Washington (CNN) – Despite President Obama's pressure on Senate Democrats to finish health care legislation so he can sign a final bill by the end of year, a Senate Democratic leader said Tuesday they expect to miss that deadline.
Sen. Dick Durbin, the second-ranking Democrat in the chamber, said he hopes, at best, to complete the Senate's version of the bill by that time.
"I would say our goal is to get it out of the Senate this year," said Durbin.
Durbin, of Illinois, blamed the shifting timeline on a slower than expected cost analysis of the legislation by the Congressional Budget Office and an uncertain schedule for floor debate, which Durbin said they hope to begin before Thanksgiving.
Durbin's comments contrasted with those of White House spokesman Robert Gibbs who adamantly told reporters Monday that "the president wants to sign a health care bill before the end of the year."
Asked if there is a disconnect with the White House, Durbin, who is close to the president, responded, "The president called me yesterday, and I know what he wants - to bring a health care reform bill to him as quickly as possible."
(CNN) - Mitt Romney is heading to Reagan country.
The former Massachusetts governor is scheduled to speak this Friday to the Young America's Foundation at the Ronald Reagan Ranch Center in Santa Barbara, California. Romney is expected to be the dinner banquet speaker for the foundation's West Coast Leadership Conference, which consists of young conservatives from 44 colleges and universities across 12 states.
"Young people provide much of the energy in the conservative movement, and if we are going to be successful as a party we need to harness that energy and put it work on behalf of the principles we all believe in – more freedom, lower taxes and limited government," says Romney Adviser Eric Fehrnstrom.
Since February, Romney has made a series of moves that could aid in any 2012 reprise of his 2008 presidential bid: He has attended nine events for senatorial candidates, appeared at more than a dozen rallies or fundraisers for those running for governor this year or next, and spoken at almost two dozen meetings of Republican Party groups or conservative organizations. He's also finished a new book, due out next year.
Washington (CNN) - Police arrested six demonstrators Tuesday inside the Capitol Hill office of Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Connecticut), after a group protesting his views on health-care legislation refused to leave.
Lieberman was not there at the time.
A group calling itself the "Mobilization for Health Care for All" littered the floor and hallway with symbolic "money," and said campaign donations to Lieberman by the insurance industry have affected his judgment of health-care legislation.
The group is upset that Lieberman refuses to support the "public option," that they believe would reduce the number of people without health-care insurance.
Lieberman later denied that his view has been affected by political support from the insurance industry. "I'm for health insurance reform," he told CNN, "I don't want however, as part of that to create another large, government-run insurance company. We can't afford it, we're already deeply in debt, the taxpayers can't afford it, our government can't afford it."
(CNN) - Sarah Palin's heading to Iowa.
The former Alaska governor and 2008 GOP vice presidential nominee's upcoming book tour will taker her to Sioux City, Iowa, on Sunday December 6, according to an announcement posted on the Barnes and Noble Web site.
Palin will kick off the tour in Grand Rapids, Michigan on November 18, one day after her book, "Going Rogue: An American Life," is released.
Iowa's caucuses traditionally kick off the presidential primary season and any appearance in the Hawkeye State by a Republican who may be considering a run for the 2012 GOP presidential nomination sparks speculation.
Sioux City is in the heart of the conservative northwest part of Iowa.
Palin isn't the only possible Republican White House hopeful making an appearance in Iowa. Mike Huckabee, the former Arkansas governor and 2008 Republican presidential candidate, visited three bookstores in eastern and central Iowa on Sunday to sign copies of his new holiday themed book. And Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty was in the state Saturday to give the keynote address at a major Iowa Republican party dinner.
– CNN Deputy Political Director Paul Steinhauser contributed to this report
Fort Hood, Texas (CNN) - President Barack Obama joined top brass, thousands of rank-and-file troops and other dignitaries Tuesday to pay tribute to the 13 people killed in last week's massacre at the largest U.S. military installation.
Obama will be among the speakers at the Fort Hood memorial, which is scheduled for 1 p.m. (2 p.m. ET).
"The president will use the opportunity to honor 13 men and women who died, to talk a little bit about each of them and to discuss the contributions they made, and the notion that their memory lasts in the service and the dedication of the armed forces and that the people they touched, both in the military and outside," White House spokesman Robert Gibbs told reporters aboard Air Force One.
