WASHINGTON (CNN) – A new $10 million-plus television advertising campaign is set to begin Sunday that is designed to pressure Congress to move quickly this year on overhauling the nation’s healthcare system, an organizer tells CNN.
The TV ads will run on local cable television, specifically targeting 34 senators over a three week period and 49 congressmen for two weeks, Dave Lemon, a spokesman for Families USA, tells CNN.
Families USA, along with American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN), Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA), and the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) are behind the campaign. Lemon said the ads will hit both Democrats and Republicans, but noted the consortium will not release a list of the targets until next week. The ads will run on CNN, Comedy Central, FOX and MSNBC.
"This huge ad campaign is designed to accomplish two things,” Ron Pollack, executive director of Families USA, tells CNN. “First, thank members of Congress for their votes on children's health care coverage; and second, to begin the process of getting meaningful health care reform passed this year.
"The children's health bill is a good down payment towards meaningful reform. But, with tens of millions of people unable to afford needed health care coverage, the larger reform effort needs to happen as quickly as possible," he added.
WASHINGTON (CNN) – House Republicans charged Thursday that the Democratic pledge of bringing transparency to the federal government was an empty promise.
The GOP’s complaint centers on the $789 billion stimulus package and what is actually in the plan which President Obama says will be a shot in the arm to the ailing economy. House Democrats agreed on Tuesday to language that “require the conferees to not record their approval of the final conference agreement unless the text of the agreement has been available at least 48 hours.”
A deal on the stimulus bill was struck Wednesday between the Democratic leadership, centrist Republicans and the Obama administration. Congressional conferees are lawmakers responsible for taking different versions of House and Senate bills and molding them into one measure that can be voted on by both chambers. As of Thursday afternoon, House Republican leadership aide Michael Steel told CNN they still had not seen the full bill. The House is expected to vote Friday on the measure.
“Why would Democratic Leaders want to pass a nearly 800-page bill without giving anyone – including most of their own Members – a chance to read it?” Steel wrote Thursday in a widely distributed e-mail to the media. “Why would they want to spend over a trillion dollars with no oversight or review? Why would they contradict their own votes, recorded in the Congressional Record? What are they hiding from the American people?”
WASHINGTON (CNN) – CNN has learned that one day after securing an agreement on a giant economic stimulus bill that is expected to pass narrowly with the votes of three moderate Republicans, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is calling other Republican centrists trying to persuade more of them to vote for the measure.
He’s looking for additional votes out of an abundance of caution, an aide explained, after learning that ailing Sen. Ted Kennedy, who returned to Capitol Hill for votes earlier this week, has now gone back to Florida to continue his recovery from brain cancer and won’t be here for a final vote on the stimulus bill in the coming days.
With Kennedy here, the Senate version of the bill passed 61-37 – just one vote more than needed.
Reid is concerned that if a Democratic senator gets sick, or has some other unforeseen obligation, he could have trouble getting the bill passed.
WASHINGTON (CNN) – House Democratic leaders were forced to put off until Friday a vote on the Presidents economic stimulus bill, after many rank and file Democrats unhappy with some of the spending cuts, demanded time to read the measure. As of 1:00 pm Thursday the text of legislation spelling out the details of the House-Senate compromise had not been completed. Despite the delay, multiple sources, said the bill was not in jeopardy.
The decision to put off the House vote was made following a Thursday morning closed door House Democratic meeting, the second meeting in less than 24 hours to discuss the $789 billion bill.
Many lawmakers left Thursday’s meeting expressing resignation that there is not much they can do to change the spending measure, which they feel does not go far enough to solve the current economic troubles.
(CNN) – Former Republican National Committee chairman Mike Duncan was elected to head up the Tennessee Valley Authority board of directors in a 4-3 vote Thursday morning.
Duncan had served on two committees at the TVA, a federally owned corporation responsible for energy, environment, and economic development in the South.
The former head of the Republican Party fell short in his re-election bid last month, telling committee members that running the committee “has truly been the highlight of my life.”
