WASHINGTON (CNN) – As the prospects for passing health reform by the time Congress leaves for its August recess look bleaker, Democratic grumbling about President Obama is growing louder. One Democratic senator tells CNN congressional Democrats are “baffled,” and another senior Democratic source tells CNN members of the president’s own party are still “frustrated” that they’re not getting more specific direction from him on health care. “We appreciate the rhetoric and his willingness to ratchet up the pressure but what most Democrats on the Hill are looking for is for the president to weigh in and make decisions on outstanding issues. Instead of sending out his people and saying the president isn’t ruling anything out, members would like a little bit of clarity on what he would support – especially on how to pay for his health reform bill,” a senior Democratic congressional source tells CNN. The Democratic leadership had hoped the work going on behind closed doors for months could bear fruit in time for the president’s news conference Wednesday night. But multiple Democratic sources tell CNN that’s looking very unlikely, and one senior Democratic source tells CNN there is some frustration among Democratic leaders that Senate negotiators have, "repeatedly missed deadlines."
WASHINGTON (CNN) – Protection for former Vice President Dick Cheney has been extended, Secret Service spokesman Ed Donovan confirmed to CNN Tuesday.
Donovan would not say for how long the extension will last. The extension, reportedly requested by Cheney, went through the standard process and was officially authorized by Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano July 17, according to DHS spokeswoman Sara Kuban.
The extension was not based on a specific threat against the former vice president, CNN has also learned. Rather, officials believed the move was justified given the ongoing wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, political debate about the Bush administration's strategies and Cheney's active public schedule, according to a government official with knowledge of the matter.
Ordinarily, former vice presidents only receive Secret Service protection for the first six months after leaving office. DHS told CNN this is the first time a former vice president's security detail has been extended beyond the standard duration.
–CNN's John King, Kevin Bohn, and Martina Stewart contributed to this report.
(Updated 5:45 pm with DHS comment)
(CNN) - Days after Mark Sanford wrote a newspaper op-ed publicly apologizing for his extramarital affair, the South Carolina governor told reporters Tuesday it's time to move on.
"I made a mistake in life. I've apologized for my mistake," Sanford told reporters at a stop in Greer, South Carolina. "I've said all I am going to say on that one. I am moving forward. I think the people of South Carolina are ready to do the same."
But Sanford, who spent last week away from the governor's office on a private vacation with his wife, did not answer repeated questions about why he was no longer wearing his wedding ring.
"Keep going, anything else," Sanford said motioning for the next question.
Pressed if he thinks his admission to a year-long affair with an Argentine woman will continue to be a distraction, the governor said the people of South Carolina are ready to get past the issue.
(CNN) – Outgoing Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin may have violated state ethics laws by letting supporters set up a legal defense fund to help her battle ethics complaints, a preliminary report on the issue has found.
An investigator hired by the state personnel board recommended Palin - who gives up her office on Sunday - refuse money from the defense fund and ask the state to pay legal fees for ethics complaints that have been dismissed.
Palin attorney Thomas Van Flein said that the report is not final, however, and he is preparing "supplemental information" for the investigator. Palin, the Republican vice presidential candidate in 2008, cited the cost of battling ethics complaints from her critics as one of the reasons she is giving up her office about two-thirds of the way through her term.
Most complaints have been dismissed, though one led to her paying back taxes on state per diem funds, and she agreed to repay about $8,100 in travel expenses for her children in another case.
WASHINGTON (CNN) – Politics may make for strange bedfellows - but even for this town, this may be the oddest couple to ever make beautiful music together: House Republicans...and pop diva Lady Gaga.
At Tuesday morning's weekly GOP conference meeting, Republicans were shown a clip of a video parody of the Lady Gaga hit, "Just Dance" that replaces the popular song's refrain with "Just Tax."
The parody video was developed by Peter Cowman, a 23-year-old who just graduated from the University of Washington in Seattle, outside Rep Dave Reichert's district. A spokeswoman for Reichert said the congressman wanted to show his colleagues the video to encourage them to get young people involved using new media, and noted his district is home to a cluster of technology companies.