Defense Secretary Robert Gates, Army Chief of Staff Gen. George Casey, Texas Gov. Rick Perry and more than a dozen members of Congress are among those scheduled to attend the memorial.
Washington (CNN) - White House Communication Director Anita Dunn – who recently drew headlines for her criticism of Fox News – will be leaving her post at the end of November, administration officials confirmed Tuesday.
Dunn, who took the post on a temporary basis, had originally been slated to leave the job at the end of the summer, but stayed on at President Obama's request. She will be replaced by Deputy White House Communications Director Dan Pfeiffer, and retain a consulting role.
After months spent largely behind the scenes, Dunn burst into public view when she charged that Fox News was acting as an arm of the Republican Party. She later drew controversy after Fox host Glenn Beck broadcast footage of a comment in which she appeared to speak favorably about former communist Chinese leader Mao Tse-Tung. Watch: Dunn goes on the offensive vs Fox.
Pfeiffer, who headed the Obama communication shop during the 2008 presidential campaign, is a Democratic political veteran who has also worked for former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle and Sen. Evan Bayh as well as Vice President Al Gore's 2000 presidential campaign.
NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) - Some 650,000 troubled borrowers have been put into trial loan modifications under the president's foreclosure rescue plan, the Treasury Department said Tuesday.
That number represents 20% of eligible homeowners at least 60 days behind in their payments, according to the Treasury report. This is up from 16% a month earlier.
Despite the progress, housing counselors say the number of people falling into foreclosure vastly exceeds the ranks getting assistance. The number of filings hit a record high of 937,840 in the third quarter, according to RealtyTrac, an online marketer of foreclosed homes. That's a 5% increase from the second quarter and a 23% jump over the third quarter of 2008.
WASHINGTON (CNN)– White House National Security Adviser Retired Gen. Jim Jones issued a rare public statement Monday vehemently denying media reports suggesting President Obama has privately decided to send close to 40,000 more U.S. troops to Afghanistan, as tensions between the White House and Pentagon appear to be flaring up over exactly what the president will announce.
"Reports that President Obama has made a decision about Afghanistan are absolutely false," Jones, who generally keeps a low public profile, said in a prepared statement Monday night. "He has not received final options for his consideration, he has not reviewed those options with his national security team, and he has not made any decisions about resources. Any reports to the contrary are completely untrue and come from uninformed sources."
The statement was issued shortly after CBS News' veteran Pentagon Correspondent David Martin reported that Obama has "tentatively decided" to send four more combat brigades to Afghanistan and several thousand more support troops starting early next year. That would bring the total number of new troops to close to the 40,000 figure originally requested by Gen. Stanley McChrystal.
Two other senior administration officials flatly told CNN that the CBS report and other similar speculation is false. The Associated Press reported Monday that Obama is "nearing a decision to add tens of thousands more forces to Afghanistan, though not quite the 40,000 sought [by] his top general there."
Washington (CNN) – Two sources tell CNN that the idea for having former President Bill Clinton talk with Democratic senators about health care came from Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. A senior administration official says Reid asked Clinton to do it, and the White House had a role in helping to arrange it.
On Capitol Hill, a senior Democratic leadership aide confirms to CNN that Reid invited the former president after discussing the idea with White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel, who worked in the Clinton White House. The leadership aide says Clinton is expected to discuss "what's at stake - the historic moment" and to call on Democrats to "finish the job."
(CNN) - A new poll suggests that Connecticut Gov. Jodi Rell's approval rating is on the rise and that she would beat all her potential Democratic challengers in next year's election. The only problem, Rell is not running for re-election.
According to a Quinnipiac University survey, 64 percent of registered voters in Connecticut approve of the job Rell is doing as governor, up 5 points from September. The poll's Tuesday release comes just hours after Rell, a Republican, announced she would not seek re-election in 2010.
The survey indicates that Rell would top Secretary of State Susan Bysiewicz 46 percent to 40 percent, leads businessman Ned Lamont 53 percent to 33 percent, and Stamford Mayor Dan Malloy by 19 points, in hypothetical general election matchups.
In a possible Democratic primary matchup, Bysiewicz gets 26 percent to 23 percent for Lamont, with 9 percent for Malloy, according to the poll.
With Rell not running for re-election, the Democratic Governors Association is moving Connecticut into its top tier of targeted 2010 pickup races.