Washington (CNN) – Two Senate moderates are teaming up in a bipartisan push for health care reform.
"We remain convinced that convening a bipartisan group of Members who are committed to reform is essential if we are to breathe new life into the broken health care reform process and rebuild confidence that our government is able to set aside partisan bickering and achieve meaningful results for working families facing enormous health care insecurity," Sens. Olympia Snowe , R-Maine, and Blanche Lincoln, D-Arkansas, said in a statement issued Wednesday. "No one party or ideology carries a monopoly on ideas – our constituents do not care if a workable solution comes from Democrats or Republicans."
"Legislation designed to help small businesses provide health care coverage to their employees should be a starting point for building a larger health care reform bill with bipartisan support," Snowe and Lincoln also said.
The "bill could pass with bipartisan support, alongside other broadly supported health insurance reforms. These might include requiring greater cost transparency from insurance companies, commonsense malpractice reforms, and allowing young people to stay on their parents' coverage until age 26. We believe that it is possible to take these critical first steps and to do so in a transparent and bipartisan manner."
The move by Snowe and Lincoln to push for bipartisanship comes a day before the White House's health care summit where President Obama will hold a daylong, televised meeting with congressional leaders from both parties.
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Washington (CNN) - President Barack Obama sought an increasingly elusive political middle ground in remarks to business leaders Wednesday, warning that harsh partisan rhetoric is crippling the government's ability to find solutions to a growing array of problems.
The president portrayed an extensive list of administration priorities - including financial sector reform, stimulus spending, and new education investments - as necessary for long-term economic stability.
He also praised the Senate's approval earlier in the day of a $15 billion jobs bill. The package would give businesses tax breaks for hiring the unemployed and states more money for infrastructure projects. Thirteen Senate Republicans backed the measure - an unusual example of bipartisan accord in an increasingly polarized Congress.
The bill now moves to the House of Representatives, which may take it up as soon as Friday, according to a Democratic aide.
Washington (CNN) - Secretary of State Hillary Clinton warned Wednesday that gridlock in Washington may reduce U.S. power on the world stage.
"As we sell democracy, and we are the lead democracy in the world, I want the world to know we have checks and balances but we also have the capacity to move, too," Clinton told a Senate hearing.
The secretary said she was concerned that slow congressional action on approving ambassadors and other nominations had already hurt U.S. relations with other countries.
Sen. Arlen Specter, D-Pennsylvania, raised the issue of the dangers of legislative gridlock during the hearing.
"(President Barack Obama) is not able to project the same kind of stature and power he was a year ago because he is being hamstrung by the Congress and it has an impact on foreign policy, on which we should try to do everything we can to try not to have partisanship influence," Specter said.
Washington (CNN) - Sen. John McCain's campaign released a Web video Wednesday linking challenger J.D.Hayworth to prominent "birthers" Orly Taitz and Phil Berg.
The McCain video features comments from Taitz, Berg and Haworth in succession that question President Obama's citizenship. The narrator then asks, "What's the difference between these people? Only one is running for the U.S. Senate."
J.D. Hayworth, a talk-show host and former Arizona congressman, raised questions about President Obama's citizenship in an interview with CNN's Campbell Brown earlier this month.
Hayworth, who has billed himself as the "consistent conservative," later disavowed those comments and said, "I believe that Barack Obama is an American citizen," and "Barack Obama is the President of the United States."
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Washington (CNN) - The Democratic National Committee released a Web video Wednesday calling some Republicans "Highway Hypocrites."
The video is part of a concerted effort by Democrats to highlight Republicans who voted against the bill while then promoting Stimulus funds in their districts.
The latest itineration targets Rep. Mike Castle of Delaware and Sen. Sam Brownback of Kansas.
The video also takes a swipe at Minnesota Gov. and potential 2012 hopeful Tim Pawlenty – who is not a member of Congress and did not vote against the funds but has criticized the bill.
Stimulus funds have become a favorite source of political fodder for both the RNC and DNC, who both released videos on the topic last week.
