Washington (CNN) - A Senate committee Thursday approved a major climate change bill despite a boycott by all of the panel's seven Republican members.
Democrats on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee voted 11-1 to send the measure to the full chamber. Because of the Republican boycott of the committee hearing that began Tuesday, the panel was unable to amend the bill.
Committee rules require at least two minority party members to be present to conduct regular business, including amending bills before it. However, an exception allowed the committee to vote on the overall bill as long as a majority of its members were present.
The committee's Republicans were demanding a full Environmental Protection Agency analysis of the bill's economic impact before committee debate. Sen. James Inhofe of Oklahoma, the panel's ranking Republican and an outspoken opponent of the climate change legislation, warned that Democrats would imperil future work by the committee if they passed the bill on their
WASHINGTON (CNN) - The American Medical Association endorsed the House Democratic leadership's health care reform bill Thursday.
It's "not a perfect representation of our views," but is close enough to warrant the support of the organization, AMA President Dr. J. James Rohack said.
Rohack said the bill needs to be accompanied by legislation reversing scheduled Medicare reimbursement payment reductions to physicians.
WATCH: Obama touts bill's support
(CNN) – Fresh off its considerable impact in New York's special congressional race, the Club for Growth is wading into the Republican Senate primary in Florida with a new ad criticizing Gov. Charlie Crist's initial support of President Obama's stimulus package.
"Since Charlie Crist helped pass Barack Obama's spending program, nearly two hundred thousand Floridians have lost their jobs," the ad's narrator states as video is shown of Crist and Obama at a rally in support of the package last February. "Unemployment is the highest in decades. Personal income's down. And the deficit in Washington is three times larger."
The conservative political action committee, which spent upwards of $1 million helping to derail a Republican candidate in New York who many conservatives felt was too liberal in her social and fiscal policies, has yet to determine the specific amount of the Florida ad buy.
But Club For Growth spokesman Mike Connolly said the group was moved to quickly produce the 30-second spot after Crist told CNN's Wolf Blitzer Wednesday on The Situation Room that he never "endorsed" the stimulus plan.
"We wanted to correct the record," Connolly said.
White Plains, New York (CNN) - Former New York Police Commissioner Bernard Kerik on Thursday pleaded guilty to giving false statements to Bush administration officials who vetted his unsuccessful 2004 nomination for homeland security secretary.
Kerik, 54, also indicated that he would admit to tax violations as part of a plea agreement in exchange for a recommended sentence of less than three years in prison.
Kerik had been scheduled to go to trial next week on a variety of corruption charges, including allegations that he received and concealed benefits of about $255,000 in renovations to his Riverdale, New York, apartment from a company seeking to do business with the city of New York.
In December 2008, prosecutors charged him with making several false statements to the White House and other federal officials when he applied for positions in the Bush administration, including his nomination to be secretary of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.
In 2006, he pleaded guilty to accepting tens of thousands of dollars in gifts while he worked as city corrections commissioner, but under his plea agreement he paid $221,000 in fines and avoided jail time. His admission dogged the 2008 presidential campaign of his longtime patron, former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, who admitted his endorsement of Kerik had been "a mistake."
–CNN's Mary Snow contributed to this report.
(CNN) – Florida Gov. Charlie Crist tells CNN he never endorsed President Obama's $787 billion stimulus measure, in what appears to be the latest effort by the Florida Republican to distance himself from the president as he seeks his party's Senate nomination.
"I didn't endorse it. I didn't even have a vote on the darned thing," Crist told CNN's Wolf Blitzer in an interview Wednesday on The Situation Room. "But I understood that it was going to pass and I wanted to be able to utilize it for the benefit of my fellow Floridians."
The comments came a day after former Florida House Speaker Marco Rubio, Crist's conservative challenger for the GOP nomination, launched a Web site featuring a photograph of the governor appearing with President Obama at a Florida rally for the stimulus measure last February.
Text under the image reads, "Get the picture? Donate now to stand up for conservative principles."
Crist was one of only a handful of Republican governors to publicly extend some support to the president's $787 billion stimulus package – a move that rankled some conservatives in his home state and across the country.
