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John Kerry works on Capitol Hill, President Obama at White House, amid nomination buzz

Senator John F. Kerry spent this morning working in his Capitol Hill office amid a swirl of speculation that he will be nominated to be the next secretary of state.

President Obama had a light official schedule today - only his daily briefing at 10:15 a.m. and a 12:30 p.m. private lunch with Vice President Joe Biden were listed - but White House officials confirmed that he had added an unscheduled “fiscal cliff” meeting with House Speaker John Boehner that began about 11 a.m.

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The president’s priority is working with Boehner to avoid the sharp tax hikes and spending cuts slated to take effect automatically on Jan. 1 unless they can reach an agreement that the rest of Congress will approve.

The White House is also said to be working out the remainder of its second-term national security team before announcing the new line-up, which would include the secretary of state post.

Besides Kerry as the purported pick to replace Hillary Rodham Clinton as secretary of state, Obama is said to be considering former Senator Chuck Hagel for defense secretary while also seeking a permanent replacement to David Petraeus as CIA director.

Some form of announcement is expected before Friday, when Obama is slated to leave for his annual Christmas vacation in Hawaii.

Glen Johnson can be reached at johnson@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @globeglen.
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