Washington (CNN) - President Barack Obama is scheduled to meet Thursday with Democratic Sen. Charles Schumer of New York and Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina to discuss immigration reform. The two senators are taking the lead in trying to hammer out a bill that could draw bipartisan support.
Discussing the meeting, White House Deputy Press Secretary Bill Burton earlier this week said, "it's as simple as getting an update from them on efforts to create bipartisan immigration legislation."
During the presidential campaign, candidate Obama promised to tackle the thorny issue of how to reform the country's immigration policies, but the issue has taken a back seat over the past year to the economy and health care reform.
Groups calling for reform promise a large demonstration in Washington on March 21.
Update 12:01 p.m.: The White House says President Obama has added a meeting with grassroots leaders of the movement for comprehensive immigration reform Thursday afternoon.
–CNN Deputy Political Director Paul Steinhauser contributed to this story.
–Follow Paul Steinhauser on Twitter: @psteinhausercnn
Vice President Joe Biden delivers a speech Thursday at Tel Aviv University in Israel. (PHOTO CREDIT: Getty Images)
Jerusalem (CNN) - Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas says it is difficult to have any negotiations with Israel unless it revokes plans to build new homes on disputed land in Jerusalem, Abbas' top negotiator said Thursday.
Abbas made the comment while speaking to Amr Moussa, secretary-general of the Arab League, negotiator Saeb Erakat said.
Abbas told Moussa he has asked the United States to demand that Israel stop the construction.
Israel announced Tuesday it would build 1,600 new apartments on land that both Israel and the Palestinians claim. The Palestinians contend the area is in Arab East Jerusalem; Israel's Interior Ministry says it is not.
The dispute came during a visit to Israel and the West Bank by Vice President Joe Biden. He criticized Israel's decision to build the apartments, saying Wednesday that it undermines the trust both sides need for negotiations.
Washington (CNN) - President Obama will announce Thursday new details of his free trade agenda that is intended to grow the economy, a White House official said.
In his State of the Union address in January, Obama set a goal of doubling exports over the next five years to support two million American jobs. The National Export Initiative, he said, would be a government-wide, presidential-level export promotion strategy aimed at championing U.S. workers and businesses by providing the necessary tools to keep the nation competitive and help create new jobs.
Obama is expected Thursday to lay out specific goals of the initiative, the official said.
Washington (CNN) - Rep. Patrick Kennedy, D-Rhode Island, blasted national reporters Wednesday for focusing on trivialities instead of the war in Afghanistan.
While delivering a speech, Kennedy spotted only a handful of reporters sitting in the press gallery overlooking the House floor. But because House floor debates are televised, reporters often monitor the proceedings from their desks outside the chamber where they can more easily take notes and work on computers.
The CNN Washington Bureau’s morning speed read of the top stories making news from around the country and the world.
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CNNMoney: Jobless claims bill OK'd by Senate
The Senate on Wednesday approved a wide-ranging bill that would push back the deadline to file for extended unemployment insurance until year-end and extends dozens of expired tax breaks.
CNN: House Democrats plan ban on earmarks for for-profits
House Democrats said Wednesday that they will ban earmarks directed to for-profit companies. The move, announced by the Appropriations Committee and its Defense subcommittee, would apply to government spending bills Congress is considering for next year. But the committee said in a written statement that the new rules are also "intended to become a long-term proposition."
Washington Post: Politics, shaky economy create no rush to restructure Fannie and Freddie
The federal government has spent the past half year seeking to roll back its emergency efforts at propping up the financial markets - with the notable exception of its involvement in mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. As recently as December, the Obama administration said it expected to release a preliminary report on how to remake Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac around Feb. 1. But no plan was produced, and in response to questions from lawmakers, Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner clarified last month that it would be another year before the government proposes how to restructure the firms.
CNN: White House continues to slam insurers
President Obama took his increasingly populist health care overhaul pitch to the political battleground state of Missouri Wednesday, turning up the heat on private health insurers in a speech.
Washington Post: Hillary Rodham Clinton widens her circle at the State Department
Hillary Rodham Clinton ran a presidential campaign notoriously insular and unhappy, managing a group of egos and backstabbers whose dysfunction may have cost her the White House. Understandably, people wondered what kind of management style she would bring to the State Department. But a little over a year into her tenure as secretary of state, allies and detractors alike say Clinton has made a vigorous effort to widen her circle, wooing and pulling into her orbit the agency's Foreign Service and civil service officials, many of whom said in interviews that she has brought a new energy to the building.
New York Times: Trying Times for Father of New York’s Governor
It has not been easy being David A. Paterson the last several weeks. He was hounded into abandoning an election bid to remain governor because of accusations his administration interfered in a domestic abuse case against a senior aide, has been accused of perjury in a separate ethics case and has fended off demands that he resign. It has not been much easier being Governor Paterson’s father.
Politico: Nancy Pelosi aide knew of Eric Massa concerns in October
The House ethics committee closed its investigation into sexual harassment allegations against former Rep. Eric Massa on Wednesday afternoon — even as an aide to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi acknowledged for the first time that her office learned of concerns about Massa far earlier than previously known…. a Pelosi aide told POLITICO on Wednesday evening that Massa’s chief of staff, Joe Racalto, informed a member of Pelosi’s “member services” operation in October that Massa was living with several aides, had hired too many staff members and used foul language around his staff.
(CNN) - Karl Rove, one-time senior adviser to former President George W. Bush, took a cautious approach Wednesday when asked about a cadre of Justice Department lawyers who represented military detainees prior to joining the Obama administration.
Keep America Safe, a conservative advocacy group focused on national security and foreign policy issues and affiliated with Liz Cheney, released a Web video last week that raised questions about the loyalties of Obama Justice Department lawyers who previously represented terrorism suspects detained by the federal government.
Cheney, the daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney and a former Bush State Department official, has caught flak from other conservatives, including former Independent Counsel Kenneth Starr, for her group's efforts to focus on these DOJ lawyers.
Asked where he stood on the issue of the lawyers targeted by Cheney's group, Rove was noncommittal.
"We need to have full information," Rove told CNN's Wolf Blitzer in an interview that aired on "The Situation Room" Wednesday.