In the interview with CNN, Crist called the move a "pragmatic" one given that the bill was certain to pass and his state stood to benefit from federal dollars.
"That was back in February, less than a month after the president was sworn into office, the first time he visits our state," Crist said. "And I was pragmatic, I think, about what we needed to do. Everybody knew the bill was going to pass."
"I, like all other Republican governors, utilized that money for the benefit of the people in my state. And that's what a pragmatic conservative does - a CEO, if you will, of a state does that," Crist also said.
But Crist appeared considerably more enthusiastic about the spending measure at the Florida rally on February 10 when he was introducing the president.
"It's getting harder every day, and we know that it's important that we pass this stimulus package," he said then with the president by his side. "It's important that we do so to help education, to help our infrastructure, and to help healthcare for those who need it most - the most vulnerable."
"This is not about partisan politics, this is about rising above that, helping America, and reigniting our economy," Crist also said then. (video below)
Washington (CNN) - A Democratic source with direct knowledge confirms that AARP is endorsing the House Democratic health care bill.
Washington (CNN) – The push for health care reform could receive a major boost Thursday as the nation's largest retiree organization may endorse legislation drafted by top House Democrats.
The American Association of Retired Persons' (AARP) possible imprimatur comes as Speaker Nancy Pelosi oversees final changes to the $1.055 trillion health care bill, which is likely set to come to a final vote Saturday.
The AARP is a non-profit, non-partisan group that advocates for people over the age of 50.
A 42-page manager's amendment on the health care legislation posted Tuesday night made mostly technical changes in the nearly 2,000-page bill compiled from three Democratic proposals passed by three House committees.
By making the changes public on Tuesday, House Democratic leaders could open floor debate on the bill Friday, while fulfilling their pledge to allow 72 hours of review before bringing the measure to the full chamber.
Washington (CNN) - President Barack Obama said Thursday that the federal government was guilty of mistreating Native Americans in the past, and promised to forge a new relationship between the federal government and tribal leaders.
"You deserve to have a voice," Obama told representatives of 386 tribes at a White House Tribal Nations Conference. "You will not be forgotten as long as I'm in this White House."
Obama signed a memorandum directing federal agencies to submit recommendations within 90 days on how best to improve tribal participation in key government policy decisions.
Leaders of all 564 federally recognized tribes were invited to the day-long meeting.
Washington (CNN) - House Democrats are adding two new members to their team Thursday and Friday, just hours before a crucial floor vote on health care reform.
Representative-elect John Garamendi will be sworn in by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi Thursday afternoon. Garamendi, California's lieutenant governor, won a special election Tuesday to fill his state's 10th congressional district seat, which was left open when fellow Democrat Ellen Tauscher resigned to become the State Department's Undersecretary for Arms Control and International Security Affairs. Garamendi easily defeated Republican candidate David Harmer in the heavily Democratic district northeast of San Francisco and Oakland.
Friday Represenative-elect Bill Owens is expected to be officially sworn in as a member of Congress. Owens won a close contest for New York's 23rd congressional district over Conservative Party candidate Dough Hoffman. The official Republican Party candidate, Dede Scozzafava, dropped out of the race Saturday after she plummeted in public opinion polls, as the right flooded Hoffman with campaign support and contributions. Owens became the first Democrat to win the district in over a century. The House seat in the district in northern New York State opened up after nine-term Republican Rep. John McHugh stepped down after being confirmed as Secretary of the Army.
After Owens in sworn on Friday, the House will be back at full strength, with 435 members. Thanks to their victories in Tuesday's special elections, the Democrats will increase their majority by one, and will hold a 258 to 177 advatange in the chamber.
Saturday's health care vote is expected to be close. If all House members are present, 218 votes will be needed to pass the bill.
Follow Paul Steinhauser on Twitter @psteinhausercnn
WASHINGTON (CNN) – A White House official involved in negotiations with Congress on health care reform confirms to CNN that President Obama will go to Capitol Hill Friday to meet with the House Democratic caucus to push forward on health care legislation.
The House is expected to hold a floor vote Saturday on the bill.