Washington (CNN) - Republicans talk about working with Democrats but don't follow through, stalling progress on major issues, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said Wednesday.
"They've got to want to work," Gibbs told reporters. "It has to be heart-felt."
Gibbs cited a GOP attempt to filibuster the defense spending bill last year, followed by an 88-10 vote in favor of the measure that included support from most Republicans.
Earlier Wednesday, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, told reporters that his party is ready to work with Democrats on finding middle-ground solutions for major issues.
NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) - It's going to be harder to get a government-backed mortgage from now on.
Looking to shore up its weakening finances, the Federal Housing Administration is set to announce stricter standards on Wednesday.
The agency, which insured nearly a third of new mortgages in 2009, will increase the premium it charges for its mortgage insurance and require those with weaker credit scores to come up with larger downpayments.
The FHA will also reduce the amount of money a seller can provide a homebuyer for closing costs, as well as tighten its enforcement of lenders.
(CNN) - While several Democrats Wednesday questioned how Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley managed to lose what was expected to be an easy Senate race in the bluest of states, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs isn't pointing fingers.
"I don't want to get into the blame game," Gibbs said at Wednesday's White House daily briefing. "I said earlier I think we all bear some responsibilities."
But echoing his own words from earlier in the week, when polls showed Coakley heading for a defeat, Gibbs said "there was a surprise and a frustration here."
While the White House is publicly refusing to assign blame on the Coakley campaign, a top adviser to President Obama on Tuesday rejected assertions that the vote was a referendum on the president or Democratic policies: "Campaigns and candidates matter," the adviser said.
Washington (CNN) - One of Indiana Rep. Mike Pence's political confidantes is downplaying speculation that the Republican congressman will challenge Sen. Evan Bayh this November.
Tony Perkins, the president of the Family Research Council who speaks with Pence frequently, said the Republican "has many options before him," but doubted that a Senate bid is one of them.
"I think he is doing well where he is, and I think he is positioned to move, but I just don't know if the Senate is where will be," Perkins said in a phone interview with CNN. Pointing to his extensive political travels and efforts to elect conservatives, Perkins said Pence "is not just a congressman from Indiana."
Asked if he is "positioned to move" towards a White House run, Perkins said it's a possibility. "He has potential to reach that at some point, but I don't think he is in a hurry," he said. "I wouldn't see him making hard and fast decisions until this fall's elections, to see how things go."
Washington (CNN) - President Obama promised Wednesday that Democrats will not "jam" a health care bill through Congress and will wait until Republican Scott Brown takes his seat in the Senate before moving ahead.
"Here's one thing I know and I just want to make sure that this is off the table: The Senate certainly shouldn't try to jam anything through until Scott Brown is seated," the president told ABC News. "The people in Massachusetts spoke. He's got to be part of that process."
Obama said the tide that swept Brown into office Tuesday reflected a broader discontent in the country about the troubled economy, but he said comprehensive health care reform should not be defeated as a result.
"Here's my assessment of not just the vote in Massachusetts, but the mood around the country: the same thing that swept Scott Brown into office swept me into office," Obama said. "People are angry and they are frustrated. Not just because of what's happened in the last year or two years, but what's happened over the last eight years."
Washington (CNN) - A Senate committee began its assessment of intelligence reforms put in place after the terror attacks of September 11, 2001, by focusing Wednesday on the foiled Christmas Day attack aboard a plane landing in Detroit, Michigan.
The chairman, Joseph Lieberman, I-Connecticut, said that while he believes the post-9/11 changes have "worked very well," it is "infuriating" that the December 25 suspect, Nigerian Umar Farouk AbdulMutallab, was able to board the plane in the Netherlands with a U.S. visa.
The ability of the flight crew and passengers to tackle the suspect saved the approximately 290 people on board, Lieberman said.
AbdulMutallab's father in Nigeria had alerted the U.S. Embassy that he was worried about his son's increasingly extremist views.
Washington (CNN) - Nervous Democrats debated Wednesday how to save a health care reform plan suddenly pushed to the brink of defeat by an upset GOP Senate win in Massachusetts.
Senator-elect Scott Brown's victory in one of the most progressive states in the nation raised already-high anxiety levels among Democrats looking ahead to midterm elections. It also stripped Democrats of their 60-seat Senate supermajority, giving Republicans enough votes to block any measure in the chamber.
Administration officials and top congressional Democrats are reviewing a diminished range of options to pass a health care bill and salvage victory on President Barack Obama's top domestic priority.
"I think most of us have tried to weigh what happened in Massachusetts and feel that perhaps we need a little breathing space here to reflect on it, and to chart a course," said Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois, the number two Democrat in the Senate. "We haven't decided on a strategy."
(CNN) - Paul Thurmond, the youngest son of the late Sen. Strom Thurmond, has officially jumped in the race to replace retiring Rep. Henry Brown in South Carolina's 1st congressional district.
In announcing his bid, the Republican cited a love of public service instilled in him by his father - a legendary political figure who served as South Carolina governor and senator along with running for president in 1948 on a segregationist platform.
Thurmond, a 34-year old attorney, had formed an exploratory committee earlier this month. He sounded a populist note in his announcement.
"My candidacy isn't about me – it's about us," he said. "We've reached a point where Congress is simply ignoring the will of the people, and that's not acceptable. It's time to return power to the people, and the states – where it constitutionally belongs."
Thurmond enters an already-crowded GOP primary field that includes another candidate with a famous name: Carroll "Tumpy" Campbell III is one of former governor Carroll Campbell's sons.
Washington (CNN) – Coming on the eve of President Barack Obama's first year in office, the White House launched the first ever White House app available for Apple iPhone and the iPod Touch.
The free app features live streaming of all the president's public events at the White House, Web chats with Administration officials, and other events such as the daily press briefings.
Subscribers also can read content from WhiteHouse.gov on their phones, browse behind-the-scenes photos, watch on demand videos, and have instant access to full videos from recent speeches, press briefings, and special events.
White House spokesman Nick Shapiro told CNN that the iPhone app is part of a larger mobile strategy. Other mobile products are planned for the near future including mobile.WhiteHouse.gov. This will allow WhiteHouse.gov to be easily accessed on all mobile phones.
Washington (CNN) - As Sen. John McCain readies for a potential primary challenge from the right this fall, the Arizona Republican is playing his trump card.
Sarah Palin, McCain's former running mate and perhaps the most powerful brand in Republican politics, will stump for McCain in Arizona on March 26 and 27, a Palin adviser told CNN. The presence of Palin - and the considerable crowds and media attention she will draw - might give pause to J.D. Hayworth, the former Republican congressman and radio host who opposes McCain's position on illegal immigration and is mulling a Senate run of his own.
The former Alaska governor will also hit the campaign trail in the coming month for two conservative heroes - Texas Gov. Rick Perry and Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann.
Palin has already endorsed Perry in his primary fight against Texas Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison; she will appear with the governor in Houston on Feb. 7.
Palin and Bachmann, meanwhile, will team up on April 7 in Minnesota.