(CNN) - For years, Democrats who voted against President Bush's defense budgets had to contend with Republican ads that accused them of failing to support the troops. Now the Democratic National Committee is releasing a new ad hurling the same politically toxic charge at the GOP.
"How far are Republicans willing to go to protect the insurance industry and block health reform?" asks the narrator in the 30-second spot. "Far enough to deny funding and equipment for our troops in harm's way.
"Republicans are so desperate to block health reform and protect their special interest friends that they delayed funding for our men and women in uniform. Then they voted against it. Tell Republicans to stop playing politics with health care. And to stop playing politics with our troops."
An effort by Senate Republicans to filibuster the defense appropriations bill to stall action on President Obama's health care plan failed Friday, when three GOP senators - Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe of Maine, and Kay Bailey Hutchison of Texas - voted with Democrats to end debate and vote on the measure.
The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee immediately slammed Chuck Grassley, David Vitter and Richard Burr – all senators up for re-election in 2010 – over the vote, accusing the lawmaker of "put(ting) partisan politics above funding our troops…"
The new ad will run on cable nationally and in Washington, D.C. starting Monday.
Update: National Republican Senatorial Committee spokesman Brian Walsh said the ad showed Democrats were "desperate to shift attention away from the higher taxes and cuts to Medicare which fund their politically toxic health care bill."
"Poll after poll shows that the majority of American people not only don’t support it, but that they are prepared to hold the Democrats accountable for it in next year’s election," he said Friday. "However, if they are seriously seeking a debate over which party has been more committed to supporting our troops over the years, then by all means let’s have that debate. We would welcome it.”
(CNN) - The Minnesota Republican Party is calling out Sen. Al Franken's over his refusal to grant Sen. Joe Lieberman additional time to speak about the health care reform bill Thursday night.
"Al Franken's petty and petulant behavior on…the floor of the U.S. Senate is an embarrassment to our state," Party Chairman Tony Sutton said in a statement. "In just six months, Franken has established himself as the most uncivil and ineffective senator in Minnesota history."
The incident in question came Thursday evening, when Lieberman asked Franken, then presiding over the Senate, for an "additional moment" to conclude his remarks after the allotted 10 minutes had expired.
"In my capacity as the senator from Minnesota, I object," replied Franken, prompting a surprised Lieberman to ask "Really?"
Franken spokesman Jess McIntosh said Franken was merely following orders from his party's leaders, who asked that floor speeches be kept within their time limits to keep the debate moving.
Washington (CNN) - Tensions stemming from the prolonged debate on health care flared Thursday afternoon when Democratic Sen. Al Franken, who was the presiding officer, refused to let Sen. Joe Lieberman finish his speech on the senate floor.
Lieberman, the bane of the Democratic Party's liberal base because of his opposition to creating a public option and expanding Medicare, was speaking about preserving the Medicare trust fund.
After his allotted ten minutes, Lieberman - an independent from Connecticut who sits with the Democratic caucus - asked for more time to finish his speech, a request customarily granted in the venerable chamber.
"In my capacity as the senator from Minnesota, I object," replied
"Really?" Lieberman asked, seeming surprised by the rejection. "Okay," he continued with a chuckle, "I don't take it personally."
Immediately following the exchange, Lieberman's closest Republican ally, Sen. John McCain of Arizona, came to his defense.
COPENHAGEN, Denmark (CNN) - President Obama is in the final stages of closing a climate change deal with China and other key nations that is expected to be sealed before the president heads home from the Copenhagen summit late Friday, according to a senior administration official.
A second source, an administration official as well, adds that the president is about to announce a "meaningful agreement."
This official acknowledged that "it's not sufficient to combat the threat of climate change but it's an important first step."
The first official told CNN Obama was going over an "approved text" with Chinese officials that would set a non-binding goal of reducing the Earth's temperature by 2 degrees Celsius over the next decade.
(CNN) - Officials and journalists attempting to enter the room where President Obama and Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao were planning to meet in Copenhagen were caught in a chaotic scene that left nearly the entire U.S. press pool outside, and reportedly nearly prevented White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs and National Security Council Chief of Staff Denis McDonough from entering.
Gibbs attempted to gain access for American reporters after Chinese cameramen pushed into the room, and Chinese security behind then blocked the entrance to U.S. media attending the event.
Told "no photo" and "no press," Gibbs responded: "Hold on. Hold. I've got to get my American guys in because everybody else got in…. My guys have to get just like your guys got in. This is a joint meeting, and my guys get in or we're leaving. …"
One photographer was able to gain access to the room. No U.S. television or print reporters were allowed in to cover the event.
Washington (CNN) - Partisan tensions exploded Friday as Republicans laced into Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid's possible plan to unveil a revised Senate health care bill over the weekend and pass it before Christmas.
The self-imposed holiday deadline loomed large as Reid struggled to win the support of socially conservative Nebraska Democrat Ben Nelson and to unify his fractious 60-member caucus. If the minority Republicans remain solid in opposition, the backing of every member of the Democratic caucus will be required to end Senate debate and proceed to a vote on final passage.
Final Senate passage - potentially slated for Christmas Eve - would then require a simple majority of 51 votes.
Adding to Reid's complications is growing anger among liberal activists over compromises made to win the backing of more moderate Democrats. Congress is also waiting for a critical new cost analysis of the revised bill by the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office.
(CNN) - MoveOn – which has spent millions this fall on campaigns pressing conservative Democrats to support health care reform – is now calling on members to fight the bill currently being considered by the Senate.
The group has launched a petition drive to push liberal lawmakers like Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, an independent who caucuses with Democrats, and Wisconsin Sen. Russ Feingold to block the bill in its current form unless significant changes are made.
Earlier this week, Sanders indicated he was not sure he could back the bill as it now stands.
"(T)here's enormous pressure from all sides to pass a bill quickly, no matter how weak it is," MoveOn organizers said in a message sent to members Friday. "Let's show Bernie and other progressives that we're counting on them to block this version of the bill–and we'll get their backs if they do."
When Democrats swept into power in Congress and the White House last year – a big part of their message was running against the record of the Bush administration.
And some are hoping that strategy works for them again in the 2010 midterm elections.
The web site Talking Points Memo reports Democrats plan to tell voters that Republicans only want to turn back the clock to the Bush era. They say the Republican Party in Washington today is no different than the one that ran Congress before.
Also Democrats insist the party won't take the same kind of beating at the hands of Republicans that it did back in 1994. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi says they "fully intend to be in the majority" after November – and other party leaders say they're more prepared this time.
They better hope they are, considering poll numbers that show support for the Democratic Party slumping. A new Wall Street Journal/NBC News Poll shows only 35-percent of voters have positive feelings for the Democratic party – that's down 14-points since February.
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