Washington (CNN) - President Obama is naming former Sen. Bob Graham, D-Florida, and former administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency William Reilly as the bipartisan co-chairs of a new commission tasked with investigating how to prevent future oil spills, according to two sources familiar with the announcement.
The sources said Obama on Saturday will announce formation of the panel, officially known as the National Commission on the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill and Offshore Drilling, as the administration faces a growing chorus of criticism about whether the administration is putting enough pressure on BP to clean up the massive oil spill in the Gulf region.
For the second straight day on Friday, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs faced a barrage of questions from reporters at his daily briefing about why the federal government is not intervening to take over responsibility for the cleanup from BP.
Washington (CNN) - President Obama is breaking bread with senators next week, but in a surprise he will do it with Republicans - not his friends on the Democratic side of the aisle.
In what may be a rare moment of bipartisanship in this midterm election year, the president will go behind closed doors with senate Republicans on Tuesday at their weekly policy luncheon in the Capitol, according to a senior administration official and a top Republican aide.
Fresh off major victories on health care reform and the financial reform legislation, Obama requested the meeting with Republicans to try and jump-start his efforts to also revamp the immigration system and break the deadlock on climate change legislation.
It will be extremely difficult to find consensus on those issues but both sides are saying the right things in the days leading up to the lunch in order to at least give the air of bipartisanship.
"Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell and Republican Policy Chairman John Thune agreed to host the President, and the Republican Conference welcomes his visit where they will have a wide-ranging discussion on the year ahead," said Don Stewart, a spokesman for McConnell.
Washington (CNN) - President Obama has issued an executive order establishing a bipartisan commission on the Gulf Coast oil spill and on offshore drilling, sources familiar with the decision said Thursday.
He has named former Florida Sen. Bob Graham and former Environmental Protection Agency William K. Reilly as commission co-chairs.
Washington (CNN) - China is a country of big numbers. More than 1 billion people live there. The Great Wall, at its longest, was more than 6,000 miles long. So maybe it is no surprise that it takes a big delegation to meet the Chinese.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is leading a delegation of more than 200 officials from the Obama administration to China for next week's Strategic and Economic Dialogue.
Maybe it pales in comparison to China's population, but in the diplomatic world, that's big. Assistant Secretary for East Asia Kurt Campbell called it one of the largest groups of Cabinet and sub-Cabinet officials from the United States ever to visit China. The group includes "virtually all elements of the U.S. government," Campbell said.
Practically every agency of the U.S. government is represented, including administration heavyweights like as Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk, USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke and Christina Romer, chairwoman of the president's Council of Economic Advisers. Key players from the Pentagon and U.S. Pacific Command will also be there.
Washington (CNN) – Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin arrived in Boise, Idaho on Friday to stump for House candidate Vaughn Ward - but her luggage didn't.
Speaking to a crowd Boise's Qwest Arena, Palin touted the conservative credentials of the Republican congressional hopeful, but also revealed that her outfit, a blue jacket and black dress, was not her own.
"This morning my luggage didn't arrive, so about an hour ago I was sitting backstage in sweats, tennis shoes, and man this is just so me it seems like," Palin told the crowd.
"I'm in borrowed clothes, again. Anybody who followed the VP trail … yep," Palin joked, alluding to controversial purchases made by Republican National Committee to fill out her wardrobe during the 2008 presidential campaign.
After Palin's luggage failed to arrive Friday morning, a Ward campaign volunteer bought Palin's temporary outfit and was later reimbursed for the purchase, Ward spokesman Mike Tracy told CNN affiliate KTVB.
Washington (CNN) - The Democrat hoping to be Kentucky's next senator apparently smells political opportunity in recent comments from his opponent, Rand Paul.
Kentucky Attorney General Jack Conway spoke about his Republican opponent's views on the Civil Rights Act and the American with Disabilities Act in a Friday interview on CNN's The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer.
In an interview earlier this week on MSNBC's Rachel Maddow Show, and other recent interviews with the Louisville Courier Journal and other outlets, Paul suggested that the landmark federal anti-discrimination legislation should not apply to private businesses. Critics have seized on his comments and suggest that Paul would consent to private businesses, such as restaurants, refusing to serve African-Americans and other groups.
In a Thursday interview with Blitzer, Paul said the nation's segregationist past is a "stain on our history," and said he would have voted for the Civil Rights Act had he been in the senate in 1964.
But his opponent said that does not douse the firestorm surrounding Paul.
(CNN) - President Obama soon will nominate a new director of national intelligence, a position originally envisioned as overseer of the entire U.S. intelligence community.
Dennis Blair, a retired Navy admiral, resigned as Obama's intelligence director Thursday.
In the days before his resignation, Blair had responded to a Senate committee report's criticism by saying that "institutional and technological barriers remain that prevent seamless sharing of information" among the 16 agencies he oversaw.
And that's the problem, a former White House homeland security adviser said Friday.
Washington (CNN) - Outraged over what she says is incomplete information about billions of dollars paid to private contractors, a U.S. senator is threatening to issue subpoenas to the State Department and the Pentagon to force them to cooperate.
At a hearing about State and Defense department counternarcotics contracts, Sen, Claire McCaskill, D-Missouri, scolded senior administration officials for not "minding the store."
"I will not hesitate to use subpoenas, because this is important. It is billions and billions of dollars. We need to get to a point where the appropriators say, 'no more money until you are at least capable of showing us how you have spent what you've got,' " McCaskill said.
Washington (CNN) – When Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid praised Sen. Scott Brown at a news conference late Thursday for his "courageous" vote in favor of a financial regulatory bill, it was a marked change from what the Nevada Democrat had said about the Massachusetts Republican a few days earlier.
"I so appreciate what he did," Reid said of Brown, one of only four Republicans to vote for passage of the bill.
Reid had previously accused Brown of breaking his promise to vote to end a filibuster of the bill Tuesday. Brown denied he had broken any pledge and blamed Reid's leadership team for failing to fully convey to Reid the conditions for his vote.
(CNN) – An intra-party fight among Democrats will most likely allow Republicans to win a House seat in a place they rarely win congressional elections: Hawaii.
Results are expected late Saturday in a special election for the state's 1st Congressional District, a battle for seat of former Rep. Neil Abercrombie. The 10-term Democratic lawmaker stepped down earlier this year to concentrate full-time on his bid for Hawaii governor.
The seat should be safe for the Democrats, who dominate the district, which includes Honolulu and some surrounding suburbs. Abercrombie won more than three-quarters of the vote in his most recent re-election and President Obama, who spent parts of his childhood in the district, won 70 percent of the vote in the 2008 presidential election.
Listen: CNN Radio's Dick Uliano breaks down the Hawaii special election.
But there are two Democratic candidates on the ballot in this election and recent polls indicate they are splitting the vote, with the Republican candidate, Honolulu City Councilman Charles Djou, in first place in the surveys. The special election is a winner-take-all contest, with only a plurality needed for victory.
The two Democrats are former Rep. Ed Case, considered the more moderate candidate, and state Senate President Colleen Hanabusa, considered the more liberal candidate. Hanabusa was in third place, according to recent polls, but she refused to step aside. She disputes the surveys' findings and says they are wrong, according to local reports.