WASHINGTON (CNN) – Under criticism for appearing extravagant, the House of Representatives is dropping a plan to make the Pentagon buy more civilian-style jets than it requested.
A statement released by Rep. John Murtha, D-Pennsylvania, appeared to end the controversy over the addition of four planes in the House military appropriations bill to the Pentagon's original request of four to upgrade its aging fleet of aircraft used to transport Washington officials, including members of Congress.
The Pentagon wanted a C-37 Gulfstream jet and three C-40 military versions of the Boeing 737. The House added two C-37s and two C-40s at a cost of more than $270 million.
Dropping the proposal doesn't save money, as the total funding provided by the bill remains unchanged. It means the money that would have been used to pay for the extra planes will go to other purposes.
(CNN) - As the debate over health care reform heats up, President Obama is holding a town hall on the topic in Portsmouth, New Hampshire Tuesday.
Watch it now on CNN.com/live.
LEBANON, Pennsylvania (CNN) - A hostile crowd shouted questions and made angry statements against overhauling the health-care system at a town hall meeting Tuesday led by Democratic Sen. Arlen Specter.
The meeting drew an overflow crowd of 250 people, with more gathered outside the hall to demonstrate for and against President Barack Obama's push to expand health insurance for 46 million people now without coverage while bringing down costs.
It was the latest in a series of emotional public meetings on the health-care issue that have prompted Obama and Democratic leaders to complain of a campaign by opponents to drown out the debate with unruly disruptions.
At one point, Specter shouted into his microphone that demonstrators disrupting the proceedings would be thrown out.
"We're not going to tolerate any demonstrations or any booing," he said after one audience member shoved another making an unsolicited speech. "So it's up to you."
Many in the crowd identified themselves as conservative Republicans, with one man noting they had voted Specter to Congress before the senator changed parties earlier this year.
Related video: Watch more of Specter's Tuesday town hall
A woman prompted a standing ovation by telling Specter: "I don't believe this is just health care. This is about the systematic dismantling of this country. … I don't want this country turning into Russia, turning into a socialized country. What are you going to do to restore this country back to what our founders created, according to the Constitution?"
Specter responded by noting his support for the Constitution as a past chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee on issues such as warrantless wiretaps.
"When you ask me to defend the Constitution, that's what I've been doing," Specter said.
However, Specter also noted that overhauling the health-care system is about America taking care of all its people.
"In our social contract, we have provisions that see to it that you take care of people who need some help," he said.
Several people asked if a health-care bill would mean taxpayer dollars would pay for others to get abortions. Specter responded that any measure passed by Congress would allow people to choose a plan that didn't cover abortions.
WASHINGTON (CNN)- Under increasing pressure to support President Obama's approach to health care reform, Nebraska Sen. Ben Nelson has cut a new TV ad airing in his home state that explains his position on the issue.
Nelson, a centrist Democrat, has come under fire from liberal organizations for not standing squarely behind Obama when it comes to health care. Democracy for America and the Progressive Change Campaign Committee are currently running a commercial featuring a Nebraska small business owner pleading with Nelson to prevent health care reform from being delayed.
In an unusual step, Nelson has taken to the airwaves in this new 30-second statewide ad to lay out his "principles" that he says are needed to institute health care reform even though he will not face the voters until 2012.
"You've probably been hearing a lot about health care reform," Nelson says in the commercial that will run for two weeks on broadcast and cable stations. "And like too much stuff that comes out of Washington it is hard to know what's fact and what's fiction. So, I want you to hear my principles straight from me. First, any plan must keep spending under control; help our small businesses; improve care; control costs; and most of all the plan needs to work for Nebraska. I'm Ben Nelson and I approve this message because you can count on me to always put Nebraska first. Always."
A source close to Nelson tells CNN that the Nebraska senator decided to have his campaign committee pay for the ad, because there has been "a lot of misinformation, confusion and commotion about health care reform.
"Senator Nelson sees it as an opportunity to get information out there unfiltered and as a way to connect directly with constituents," said the source, who spoke on the condition of anonymity. "The senator sees this as an opportunity midterm to remind Nebraskans about his independence and thoughtfulness."
(CNN) – The dinner discussion at the next Woodhouse family gathering should be spirited – if Tuesday's face off between brothers Dallas and Brad is any indication.
Dallas and Brad Woodhouse are on opposite sides of the heated debate over how to reform the nation's health care system with both brothers trying to shape public opinion on the issue.
Brad is the communications director for the Democratic National Committee, while Dallas works for Americans for Prosperity in North Carolina. The DNC, of course, is promoting President Obama's approach to health care reform, while Americans for Prosperity opposes it.
"It is simple that the president is loosing this debate," Dallas said during the debate with his brother on CNN's American Morning."You know that he is loosing this debate when people like my brother and the White House start attacking hard working tax paying citizens as mobsters, and when Nancy Pelosi calls them un-American."
"The same government that can't get water to thirsty people in a hurricane will destroy the best health care system in the world by complete government take over," Dallas added.
