Tamara Keith

The Senate is expected to vote on a temporary transportation spending bill later this week — with an emphasis on the word temporary.

The bill would keep highway funding flowing through May of next year, and avert a looming infrastructure crisis. Without congressional action, the highway trust fund would run out of cash in August.

The short-term fix follows a familiar pattern. It goes something like this:

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For the amount of money that's expected to be spent in the Kentucky race for U.S. Senate this year, you could buy a bottle of the state's own Maker's Mark whiskey for nearly every man, woman and child in the state.

Some observers say the election could end up as the most expensive Senate race in history, with spending topping $100 million. And why wouldn't it be? It's at the heart of the battle for control of the U.S. Senate.

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First lady Michelle Obama is by far one of the most popular political figures in America, because she's largely avoided appearing too political — instead devoting much of her attention to encouraging good nutrition and healthful lifestyles for America's children.

But that cause has run head-on into a congressional fight over stalling some of the nutritional gains of the school lunch program, which she helped put in place.

Election watchers say Republicans could take control of the Senate this fall. At the same time, many of these same analysts see problems for the Grand Old Party in the longer term.

Republican voters tend to be white, older and more affluent, and their share of the overall population is shrinking. That's why at least some conservatives think it's time for the party to broaden its appeal to the middle class.

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