports, and Japan gives up on four troubled nuclear reactors.

Banner image: Social Security supporters attend a rally in the Dirksen Senate Office Building on Capitol Hill March 28, 2011 in Washington, DC. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Making News President Obama Pushes for Lower Oil Imports 7 MIN, 39 SEC

President Obama is trying to kick off a major effort at "energy security" with a speech to students at Georgetown University. He said he's the latest president since Richard Nixon to raise the danger of US dependence on oil. He cautioned against continuing "to rush to propose action when gas prices are high, and then hit the snooze button when they fall again."  Darren Samuelsohn is senior energy and environment reporter for Politico.

Darren Samuelsohn, Politico (@dsamuelsohn)

Main Topic Public Spending and Political Brinksmanship 36 MIN, 12 SEC

When Democrats dominated Capitol Hill last year, they failed to pass a budget for this year, providing an opportunity for Republicans after they took the House. But the GOP is divided on whether to shut down the government if Democrats don't agree to more spending cuts than they want. Democrats insist on freezing spending at last year's levels. The deadline for one or the other to blink is next Friday. What would that mean for the millions who depend on federal programs? Which party would gain the most political points by refusing to compromise? With the deadline approaching on Friday of next week, we get a report on progress — or the lack of it — on Capitol Hill.

Damian Paletta, Washington Post (@damianpaletta)
Brad Sherman, US House of Representatives (D-CA) (@BradSherman)
Mike Wilson, Cincinnati Tea Party
Vin Weber, Mercury/Clark & Weinstock
David Leonhardt, New York Times (@DLeonhardt)

Reporter's Notebook Japanese Consider Entombing Four Malfunctioning Reactors 6 MIN, 55 SEC

"Decommissioning" nuclear reactors means cleaning up all radioactivity and progressively dismantling the plant. But after the worst nuclear disaster in 25 years, and despite three weeks of trying to bring four damaged Fukushima reactors under control, Japan is officially under "maximum alert." The country has decided to give up on the reactors and is now considering whether to entomb them by covering them with concrete and a special fabric to curb the spread of radiation into the air. Edwin Lyman is senior staff scientist in the Global Security program at the Union of Concerned Scientists.

Edwin Lyman, Union of Concerned Scientists (@UCSUSA )

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