WASHINGTON (CNN) – Three White House officials say the President will come out to the Rose Garden at about 5:10 pm tonight to tout passage of Sen. Max Baucus' (D-Montana) health reform bill and try and inject some more urgency to the situation by urging supporting to keep pushing Congress to get the legislation through the final hurdles. The officials are marking it as a turning point for the President to get more personally involved in the final push.
(CNN) – As Democrats in Washington work to push health care reform through the Senate, Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty rolled out a series of new health care initiatives on Tuesday that he plans to introduce during next year's legislative session.
The Republican, who is contemplating a White House bid in 2012, made clear that the proposals are intended to be a "market driven" contrast to President Obama's health care plan currently being debated in Washington. Along with the official policy rollout in St. Paul, Pawlenty also published an online column trashing the Democratic health care bill that ultimately emerged from the Senate Finance Committee on Tuesday as "a tax and spending bill masquerading as a health reform bill."
His new three-pronged plan to reform the state-run health care system is anchored by a proposal to let Minnesotans purchase health insurance plans across state lines. If enacted, Minnesota would become the first state to allow residents to buy health care from out of state. That plan, he said, would foster more private sector competition to help reduce costs.
The second proposal would establish a "tiered provider system" for the state-run programs MinnesotaCare and Minnesota Advantage that would make consumers pay more for clinics that are more costly and less efficient. The third part of the plan would require adults making at least 133 percent of the federal poverty level pay for some of the health care expenses under MinnesotaCare.
WASHINGTON (CNN) – A former health insurance executive calls the Senate Finance Committee's bill a "dream come true" for the insurance industry in a new ad released Tuesday by MoveOn.org.
The liberal advocacy group, which has run ads pressuring members ofthe Committee over their lack of support for a public health insurance option - is targeting the Finance Committee for excluding a government-run insurance program from its health care bill. The committee is scheduled to vote on the bill Tuesday afternoon.
"Take it from me, the Senate Finance bill is a dream come true for the health insurance industry," Wendell Potter, former executive at health insurance companies CIGNA and Humana, says in the ad. "If there's no public option, insurance companies aren't going to change. The choice of a public health insurance option is the only way to keep insurance companies honest."
The ad will run on national cable for a week.
WASHINGTON (CNN) – The Senate Finance Committee passed a long-awaited $829 billion health care bill Tuesday by a 14-9 vote.
Sen. Olympia Snowe, R-Maine, was the lone committee member to cross party lines, breaking with other Republicans to vote for the measure.
All of the committee's Democrats supported the bill.
The vote represents a pivotal step forward in the contentious health care debate. The Finance Committee is the last of five congressional panels to consider health care legislation before debate begins in the full House and Senate.
If the House and Senate both manage to pass health care reform bills, a conference committee will then negotiate a final version requiring approval from both chambers before going to President Barack Obama for his signature.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Israeli and Palestinian negotiators will soon be heading to Washington to discuss the stalled peace process, the U.S. State Department said Tuesday.
The Israeli team is scheduled to arrive on Thursday and the Palestinian negotiators will arrive next week, State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley said.
The Israeli team will be led by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's advisers Yitzhak Molcho and Mike Hertzog, the prime minister's office said Sunday.
Top U.S. envoy to the region George Mitchell invited both sides to Washington during his weekend discussions with Israeli and Palestinian leaders.
It is unclear who will represent the Palestinian side.
(CNN) – South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham has always enjoyed a little back-and-forth with belligerent audiences.
He was at it again on Monday night as he faced down an angry town hall crowd in Greenville packed with libertarians and Tea Party activists who accused at the Republican senator of ditching conservative principles by working with Democrats on issues like climate change and voting to send Sonia Sotomayor to the Supreme Court.
But Graham stressed a mantra he's repeated many times since his friend John McCain lost the presidential election last November - that the GOP must reach out to different constituencies, or face extinction.
"I'm not going to leave the Republican Party," Graham said when one questioned asked him why he hasn't yet joined the Democrats. "I'm going to grow it. We're not going to be the party of angry white guys."
His comments were met with a salvo of boos and shouts of "Ron Paul!"
"I love this party," he responded. "I'm not going to be let it be hijacked by Ron Paul."
WASHINGTON (CNN) – Sen. Olympia Snowe, R-Maine, said Tuesday that she will vote for the Senate Finance Committee's health care bill.
MOSCOW, Russia (CNN) – Secretary of State Hillary Clinton stressed Tuesday that Washington and Moscow are working together to make sure Iran's controversial nuclear program is strictly for peaceful purposes, but Russia has stopped short of committing to Iran sanctions.
Clinton and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, speaking to reporters after a closed-door meeting, indicated that there has been no agreement between the countries on any sort of sanctions plan, even though Russia is not opposed to sanctions in principle.
The United States is using a two-track approach, pursuing diplomacy with Iran and going on to stronger measures - such as sanctions - if that fails.
"We are aware that we might not be as successful as we need to be. So we have always looked at the potential of sanctions in the event that we are not successful, that we cannot assure ourselves and other that Iran has decided not to pursue nuclear weapons," Clinton said.
Clinton quoted Russian President Dmitry Medvedev's recent comment that sanctions might be "inevitable" but not at this stage. While the Obama administration has been cautiously optimistic about the "inevitable" comment, Russia has long believed that sanctions are not yet necessary, even though they may be a factor to consider down the road.
(CNN) - He used to get big numbers at the box office, but when it comes to his current approval rating as governor, Arnold Schwarzenegger is no blockbuster.
A new poll suggests that just over one in four California voters approves of the job Schwarzenegger is doing as governor of the Golden State, his lowest rating ever.
Twenty-seven percent of people questioned in a Field Poll released Tuesday morning give Schwarzenegger a thumbs-up, the first time in his nearly six years as governor that his approval rating has dropped below 30 percent. The survey also indicates that nearly two out of three voters, 65 percent, disapprove of Schwarzenegger's performance as California governor.
The moderate Republican is term-limited, and cannot run for re-election next year.
(CNN) - Rush Limbaugh says he'd gladly sit down for a conversation with President Obama if the controversial talk-radio host ever scored an invite to the White House.
"Absolutely," Limbaugh, among the president's fiercest critics, told NBC when asked if he'd be willing to speak with Obama. "I'd be honest with him. The President of the United States is the President of the United States. I want this country to succeed, and if he invited me up there to chat, I would owe him up the dignity of being honest."
The comments aired on NBC's Today Show in the second part of an interview that first ran Monday.
Limbaugh was also asked to play word association when the interviewer named the following political figures:
President Obama: "Disaster"
Michelle Obama: "Garden"
Jimmy Carter: "An utter disgrace and embarrassment."
Sarah Palin: "Misunderstood and underestimated. I admire her. People have tried to destroy her. She has more backbone than any man in the Democrat Party."
George W. Bush: "He's just the most decent, down to earth, real man you could ever hope to meet."
Hillary Clinton: "Nurse ratchet"