(CNN) – In the latest installment of CNN=Politics Daily, President Obama and other world leaders gathered in London for the G-20 summit are greeted by protestors and rioting. CNN's Senior White House Correspondent Ed Henry reports on world leaders' discussions on the economic and financial crisis.
Also: The Obamas meet the Queen of England. CNN's Abbi Tatton reports on the president's working dinner with other leaders and first lady Michelle Obama's "ladies night" with the other wives.
Plus: Good news for former Sen. Ted Stevens - CNN's Jeanne Meserve reports on the Justice Department's decision to drop all charges against him.
Finally: CNN's Senior Congressional Correspondent Dana Bash reports on Sen. John McCain's alternative to President Obama's budget plan.
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WASHINGTON (CNN) – The Senate overwhelmingly voted Wednesday not to use a fast-track budget procedure to pass President Obama’s “cap and trade” plan to combat global warming.
The vote was a victory for Republicans, who vehemently oppose using the special rules to pass any of Obama’s policy initiatives because the method doesn’t allow for filibusters. But it does not mean the rules – known as budget “reconciliation” – won’t be used to pass the president’s sweeping health care plan, as several senior Democrats have suggested in recent days is likely to happen.
Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell praised the Senate for having “slammed the door on using the fast-track process to jam through a new national energy tax” that Republicans say will cost families $3000 a year in higher energy costs.
The 26 Democrats who voted against using the special rules are mostly fiscal conservatives or are from states whose economies rely on energy production and might be negatively impacted by the expensive global warming policy.
All Republicans voted for the amendment that GOP Sen. Mike Johanns of Nebraska offered to the 2010 budget bill.
(CNN) - Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch said Wednesday his friend and former colleague Ted Stevens was "screwed" by the United States Justice Department, hours after Attorney General Eric Holder announced he was dropping all charges against the former Alaska senator.
"Here's a guy who gave better than 60 years service to the country and was screwed," Hatch told reporters on Capitol Hill. "Screwed by our own Justice Department."
Hatch went on to praise Holder for dropping the charges and "fixing this foul situation."
"I am really impressed with the attorney general for standing up and fixing this foul situation. Ted Stevens had a good answer for every accusation they threw at him.
Related: Lawyer says prosecutors' request has 'cleared' Stevens
"I have every confidence in the attorney general. I think he's more than shown integrity and decency in this matter and it's not an easy thing for him to do that," Hatch said. "He has, in looking at it, realized now what people like myself have been saying is 100 percent right."
Prosecutors accused Stevens of failing to disclose hundreds of thousands of dollars of "freebies" from an oilfield services company on Senate ethics forms. But in December, an unnamed FBI whistle-blower accused prosecutors of withholding evidence from the defense. On Wednesday, and the Justice Department asked a judge to dismiss the charges against Stevens.
Stevens, 85, lost his bid for a seventh full term in November after his conviction on seven counts of lying on Senate ethics forms. Stevens' lawyer, Brendan Sullivan, said the Justice Department was forced to request the dismissal because of "extraordinary evidence of government corruption."
– CNN's Ted Barrett contributed to this report
(CNN) – President Obama revealed his college basketball picks, but refused to weigh in on Europe's favorite past-time: football.
Amid a flurry of questions from reporters at a press conference in London, the president side-stepped a request to wish England's soccer team good luck.
"I have had enough trouble back home picking my brackets for the college basketball tournament that's taking place there, called March Madness, stirred up all kinds of controversy, the last thing I'm going to do is wade into European football," the president said.
"I didn't get a briefing on that, but I sense that would be a mistake," he said.
He may be right. President Obama isn't having much luck with his bracket picks.
But it seems like England didn't need the president's vote of confidence. England's team beat Ukraine 2 to 1 in their World Cup qualifying match.
(CNN) – During a Wednesday swing through North Carolina to promote the administration's economic recovery package, Vice President Joe Biden couldn't quite bring himself to endorse the University of North Carolina's bid to win the NCAA basketball championship.
Speaking to a crowd in the town of Pikeville, just 90 miles from Chapel Hill, the vice president announced: "Go Tar Heels - unless they're playing Villanova."
Biden pointed out that his wife Jill graduated from Villanova (she earned a Master's degree there in 1987). "I got to tell you, I know it's politically incorrect to come to North Carolina and say you're for another team," he said, according to a White House transcript. "If Villanova is out of it this round, no problem, I'm for North Carolina."
Biden said he would put money on the Tar Heels to beat 'Nova in their Final Four match-up on Saturday, if he were betting. But, he said, "I can't bet against Villanova for a simple reason: I'll be sleeping alone. My wife graduated from Villanova. So you all are important, but I like sleeping with my wife."
