(CNN) – New York Gov. David Paterson announced Wednesday that a special election to fill Senator Kirsten Gillibrand’s former House seat will take place on March 31.
Gillibrand represented New York’s 20th congressional district until last month, when she was tapped to replace the departing Hillary Clinton in the Senate.
The special election pits Democrat Scott Murphy, a venture capitalist, against Republican Jim Tedisco, the New York General Assembly minority leader.
Both national parties are likely to pump resources into the race - but new Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele has vowed to compete especially hard in the traditionally conservative district.
Steele told PolitickerNY earlier this month that the contest will be “a battle royale.”
WASHINGTON (CNN) – The size of the final stimulus bill, still being worked on at this hour, has dipped to about $789 billion, according to several senators involved in negotiations and other Democratic sources.
That figure is lower than either the House or Senate bills - though Democrat Ben Nelson warned CNN Wednesday that number could change as discussions continue.
Nelson, Susan Collins and other centrist senators spoke as they returned to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid's office to continue ongoing talks with White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel and Budget Director Peter Orszag.
Collins and others continue to say they're narrowing their differences, and remain optomistic they can reach agreement today.
NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) - A day after unveiling his new financial rescue plan, Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner again went before Congress to defend it.
Watch: Geithner grilled on bailout
Geithner's revised bailout was met with disappointment on Wall Street and with some lawmakers who thought Treasury's plan was lacking in details.
At a hearing held Wednesday by the Senate Budget Committee, senators pressed Geithner to give more specifics about Treasury's new bailout efforts.
"The market has made clear that certainty and stability are commodities of great demand; unfortunately, that is not what we received yesterday," said Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala. "Secretary Geithner, you need to give a detailed plan in clear terms of how we are to proceed. You've had more than a month to work on the proposal, but what we've heard is an outline."
"I hope you can use the hearing today to put some meat on the bones," Sessions added.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - A Democratic leadership source tells CNN they are now optimistic about getting a House-Senate stimulus deal by this afternoon.
In fact, they are arranging for a formal conference committee meeting this afternoon to start officially drawing up the legislation.
Meetings with key centrist senators and Democratic leaders, which lasted for some nine hours yesterday, are expected to begin again later this morning.
Even after Rahm Emanuel and Peter Orszag left yesterday, and the final meeting in Nancy Pelosi’s office broke up close to midnight, staffers spent the night working on the bill.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Democrats are optimistic about getting a House-Senate stimulus deal by Wednesday afternoon, a Democratic leadership source told CNN.
A conference committee meeting is set to be held Wednesday afternoon to start officially drawing up the legislation.
Meetings with centrist senators and Democratic leaders, which lasted for about nine hours Tuesday, are expected to begin again later Wednesday morning.
The House and Senate have passed two different versions of the economic stimulus bill. Before the bill can be signed into law, the two chambers must reconcile their differences and pass a final version of the package.
President Obama wants the bill on his desk by Presidents Day, which is next Monday.
(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.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - The CEO's of several large banks that have received funds from the government as part of the Wall Street bailout are testifying on Capitol Hill about how they used public money.
Watch the hearing now on CNN.com/live.
Watch Sen. Arlen Specter's interview from American Morning Wednesday.
WASHINGTON (CNN)– One of the three moderate Republican senators who voted in favor of the stimulus package says he's aware of the political danger he's putting himself in.
"I understand the peril, but I didn't run for the United States Senate to further my own political interests," Sen. Arlen Specter said on CNN's American Morning. "I think when you have a decision like the one that we're facing now, there's only one way to respond, and that's to respond with action."
Specter and Sens. Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins of Maine were the only Republicans to back the $838 billion bill that passed the Senate yesterday. All three senators were involved in cutting spending proposals from the original plan crafted by Democrats, and all three have said they may not vote for the final version of the bill if more spending projects are added to the legislation by House Democrats.
"If somebody else in the Republican Party had stepped up to do the negotiations, to handle it, I would have been glad to step aside," Specter told American Morning anchor John Roberts.
The five-term senator from Pennsylvania said that with the economy facing a possible catastrophe, "the only responsible thing to do is to support the package. And bear in mind, the Republican moderates' program got $110 billion cut. We got the backing of the United States Chamber of Commerce, which is a very conservative Republican organization. They know the economy better than perhaps anybody, because they're in touch with so many thousands of businesses and they say the economy requires it."
Neither Collins or Snowe face re-election in 2010, but Specter does. He faced a bruising primary battle in 2004 against then-Republican Rep. Pat Toomey, a fiscal conservative.
The National Republican Trust PAC, an influential conservative political action committee, is pledging to support primary challengers to any Republican senator who supports stimulus package backed by President Barack Obama and congressional Democrats - the latest public show of dissatisfaction from the right over the massive measure before Congress.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - It is not unusual for a presidential candidate to try to win friends and influence voters. That's what elections are about, so we tend to excuse political posturing when we see it - because we have come to expect a certain amount of it. Besides, we like people who pay attention to us.
But once a president becomes president, we expect other things. We expect him to keep his promises (particularly if we liked them). We expect action and decision. And, most of all, we expect to come to learn who he is, and where he really stands - by virtue of what he decides.
And what we've been watching over the last few weeks is just that: the very public development of a new president who is more pragmatic than ideological by nature, testing his instincts against the divided realities of Washington.
It's been a balancing act - in which we've seen President Obama as both cheerleader and Chicken Little, as a partisan Democrat and a bipartisan negotiator and, finally, as both an insider leading a well-worn Washington-dominated Cabinet and an outsider railing against Washington's business as usual.
In many ways, the deck has been stacked against the president's instincts: Washington hasn't been hospitable to bipartisanship for decades.
WASHINGTON (CNN)– The chief executive officers of eight of the nation's largest banks will defend the use of hundreds of billions of dollars in bailout money to lawmakers on Capitol Hill Wednesday.
The CEO's of Bank of America, JP Morgan Chase, Citigroup, Goldman Sachs, Wells Fargo, Morgan Stanley, Bank of New York and State Street Corp. recently came under scrutiny after being accused of using bailout money from the Troubled Asset Relief Program to fund bonuses and lavish vacations.
"American people are right to expect that we use funds responsibly, quickly and transparently to help American families, businesses and communities," Vikram Pandit, CEO of Citigroup is expected to say before the House Financial Services committee, according to prepared remarks. "They also have a right to expect a return on this investment."
Recently the ailing bank received $45 billion in government bailout money which Pandit will explain that $35.6 billion has gone toward new programs and "lending initiatives."
"We have every incentive to lend," Kenneth D. Lewis, Chairman and CEO of Bank of America is expected to say Wednesday. "And, despite recessionary headwinds, we are lending."
Bank of America is expected to make its first return to the Treasury next week of $400 million according to Lewis.
"We intend to pay all the TARP funds back as soon as possible," Lewis is expected to say.
Sharing a common theme as the new Obama administration, each of the executives plan to harp on accountability and transparency, while defending their use of the capital.
"We have not used [TARP funding] to pay compensation, nor did we use it to pay any dividends or lobbying costs," John J. Mack, Chairman and CEO of Morgan Stanley is expected to tell the committee.