WASHINGTON (CNN) - A House Republican leadership aide is forwarding a memo written and distributed by a GOP House staffer, saying he has been informed by the House Democratic leadership they plan to leave for the August recess Friday without bringing health care reform to the floor, but Democratic leaders vehemently deny that decision has been made.
"Democratic Leadership has told Mr. Boehner's staff that there will be no vote on Health on the Floor before recess and we will leave Friday," wrote David Cavick, the Republican Chief of Staff of the House Energy and Commerce Committee.
Although Democratic leaders and aides have acknowledged the reality that, because conservative Democrats still have deep concerns over the direction of their plan, it will be very hard to hold a vote by Friday, Democratic leaders insist that decision has not been formally made.
President Obama originally called for a vote on health care reform from both the House and Senate before Congress breaks for its summer recess. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has already announced the Senate would not meet that deadline.
When asked directly if he was telling anyone that they plan to go home on Friday, the House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer angrily responded "no."
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi also told reporters no announcement has been made.
In fact Democratic leaders and conservative "Blue Dog" Democrats were still negotiating with White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel in the House Speakers office Tuesday evening.
(CNN) - Six high school-aged Senate pages are sick with flu symptoms that could be the H1N1 swine flu, but doctors are "not overly concerned" about an outbreak of the virus on Capitol Hill, Senate Sgt. at Arms Terry Gainer told CNN Wednesday.
Two of the pages have recovered to the point that they are expected back to work Thursday, Gainer said.
Five of the pages received treatment in their rooms at the page dorm on Capitol Hill. One intern, who lives locally, was treated at home.
None was hospitalized.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Former Secretary of State Colin Powell said Tuesday that he has been the victim of racial profiling but believes Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates Jr. could have been more patient with the police officer who arrested him.
At the same time, Powell also faulted the Cambridge (Massachusetts) Police Department for escalating the situation beyond a reasonable level.
"I think Skip [Gates], perhaps in this instance, might have waited a while, come outside, talked to the officer and that might have been the end of it," Powell said in an interview with CNN's Larry King. "I think he should have reflected on whether or not this was the time to make that big a deal.
"I think in this case the situation was made much more difficult on the part of the Cambridge Police Department," Powell said. "Once they felt they had to bring Dr. Gates out of the house and to handcuff him, I would've thought at that point, some adult supervision would have stepped in and said 'OK look, it is his house. Let's not take this any further, take the handcuffs off, good night Dr. Gates.'"
WASHINGTON (CNN) - The Blair House is usually used for hosting foreign dignitaries, top-level White House staff and Cabinet secretaries will gather there and at the White House Conference Center this weekend to assess the first six months of the Obama presidency, according to a White House official.
"All 22 Cabinet-rank members were invited and are attending," the official said, adding that "they will discuss goals and priorities for the administration's agenda moving forward."
The "working sessions" will take place on Friday and Saturday, and have been "long planned," according to the official. The official said President Obama and vice President Biden will drop in on Friday and the vice president will return on Saturday.
White House spokesperson Kate Bedingfield also confirmed the sessions and said it is "an opportunity to collaborate," like "every administration since President Eisenhower's."
(CNN) - One day after assuming a leadership post in the Republican Governor's Association, Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty is staking his opposition to the congressional Democrats' health care reform plan while taking an indirect swipe at a potential future presidential rival.
In a letter to the entire Minnesota congressional delegation, Pawlenty urges the three Republicans and seven Democrats to vote against the measure in its current form, saying the plan won't contain health care costs or improve quality of care.
"Focusing only on access while neglecting cost and quality would be a dramatic mistake," Pawlenty said in the three-page letter. He added that the legislation "levies a huge new tax structure on an economy that is already struggling with the worst recession since World War II."
"The proposed tax increases do not come close to paying for the proposal, and assertions that the remaining costs will be covered by unspecified 'reductions in waste, fraud, and abuse' are simply not reliable," the Minnesota Republican also wrote.
Pawlenty, widely believed to be considering a run for president in 2012, also sharply criticized the health care plan enacted in Massachusetts three years ago under then-Gov. Mitt Romney, also widely considered a future White House hopeful.
NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) - Loan servicers will "significantly" increase the pace of mortgage modifications under the Obama foreclosure prevention program, the Treasury Department said Tuesday.
The Obama administration wants to see 500,000 trial modifications in place by Nov. 1. Currently, 200,000 are underway.
Officials called executives from 25 servicers participating in the program to Washington Tuesday to discuss improving the 5-month-old plan's implementation.
Both the Obama administration and the industry are feeling mounting pressure from borrowers who say their servicers are not responding to their calls and applications, losing their paperwork or not making decisions.
"[T]oo many homeowners are at risk of foreclosure right now," Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner said in a statement Tuesday. "Today's meeting was an opportunity to identify ways to accelerate the program and bring relief faster."
(CNN) - As former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin prepares to launch the next step of her political career, a new survey suggests nearly one in three Americans think it'd be best if the onetime GOP vice presidential candidate stayed home - and one in five would like to see her on another presidential ticket.
According to the new Fox News/Opinion Dynamics poll, 32 percent of Americans - a plurality - think the best job for Palin is to become a homemaker while 17 percent say Palin is well suited to become a television talk show host. That was followed by 14 percent who say she should become the next vice president, 10 percent who think she'd be a good college professor, and 6 percent who say president is the best job for her.
Limited to Republican voters only, a plurality (27 percent) say she should be vice president, 18 percent say homemaker, 14 percent think talk show host, 12 percent say president, and 7 percent think college professor.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - The President's vehicle fondly known as "the Beast" just pulled into the BP gas station on the corner of 13th and N Streets, NW in Washington.
I was filling my own tank when the four-vehicle motorcade pulled up to the station.
The heavily-armored black limousine with license plate #800-002 was unmistakable.
The other black vehicles with their flashing red lights stood by as Secret Service agents jumped out of their vehicles to fill up.
People pumping their gas at the local station looked on incredulously.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Republican Sen. George Voinovich, who is not running for re-election next year, told a newspaper in his home state of Ohio yesterday that Southerners bore a good share of the blame for his party's lagging popularity.
"We got too many Jim DeMints and Tom Coburns," Voinovich told the Columbus Dispatch Monday. "It's the Southerners….
"They get on TV and go 'errrr, errrrr,'" he said, according to the paper. "People hear them and say, 'These people, they're Southerners. The party's being taken over by Southerners. What they hell they got to do with Ohio?'"
Oklahoma Sen. Tom Coburn and South Carolina Sen. Jim DeMint have been top targets for Democrats. Over the past few weeks, the Democratic National Committee has released spots slamming DeMint, including a tough ad that rips the senator for saying defeat of the administration's health care bill would "break" President Obama.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - The Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday approved the nomination of federal Judge Sonia Sotomayor to become the nation's first Hispanic Supreme Court justice, setting up a final confirmation vote by the Senate.
The 13-6 committee vote was mostly on partisan lines, with one Republican joining the panel's Democrats in sending the nomination to the full Senate.
At least five Republican senators have announced their intention to support Sotomayor, making confirmation by the Democratic-controlled Senate a virtual certainty.
Sotomayor, 55, is President Obama's first nominee to the nation's highest court. She would be 111th person to sit on the Supreme Court, and the third female justice.
CNN Radio's Hill team reports on Sotomayor's Tuesday win:
The Judiciary Committee held a four-day confirmation hearing earlier this month that foreshadowed Tuesday's vote, with Democrats praising Sotomayor's 17-year record as a federal judge and her made-in-America story as a minority woman who rose to success through hard work and opportunity.