ARLINGTON, Virginia (CNN) - Education Secretary Arne Duncan told students and educators at a Virginia high school Tuesday that he'll fight to put $20 billion in education construction funding back into the $838 billion economic stimulus package, as President Barack Obama wants.
Wakefield High School in Arlington was scheduled to be renovated next year, but that project has been pushed back at least until 2013, due in part to lack of funding, school officials said.
During his visit to an advanced placement study group in government and economics, Duncan asked students about building conditions.
"It's pretty bad," a student responded. One student said the temperature in a classroom had reached 96 degrees.
Duncan responded by giving an impromptu student civics lesson, detailing recent Capitol Hill wrangling over education funding.
"This week, there's obviously lots of debate between - a conference between - the House and Senate," he told the students. "A chance to get a huge amount of money to help our construction projects. There's a chance of no money. So, we're working really, really hard to make sure the right thing happens."
(CNN) - Sarah Palin will not be attending the Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington later this month, her office confirmed to CNN Tuesday.
The Alaska governor had been expected to serve as the headline attraction at the three day event, which is also scheduled to include conservative icons like Newt Gingrich, Rush Limbaugh, and Ann Coulter. The presidential straw poll conducted at the annual Washington gathering is widely viewed as a reliable bellwether of conservative support. Several of the GOP’s past - and potentially future - presidential hopefuls are also slated to address the gathering, including Mike Huckabee, Mitt Romney and Ron Paul.
MINNEAPOLIS, Minnesota (CNN) - Democrat Al Franken will return to the nation's capitol Tuesday night in order to "prepare" for the possibility that he will be named the junior senator from Minnesota, his spokeswoman Jess McIntosh confirmed to CNN.
Franken is in the middle of a bitter court battle with former Republican Sen. Norm Coleman, thanks to a closer-than-close election and subsequent hand recount that left Franken in the lead with 225 votes. Coleman is challenging that outcome.
The former comedian and Saturday Night Live alum will stay in DC through Thursday and will likely meet with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.
"The purpose is to prepare him for the Senate, in terms of policy, in terms of familiarizing himself with the institution of the Senate and how it operates, and in terms of the upcoming legislative agenda," McIntosh said. FULL POST
(CNN) –- MoveOn.org named a new executive director Tuesday to head up the daily operations of one of the largest liberal political action committees in the nation.
Former National Organizing Director Justin Ruben was appointed to the post, held until recently by Eli Pariser. Ruben, a long-time political organizer, aided in the establishment of the group’s field organizing program, and headed the 2006 “Call for Change” campaign that facilitated in the election of a Democratic congressional majority, and served as a supervisor for two years in MoveOn's issue campaigns.
"I am honored to take the helm of this organization at this critical moment," said Ruben. "Our five million members stand ready to fight for President Obama's progressive agenda of creating jobs, developing a new green economy, providing health care for all and ending the war in Iraq."
Eli Pariser, the committee’s former executive director, will transition to president of the board.
MoveOn.org supported Barack Obama’s White House bid, a first-time endorsement move for the PAC. Since the organization’s inception, the 527 turned 501(c)(4) organization has spent millions of dollars on ad campaigns and grassroots organizing.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Famed entertainer Dolly Parton said Tuesday she thinks a woman would make a good president — but she wouldn’t.
"Somebody said to me, 'Well, you know what - you've got such a big mouth and you know how to talk to people, did you ever think about running for president?'” the country singer told an audience at the National Press Club. I said, 'I think we've had enough boobs in the White House, but hopefully [President] Obama ain't gonna be one of them.'"
Parton, who is in Washington to promote the 75th anniversary of Tennessee’s Great Smoky Mountains National Park, also joked a woman may be especially suited to show wrath against terrorist threats.
"Every 28 days, those terrorists better run deeper into them woods," she said, to laughter. "That's all I can say if we get a woman in there."
(CNN) – An influential conservative political action committee is pledging to support primary challengers to any Republican senator who supports President Obama's stimulus package - the latest public show of dissatisfaction from the right over the massive measure before Congress.
"The American people don’t want this trillion dollar political payoff that will just line the pockets of non-governmental organizations who supported [President] Obama in the election,” said Scott Wheeler, the executive director of The National Republican Trust PAC, an organization that calls for less government spending and lower taxes.
“Republican senators are on notice," Wheeler said. "If they support the stimulus package, we will make sure every voter in their state knows how they tried to further bankrupt voters in an already bad economy.”
In a Senate vote Tuesday, only three Republicans backed the $838 billion measure - Sens. Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins of Maine, and Pennsylvania Sen. Arlen Specter.
All three senators were involved in cutting spending proposals from the plan, and have said they may not vote for the final version bill if more spending projects are added to it.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - President Barack Obama will likely make a decision on sending additional troops to Afghanistan "in the course of the next few days," Defense Secretary Robert Gates said Tuesday.
"I think that there is a realization that some decisions have to be made ... before the strategic review is completed," Gates said at a news conference. "He has several options in front of him."
Gates, one of three Republicans appointed to Obama's Cabinet, said the administration will wait until a strategic review of military operations in Afghanistan and Iraq is complete to make decisions on "the strategies going forward."
"I worry a lot about the foreign military footprint in Afghanistan ... I think and I hope that the strategic review that is underway will sort of point a path forward in terms of what we think the right number, the right size of the foreign military presence in Afghanistan should be," Gates added.
“Barack Obama throws Joe Biden under the bus” is how one British newspaper describes the president’s little dig at his number two during last night’s press conference.
President Obama was asked about the Veep’s recent remark that even if the White House did everything right in combating the economic downturn, there’s a “30% chance we’re going to get it wrong.” The president grinned a little, saying he didn’t remember “exactly what Joe was referring to.” Smooth as ever, Mr. Obama went on to say that he wouldn’t assign a numerical value to all this. But given the magnitude of the problems we’re facing, no one single thing they do will solve all the problems.
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WASHINGTON (CNN) - The Senate voted 61-37 to approve President Barack Obama's proposed $838 billion economic stimulus bill Tuesday.
The measure will now have to be reconciled with an $819 billion version the House of Representatives passed on January 28.
(CNN) - They're the unlikeliest of drinking buddies: President Obama and one of his fiercest critics - Fox News host Sean Hannity.
But the two may just be getting closer to sharing a bottle or two– so long as Hannity is willing to foot the bill - according to White House spokesman Robert Gibbs.
"Get him a six pack of Budweiser and we'll meet Hannity anywhere he wants to go," said a laughing Gibbs, who also added the meeting should take place in public otherwise "nobody would believe it actually happened."
The comments come one day after the president was asked at a town hall in Indiana whether he would take up Hannity's open invitation to meet for a beer.
“I didn't know he had invited me for a beer, but I will take that under advisement…I'm always good for a beer." Obama said.
Hours later on his radio program, Hannity said he's pleased with the president's gesture.
"It seems like he's opened the door that he wants to meet with me," he told his listeners. "Now if he does, I would go on your behalf.”