Washington (CNN) - Coalition forces can attain "success" in Afghanistan, but violence will likely increase as the approved troop surge moves forward in stabilizing the war-torn country, a top U.S. commander told a Senate committee Wednesday.
Gen. David Petraeus, head of U.S. Central Command, predicted increased violence in spring 2010 and turmoil within the Afghan government as corruption is rooted out. Despite that, he told the Senate Finance Committee that "success" is within reach but will be difficult to attain.
Petraeus' appearance before legislators was the latest by top U.S. officials on Capitol Hill this week. Gen. Stanley McChrystal, the commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan, testified before the Senate and House counterparts of the Armed Services Committee on Tuesday, joined by Karl Eikenberry, the U.S.
ambassador in Kabul.
They were called to testify about President Barack Obama's new plan for the Afghan war, which involves the deployment of another 30,000 U.S. troops and a July 2011 date for the beginning of an American withdrawal.
(CNN) – If you're a Democratic political adviser right now, you've got one major question heading into the 2010 midterm elections: Do voters worry more about the skyrocketing deficit or high unemployment?
The answer: unemployment.
In fact, according to a recent survey done by Democracy Corps, a Democratic research firm, Americans worry twice as much about jobs as the deficit: "...When forced to choose, voters embrace a bold jobs initiative over a long-term deficit reduction program by two-to-one."
Ipso facto, a new jobs bill is born.
Never mind that the first stimulus package has yet to truly kick in. Or that, within the next month, the Senate has to hold its nose and vote to raise the federal debt limit above its current $13 trillion level. That's a tough vote, even for big spenders.
Washington (CNN) - The White House on Wednesday praised a deal reached by liberal and moderate Democrats on the public option portion of the Senate health care bill.
"Senators are making great progress and we're pleased that they're working together to find common ground toward options that increase choice and competition," said White House spokesman Reid Cherlin.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said Tuesday that the Democrats had reached a "broad agreement" on the public option portion of the bill, but at least one liberal senator who took part in the negotiations wasn't so sure.
"It goes without saying it's been kind of a long journey," Reid said. "Tonight we've overcome a real problem that we had. I think it's fair to say the debate at this stage has been portrayed as a very divisive one."
(CNN) – A gay marriage bill that's up for a crucial vote Thursday in New Jersey has the backing of "the Boss."
Rock legend Bruce Springsteen say he supports the legislation, which would legalize same sex marriages in the Garden State. On his Web site, the New Jersey born Springsteen says he's "always spoken out for the rights of same-sex couples," adding that he urges "those who support equal treatment for our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters to let their voices be heard now."
The New Jersey state Senate is expected to vote on the bill Thursday. It passed through the state Senate's Judiciary Committee earlier this week by one vote. Democrats concede the measure may fall short of the 21 votes needed to pass the state Senate. The state Assembly hasn't considered the bill yet.
The timing is important since Republican Gov.-elect Chris Christie, who takes office next month, says he would veto the bill. The man Christie beat in last month's election, out-going Democratic Gov. Jon Corzine, says he would sign the bill if it reaches his desk before he leaves office.
(CNN) –Sarah Palin has taken to the Washington Post op-ed page to urge President Barack Obama to cancel his scheduled appearance at the Copenhagen climate change conference next week.
Referencing private e-mails from climate change scientists at a research facility in Britain that were hacked and published on the Internet late last month, Palin said now is not the time for the President to show his support for the "radical environmental movement."
"Instead of staying home from Copenhagen and sending a message that the United States will not be a party to fraudulent scientific practices, the president has upped the ante, Palin writes. "He plans to fly in at the climax of the conference in hopes of sealing a 'deal.' Whatever deal he gets, it will be no deal for the American people."
Palin added Obama's underlying political objective is to increase pressure on Congress to pass the Democrats "cap and trade" energy proposal that is expected to be debated early next year.
"This is a political move. The last thing America needs is misguided legislation that will raise taxes and cost jobs - particularly when the push for such legislation rests on agenda-driven science," writes Palin. "Without trustworthy science and with so much at stake, Americans should be wary about what comes out of this politicized conference. The president should boycott Copenhagen."
At the vice presidential debate last year, Palin said she was for capping carbon emissions but did not elaborate on how she would do that.