With the crowd chuckling, Biden wrapped up his remarks with an equivocation. "Good luck," he said. "Unless it is Villanova."
WASHINGTON (CNN) – As election day closes without a winner in New York's 20th congressional district, each of the candidates sounded an optimistic tone that he would come out on top after all the votes are counted.
Democrat Scott Murphy currently leads Republican Jim Tedisco by 25 votes, but the results don't include absentee ballots. Murphy said that because he was able to close a 20-point deficit in the polls in recent weeks, that he thinks that his momentum will carry him through.
"We just think we're going to have the same kind of results we had with the absentees that we had with all the rest of the ballots," Murphy said at Poopie's Diner in Glens Falls, New York on Wednesday. "We're ahead after the regular count, there's been a lot of votes counted already, we think we'll be ahead after the absentees."
But Tedisco said that because the tally so far doesn't include military voters, who tend to lean Republican, the remaining ballots will push him over the edge.
"When we finish those counts, we believe we'll be off to Congress and we couldn't be more excited to represent this outstanding group of constituents," Tedisco said at a press conference on Wednesday.
World leaders posed for a picture at the G20 summit in London Wednesday. Full roster after the jump. (GETTY IMAGES)
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Former Republican presidential candidate John McCain is unveiling his own Republican budget alternative, which he says brings the debt and deficit lower than Democrats' proposals.
Unlike Republicans in the House, Senate GOP leaders opted out of crafting an alternative budget, and instead plan to offer their ideas with amendments to the Democrats budget.
But McCain clearly disagrees with that approach.
According to a summary sent by a McCain aide, the Arizona Republican would trim spending on most programs except defense and veterans benefits, which would increase.
He would also extend President Bush's 2001 and 2003 tax cuts, which he promised to do during his presidential campaign.
(CNN) – In the wake of news the Justice Department had decided to drop the case against Ted Stevens, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin said Wednesday the former senator had been the victim of a "frightening" attempt to undermine the political process.
"Senator Stevens deserves to be very happy today. What a horrible thing he has endured," she said, in a statement released by her office. "The blatant attempts by adversaries to destroy one's reputation, career and finances are an abuse of our well-guarded process and violate our God-given rights afforded in the Constitution. It is a frightening thing to contemplate what we may be witnessing here - the undermining of the political process through unscrupulous ploys and professional misconduct.
"Senator Stevens and I had lunch together recently at my home and he reiterated the faith he held for vindication; he never gave up hope. It is unfortunate that, as a result of the questionable proceedings which led to Senator Stevens' conviction days before the election, Alaskans lost an esteemed statesman on Capitol Hill. His presence is missed."
The former Republican vice presidential candidate struck a different note in the closing days of the campaign, following Stevens' conviction on corruption charges.
"After being found guilty on seven felony counts, I had hoped Senator Stevens would take the opportunity to do the statesman-like thing and erase the cloud that is covering his Senate seat," she said in a statement in October. "He has not done so. Alaskans are grateful for his decades of public service but the time has come for him to step aside. Even if elected on Tuesday, Senator Stevens should step aside to allow a special election to give Alaskans a real choice of who will serve them in Congress."
WASHINGTON (CNN) – Todd Palin, the normally reticent husband of Alaska governor Sarah Palin, isn't hung up on the ups-and-downs of the 2008 presidential campaign.
He'd rather spend his time snowmobiling than politicking, according to a profile of the so-called 'First Dude' in the upcoming issue of Men's Journal.
But in an interview with the magazine conducted a few weeks before the 2009 Tesoro Iron Dog race - in which he ended up finishing in sixth - Palin did manage to offer up a few reflections on his wife's vice presidential bid.
For instance, his take on the anonymous sniping from McCain staffers in the final weeks of the campaign:
"I'm not going to get wrapped around the axles on a few people's comments - 'She's a diva,' or whatever," Palin said. "There was no name attached to that, so who knows if it's really true. I mean, all the little negative stuff out there that's been exploited? To me? I have nothing but respect for the McCains, because they're a class act."
As for Sarah Palin's detractors in Alaska, Todd said "they get bent out of shape."
"They're so full of anger, you know?," he said. "I mean, why wouldn't anybody be proud of one of their citizens being nominated to the VP? Unless you're just a real hater?"
The magazine said Palin became slightly defensive when asked about the RNC-financed $150,000 wardrobe provided to his wife during the campaign, a PR fiasco that undermined her image as an "average hockey mom."