Washington (CNN) - The House Republican campaign committee raised $2 million more than its Democratic counterpart in April, but Democrats have a nearly $16 million cash advantage over the GOP as the summer approaches.
The National Republican Congressional Committee raised $7.1 million in April and has $11.4 million in the bank, according to data released by the GOP fundraising arm. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee raised $5.1 million over the same time period and has $27.3 million cash-on-hand, according to figures it will report to the Federal Election Commission.
Both committees reported no debt.
(CNN) – Long before he was a Republican candidate for Senate in Kentucky, Bowling Green opthamologist Rand Paul penned a letter to his local newspaper defending the rights of private businesses to discriminate based on race.
The 2002 letter, flagged Thursday by a liberal-leaning blog in Kentucky, was in response to a Bowling Green Daily News editorial supporting the Federal Fair Housing Act, a bill Paul said most would support "at first glance."
"Most citizens would agree that it is wrong to deny taxpayer-financed, 'public' housing to anyone based on the color of their skin or the number of children in the household," he wrote.
But as he did in controversial interviews Wednesday with NPR and MSNBC, Paul made a distinction between the rights of private and public entities when it comes to the application of federal law.
"Should it be prohibited for public, taxpayer-financed institutions such as schools to reject someone based on an individual's beliefs or attributes?," he asked in the letter. "Most certainly. Should it be prohibited for private entities such as a church, bed and breakfast or retirement neighborhood that doesn't want noisy children? Absolutely not.
"Decisions concerning private property and associations should in a free society be unhindered. As a consequence, some associations will discriminate," he continued.
Paul wrote that private groups like Alcoholics Anonymous and the Boy Scouts should be allowed to include or exclude whomever they choose.
"A free society will abide unofficial, private discrimination – even when that means allowing hate-filled groups to exclude people based on the color of their skin," he wrote.
"It is unenlightened and ill-informed to promote discrimination against individuals based on the color of their skin," he added. "It is likewise unwise to forget the distinction between public (taxpayer-financed) and private entities. A society that forgets this distinction will ultimately lose the freedoms that have evolved and historically been attached to private ownership."
Washington (CNN) - The lawmaker gunning for Democrats to keep control of the House this fall said that a Republican loss in a Tuesday special election shows that the GOP strategy for taking back the House has "hit a brick wall."
Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairman, Rep. Chris Van Hollen, D-Maryland, spoke to a small group of reporters at the Democratic National Committee headquarters on Thursday.
Van Hollen talked about his party's win in Pennsylvania's 12th congressional district. The special election was held to fill the remaining term of the late Democratic Rep. John Murtha. Democrat Mark Critz, a former Murtha staffer, beat Republican candidate Tim Burns. He was sworn in on Thursday.
The district is considered socially conservative. And some political observers considered it a must-win for Republicans.
Van Hollen said that in the race, voters heard the Republican message, "And they rejected it."
Washington (CNN) – Democrat Mark Critz was sworn in Thursday as a member of the House of Representatives.
Critz won a special House election Tuesday to fill a vacant seat in Pennsylvania's 12th Congressional district after topping Republican Tim Burns by double digits in the battle to succeed the late Democratic Rep. Jack Murtha.
Critz was a longtime aide to Murtha, who represented the district for 18 terms until he passed away from complications following gallbladder surgery this year.
"This moment is bittersweet for me because I wouldn't be here right now if Jack Murtha hadn't left us too soon," Critz told lawmakers, after being sworn in on the floor of the House.
Washington (CNNMoney.com) – Wall Street reform cleared a crucial test vote on Thursday, all but assuring final Senate passage of the most sweeping regulatory overhaul since the New Deal.
The Senate voted 60 to 40 to meet the threshold to overcome filibusters and send the measure to a final vote within days. Three Republicans voted for it, and two Democrats voted against it.
The legislation aims to stop bailouts, shines a light on complex financial products and strengthens consumer protection, to a final vote.
Final passage, which will require only 51 votes, is likely to come within days.
"We've made great progress ... it's been hard to get to this point," said Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. "It's been a good debate. It's been the way the Senate should operate more often than it has."
(CNN) – Coming soon: More Rick Santorum appearances in South Carolina.
