WASHINGTON (CNN) – Top-level staff members of the Obama White House earn the same amount as their predecessors in the Bush administration, according to a report submitted to Congress Wednesday. The president announced the pay freeze on his first full day in office for White House employees earning more than $100,000.
The report, which a 1994 law requires be submitted annually to Senate and House oversight committees, shows 487 employees on the White House personnel list. Of those, 455 are employed directly by the White House, while an additional 32 are so-called "detailees" on loan from other federal agencies.
Among the actual employees, 122 staffers earn more than $100,000 annually, compared to 125 employees in the final year of the Bush administration. Twenty-two Obama White House staffers make the top possible salary of $172,200, compared to 18 employees who made that amount in the Bush White House.
Obama White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel and press secretary Robert Gibbs both make the top amount, as did their Bush counterparts Joshua Bolten and Dana Perino. Other top Obama aides who earn the maximum salary are senior adviser David Axelrod, White House Counsel Gregory Craig, communications director Anita Dunn, speechwriting director Jonathan Favreau, senior adviser Valerie Jarrett, National Security Adviser James Jones, and National Economic Council Director Lawrence Summers.
The highest-paid White House staff member is Public Health Policy Director David Marcozzi, who earns $192,934. However, as a detailee from the Department of Health and Human Services, his salary is not paid directly by the White House.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - House Republican Leader John Boehner may win the Hill prize for participating in the best event over this congressional recess. Boehner played 18 holes with Tiger Woods and Dallas Cowboys Quarterback Tony Romo at the Earl Woods Pro-Am golf tournament on Wednesday. The team finished their round 8 under par.
As he headed out to play at Congressional Country Club with Woods, Boehner tried to lower expectations about where he'd finish on the tournament's leaderboard. "Well, listen - I can be the Republican leader of the House, and we'll know about the golf course at the end of 18 holes."
The team played a "best ball" format for the charity event that precedes the AT&T National, the pro tournament hosted by Woods. The foursome, which also included Ton Dundon, CEO of Santander Consumer USA, was followed by huge crowds along the course, mostly straining to see Tiger Woods in action. But Boehner did show he could keep up with the golf star when he sank a 35 foot putt on the eighth hole for a birdie.
WASHINGTON (CNN) – CNN has learned that the Obama administration is planning to convene a "flu summit" next week to make preparations for the fall, as officials in Argentina declare a health emergency because 35 people have died in the Latin American nation from swine flu.
Senior Obama administration officials stressed the summit, which will be convened July 9 at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland, is being held strictly as a precautionary measure to make sure the U.S. is prepared for any potential swine flu outbreak, and not because of any specific fear of a crisis.
President Obama will be traveling next week to Russia, Italy and Ghana on a foreign trip, so the summit will be chaired by Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano and Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, according to the officials.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford remains "defiant" in the face of calls for him to resign in the wake of his admission last week that he engaged in an extramarital affair, a close Sanford ally tells CNN.
The source, a South Carolina Republican, said Sanford showed no signs Wednesday of stepping down even as support for from longtime backers begins to slip. The GOP source, who has known the governor for decades and spoke freely about the situation on the condition of anonymity, said there are concerns among Sanford allies about his ability to lead the state, given the recent public comments about his wife and mistress.
The source said he hopes that Sanford will leave office on his own, but suggested the governor could go down fighting.
"Honestly, I think he could go down in the ugliest, messiest way," said the source, who added that he would be "shocked if [the governor] quit, because it doesn't fit his profile."
The source pointed to the governor's history of going it alone against his own party in Washington as a congressman and during his time as governor, most recently over the federal stimulus money fight.
"He has always been a guy who has stuck with what he believes in, even if everyone else is against him," the source said.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - A trio of Republican congressmen are calling on a GOP colleague to completely fill out her 2010 Census form, following her vow to provide only basic information about her family.
In a statement released Wednesday, Republican Reps. Patrick McHenry of North Carolina, Lynn Westmoreland of Georgia, and John Mica of Florida said that "boycotting the constitutionally-mandated census is illogical, illegal and not in the best interest of our country."
