Washington (CNN) – President Barack Obama on Wednesday proposed a package of measures that would provide $118 million in additional funding for oil spill relief efforts and raise the tax that oil companies pay to maintain an emergency fund.
In a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi requesting congressional approval of the package, Obama said oil giant BP - which owns the leaking well at the source of the Gulf of Mexico spill - was responsible for all clean-up costs. In addition, Obama said, the government would seek full compensation for all damages from BP.
"We cannot allow the potentially protracted pursuit of claims to prevent us from swift action to help those harmed by this spill," Obama said in the letter.
Jeff Liebman, the acting deputy director of the Office of Management and Budget, said the package called for an additional $118 million in spending.
"We expect that the overall majority of that would end up being reimbursed by BP," Liebman said.
Washington (CNN) - President Barack Obama travels to Buffalo, New York, on Thursday as part of his continuing "White House to Main Street" tour.
Among his stops is a metal fabrication plant where he will hold a town hall-style event to talk about the economy.
Buffalo suffers from one of the country's highest poverty rates, with nearly 30 percent of its population living at or below the poverty line.
The city has struggled in recent decades with the loss of industrial employers like steel and auto-related manufacturers, but has weathered the most recent recession a little better than the national average.
Washington (CNN) – Carly Fiorina’s Senate campaign has unveiled a new mobile twist to phone banking that allows volunteers to make voter contacts on-the-go.
The program works by sending volunteers a text message with the name and phone number of a person the campaign wants to reach. The volunteer then makes contact and asks if the voter plans to support Fiorina as the Republican nominee for Senate. The response is then relayed back to the campaign and is logged into the campaign voter file, similar to how a traditional phone bank works. But the transfer of the information is done via SMS texting.
“This technology brings traditional phone banking right to the palm of your hand,” Fiorina spokeswoman Julie Soderlund told CNN in an e-mail.
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."
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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. 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.
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.
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.
With Pennsylvania's Democratic Senate primary less than a week away, the contest between Sen. Arlen Specter and Rep. Joe Sestak is now a statistical dead heat, according to separate polls released Wednesday by Quinnipiac University and Franklin and Marshall College. Specter, who is seeking a sixth term, left the GOP last year in part to increase his re-election prospects. But the former Republican is now facing a stiff primary challenge Sestak, a former Navy admiral who has sought to portray Specter as unreliable vote Democratic vote in the Senate.
Two traditional sources of political power will be facing off when Arkansas voters head to the polls May 18 to select a Democratic Senate nominee. The power of incumbency will go head-to-head against the power of big labor in a grudge match that got very nasty very quickly in the race between Sen. Blanche Lincoln and Lt. Gov. Bill Halter. Arkansas Republicans are also going through a highly competitive primary, so the general election is expected to be very close. But the race will also be a key test of the power of big labor, which has gone out on a limb to support Halter.
When Senate candidate Rand Paul told a lunchtime crowd at Shearer's Buffet that "we have to do things differently" in Washington and "bring 'em home and send some different Republicans," it wasn't hard to make the jump from this rural area near the Tennessee border to the top Republican in the state, if not the country: Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. McConnell, 68, is widely credited with building the Kentucky Republican Party - the GOP headquarters in Frankfort is even named for him. Just a few months ago, it seemed inconceivable that he couldn't push Grayson, his handpicked candidate, to victory Tuesday. Now, not only is Grayson in trouble - he trails in the polls by double digits - but his association with McConnell isn't helping.
Gov. Ted Strickland acknowledges he is in a close race for re-election with an opponent he says he isn't so sure Ohio voters know much about. So, the Democratic incumbent on Wednesday used his first major campaign speech of the year to go on the attack, painting a picture of former Republican Congressman John Kasich for voters. And the portrait was less than flattering. Kasich, traveling on a three-day bus tour to Southwest Ohio, called the governor's comments "pathetic" and a "smear" and said it was sad that after three years in office Strickland has nothing good to say for himself.