President Obama spoke Monday at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce with the non-profit group America's Promise, which sponsors programs for at-risk children. (PHOTO CREDIT: Getty Images)
Washington (CNN) - President Barack Obama highlighted stronger federal efforts Monday to help lower a high school dropout rate that, according to the president, is undermining America's future economic potential.
Obama noted that the administration has committed $3.5 billion in new federal support for underperforming schools. Among other things, the Education Department is attempting to encourage states to identify and take new measures to reverse trends in schools with graduation rates below 60 percent.
The Education Department's new "school turnaround grants" are designed to help 5,000 low-performing schools in the next five years. Obama's proposed fiscal year 2011 budget includes an extra $900 million for the program.
"Our kids get only one chance at an education, and we've got to get it right," Obama said. "If a school continues to fail its students, then there's got to be ... accountability. ... The stakes are too high - for our children, for our economy, for our country."
(CNN) - Laura Bush and Sarah Palin have rarely crossed paths, but the two will appear at the same North Carolina forum this June.
Bush and Palin are the featured speakers at the Blueridge Educational Resource Group "Women's Expo" on June 5 in Charlotte, the group confirms. Bush, the former first lady, will speak at 1 p.m. ET following a VIP luncheon while Palin will address the crowd at 4 p.m. ET. The former Alaska governor and 2008 GOP vice presidential nominee will also hold a book signing for the first 75 people who purchase the $300-a-piece tickets.
The group says a portion of the proceeds will go to the Victory Junction Gang, a camp for chronically ill children in North Carolina.
Blueridge Educational Resource Group describes itself as a non-profit corporation "whose purpose is to affect the issues that plague our society such as poverty, drug abuse, and teen pregnancy in a positive manner using every means possible."
(CNN) - Republican Rep. Nathan Deal of Georgia announced Monday that he's resigning from Congress next Monday to concentrate full time on his run for governor.
Deal was elected to the House of Representatives in 1992 as a Democrat and switched parties three years later. He represents Georgia's 9th Congressional district, which is located in the mountainous northern part of the state. Deal won more than three-quarters of the vote in his last two elections and the district is considered safe for the GOP.
Deal is one of 11 candidates in the race to replace Republican Gov. Sunny Perdue, who is term limited and can't run for re-election this year.
Deal's departure next week will bring the number of vacancies in the House to four. Three Democratic-held seats are currently vacant. Rep. Robert Wexler of Florida resigned at the beginning of the year to head up the Center for Middle East Peace, Rep. Neil Abercrombie of Hawaii stepped down this past weekend to concentrate full time on his bid for governor, and Rep. John Murtha of Pennsylvania died in office earlier this month.
Deal's announcement comes two days after Rep. John Linder, a fellow Georgia Republican, said that he won't run for re-election this November.
–Follow Paul Steinhauser on Twitter: @psteinhausercnn
(CNN) - U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton landed in Uruguay on Monday, the first stop in a Latin American tour that will take her to quake-ravaged Chile on Tuesday.
Clinton is in Uruguay for the inauguration of President Jose Mujica, a former member of a radical guerrilla group who spent 14 years in prison. He was released in 1985 when democracy was restored to Uruguay after a 17-year dictatorship.
Mujica was minister of livestock and agriculture from 2005 to 2008 and a senator until his election to the presidency in November.
Clinton is expected to later travel to Buenos Aires, Argentina, where she will meet with Argentine President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner and Paraguayan President Fernando Lugo.
The secretary of state is expected to arrive in Santiago, Chile, on Tuesday. The South American nation was struck by an 8.8-magnitude earthquake Saturday that sent tsunami waves across the Pacific. More than 1.5 million people in Chile were without electricity and at least 708 were killed.
(CNN) - Competitive primary races are shaping up across the country as incumbents work to defend their seats and newcomers try to capitalize on frustration with Washington. Republicans say this year's elections will be a referendum on the Obama administration, while Democrats hope it will be an affirmation of their agenda.
CNN Political Research Director Robert Yoon identifies some of the key races to watch.
(CNN) - Talk of saving Medicare from a "half-trillion-dollar" cut has become a major talking point in Republican efforts to derail the Obama administration's push for a sweeping overhaul of the U.S. health insurance system.
Key GOP lawmakers - Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Tennessee Sen. Lamar Alexander and Rep. Paul Ryan, the ranking Republican on the House Budget Committee - all used it while making the rounds of Sunday's political talk shows.