But Brad didn't hold back on his younger brother.
"You can't have an honest debate with folks like my brother on this issue," he said. "I mean no one has proposed, the president has been the last person to propose a government take over of health care. He said we need to build on the current system."
(CNN) - A new poll suggests that New Jersey voters overwhelming say government corruption is a problem.
Ninety-three percent of people questioned in a Quinnipiac University survey released Tuesday morning say government corruption is a "somewhat serious" or "very serious" problem and 65 percent of voters say the recent wave of arrests embarrasses them as New Jersey residents.
Last month an FBI operation netted 44 people in a fake cash for development sting. One assemblyman and two mayors arrested in the sweep have resigned, and other resignations could follow.
"Is corruption a big problem? Wow, is it! Almost everyone in New Jersey thinks so. And two thirds feel personally embarrassed to live in a state where politicians are pictured in handcuffs," says Maurice Carroll, director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute. "More than half associate corruption with the Democratic party. Almost a third say both parties share the blame. Republicans pretty much get a pass."
The corruption story could have a major impact on New Jersey Governor Jon Corzine's battle this year for re-election against Republican challenger Chris Christie.
In the poll, the Democratic incumbent trails the former federal prosecutor 51 percent to 42 percent. That nine point deficit is down from 12 points in a Quinnpiac University poll conducted last month.
In a three way contest, which includes Independent candidate Christopher Daggett, Corzine trails Christie 46 percent to 40 percent, with Daggett grabbing seven percent. Corzine's six point deficit in the three way showdown is down from nine points last month.
Related video: Obama to give facts, aide says
Similar meetings by congressional members in recent weeks have generated heated and sometimes disruptive debate, demonstrating the high emotions and
political stakes involved in an issue that will affect every American.
Democrats have accused opponents of health-care changes of organizing protests intended to drown out the debate, while Republicans respond the public anger is a genuine response to what they call excessive and misguided legislation.
Videos of some protests circulating on the Internet show raucous crowds heckling their representatives in Congress and carrying posters with devil horns drawn on lawmakers' heads, swastikas or Obama with Adolf Hitler's mustache.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Members of Congress will come back from their summer break in September to a plate full of health care reform - that's if they survive the latest rancorous and sometimes violent town hall meetings.
Senators are getting an earful on the subject from constituents. House members, who began their recess a week earlier, also got a head start on hearing from residents in their districts, facing sometimes contentious comments.
But when Congress returns, members will be hard-pressed to continue negotiations and get something done fast.
At the same time, the Senate must pass spending bills before money runs out at the end of the fiscal year: the end of September. The House passed its spending measures before leaving town.
"I think they're going to have a very full plate," said Stuart Rothenberg of the Rothenberg Political Report. "And we know they're going to start with health care, but they're going to have to do appropriations, climate change. ... You can bet there will be a lot of other things are left to be done."
Rothenberg warns that If the economy takes another dip, there will be some pressure for more action in terms of a second stimulus or changes in tax policy.
But he said it's likely that those other issues will be put on the back burner until a health care compromise is in order.
Bipartisanship has long been lost during this 111th Congress, and that could make the negotiations last even longer.
(CNN) - U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton traveled to the epicenter of Africa's longest war Tuesday to try to help victims, especially those of sexual violence, of a regional conflict that's dragged on more than a decade.
She delivered a blunt message to Prime Minister Adolphe Muzito of the Democratic Republic of Congo on Monday when he hosted a dinner in her honor.
"There must be an end to widespread financial corruption and abuses of human rights and women's rights," she said. "There must be an improvement in governance and the respect for the rule of law."
She also called for "changes in the business climate, changes in the rules and regulations that involve contracts and the protection of property" in order to promote foreign investment.
On Tuesday, she offered help to the country's president, Joseph Kabila.
"I offered and the president accepted my sending of legal and financial and other technical experts to the DRC to provide specific suggestions about how to overcome these very serious obstacles to the potential of this country," she said, according to a pool report from Goma, in the east of the country.
(CNN) - South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford, already under fire for an extramarital relationship, should be impeached for abusing state finances, a Republican state senator said Monday.
Sen. David Thomas - the chairman of the Senate constitutional and administrative subcommittee - wrote to leaders of the Republican-controlled Senate, accusing the governor of violating state regulations.
The allegations involve flights he took to London, England, and China in 2006 and 2007 on state business. South Carolina requires the governor to charge the state the lowest rate available unless there are overriding circumstances, such as emergency travel.
"The two flights by Gov. Sanford were in violation of the South Carolina Code of Regulations," Thomas said in his letter. "The difference in price between the most economical and the more expensive price of the seats the governor chose is approximately $13,700."
Thomas said he thought the violations were enough to trigger impeachment proceedings.
"If I were in the House, the answer would be yes, I would be involved in the beginning of the impeachment process," he said. "I think there is enough data right now to take seriously a move toward impeachment. Is that sufficient for impeachment? That I don't know."