WASHINGTON (CNN) – The Obama administration is seriously considering not extending invitations to Iranian diplomats for July 4 celebrations overseas, senior administration officials tell CNN.
The officials said intense discussions on the issue were taking place, but the final decision had not been made.
Late last month the State Department sent a cable to its embassies and consulates worldwide informing them they "may invite representatives from the government of Iran" to their July 4th celebrations.
The U.S. receptions marking Independence Day usually feature symbols of Americana, such as hot dogs, red-white-and-blue decorations and remarks by U.S. officials about America's founding fathers.
The Obama administration had decided to invite Iranians to the celebrations at overseas posts as part of President Obama's policy of engaging the Iranian regime.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - The struggle over health care reform is expected to reach a fever pitch Wednesday.
President Barack Obama, putting a significant chunk of his political capital on the line, will take his case for change to the airwaves while congressional negotiators tackle politically explosive proposals relating to coverage and cost control.
Overhauling the health care system is Obama's top domestic priority, but the initial proposals to reach Congress last week received a rocky reception. House and Senate Democrats are responding by intensifying their efforts.
They are holding four separate hearings Wednesday focusing, among other things, on the question of how to pay a price tag that may exceed $1 trillion.
(CNN) - South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford, back in his home state after a mysterious multi-day absence that sparked a media frenzy, will face reporters in his office at the South Carolina statehouse at 2 p.m. ET, his office announced Wednesday.
Sanford told The State newspaper Wednesday that during that time he had been on vacation in Buenos Aires, not hiking the Appalachian Trail as his staffers had told the media.
Lt. Gov. Andre Bauer, also a Republican, told CNN Tuesday that Sanford would have to publicly answer reporters' questions about his absence. "I think he is going to have to (hold a press conference). There are going to be too many folks...in the media that want an answer," he said.
(CNN) - Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin has re-paid her home state more than $8,100 for expenses involving travel by her children.
Thomas Van Flein, Palin's attorney, said Tuesday night that the Republican governor made the payment last week, reimbursing the state in advance of a Tuesday deadline. The funds covered expenses incurred on nine trips that included one or more of her children.
Media reports that Palin had charged the state thousands of dollars on commercial travel for her daughters that was not necessary for official state business was followed by an October ethics complaint over that allegation.
(CNN) - Gov. Mark Sanford did not spend the last five days hiking the Appalachian Trail - as his staff had indicated - but was instead in Buenos Aires, Argentina, the South Carolina Republican told The State newspaper Wednesday.
Spotted returning from the trip in the Atlanta airport Wednesday morning, Sanford said he had considered hiking the Appalachian Trail after his state's busy legislative season came to end but instead decided on a more "exotic" trip.
"I wanted to do something exotic. It's a great city," said Sanford of his five-day getaway that appeared to leave his entire staff and family in the dark about his whereabouts. Sanford also said no one else accompanied him on the trip.
Sanford wouldn't tell the newspaper exactly what he did in the South American country, besides take a drive along the coastline.
The South Carolina governor also said he hadn't planned to return until Thursday, but came back earlier after his chief of staff contacted him to say the story of his whereabouts was drawing widespread media attention.
Sanford expressed surprise the story was attracting such attention, saying it's not unusual for him to take such trips.
"I would get out of the bubble I am in," he said.
In a short interview with CNN Tuesday, Sanford's wife Jenny said she still has not talked to her husband since he left last Thursday and did not know where he went.
COLUMBIA, South Carolina (CNN) - The black Chevy Suburban believed to have been used by South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford to leave town has been found in the parking lot of Columbia Metropolitan Airport.
CNN was alerted to its location by a law enforcement official.
Sanford is expected to return to Columbia tomorrow after a mysterious six-day absence. His office has said the governor, a possible 2012 presidential candidate, has been hiking the Appalachian Trail to clear his head after a tough legislative session.
The SUV is outfitted with blue police lights and two-way radio. Inside the vehicle: A baseball cap, running shoes, sunscreen, a pair of shorts, a canvas bag and a sleeping bag.
A parking permit for the school attended by Sanford’s children is visible on the windshield.
The CNN Washington Bureau’s morning speed read of the top stories making news from around the country and the world.
For the latest political news: www.CNNPolitics.com.
CNN: U.S. to send ambassador back to Syria
President Obama has decided to send a U.S. ambassador back to Syria, a dramatic sign of reconciliation between the two countries, senior administration officials tell CNN. The announcement is expected to be made this week.
CNN: Obama toughens his talk on Iran
President Obama sharpened his language on Iran and stressed the urgency of overhauling the health care system at a news conference Tuesday.
CNN: Form for student loans will become shorter
One of the great headaches of the American dream is about to get less painful.
CNN: Borger: Obama tries to reset the table
Even a popular president who still seems to enjoy the general goodwill of the American public can have a bad week.
CNN: Ensign apologizes to GOP colleagues for affair
Less than a week after admitting to an affair with a staff member, Sen. John Ensign, R-Nevada, apologized to his Republican colleagues for his actions, which have already caused him to step down from his party leadership post and could threaten his Senate career.
CNN: Nixon to Bush 41: Find 'attractive' women
President Richard Nixon believed one way to shore up the GOP in 1973 was by recruiting "attractive" women, but not because he was "for women," according to audio tapes released Tuesday.
CNN: Poll of Polls: Obama more popular than his policies
An average of the most recent national polls indicates that six in 10 Americans approve of the job Barack Obama's doing as president.
CNN: Gov. returning to S.C. after worries over whereabouts
Gov. Mark Sanford will return to his office Wednesday following widespread confusion over his whereabouts, a spokesman for the South Carolina Republican said.