WASHINGTON (CNN) - Senate and House Democratic leaders had what two sources describe as an extremely heated meeting Thursday night about the spending bill.
Once Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid figured out he did not have the votes to pass it, he and Senate Democratic Whip Dick Durbin went to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s office to propose passing a five day resolution to keep the government running, and come back to the $410 billion spending bill next week.
The two Democratic sources say Pelosi reacted with “anger,” arguing that Democrats should instead adopt a “scorched earth” strategy and simply fund the government at last year’s levels through the end of the year. Her point, according to the sources, was that even though Republicans have been slamming the bill as wasteful spending, many of them really have an interest in seeing it passed. This would call their bluff.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Republican lawmakers from more than 20 states across the country are willing to take federal funding, but only on their terms.
From Montana to South Carolina, lawmakers in mostly red states have pushed ahead with measures calling for state sovereignty under the Tenth Amendment, saying the federal government has overstepped its bounds with the stimulus package. The states are calling for the right to ignore laws they deem unconstitutional.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - CNN has learned that President Obama is planning to sign at least one executive order on Monday that will overturn Bush-era policy that limited the types of embryonic stem cell research that can receive federal tax dollars, according to administration officials familiar with the deliberations.
Obama's move will be hailed by advocates for those suffering from a host of diseases ranging from diabetes to Parkinson's disease, who believe that an expansion of stem cell research could leads to all kinds of medical progress and help eradicate various debilitating diseases. But many conservatives object to the destruction of human embryos because they contend it ends a human life.
The officials said the administration is planning a Monday event at the White House in which Obama will overturn an executive order signed by former President George W. Bush in August 2001 that barred the National Institutes of Health from funding research on embryonic stem cells beyond using 60 cell lines that existed at the time he signed that order.
(Updated after the jump with reaction from conservatives and GOP congressional leaders)
WASHINGTON (CNN) - With Dr. Sanjay Gupta taking himself out of the mix as President Obama's choice for Surgeon General, CNN has learned that the name of former Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean has now emerged as a possible pick for the high-profile post.
Senior Democratic officials say that Dean, a medical doctor and former Vermont governor who championed health reform, has privately made clear that he is interested in the post. Dean had publicly expressed interest in serving as secretary of Health and Human Services but lost out, and many Democrats believe he was blocked because of a feud he had with White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel back in the 2006 election cycle.
But two White House officials told CNN that while it's too early to compile an official list of candidates for Surgeon General, they believe that it's possible for Dean to get the job. "I would not dismiss it," one of the White House officials said of the possibility that Dean will be selected.
WASHINGTON (CNN) – House Democrats expressed frustration Friday with their Senate colleagues after being forced to stay in town to approve a spending bill to keep the federal government from shutting down.
An exasperated Rep. David Obey, chairman of the House Appropriations Committee - which writes the spending bills - exited the House floor and curtly said, "There's no point in whining. I just want to get things done."
The Senate's inability to pass a $410 billion government spending bill for the remainder of 2009 on Thursday night meant the House had to pass a temporary spending measure to keep the government operating. After voting Friday 328-50 to pass the stopgap remedy, some House Democrats accused senators of neglecting their duties.
"We'll stay all night if we can't approve something. They just go home for the weekend," said Rep. Carolyn McCarthy of New York.
(CNN) - When it comes to Russia, the Obama administration has been talking about “pressing the reset button.” It’s meant to symbolize a possible new start in U.S./Russian relations, which “crashed” after Russia invaded Georgia last August.
So when Secretary of State Hillary Clinton greeted Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov in Geneva Friday before sitting down to their working dinner, she was all smiles when she presented him a small green box with a ribbon.
Lavrov opened it and, inside, there was a red button with the Russian word “peregruzka” printed on it.
"I would like to present you with a little gift that represents what President Obama and Vice President Biden and I have been saying and that is: 'We want to reset our relationship, and so we will do it together.' ...
"We worked hard to get the right Russian word. Do you think we got it?" she asked Lavrov, laughing.
“You got it wrong," said Lavrov, as both diplomats laughed.
“It should be “perezagruzka” [the Russian word for reset]," said Lavrov."This says ‘peregruzka,’ which means ‘overcharged.’”
(CNN) - Minnesota's high court has denied Democrat Al Franken's request to force the state to issue a certification of election results in the U.S. Senate race while the case continues to be appealed.
Franken currently holds a 225-vote lead over Republican Norm Coleman, who has filed suit over his allegation that some valid absentee ballots may not have been counted. The state’s governor, Republican Tim Pawlenty, and Democratic Secretary of State Mark Ritchie have both said that they will not sign a certification of that election that would make the current count official until that lawsuit is resolved.
The decision means the trial, now wrapping its sixth week of testimony, will continue uninterrupted.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - The Supreme Court has granted the Obama administration's request to dismiss the pending appeal of an accused enemy combatant held on U.S. soil.
The decision "to dismiss the appeal as moot" came in a brief order from the nine justices issued Friday.
Ali al-Marri has been held in military custody since 2003, and was challenging the president's unilateral authority to detain him indefinitely and without charges. The court's order is a defeat for him on the larger constitutional issue.
But the Qatari man was indicted last week on federal conspiracy charges and President Barack Obama wanted him transferred to civilian custody immediately, and to have the pending high court case thrown out.
Earlier this week I wrote this in my column on CNN.com: “First lady Michelle Obama has blown away the stale air in a White House musty from eight years of the Bushes. It’s like the sun came out and a fresh spring breeze began wafting through the open windows.”
The First Lady recognizes the White House is “the people’s house”, inviting ordinary people, kids, you name it to visit. The nation’s first African-American first lady is also making the rounds among federal agencies — sometimes thousands of government employees line up to see her. She has visited schools in the district and yesterday she went to a soup kitchen.
An article in the Christian Science Monitor points out that one thing is clear about Michelle Obama’s post-election rollout. “She is no Hillary Clinton.”
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(CNN) – First lady Michelle Obama told Oprah Winfrey that the weekend after Inauguration was like a “huge, very complicated wedding,” in an interview for “O” magazine set to hit newsstands on March 17.
“Well, we still had family here, so it was almost like a wedding. A huge, very complicated wedding. The last visitors didn't leave until Sunday,” the first lady told Winfrey. “And then the first Monday was kind of weird. You know: Now we live here, and Barack is getting up and going to work, and it's just us. This is our home now.”
She also told Winfrey that she felt very “privileged” to live in the White House and that she wants her “kids to be treated like children, not little princesses.”
Oprah endorsed President Obama during the Democratic primary season, and traveled with both Obamas on the campaign trail. The cover of O featuring Michelle Obama is the first Winfrey has shared with someone else.