WASHINGTON (CNN) – Families of wounded war veterans and politicians met on Capitol Hill Tuesday to urge Congress to pass bipartisan legislation that would provide services to caregivers of injured American soldiers.
Supporters and members of the Wounded Warrior Project - which raises awareness of injured soldiers' needs and provides services to them - stressed in a news conference that not enough is being done to support the people who have made significant financial sacrifices to care for injured soldiers.
"As nation, we're failing these families by not providing them the basic support they need to continue to care for their loved ones," said Wounded Warrior Executive Director Steve Nardizzi in support of the Caregiver Assistance and Resource Enhancement Act.
He also was critical of the Department of Veterans Affairs, saying it needs to "acknowledge its obligation" to families and help provide them compensation, respite care, health-care coverage, and mental health support.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - The hotly debated issue of gun control took center stage on Capital Hill Tuesday as key Senate Democrats bickered over a controversial proposal that would allow people to carry concealed weapons across state lines.
The measure, drafted by South Dakota Republican Sen. John Thune, would require each of the 48 states that currently allow concealed firearms to honor permits issued in other states.
Supporters of the measure argue it would help deter criminals; opponents claim it would endanger innocent people by effectively forcing most of the country to conform to regulations in states with the loosest gun ownership standards.
The issue has blurred Capitol Hill's usual partisan lines. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nevada, is one of several Southern and Western Democrats supporting the measure. Others Democrats oppose it.
The full Senate is set to vote on it Wednesday in the form of an amendment to a larger defense appropriations bill.
WASHINGTON (CNN) – Singer and songwriter Jackson Browne reached a settlement Tuesday that ends an 11 month long legal battle against Sen. John McCain, the Republican National Committee and the Ohio Republican Party.
Browne filed suit after a Web video the Ohio GOP produced in favor of the party's presidential candidate featured Browne's 1977 hit "Running on Empty."
McCain's campaign had to end its use of a string of songs over the course of the presidential race following complaints by the musical artists - a list that included the Foo Fighters, John Mellencamp, Boston and Heart.
The terms of the settlement with Browne call for McCain, the RNC and the ORP to issue a public statement of apology, and a pledge that in future campaigns they will seek the permission of music artists prior to playing their songs. The financial terms of the settlement are being kept confidential.
"We apologize that a portion of the Jackson Browne song 'Runing On Empty' was used without permission," the joint McCain, RNC, ORP statement said. "The ORP, RNC and Senator McCain pledge in future election campaigns to respect and uphold the rights of artists and to obtain permissions and/or licenses for copyrighted works where appropriate."
WASHINGTON (CNN) – House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer signaled Tuesday that the House of Representatives could leave for its month-long break in August without voting on health care reform.
"If we can get consensus, we're going to move. If we can't get consensus we're going to continue to work on creating consensus," Hoyer told reporters.
He added that he doesn't think it is "necessarily necessary" for the House to stay in session into August to continue working on health care legislation.
His words were in contrast to those of Rep. Henry Waxman a week ago, when House Democrats unveiled their version of the health care bill before sending it to three committees for consideration. "We quite frankly cannot go home for a recess," said Waxman, chairman of one of those committees, "unless the House and Senate both pass bills to reform and restructure our health care system."
Hoyer said Democrats still want to pass a bill next week and will continue to discuss changes to the proposal. "We'll see," he said. "I'll make that decision next week, I'm not going to make it now."
WASHINGTON (CNN) – The United States military has been relatively mum on the recent capture of Army Pfc. Bowe Bergdahl. So has his family in Idaho.
And with good reason.
"The family members just don't want to do or risk doing anything to inflame the situation," said Blaine County Sheriff Walt Femling. "And you can see how easily that can happen ... We're going to respect that."
Experts think his captors have a different purpose in releasing the video.
Tom Fuentes, a former FBI associate director of international operations and a CNN contributor, said the 28-minute Web video released by the Taliban showing Berghdal is an effective method of humanizing and tugging at the hearts of Americans - and the U.S. government.
"Showing him in the video does make the soldier more valuable and makes the insurgents more difficult to deal with in trying to get him back," Fuentes said. "The face of an unknown soldier, like in the past, is one thing but when they put the person on TV it definitely adds to the pressure [on the government]."