Bachmann expressed concerns last week about the level of detail demanded in the census form and questioned the federal government's ability to protect her family's personal data.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - In a signal that the Obama administration is changing tactics in dealing with illegal immigration, hundreds of businesses were notified Wednesday that federal authorities will be taking a closer look at their employment records to determine if they are hiring illegal aliens.
Kelly Nantel, a spokesman for Immigration and Customs Enforcement, said businesses in every state and industry are being audited, "from agriculture-related businesses, to service businesses, to high-tech industry and everything in between." The companies were selected based on leads from ICE offices around the country.
On Wednesday, 652 audit notices were issued. By comparison, only 503 such notices were issued in all of fiscal year 2008, according to an agency statement.
COLUMBIA, South Carolina (CNN) – South Carolina State Rep. Nikki Haley, who has been widely viewed as both as a supporter of Gov. Mark Sanford and his likely pick as his replacement in next year's gubernatorial race, joined the chorus of Republican voices Wednesday urging the GOP governor to consider resignation.
"For the past five years I have worked with Mark Sanford trying to restructure our backward system of government and make our state more accountable and taxpayer-friendly. During that time I have also been fortunate to know Jenny, and have developed a tremendous admiration and respect for her. In the context of those two things, there are no words to describe the disappointment I feel over the revelations of the past week.
"The people of South Carolina have heard enough about the governor's personal life. We do not need to hear any more of that. What we do need to hear from the governor is an explanation as to how he can lead our state going forward. He has a responsibility to outline what he wants to accomplish over the next 18 months and how he intends to accomplish it. I remain willing to listen to that case, but if he cannot make it convincingly, then he must move on."
Because of her close ties to Sanford - both take advice from the same Washington-based political consultant, Jon Lerner - Haley has been forced to walk a fine line in responding to the Sanford scandal.
After news of Sanford's affair broke last week, Haley's campaign team was caught removing a large photo of Sanford from her Web site - a move that was quickly seized upon by her Republican rivals in the 2010 race.
ANNANDALE, Virginia (CNN) – President Barack Obama used a town hall meeting Wednesday to urge Americans to reject what he called fear-mongering by those who oppose fixing the nation's ailing health care system this year.
"If we don't act, if we let this moment pass, we could see this economy sputter along for decades," Obama said at the event that included questions from audience members and through interactive networks such as Twitter and Facebook.
"I want everybody to be well-enough informed so that the scare tactics of those who oppose reform won't work," he said in reference to Republican opponents who accuse him of seeking a government takeover of health care to create a nationalized system such as those in England and Canada. "Don't let people scare you out of reforming a system we know is not working."
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Former Sen. John Sununu, R-New Hampshire, announced Wednesday he would not seek the 2010 GOP nomination for the Senate seat being vacated by retiring Sen. Judd Gregg, R- New Hampshire.
"Representing New Hampshire in the United States Senate is a great honor, but effective public service is much more than just a desire to hold office," Sununu said in a statement sent to CNN. "It's essential that the timing fit both personally and professionally.
"This year I've made commitments to serve several technology firms, begun working with a number of non-profit policy groups, and continue to serve on the Congressional Oversight Panel for the TARP. Equally important, campaigns require great sacrifice from family. After running in seven primary and general elections over twelve years, my family still means more to me than anything else. I very much intend to keep it that way."
Sununu was first elected to the House in 1996 and served in that chamber until he was elected to the Senate in 2002. He defeated New Hampshire Gov. Jeanne Shaheen in the 2002 Senate race, but in a rematch six years later she won the seat.
Dr. J. James Rohack told CNN that the AMA supports an "American model" that includes both "a private system and a public system, working together."
In May, the AMA told a Senate committee it did not support a government-sponsored public health insurance option.
"The AMA does not believe that creating a public health insurance option ... is the best way to expand health insurance coverage and lower costs across the health care system," the organization wrote, explaining that a public insurance plan could lead to "an explosion of costs that would need to be absorbed by taxpayers."