Budget Deal: In a rare display of bipartisan cooperation, House and Senate negotiators unveiled an $85 billion agreement late Tuesday to fund federal agencies through the fall of 2015. The Pentagon would get a $2 billion increase over last year, while domestic agencies would get a $22 billion bump, The Washington Post reports.
Madoff Employees Trial: Bernard Madoff planned every detail of his firm’s demise in the days before he was arrested five years ago to avoid being marched past his 200 employees in handcuffs, the con man’s former finance chief told a jury. Five former employees are on trial in federal court in Manhattan, accused of aiding his fraud for decades and getting rich in the process, Bloomberg reports.
Person of the Year: Time named Pope Francis its person of the year. In second place was NSA leaker Edward Snowden, followed by Edith Windsor, the “matriarch of the gay-rights movement,” Syrian President Bashar Assad, and Sen. Ted Cruz.
Hidden Accounts: Two more Swiss banks - Bank Coop and Migros Bank - said they would work with U.S. officials in a crackdown on wealthy Americans evading taxes through hidden offshore accounts, a trickle that could rise to about one third of the country's private banks, Reuters reports.
Bad Contractors: A new congressional report criticizes the federal government for awarding tens of billions of dollars in contracts to companies even though they were found to have violated safety and wage laws and paid millions in penalties, The New York Times reports.