(CNN) – Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley won the Democratic nomination and Sen. Scott Brown won the Republican nod Tuesday night in a special primary election to narrow the field of candidates vying to succeed the late Sen. Edward Kennedy.
Top Republicans and Democrats congratulated the respective winners of the seat long occupied by Kennedy, a fixture in national politics who established himself as one of the most powerful lawmakers to serve in the Senate.
Coakley's Twitter account claimed victory shortly after polls closed Tuesday. "We did it! Thank you for your support!" On her Web site, Coakley released a statement to Massachusetts voters.
"You helped me convince the voters to send a different kind of leader to Washington, one who can see all the possibilities and who will get to work on those problems that have seemed impossible to change," she said.
Washington (CNN) – A day after invoking slavery as he criticized Republican opposition to health care reform legislation, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nevada, explained his controversial comment but didn't acquiesce to Republican requests to apologize.
"When this country belatedly recognized the wrongs of slavery, there were those who dug in their heels and said slow down, it's too early, let's wait, things aren't bad enough," Reid said Monday in a Senate floor speech.
Several GOP senators and Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele have demanded that Reid apologize for the remark. But Reid refused to do so Tuesday when asked about the GOP demands.
"Well, I think the point is quite clear by this point," Reid told reporters on Capitol Hill. "That at pivotal points in American history the tactics of distortion, delay have certainly been present. They've been used to stop progress. That's what we're talking about here. That's what's happening here. That's very clear. That's a point I made - no more, no less. Anyone who willingly distorts my comments is only proving my point."
As majority leader, Reid is charged with getting the 60 votes needed to pass health care in the Senate. Early polling shows that Reid faces a tough re-election battle in 2010.
The CNN Washington Bureau’s morning speed read of the top stories making news from around the country and the world.
Compiled by Alison Harding
For the latest political news: www.CNNPolitics.com
CNN: Senate Dems agree on how to handle health bill's public option
Liberal and moderate Democrats have reached "broad agreement" on the public option portion of the Senate health care bill, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said Tuesday… Two Democratic sources said that the deal includes proposals to replace the public option by creating a not-for-profit private insurance option overseen by the federal Office of Personnel Management, much like the current health plan for federal workers, and another allowing people 55 and older to buy into Medicare coverage that currently is available to those 65 and older.
The Hill: Senate rejects amendment on abortion
The Senate voted against strengthening restrictions for federal funding of abortion Tuesday evening, a development that could imperil Democrats’ efforts to pass an underlying healthcare reform bill.
CNN: McChrystal: Uprooting bin Laden and Taliban key to winning in Afghanistan
Finding al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden and rolling back a resurgent Taliban are necessary steps toward winning the war in Afghanistan, the top U.S. commander there told a Senate committee Tuesday.
New York Times: Two Top Aides Show Unity on Afghan Strategy
The top military commander in Afghanistan told Congress on Tuesday that he had been granted all the forces he needed, was confident of success and did not expect to have to request more troops at a later date, although he said he would base his advice on conditions as they unfolded.
ABC News: Karzai Says He'll Need U.S. Help for 15-20 Years
Afghan President Hamid Karzai made it clear today that his country's security forces will need 15 to 20 years of financial and training assistance. Karzai made his statement at a news conference with Defense Secretary Robert Gates, and just a week after President Obama outlined his strategy for Afghanistan which calls for a surge of 30,000 troops before he starts withdrawing them in 2011.
Los Angeles Times: Baghdad bombs kill 127 as Iraq vote is set
As Iraqi officials prepared to announce a date for delayed national elections, car bombs detonated Tuesday at government buildings and in crowded Baghdad streets, killing at least 127 people and wounding nearly 500. The attacks on state institutions appeared aimed at further eroding the Iraqi people's faith in the political process, which many already viewed with deep skepticism.
CNNMoney: Cash for Caulkers could seal $12,000 a home
President Obama proposed a new program Tuesday that would reimburse homeowners for energy-efficient appliances and insulation, part of a broader plan to stimulate the economy.
The Detroit News: Obama administration predicts $30B loss on auto bailout
The Obama administration will tell Congress Wednesday that it expects to lose about $30 billion of the $82 billion government bailout of the auto industry.