WASHINGTON (CNN) - House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told reporters Tuesday that another stimulus package might be needed to help the ailing economy.
Pelosi, whose comments followed a meeting with several economists, said the measures already taken by the Obama administration are helping to restore confidence in the shaky financial markets.
But "we have to keep the door open and see how this goes," the California Democrat added.
House Appropriations Committee Chairman David Obey of Wisconsin told CNN Tuesday night he's already instructed his staff to start drafting a second stimulus proposal. Obey said his staff is preparing the outline of stimulus bill but he cautioned there is no timeline to move on it.
One of the economists in the meeting with Pelosi and other Democrats, Mark Zandi with Moody's Economy.com, said more taxpayer money would likely be needed to bolster the economy.
(CNN) – President Obama’s embraced the idea of paying educators according to their performance, but it’s a proposal that doesn’t play well with some key groups within his own party. In the latest installment of CNN=Politics Daily, CNN White House Correspondent Dan Lothian reports on the president’s vision to improve schools.
Plus: Former White House Press Secretary Dana Perino and Democratic strategist Donna Brazile join the education conversation, and talk about a controversial Washington Post op-ed that compares Obama to former President George W. Bush in Tuesday’s Strategy Session.
Also: It’s been 50 days since Barack Obama took the oath of office - how do you think the president is doing so far? CNN Senior Political Analyst Bill Schneider looks at what critics and supporters are saying.
Finally: A bloody new development that could affect President Obama’s plans to bring the troops home from Iraq. CNN Pentagon Correspondent Chris Lawrence looks at recent bombing spikes that could sidetrack U.S. withdrawal.
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WASHINGTON (CNN) - A massive spending bill that funds the U.S. government for the rest of the budget year passed the Senate on Tuesday despite complaints about nearly $8 billion in what critics called "pork-barrel" projects.
Senators voted 62-35 to cut off debate on the $410 billion measure and passed it on a voice vote immediately afterward.
The omnibus spending bill includes more than 8,000 congressional "earmarks," which total almost $8 billion. The earmarks have caused critics to question President Barack Obama's pledge to end wasteful spending, but Obama administration officials say the bill is a holdover from the previous Congress.
(CNN) - Charles Freeman, the Obama administration's choice for National Intelligence Council chief, has withdrawn following controversy over his nomination.
The former Pentagon official and diplomat had faced criticism from both Republicans and Democrats on the Senate Intelligence Committee over his lack of intelligence experience, and some prior headline-grabbing remarks, particularly with regard to Israel. He also drew controversy over a statement that he believed the Chinese government did not crack down quickly enough on pro-democracy demonstrators in Tiananment Square in 1989.
Director of National Intelligence Dennis Blair defended Freeman today on Capitol Hill, telling Sen. Joe Lieberman at a Senate hearing that Freeman's comments had been taken out of context. He also said he felt he would do a better job if he were "getting strong analytical viewpoints" like Freeman's to "sort out and pass on" to Congress and the president.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - President Barack Obama is planning to sign an executive order on Wednesday that will create a White House Women's Council overseen by senior adviser Valerie Jarrett, according to two senior administration officials.
The officials said the president will make the official announcement at the White House and is likely to be joined by his wife, first lady Michelle Obama.
One of the officials said the president wants the office to "have a presence at the White House to address the issues facing women and girls," including pay equity and the balancing act working mothers face.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - President Barack Obama's Wednesdays are filling up fast.
In addition to regular Wednesday night parties for lawmakers, now comes word he's planning semi-regular Wednesday morning meetings with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, according to administration and congressional officials.
The officials said the president sees considers semi-regular Oval Office meetings - including one slated for this week, at 8:45 a.m. Wednesday - as a chance to have a direct pipeline to the congressional leaders.
The Wednesday confabs come amid growing signs that Obama's agenda may face major hurdles put in its way by some of his fellow Democrats, who have different priorities on some details in the president's budget.
"They want to maintain their open lines of communication and talk about progress they need to make on the big issues," said one senior administration official.
