(CNN) - Hours before the Senate Armed Services Committee passed a measure Thursday that would repeal "don't ask, don't tell," a group of pastors, priests and rabbis gathered in the Capitol to encourage lawmakers to retain the ban on gays in the military.
The group opened the press conference with prayer, asking for God to bless their efforts and to soften the hearts of senators and congressmen to their position.
Family Research Council President Tony Perkins, who co-sponsored the presser, said repealing "don't ask, don't tell" could undermine the religious liberties of those serving in the military, particularly military chaplains.
“You have over 200 sponsoring organizations that may be prevented from sponsoring chaplains because they hold orthodox Christian views that will be in conflict with what the military says is stated policy,” said Perkins.
Full story on CNN.com's Belief blog
Washington (CNN) - The House of Representatives is expected address a major hot-button political issue Friday, voting on a plan to overturn the military's "don't ask, don't tell" policy barring openly gay and lesbian soldiers from military service.
The House already gave tentative approval to the proposal Thursday by passing it in the form of an amendment to a defense policy bill. The amendment passed in a 234-194 vote. The entire bill is slated to come up for a vote on Friday.
The repeal plan is also gaining momentum in the Senate, where the Armed Services Committee voted 16-12 Thursday to include it in the policy bill. The panel then voted 18-10 to send the measure to the full Senate.
President Barack Obama praised the votes in a statement released Thursday night.
(CNN) - Administration officials engaged in no improper conduct as part of alleged efforts to dissuade Pennsylvania Rep. Joe Sestak from launching a primary challenge against Sen. Arlen Specter, White House Legal Counsel Robert Bauer asserted Friday in publicly-released memorandum.
According to Bauer, Sestak was offered a high-level but unpaid position. Sestak turned the offer down, and ended up scoring an upset victory over Specter in last week's Pennsylvania primary. The White House was instrumental in last year's switch by Specter from the GOP to the Democratic party. It backed him in his bid for a sixth term in the Senate, and was eager to clear the field of any primary opponents.
"I'll have something for you later," Sestak told CNN Friday, as he walked to the House chamber for a vote.
A White House source also told CNN's John King, "Bill Clinton did talk to Sestak at the urging of Rahm, to discuss executive branch service based on the assumption he would stay in the House."
Thursday, in a press conference that largely focused on the BP oil spill in the Gulf Coast, President Barack Obama refuted allegations of impropriety surrounding reports that his administration offered Sestak a position if he would drop his Pennsylvania senate bid.
"I can assure the public that nothing improper took place," the President said toward the end of his hour-long news conference.
But Obama refused to give any more details, even as several Republicans and a handful of Democrats have demanded the White House be more forthcoming on the matter.
Washington (CNN) – A new poll suggests that Majority Leader Harry Reid has climbed back into the Nevada Senate race and is now virtually tied with each of the three Republicans frontrunners vying for the chance to unseat the Democrat in November.
According to a Mason-Dixon poll released Friday by the Las Vegas Review-Journal, Reid trails former Nevada GOP party chairwoman Sue Lowden by a narrow margin. Reid would win 39 percent of the vote in a hypothetical general election match-up, while Lowden clocks in at 42 percent. Lowden's three point advantage is within the survey's sampling error.
Reid fares even better when compared to Sharron Angle, a former GOP member of the Nevada Assembly, and former University of Nevada Las Vegas basketball star Danny Tarkanian.
In those hypothetical match-ups, Reid would win 42 percent of the vote to Angle's 39 percent. And when matched against Tarkanian, Reid trails by one point, garnering 41 percent compared to 42 percent for Tarkanian. Both of these margins are also within the poll's sampling error.
The results represent a significant improvement for Reid, but the veteran senator's support totals fall consistently around 40 percent, short of the 50 percent considered healthy for incumbents.
The poll also reveals new clues about which candidate is most likely to emerge from a crowded GOP primary field to challenge Reid in November.
(CNN) - Hillary Clinton struck a strong populist chord while wading into territory secretary of states rarely go Thursday: Domestic policy.
During a conference at the Brookings Institution on national security, the nation's top diplomat bluntly aired her own views on the nation's tax policies, saying she feels "the rich are not paying their fair share."
"The rich are not paying their fair share in any nation that is facing the kind of employment issues [like the U.S.] – whether it's individual, corporate or whatever the taxation forms are," Clinton said after clearly stipulating that these were her opinions, no those of the Obama administration.
Clinton went on to cite Brazil, long known for its high taxes, as a model of a successful economic policy.
