Washington (CNN)– The US Conference of Catholic Bishops sent a strongly worded letter to members of the US Senate Friday, terming the abortion language in the Senate Democrats' health care bill "completely unacceptable."
"The new Senate bill is an enormous disappointment, creating new and completely unacceptable federal policy that endangers human life and rights of conscience," reads the letter obtained by CNN Congressional Producer Deirdre Walsh.
The bishops proved their power in the House, when, following direct negotiations with the House Speaker, they forced House Democratic leaders to allow a vote on the Stupak amendment, which introduced firmer restrictions on abortion funding.
The language in the Senate bill regarding abortion coverage is not as specific as the House bill passed earlier this month. In their letter to the Senate, the bishops ask for a similar measure to be added.
Washington (CNN) -The Senate Ethics Committee issued a letter Friday admonishing embattled Illinois Sen. Roland Burris "for actions and statements reflecting unfavorably upon the Senate" in connection with his controversial appointment by former Gov. Rod Blagojevich.
"While the committee did not find that the evidence before it supported
any actionable violations of law, senators must meet a much higher standard of conduct," the letter stated.
Burris, currently the only African-American U.S. senator, is serving the remaining two years of President Barack Obama's Senate term, but he has never been embraced by his party's leaders in Illinois or Capitol Hill.
He was appointed to the seat last December by Blagojevich, who was later impeached, removed from office and arrested on federal corruption charges alleging that he tried to sell Obama's seat to the highest bidder.
Washington (CNN) - The Democratic Party's fundraising off of Sarah Palin's "dangerous" book tour.
"Right now, Sarah Palin is on a highly publicized, nationwide book tour, attacking President Obama and his plan for health reform at every turn," wrote Organizing for America director Mitch Stewart in a message sent to supporters Friday.
"It's dangerous. Remember, this is the person who coined the term 'Death Panels' - and opened the flood gates for months of false attacks by special interests and partisan extremists. Whatever lie comes next will be widely covered by the media, then constantly echoed by right-wing attack groups and others who are trying to defeat reform.
The group, the president's political arm at the Democratic National Committee, set a goal of raising $500,000 over the next week "to help push back against Sarah Palin and her allies." OFA said the contributions will be used to respond to those attacks via ads, events, and phone banking congressional offices.
Washington (CNN) - To debate or not to debate the Senate's health care reform bill; that is the question.
The legislative body on Saturday is expected to vote on whether to begin debate - also known as invoking cloture - on its version of the health care bill, which was introduced Wednesday by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.
Reid says the 2,074-page bill would expand health insurance coverage to 30 million more Americans at an estimated cost of $849 billion over 10 years. A House bill was passed nearly two weeks ago.
Proceedings begin at 10 a.m. and will last through the early evening.
Around 8 p.m., the Senate will hold a roll call vote on the motion to invoke cloture.
Reid needs 60 votes in the 100-member Senate to overcome a certain GOP filibuster attempt and open the chamber's debate on the bill. It would take another 60 votes to close debate that could last for weeks, while final approval of the bill would require only a simple majority.
So how will the Democratic leadership get the magic number 60?
New York (CNNMoney.com) - The health care bill that faces a crucial test vote in the Senate on Saturday is proof that getting reform passed and getting it right are two very different things.
Both are hard. But the pursuit of votes has weakened key elements with the most promise of reducing overall health spending.
Exhibit A: The eleventh-hour introduction of a Medicare tax hike as a way to help pay for reform.
Health care reform, to succeed, must not only help more people get coverage but also slow the growth in health costs and spending.
(CNN) - A special House committee in South Carolina will formally consider an impeachment resolution against Gov. Mark Sanford for the first time next Tuesday, the Republican chairman of the committee told CNN Friday.
The resolution, filed by a handful of House Republicans earlier this week, will be examined by an ad hoc committee of seven lawmakers from both sides of the aisle.
The group will meet for the first time next week, after Sanford provides the legislature with the results of a state Ethics Commission investigation into the governor's travel expenses, Judiciary Committee chairman Jim Harrison said.
The first meeting of the special committee on Tuesday will likely focus on Sanford's infamous trip to Argentina this summer, which led to revelations of an extramarital affair and calls for his resignation. Harrison said the group will then spend the Thanksgiving holiday poring over the Ethics Commission report before meeting again in December to include any additional language in the resolution.
Washington (CNN) - Call it the New York-23 effect: Both the Democratic and Republican congressional re-election committees spent more money than they took in last month.
The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee reported Thursday that it raised $3.76 million in October, but spent $3.98 million. A similar story from the National Republican Congressional Committee, which said it brought in $3.4 million last month, but spent $3.6 million.
So where did the money go? Both committees infused campaign cash into the special election in New York's 23rd congressional district.
The race, to fill the seat left vacant when Republican congressman John McHugh stepped down to become Secretary of the Army, turned into a three-way contest between official GOP candidate Dede Scozzafava, Conservative Party candidate Dough Hoffman, and Democrat Bill Owens.
(CNN) –– A new poll suggests that the big television ad push by New York Gov. David Paterson's campaign may not be quite as effective as he'd hoped: A Marist College survey released Friday indicates that 56 percent of New York state voters have seen at least one of Paterson's television commercials - and those who'd seen the ad appeared slightly less likely to support his run.
Sixty-one percent who hadn't seen the ad thought the governor should not remain in the 2010 race. Among those who'd actually seen the spot, that number was roughly 4 points higher: Nearly two-thirds of those who say they've seen the ad don't think Paterson should run in 2010. That 4-point margin is just outside the poll's 3.5 percent sampling error.
Paterson went up on the airwaves last month with a major ad campaign designed to reintroduce himself to voters. His campaign said the commercials would run for several weeks, and constitute a "multi-million dollar" ad buy. A Siena College Research Institute survey released last week gave a hint the spots might not be having the impact Paterson was looking for: Only 21 percent of New Yorkers had a positive opinion of the job he was doing as governor, with 79 percent holding a negative opinion - a result virtually unchanged from his October showing.
The latest Marist poll suggests Paterson, who took office after Eliot Spitzer's scandal-scarred resignation, trails New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo by nearly 51 points in a hypothetical 2010 Democratic primary matchup - with results virtually the same whether or not a voter has seen the governor's new ads.
Washington (CNN ) - Nebraska Sen. Ben Nelson announced Friday that he would be supporting the motion to proceed that would allow the Senate to begin debate on the Democrats' health care reform legislation.
"Throughout my Senate career I have consistently rejected efforts to obstruct," he said in a statement. "That's what the vote on the motion to proceed is all about. It is not for or against the new Senate health care bill released Wednesday. It is only to begin debate and an opportunity to make improvements. If you don't like a bill why block your own opportunity to amend it?"
The Nebraska Democrat sounded a positive note Thursday after emerging from a meeting with Reid and other moderate Democratic holdouts in the Senate Majority Leader's office, although he told CNN then he was withholding his final decision on the motion to proceed until he had a chance to "study (the bill) or at least review it to begin with."