A senior Democratic congressional official added that both sides see "daunting challenges" coming and want to meet on most Wednesday mornings at the White House to "coordinate strategy" in the months ahead.
While the Obama team has pledged to have the most open administration in history, the Democratic officials said the leaders do not plan to discuss the details of the White House meetings with the media, but instead will keep the deliberations private.
(CNN) – California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger announced Tuesday that a special election to fill Labor Secretary Hilda Solis’ vacant House seat will take place on July 14.
Schwarzenegger also announced that the special primary election will be held on May 19.
Solis represented a district in Los Angeles County before being confirmed as President Obama’s secretary of Labor.
(CNN) – South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford plans to ask President Obama for permission to use part of his state’s stimulus money to pay down its debt, not on new spending, according to a letter he sent state legislators Tuesday.
A longtime opponent of the president’s nearly $800 billion stimulus package, the Republican governor told his state’s lawmakers that spending approximately $700 million in money coming from the federal government would only make the state’s financial situation worse in the long term.
“[W]hen one is in a hole, the first order of business is to stop digging,” Sanford wrote in the letter obtained by CNN Tuesday.
Instead of spending the $700 million, Sanford plans to ask Obama for a waiver that would allow the state to use the funds to pay down “our very sizable state debt and contingent liabilities,” Stanford wrote Tuesday.
“In the unfortunate case that the President would deny our request, I will not seek the funds, as I believe doing so would not help our current economic problems and would do real harm to our future financial picture.”
Before passage of the stimulus bill, Sanford told CNN’s John King that the president’s plan to jumpstart the struggling economy would only prolong the pain of bringing the nation’s finances into order.
“We’re going to go through a process of deleveraging,” Sanford said on CNN’s State of the Union in early February. “And it will be painful. The question is: Do we apply a bunch of different band aids that lengthen and prolong this pain or do we take the band aid off? I believe very strongly: let’s get this thing over with, let’s not drag it on.”
Sanford’s plan to seek a waiver from the White House only applies to the $700 million in stimulus funds which Stanford has the discretion to control under the terms of the stimulus bill. The remaining 75 per cent - or roughly $2.1 billion – due to South Carolina will be spent as directed by federal law, Stanford said in his letter.
WASHINGTON (CNN) –– Al Franken says a resolution is near in his marathon battle against Norm Coleman for the contested Senate seat from Minnesota.
Franken made his comments after meeting with Senate Democrats at their weekly luncheon on Capitol Hill. "What I did today was fill them in,” Franken told reporters he left his meeting with Senate Democrats. There's pretty much a light at the end of the tunnel so I kind of told them what was going to happen.”
His comments came 18 weeks after election day. For those of you keeping count, that's 126 days with no resolution.
Coleman, the Republican freshman senator from Minnesota, led Franken by 215 votes after Election Day, out of nearly three million ballots cast. That tiny margin triggered an automatic recount. Franken, the progressive radio host, comedian, and former Saturday Night Live star, led Coleman by 225 votes following the two month long recount.
Coleman contested the recount results, and a three-judge panel is currently considering which disputed ballots may be added to the recount. If Coleman loses the ruling, he could appeal to Minnesota's state Supreme Court.
(Updated with Coleman camp reaction after the jump)
WASHINGTON (CNN) – Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki confirmed Tuesday that the Obama administration is considering a controversial plan to make veterans pay for treatment of service-related injuries with private insurance, but was told by lawmakers that it would be "dead on arrival" if sent to Congress.
Washington Sen. Patty Murray used that blunt terminology, telling Shinseki that the idea would not be acceptable and would be rejected if formally proposed. She made the remarks during a Senate Committee on Veterans Affairs hearing about the 2010 budget.
No official proposal to create such a program has been announced publicly, but veterans groups wrote a pre-emptive letter last week to President Obama opposing the idea after hearing the plan was under consideration. The groups also noticed an increase in “third-party collections” estimated in the 2010 budget proposal—something they said could only be achieved if the VA started billing for service-related injuries.
Asked about the proposal, Shinseki said it was under "consideration."
"A final decision hasn't been made yet," he said.