Washington (CNN) - Two senators, one a former presidential nominee and the other a previous vice-presidential nominee, weighed in Wednesday on the nation’s current political environment – and their bill to stem global warming and create energy-related jobs.
Democratic Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts and Independent Sen. Joe Lieberman of Connecticut talked about these and other issues in a wide-ranging interview with CNN Chief National Correspondent John King.
The senators discussed their proposal for cutting greenhouse gas emissions and setting energy policy for the 21st century during the interview that aired on CNN’s John King, USA.
Senior leaders in the Democratic and Republican parties told CNN that, while the sweeping energy and climate change bill is admirable, it’s unlikely to garner enough Senate votes to pass this year. Both senators told King they disagree.
“Well, we believe that as people see who is supporting this bill, the breadth of the support that it has, the urgency for shifting America's energy dependency, making America more secure, creating millions of jobs, you know, there's a compelling reason to do this bill that has nothing to do with politics,” Kerry said. “It strengthens America.”
Washington (CNN) - House Republicans launched a new effort Wednesday designed to show their party is responding to voter backlash about excessive government spending.
Dubbed "YouCut," the initiative invites the public to vote online, or text on their cell phone, which government programs they want to put on the chopping block.
The House GOP will list five federal programs each week on a new website and ask people to vote for which one they think deserves to be cut. Republican leaders pledged that they will fight for a full vote each week on the House floor to eliminate the program that gets the most votes.
House GOP Whip Eric Cantor of Virginia, who unveiled the effort Wednesday, explained, "This is meant to not only listen to the public as to where they feel their government should be headed, but also to change the culture of spending in Washington."
Johnston told Vanity Fair last October that the former Alaska governor, "would blatantly say [after the 2008 presidential election], 'I want to just take this money and quit being governor.'"
Maher also vented about President Obama's Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan, the war in Afghanistan and illegal immigration in a wide-ranging interview broadcast on The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer.
Washington (CNNMoney.com) - Congress is mellowing toward the Federal Reserve.
Last fall, the Federal Reserve faced an onslaught of congressional efforts to curtail its powers. But this week, the Fed beat back two major checks on its authority in the Senate's Wall Street reform bill, which was tougher on the central bank than the House version.
The Senate voted 90-9 on Wednesday to strip from the overall reform bill a provision reshaping the Fed as supervisor of only the nation's largest banks. The Senate, agreeing with chairman Ben Bernanke, now plans no change in the Fed's current regulatory power over banks - which includes large banks and smaller, state-chartered banks that choose the Fed as their regulator.
"Monetary policy cannot and should not be geared toward large banks based primarily in New York and policy makers in Washington," said Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, R-Texas, an author of the measure. "The Federal Reserve needs insight to the health of our banking system and economy as a whole."
Additionally, the Senate voted 96-0 on Tuesday for a watered-down version of a provision subjecting the Fed to a one-time audit of its role making cheap loans to ailing Wall Street banks during the financial crisis. The original, more controversial, measure would have subjected the Fed to ongoing congressional investigations.
Washington (CNN) - The Obama administration has launched its first legal defense of the new health care law, insisting the federal government has the power to force citizens to have health insurance.
"The health care industry operates in interstate commerce and there is a long recognized federal interest in its regulation," said a legal brief filed in federal court in Detroit, Michigan, by the Justice Department.
The government response was made in a lawsuit filed by the Thomas More Law Center, a Michigan-based law firm involved in conservative issues. The case names President Barack Obama, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner and Attorney General Eric Holder as defendants.
The government also argues that apart from the constitutional merits, an injunction to block the law from being implemented should not be granted because the provision requiring insurance coverage does not go into effect until January 1, 2014.
Legal briefs similar to the 46-page document filed in Detroit are likely to begin appearing in other federal courts where the law is under attack for requiring every citizen to purchase health insurance.
Several state governments have joined a lawsuit filed in Florida that makes similar claims - that Congress lacks the authority to mandate individuals to participate in an insurance plan. Many states have also challenged the federal requirement for states to extend coverage to more low-income residents without funding the additional cost.
