Washington (CNN) - As Democrats prepare to bring the contentious issue of financial reform to the Senate floor next week, Republicans say they have enough votes to block the proposed financial reform bill unless changes are made.
Senate Republicans say all 41 GOP members will vote against a parliamentary procedure to allow the current bill to proceed.
"If (Senate Majority Leader Harry) Reid tries to bring this bill to the floor next week, I will vote against that. I want to force negotiations to continue," Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), a key moderate, told CNN. "There were serious negotiations going on. The only way I can force people back to the table is to vote against this motion to proceed."
Democrats say they will still attempt to move forward with the bill.
(CNN) - Former President Bill Clinton said he sees parallels in the mood of the country now and on April 19, 1995, when the bombing of a federal building in Oklahoma City killed 168 people while he was in the White House.
"There's the same kind of economic and social upheaval now," the former president told CNN's Wolf Blitzer in an interview to air on Friday on "The Situation Room."
"Then you had the rise of extremist voices on talk radio. Here you have a billion Internet sites," Clinton said.
And while the hard-core, anti-government radicals are still a minority, "they can communicate with each other much faster and much better than they did before. The main thing that bothered us since the time of Oklahoma City was that already there was enough use of the Internet that if you knew how to find a Web site - and not everybody even had a computer back then, but if you knew how to find it, you could learn, for example, how to make a bomb."
"Now everybody has got a computer, Web sites are easily accessible. And you can be highly selective and spend all of your time with people that are, you know, kind of out there with you," he continued.
Washington (CNN) - President Barack Obama is taking his family on a mini-vacation to Asheville, North Carolina, next weekend, the White House confirmed in a statement.
Obama had been planning to take his wife and two daughters on an official trip to Indonesia and Australia late last month that coincided with spring break for Sasha and Malia.
But the trip was scrapped because the health care debate kept the President pinned down in Washington, so First Lady Michelle Obama took the girls to New York for a few days instead. The entire family has not had a vacation together since the holidays in Hawaii.
Obama, who will vacation in Western North Carolina from Friday until Sunday, has sweet memories of the state dating back to the 2008 campaign.
(CNN) - Former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum will deliver a foreign policy speech in South Carolina next week, his latest effort at burnishing his profile ahead of a potential White House bid in 2012.
The speech, to be delivered Monday at The Citadel in Charleston, South Carolina, "will focus on our nation's foreign policy challenges and how best to tackle the threats our country faces," according to a schedule released by his political team.
Santorum's advisers believe he can differentiate himself from his potential 2012 rivals by highlighting his foreign policy chops.
He spent eight years on the Senate Armed Services Committee and authored successful legislation addressing threats posed by Syria and Iran - points he makes regularly as he travels to early primary states and meets with party activists.
(CNN) - Tea Party activists marked Tax Day with a high-profile rally in Washington, DC, and other protests across the country, but President Obama says the anti-tax movement actually owes him a thank you.
Speaking at a Democratic fundraiser in Miami Thursday night, the president touted tax cuts in the stimulus measure and the fact that the tax rate has not been increased for those making less than $250,000 a year.
"So I've been amused in recent days by these people having rallies," he told the crowd at the fundraiser to laughter. "I think they should be saying thank you."
Members of the crowd, who paid between $250 to $1,250 to attend the event, immediately rose to their feet and replied "Thank You!"
The White House noted Thursday that federal taxes were reduced by $173 billion in 2009 and said that the average tax refund is about 10 percent higher than last year.
(CNN) - As President Obama was trying to tout a healthy economy on Friday, one of his top economic advisers was literally getting sick all over the White House.
Democratic officials confirmed to CNN that AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka developed a stomach bug and vomited at the White House as Obama prepared to kick off a meeting of the President's Economic Recovery Advisory Board.
Trumka is a member of the key outside group that also includes economic heavyweights like former Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker and former Clinton White House official Laura D'Andrea Tyson, which met Friday to discuss the president's push to create jobs and get Congress to pass strong financial reform legislation.
(CNN) - Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney is no longer staying on the sidelines in Florida's closely-watched Senate Republican primary.
A Romney adviser confirmed to CNN Friday that he will endorse former House Speaker Marco Rubio over Gov. Charlie Crist, a decision made considerably easier following Crist's veto of an education bill popular among Republican legislators and some conservatives.
The two Republicans will campaign together in the vote-rich Tampa area on Monday and Romney's Free and Strong America PAC will contribute the maximum $5,000 to Rubio's primary campaign.
"Over the past many months, Governor Romney has spoken with both Governor Crist and Marco Rubio," a Romney adviser told CNN. "Both of them asked for his endorsement. While Mitt Romney respects Governor Crist, he believes Marc Rubio's record of conservative, principled and idea-driven leadership is what Florida needs now."
Romney is the latest in a long line of national GOP figures to back Rubio, whose campaign has galvanized conservatives and Tea Party activists around the country frustrated with the Obama administration and government spending.
(CNN) - Gov. Charlie Crist is brushing off news his top political adviser resigned Thursday night after the Florida Republican vetoed a GOP-backed education bill.
"[T]here is always a price to pay for making decisions in life, and in my business, in the political world, you take political hits, and that's OK, that's just part of it. But you have to do what you think is right at the end of the day," Crist said during an event in Miami Friday.
The Associated Press reported Thursday night that Connie Mack, a longtime political ally of Crist, tendered a letter of resignation because the governor had vetoed a bill favored by state Republican lawmakers and grassroots conservatives but largely unpopular among teachers' unions.
"As you know, I strongly disagree with your veto," the former senator wrote. "Your veto I believe undermines our education system in Florida ad the principles for which I have always stood.
Washington (CNN) - Senate Republicans offered a cool reception Friday to a federal judicial nominee who has become a political lightning rod over his liberal views and his preparation for confirmation hearings.
Lawmakers on both sides traded barbs over Goodwin Liu's qualifications and his past statements on a variety of hot-button topics during the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing.
If confirmed, Liu, a professor at the University of California, Berkeley, would be the only Asian-American currently on the appeals courts, the level just below the Supreme Court. President Obama nominated him for a seat on the San Francisco-based 9th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals in February.
During his testimony, the 39-year-old Liu calmly addressed the concerns of GOP senators.
"The question is if this the right job for you," said Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, who cited Liu's lack of judicial experience and his late submission of professional documents - including past speeches and writings - required by the committee.
The nominee omitted 117 items from a committee questionnaire on his background. The items were eventually submitted and Liu acknowledged GOP frustration, and said, "I'm very sorry for the omission of information in my initial submission."
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