Duncan will succeed current TVA chairman William B. Sansom, whose term expires May 18.
You want to be stimulated? How does $13 a week sound to you?
While the federal government is passing an $800 billion stimulus bill — which works out to about $2,700 for every man woman and child in the country — the average worker can look forward to seeing about an extra $13 a week in his/her paycheck after taxes. This is on top of the $700 billion financial bailout package that was passed last fall and given to the Wall Street and banking weasels.
When I was a kid and was given my meager allowance I was often told, “Try not to blow it all in one place.”
$13 a week. Think you can stave off foreclosure with that? How about junior’s tuition, room and board at college? Maybe trade in the old car for one of those new, fancy hybrids. $13 a week ought to handle it. Or you could plan a lavish trip to Las Vegas and make the whiny old mayor of that town happy.
To read more and contribute to the Cafferty File discussion click here
WASHINGTON (CNN) - From Capitol Hill to Springfield, Illinois, President Obama and Congress paid tribute Thursday to Abraham Lincoln on the bicentennial of his birth.
Watch: Obama honors Lincoln
"It is an honor to be here: a place where Lincoln served, was inaugurated, and where the nation he saved bid him a last farewell," Obama said at the Capitol on Thursday.
"As we mark the bicentennial of our 16th president's birth, I cannot claim to know as much about his life and works as many who are also speaking today, but I can say that I feel a special gratitude to this singular figure who in so many ways made my own story possible - and who in so many ways made America's story possible."
White House officials say Obama's speechwriter had several conversations with historian Doris Kearns Goodwin in crafting the speech.
"At a moment when we are far less divided than in Lincoln's day but when we are once again debating the critical issues of our time - and debating them sometimes fiercely - let us remember that we are doing so as servants of the same flag, as representatives of the same people and as stakeholders in a common future. That is the most fitting tribute we can pay and the most lasting monument we can build to that most remarkable of men, Abraham Lincoln," Obama said.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - The Obama administration has offered the position of "drug czar” to Seattle Police Chief Gil Kerlikowske, a senior administration official confirmed to CNN Thursday.
Kerlikowske has accepted the nomination for the cabinet-level post, formally known as Director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy, the official said. His nomination is subject to Senate confirmation.
Kerlikowske, 59, is a military veteran with 36 years of law enforcement experience. The "drug czar" oversees an agency that sets the country's drug-control strategy.
Capitol Hill (CNN) – Nearly a day after Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nevada, announced a $789 billion-dollar final economic stimulus deal, congressmen still had not seen a printed bill, or even a written summary of the legislation.
Most lawmakers, staffers and reporters Thursday were depending on just a handful of details given out the day before by Reid, Finance Chairman Max Baucus, D-Montana, and two key negotiators, Senator Susan Collins, R-Maine and Senator Ben Nelson, D-Nebraska.
Collins read off some figures from a handwritten and somewhat crumpled sheet of paper.
(CNN) - Apparently ever the consensus-builder, President Barack Obama avoided taking sides in the perennial feud that is the Duke-North Carolina men's college basketball rivalry.
President Obama was meeting with a group of regional reporters Wednesday to pitch his stimulus package - just hours before the Tobacco Road showdown in Durham, North Carolina - when the topic of the game came up, according to the Raleigh News and Observer.
The President, a basketball star in high school, declined to take a position.
At first, Obama hinted he might side with the Duke Blue Devils. He said team was “coming off one of the worst losses it has had in several years,” a blowout loss to Clemson last week that coach Mike Krzyzewski might have used as motivation in practice.
“They might be fired up,” Obama said. “I hope it’s a close game.”
But even though he famously scrimmaged with the Tar Heels before the state's primary last year, Obama also declined to support the University of North Carolina. Why? He pointed to his personal aide, Reggie Love, who played at Duke.
“If I said anything contrary to Duke, I might not be able to find my Blackberry,” he joked.
North Carolina won the game, 101-87.
Updated 9:43 a.m.