Washington (CNN) – South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford confirmed Wednesday that he spent last weekend trying to rekindle a relationship with an Argentine woman he once called his "soul mate."
"As a matter of record, everybody in this room knows exactly who I was with over the weekend," Sanford told reporters during a press conference. "That is no mystery to anybody given what I said last summer. And you know the purpose was obviously to see if something could be restarted on that front, given the rather enormous geographic gulf between us, and time will tell, I don't know if it will or it won't."
The rendezvous was originally reported by the website Gawker after tipsters spotted Sanford and a tall brunette in the Florida Keys.
South Carolina's Attorney General decided last week that the Republican governor will not face criminal charges following an investigation into his travel and campaign expenses, a probe that started after media organizations began examining the governor's financial practices following his disclosure of the extramarital affair last June.
At Wednesday's press conference, Sanford pushed back against continued interest in his personal life, saying "[W]hat I do know is this, the obsession with one's personal life needs to come to an end."
(CNN) – Florida Gov. Charlie Crist will not refund Senate campaign contributions made before he decided to forego the Republican primary and, instead, mount an independent bid, according to a Crist campaign adviser.
"The governor's position is people donated to a good cause and we intend to spend their money on a good cause," Michelle Todd, an adviser to the Crist campaign, told CNN Wednesday.
The Florida governor decided late last month to skip a Republican primary face-off against former Florida House Speaker Marco Rubio who had a more than 20-percentage-point lead over Crist in GOP primary polling. Crist is continuing his Senate run as a non-party-affiliated candidate.
A poll released last week showed Crist leading Rubio in a hypothetical three-way general election race between the two men and Rep. Kendrick Meek, the likely Democratic nominee.
Washington (CNN) – Tampa-St. Petersburg was chosen Wednesday to host the Republican National Convention, a weeklong political event that culminates in the official selection of the GOP’s presidential nominee in 2012.
Phoenix and Salt Lake City were the two other cities in the running for the right to host the convention. Both cities were notified of the decision to choose Tampa-St. Petersburg and indicated interest in hosting the 2016 convention, a Republican National Committee source tells CNN.
“The Tampa area boasts state-of-the-art facilities, exciting and vibrant downtowns, and a clear enthusiasm from the community to host our convention,” RNC Chairman Michael Steele said in a statement. “We look forward to joining our compatriots in the Sunshine State for our convention in 2012.”
The RNC sent a delegation to visit all three cities over the past two months to see firsthand the municipalities' infrastructure, hotel room capacity, transportation, accessibility and entertainment options.
The RNC Site Selection Committee’s recommendation Wednesday that Tampa-St. Petersburg be chosen as the host city must now be formally approved by the full RNC membership when it gathers for its annual summer meeting in August.
Washington (CNN) - Two leading senators on Wednesday introduced a sweeping energy and climate change bill intended to cut U.S. greenhouse gas emissions while reshaping the energy sector for the 21st century.
Sens. John Kerry, D-Massachusetts, and Joe Lieberman, an independent from Connecticut who sits with the Democratic caucus, said the proposal offered a broad-based approach that would end the nation's dependence on foreign oil while keeping U.S. industry competitive.
The bill addresses a range of energy issues including expanded nuclear power production, incentives for the coal industry to seek cleaner methods, money to develop alternative energy sources and programs to help U.S. industry in the transition to a low-carbon system.
On climate change, the bill seeks escalating reductions in greenhouse gas emissions in coming decades that match the levels set as goals by the Obama administration and contained in a separate House energy bill passed last year.
New York (CNNMoney.com) – The government posted only its third April deficit in the past 30 years, according to data released Wednesday by the Treasury Department.
The $82.7 billion shortfall, the most ever run in the month when Americans file their tax returns, brought the deficit for the first seven months of the fiscal year to $799.7 billion. The year-to-date deficit was down marginally from $802.3 billion in the same period a year earlier.
It was the 19th consecutive monthly deficit and surpassed the $20.9 billion shortfall last April.