(CNN) – "We now have a president who's going to put science at the heart of our environmental policies and decisions," Michelle Obama said to a cheering crowd of employees at the Environmental Protection Agency Thursday. "It's a new day."
Mrs. Obama spoke to roughly 1,000 EPA staffers, her latest stop in a series of visits to government agencies, thanking employees for their work and assuring them that they have "unwavering support from a phenomenal president."
"This new era puts the EPA at the center of President Obama's highest priorities, securing America's energy independence and securing the future of our planet by combating climate change," the first lady said.
The EPA is an agency whose mission is particularly close to Obama's heart: public health. "I've often spoken about my most important job - being a mom, and like mothers and fathers everywhere, the health and safety of our children is our top priority," she said. "This is what it is all about - the future."
WASHINGTON (CNN) - The Department of Homeland Security will get more money so it can find and expel illegal immigrants who commit crimes, under proposals outlined Thursday in President Barack Obama's first budget.
Click on the jump for more info about homeland security funding in the budget.
The Republicans trotted out one of their hopefuls for 2012 this week and he pretty much landed with a loud thud. Louisiana governor Bobby Jindal got lousy reviews from across the political spectrum after giving the Republican response to President Obama’s address to Congress Tuesday night.
The criticism even came from conservatives who have been promoting the 36-year-old rising political star as the person to revive the GOP. Some Republicans say Jindal came off at best off-balance and at worst downright amateur in his national debut. They’re calling for the person who wrote Jindal’s “cheesy” response and coached him to be fired and say Jindal shouldn’t be allowed near a teleprompter again. Others point out that Republicans are looking for a “conservative version” of President Obama. Jindal ain’t it.
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WASHINGTON (CNN) - One of the highlights of this year’s Conservative Political Action Conference will be the annual CPAC Straw Poll, in which conference attendees will vote on which politician should win the Republican presidential nomination in 2012. The results to be released on Saturday, but balloting at the conference has already begun.
So who’s on this year’s ballot? A host of GOP rising stars, each of whom represent a different path for the party.
Here are the choices: Florida Gov. Charlie Crist, former House speaker Newt Gingrich, former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, Texas Rep. Ron Paul, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford, and “Undecided.” There’s also space on the ballot for a write-in-candidate.
The results, culled from the party’s most resolute activists, could go a long way in shoring up a presidential hopeful’s conservative resume, as was the case with Romney when he won the straw poll in 2007 in 2008. But the eventual Republican nominee – Sen. John McCain - finished fifth in the 2007 vote, and lost to Romney in 2008 as conservatives at the conference expressed frustration that the senate maverick was close to cinching up the nomination.
CPAC attendees will also be able to vote on their approval of President Obama and Republicans in Congress.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - A fee charged to every airline passenger to help pay for security would go up an undisclosed amount in 2012 if President Barack Obama's proposed budget is approved.
Currently, passengers pay $2.50 for every leg of a trip, with a maximum of $5.
But the Obama administration said the fee captures only 36 percent of the cost of providing aviation security, and said the increased fee will result in passengers paying "a majority" of the estimated cost of passenger and baggage screening.
WASHINGTON (CNN) – Mike Huckabee and John McCain got along famously during the Republican presidential campaign, but now Huckabee - possibly mulling another bid in 2012 - is putting some space between himself and the former GOP nominee.
Speaking at CPAC, the annual gathering of conservative activists, the former Arkansas governor took McCain to task for voting for the financial bailout last October, a move Huckabee said betrayed the party’s core beliefs.
“With all due respect, Sen. McCain dramatically suspended his campaign and flew back to Washington not to champion those conservative Republicans [in the House], but to join meekly with Barack Obama in voting for the bailout, a bailout most American opposed,” he said.
Huckabee said he went along with the Republican ticket because he was “a good soldier,” but that the bailout vote may have sunk McCain’s campaign.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Money for high-speed rail links and an upgraded air-traffic control system is included in President Barack Obama's first annual budget, introduced Thursday.
Click on the jump for more info about transportation funding in the budget.
(CNN) - Despite years of warnings, the Federal Emergency Management Agency had no plan to house disaster victims after Hurricane Katrina and remains unprepared for another catastrophe, a Senate investigation concluded Thursday.
The probe found FEMA failed to prepare for a major disaster even after a 2004 exercise by emergency responders predicted a quarter of a million people could be left homeless by a major hurricane strike on New Orleans, Louisiana Sen. Mary Landrieu told reporters.
"So when the storm hit, they just started ordering trailers with no thought to how expensive it would be, where they would put them, how expensive it would be set them up or what the capacity would be to manufacture them to begin with," said Landrieu, D-Louisiana.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - President Barack Obama introduced his first annual budget Thursday, promising short-term deficits but a balanced budget in the long run.
The Commerce Department will be one of the big winners, proportionally speaking.
Click on the jump for more info about Commerce Department funding in the budget.