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Washington (CNN) - Although the overall health care reform bills passed by the House of Representatives and the Senate are unpopular, many of the provisions in the existing bills are extremely popular, even among Republicans, according to a new national poll.
A CNN/Opinion Research Corporation survey released Wednesday also indicates that only a quarter of the public want Congress to stop all work on health care, with nearly three quarters saying lawmakers should pass some kind of reform.
Twenty-five percent of people questioned in the poll say Congress should pass legislation similar to the bills passed by both chambers, with 48 percent saying lawmakers should work on an entirely new bill and a quarter saying Congress should stop all work on health care reform.
"Many provisions of those bills are popular, particularly restrictions on health insurance companies," says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland. "Roughly 6 in 10 would like a bill that prevents insurers from dropping people who become seriously ill or denying coverage to people with pre-existing conditions. Seven in 10 favor requiring large and mid-sized companies to provide health insurance to their employees. Those proposals are popular among Republicans as well as Independents and Democrats. A cap on medical malpractice awards – something on the GOP's wish list that is not in the current legislation – is also popular."
According to the survey, Americans are split on a public option, and they don't like the idea of requiring everyone in the U.S. to have health insurance. The poll's release comes one day before a critical televised health care summit hosted by President Obama that will include top Congressional Democrats and Republicans.
The public has plenty of blame to go around for the partisanship in Washington, according to a new CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll out Wednesday . (Photo Credit: Getty Images/File)
Washington (CNN) - Two-thirds of Americans think that the Republicans in Congress are not doing enough to cooperate with President Barack Obama, according to a new national poll. But a CNN/Opinion Research Corporation survey, released Wednesday morning, also indicates the public says that the Democrats should be the ones to take the first step toward bipartisan cooperation and they want the Democrats to give up more than the GOP to reach consensus.
Sixty-seven percent of people questioned in the poll say that the GOP is not doing enough to cooperate with the White House, up 6 points from last April. Americans appear split on whether the president is doing enough to reach out to the Republicans, with 52 percent saying Obama's not doing enough to cooperate with the GOP and 47 percent saying he is doing enough to reach across the political aisle. The 52 percent who say the president's not doing enough to encourage bipartisanship is up 16 points from last April.
"That's a big change from last spring, when Obama was still in the honeymoon phase of his first term," says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland. "Congressional Republicans were familiar to Americans, but Obama was new to them, so his early attempts to reach out to the GOP continued to resonate even after it became clear that bipartisanship was not within easy reach."
Washington (CNN) – New Massachusetts Sen. Scott Brown issued a statement Wednesday explaining his vote in favor of a $15 billion jobs bill.
"We need to put partisanship aside to put people back to work," Brown said in his statement. "This jobs bill is far from perfect, and ideally would include deeper and broader tax cuts. I supported this measure because it does contain some tax relief that will help Massachusetts businesses put people back to work. Right now, this is a tax-cutting bill. But if it comes back to the Senate full of pork, waste, fraud and abuse, I reserve the right to vote against it."
The bill passed the Senate Wednesday with a vote of 70-28. Brown was one of 13 Republicans who voted in favor of the measure.
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Washington (CNN) - House Minority Leader John Boehner said Wednesday he is "disappointed" that governors and state legislators won't be invited to Thursday's high-profile White House summit on health care reform.
The Ohio Republican has been pressing the Obama administration to include governors, not just Congressional leaders, in the summit because of their practical experience dealing with health care legislation in the states. Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty also wrote to the White House earlier this month asking that governors be included.
Boehner spokesman Michael Steel said Wednesday that the White House has turned down the request.
"We are disappointed to announce that the White House has advised Leader Boehner that its expectation is that congressional leaders will appoint only Members of Congress as their representatives at the summit, on the grounds that the discussion is 'about legislation,'" Steel said.
"Leader Boehner is disappointed the White House has not listened to the American people, who want Washington Democrats to scrap their job-killing health care bill and start over, and he is disappointed the White House has excluded our nation's governors and state legislators from the summit," he said.
–CNN Political Producer Peter Hamby and Congressional Producer Deirdre Walsh contributed to this report