The former Pennsylvania Senator and potential presidential candidate will return to the key primary state on May 21 to help his friend, Rep. Gresham Barrett, make his final push for the Republican gubernatorial nomination. The two will appear together at a campaign event on Seabrook Island.
The following day, May 22, Santorum will campaign for House candidate Mick Mulvaney, who is challenging longtime Rep. John Spratt.
Santorum's itinerary that day also includes two speaking appearances at local Republican party events, offering him a forum with party activists who will be key players in the state's 2012 GOP presidential primary.
In the morning, he's slated to headline the Dorchester County Republican Breakfast in Summerville. Later that day, he'll keynote the Greenville County Republican Party's Bronze Elephant Dinner.
Santorum last visited the Palmetto State in late April.
Washington (CNN) – A day after failing to get the 60 votes needed to end debate on a controversial financial regulations bill, Senate Democratic Whip Dick Durbin of Illinois predicted Democrats would get enough votes to do so today when they vote again at 230pm Thursday afternoon.
"There were concerns members had that we were able to allay," Durbin said Thursday. He wouldn't specify which senators who voted against it Wednesday – including Democrats Maria Cantwell, WA, and Russ Feingold, WS, would vote for it today.
Meantime, Sen. Scott Brown, R-Massachusetts, issued a statement Thursday saying he has "received assurances" from Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid that "the issues related to Massachusetts in the financial reform bill will be fixed before it is signed into law."
The statement stopped short of saying Brown would vote for a cloture motion to end debate on the financial regulations bill and noted he is still working to ensure "these commitments are followed up on prior to today's vote."
Washington (CNN) – Republican Sen. Bob Bennett of Utah said he would not launch a write-in bid to keep his seat.
"I will not run a write-in campaign for the Senate race in Utah," Bennett told reporters Thursday.
The announcement comes less than two weeks after Bennett failed to garner enough Republican support at a state party convention to qualify for the primary ballot in next month's Utah primary. Facing significant anger aimed at Washington and at some of his past votes, Bennett was eliminated by the 3,500 delegates at the convention from seeking re-election as a Republican. He was the first incumbent to fall victim to the growing anti-Washington mood ahead of this year's midterm elections.
Bennett came in third in a second round of balloting at the party convention behind candidates Tim Bridgewater and Mike Lee. In a final round of voting, neither Lee nor Bridgewater won 60 percent of the vote needed to win the nomination. They will now face each other in a primary election June 22.
"This has been the nastiest race that we have had for a party nomination in the history of the state of Utah, for a statewide office," said Bennett.
(CNN) – A national leader of the conservative Tea Party movement has been strongly criticized by Islamic civil rights leaders for referring to the proposed site of a New York City mosque as a place for Muslims to worship "the terrorists' monkey-god."
Tea Party Express organizer Mark Williams blogged on his Web site last week that the mosque - to be constructed near the former site of the World Trade Center - would be a "monument ... for the worship of the terrorists' monkey-god and a 'cultural center' to propagandize for the extermination of all things not approved by their cult."
Williams, who also referred to "animals of Allah," was rebuked Thursday by the Council on American-Islamic Relations. The group issued a release Wednesday calling on other Tea Party activists to repudiate Williams' remarks.
"It would be shocking if such ignorant comments failed to elicit a strong response not only from Tea Party leaders, but from other parties throughout the political spectrum," CAIR National Legislative Director Corey Saylor said.
For his part, Williams was unapologetic toward Muslims.
Washington (CNN) - Mexican President Felipe Calderon addressed two of America's most contentious political issues during a speech to the U.S. Congress Thursday, asking for a return of the assault weapons ban and blasting Arizona's controversial new immigration law as a "terrible" endorsement of racial profiling.
Calderon also reminded Americans of their role in the recent eruption of drug-fueled violence along the U.S.-Mexican border, noting the high demand for illegal drugs in the United States. At the same time, he highlighted a series of economic reforms undertaken by his administration, arguing that they are helping to position Mexico for a period of greater growth and social stability.
"Mexico and the United States are stronger together than they are apart," he told a joint meeting of Congress. "Our economic ties have made both economies stronger. ... A stronger Mexico means a stronger United States."