"Brazil has the highest tax-to-GDP rate in the Western Hemisphere and guess what – they're growing like crazy," Clinton said. "And the rich are getting richer, but they're pulling people out of poverty."
"There is a certain formula there that used to work for us, until we abandoned it, to our regret in my opinion," she added.
(CNN) - Bill Clinton heads back to Arkansas Friday to try and help out a fellow Democrat battling for her political life.
The former president and former Arkansas governor will campaign with Sen. Blanche Lincoln at an event in downtown Little Rock.
The two-term senator will face off against Arkansas Lt. Gov. Bill Halter in a June 8 runoff election in the battle for the Democratic nomination. Lincoln won 44.5 percent of the vote in last week's Democratic Senate primary, with Halter, who's made gains with the help of union and progressive groups as he challenges Lincoln, grabbing 42.5 percent, and conservative Democrat DC Morrison at 13 percent. Since no candidate won a majority of the vote, a runoff between the top two candidates is necessary.
"I'm extremely grateful for President Clinton's support in this campaign and look forward to our 'Countdown to Victory' kickoff event," says Lincoln, in an e-mail released by her campaign.
Washington (CNN) - For the first time in nearly four years, a majority of Americans think that a terrorist attack is likely to occur somewhere in the United States in the next few weeks, according to a new national poll.
But a CNN/Opinion Research Corporation survey released Friday morning indicates only one in 20 Americans think that terrorism is the most important problem facing the country today.
Fifty-five percent of people questioned say an act of terrorism in the U.S. over the next few weeks is likely, up 21 points from last August. Forty-three percent said such an attack is not likely, down 21 points from August.
"Eight in ten Americans don't think that a terrorist attack is likely in their community, but the 17 percent who do worry about being targeted by terrorists is the highest that number has been since 2002," says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland. "Nonetheless, terrorism ranks dead last when Americans are asked to name the country's most important problem."
The economy, at 45 percent, tops the list, with the deficit, at 12 percent, and health care, at 11 percent, the only other issues in double digits. Only four percent of those questioned in the poll say terrorism is the country's top issue.
The CNN Washington Bureau’s morning speed read of the top stories making news from around the country and the world.
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CNN: Senate panel, House approve 'don't ask, don't tell' compromise plan
The U.S. House and a Senate committee approved amendments to a military bill on Thursday that would repeal the "don't ask, don't tell" policy barring openly gay and lesbian soldiers from military service, but only after some conditions are met. The Senate Armed Services Committee voted 16-12 to approve compromise language on the repeal in an amendment to the military policy bill. The panel then voted 18-10 to send the bill to the full Senate. In the House, the chamber voted 234-194 to add the amendment to its version of the defense policy bill. A final vote on the full bill was expected Friday.
CNN: Poll: Americans slightly less pessimistic on economy
The vast majority of Americans still say economic conditions in the country remain poor, but the public appears less pessimistic about the economy than they did earlier this year, according to a new national poll. A CNN/Opinion Research Corporation survey released Thursday morning indicates that 78 percent say economic conditions today are somewhat or very poor, with 22 percent saying the economy's in good shape.
CNN: President Obama shares little about Sestak job speculation
Amid a press conference that largely focused on the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, President Barack Obama refuted allegations of impropriety surrounding reports that his administration offered Rep. Joe Sestak a position several months ago if he would drop his Pennsylvania Senate bid. "I can assure the public that nothing improper took place," the President said, at the end of his hour-long press conference. But Obama refused to give any more details on the alleged offer, even as several Republicans and a handful of Democrats have demanded the White House be more upfront on the matter.
Washington Post: President Obama will skip Memorial Day visit to Arlington National Cemetery
President Obama is skipping the traditional Memorial Day visit to Arlington National Cemetery, a move that has dismayed some veterans - and comes at a sensitive moment in the administration's relationship with the military. Instead of speaking at Arlington, as he did last year and as most presidents have done, Obama will appear at the Abraham Lincoln National Cemetery outside Chicago, the White House said. Vice President Biden will take his place at Arlington, the most prestigious military cemetery in the country and home to Section 60, a large burial ground for soldiers killed in Iraq and Afghanistan.
CNN: Halter outraises Lincoln in Arkansas runoff
Fresh fundraising numbers might spell trouble for Sen. Blanche Lincoln of Arkansas. The Democrat raised less money in the last filing period than run-off opponent, Lieutenant Gov. Bill Halter. Both campaigns released campaign finance reports on Thursday. For the period between April 29 thru May 19, Lincoln's net contributions totaled $552,289.91. Halter raked in $777,119.94. That means Halter outpaced Lincoln by just over $224,830.