"Republicans don't believe half a trillion in Medicare cuts and half trillion dollars in new taxes and possibly higher insurance premiums for all in the insurance market is reform," McConnell told CNN's "State of the Union."
Does it sound familiar? It should. CNN examined the same claim in August and found it to be misleading. Here's a refresher, updated with more recent figures:
Get the facts and the bottom line after the jump:
Washington (CNN) - With last week's health care summit showing no sign of getting either side to budge, lawmakers Sunday staked out positions in the battle many believe is imminent: a presidential effort to push legislation through without Republican support.
On the political talk shows, Democratic and GOP leaders fought over budget reconciliation, the parliamentary procedure that could allow a vote in the Senate and circumvent a GOP filibuster.
Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, told CNN's "State of the Union" that he and other lawmakers "do not think something of this magnitude ought to be jammed down the throats of a public that doesn't want it through this kind of device."
Related video: McConnell on reconciliation
And Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tennessee, told ABC's "This Week" that "It would be a political kamikaze mission for the Democratic Party if they jam this through."
But Democrats cast it as a chance to enact critical reforms. "We'd really like to get a bipartisan bill," Sen. Robert Menendez, D-New Jersey, told "FOX News Sunday." "In the absence of that," he added, the maneuver could help the country "move forward on health care reform."
The CNN Washington Bureau’s morning speed read of the top stories making news from around the country and the world.
For the latest political news: www.CNNPolitics.com
CNN: Lawmakers brace for reconciliation showdown
With last week's health care summit showing no sign of getting either side to budge, lawmakers Sunday staked out positions in the battle many believe is imminent: a presidential effort to push legislation through without Republican support. Democratic sources have told CNN the general plan is for the House to now pass the version that the Senate passed last year with 60 votes. Meanwhile, negotiators in both chambers would agree to a separate package of changes to that legislation. That package would go before the Senate under reconciliation rules.
New York Times : White House Is Rethinking Nuclear Policy
As President Obama begins making final decisions on a broad new nuclear strategy for the United States, senior aides say he will permanently reduce America’s arsenal by thousands of weapons. But the administration has rejected proposals that the United States declare it would never be the first to use nuclear weapons, aides said.
New York Times: Governors’ Troopers Pressured by Duty and Politics
All police departments are to some degree political institutions, insular organizations accustomed to concealing their shortcomings and even wrongdoing. But the police units assigned to cover prominent politicians seem to be distinctive for what can often become an explicit tension between loyalty and duty.
Los Angeles Times: GOP moderates poised to gain ground in Congress
With healthcare legislation mired in partisanship, "tea party" activists on the march and GOP leadership dominated by conservatives, Capitol Hill looks like a parched landscape for the withered moderate wing of the Republican Party. But green shoots are sprouting in Washington and on the campaign trail. A small band of Republican moderates in the Senate broke a logjam on jobs legislation. They added to their ranks with the arrival of another New England Republican, Scott Brown. And several moderate Republicans are in a good position to win Senate seats in November.
Las Vegas Sun: Cultivating conservatives
Republicans here — and across rural Nevada — are looking for their Scott Brown, a pickup-driving savior to knock off Reid, Nevada’s equivalent of Ted Kennedy. As far as they’re concerned, Reid has forgotten his humble Searchlight roots and his home state in the quest for Washington power, complete with a yoga mat and an apartment in the Ritz-Carlton. …On this weekend, a half dozen would-be challengers donned bluejeans and cowboy boots and gave red-meat speeches to win them over on the Lincoln Day dinner circuit, where the name “Glenn Beck” is an applause line and weapons are top prize in the fundraising auction. The annual pilgrimage through Nevada’s reddest counties is a must for Republican candidates, with Reid’s Senate race giving this year’s events a sense of urgency and excitement.
San Jose Mercury News: Your guide to the California governor's race
It's 100 days before the June primary, and California is about to be treated to a governor's race for the ages. And for those of you who haven't been following the festivities so far — hey, we don't blame you — we're here to catch you up and tell you what to look for in the months ahead. Two former Silicon Valley executives — Steve Poizner, a multimillionaire, and Meg Whitman, a billionaire — are vying for the Republican nomination. Whoever wins will face former Gov. Jerry Brown, who scared the other Democrats out of the race without even launching a formal campaign.