Washington (CNN) - The U.S. Senate engaged in a heated debate Thursday on an issue at the heart of the fight over energy reform: whether the Environmental Protection Agency should have the authority to impose clear limits on the emission of greenhouse gases.
The chamber is expected to vote on a proposed "resolution of disapproval" drafted by Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, that would prevent the EPA from further regulation of air pollution from vehicles and industrial facilities. Murkowski has argued that new rules should only be created by Congress, not an executive agency.
"It would amount to an unprecedented power grab, ceding Congress' responsibilities to unelected bureaucrats and move a very, very important debate, a critical debate, from our open halls to behind an agency's closed doors," Murkowski argued on the Senate floor.
Murkowski's measure is vehemently opposed by environmentalists who say the EPA's decision to regulate greenhouse gases is based on scientific research.
"I believe it's ridiculous for politicians - elected senators - to make this scientific decision. It is not our expertise," replied Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-California, chair of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee. "We've got to stop this attack on science and health."
Washington (CNN) - House Republican Leader John Boehner mocked Congress for holding multiple hearings on the BP oil spill before experts have figured out how to halt oil still gushing into the Gulf. He sarcastically called the packed hearing schedule, "Congress at its best."
"You know, why don't we get the oil stopped, alright? Figure out what the hell went wrong, and then have the hearing and get the damn law fixed!" an exasperated Boehner told reporters at his weekly press conference on Capitol Hill.
When pressed about whether he supported lifting the liability cap on oil companies or restructuring the federal agency overseeing offshore drilling, the Ohio Republican sidestepped the questions, saying, "I don't know what people have in mind."
Boehner called for a bipartisan approach to oil spill legislation, saying at this point Democrats have not reached out to Republicans. "There is probably a lot that we can do and we can do it together."
Updated at 5:30 p.m. ET with reaction from Democratic Rep. Charlie Melancon, after the jump:
Nikki Haley, seen above in a television ad, is leading her runoff race against Gresham Barrett, a source close to Haley told CNN.
(CNN) – Nikki Haley's campaign is touting an internal poll that shows the South Carolina gubernatorial candidate with a commanding lead in her runoff race against Republican rival Gresham Barrett.
Also Thursday, the Republican Governors Association said it considers Haley's lead so imposing that they have no plans to support her financially in the runoff.
"A bonfire 60 feet high doesn't need more fuel poured on it," RGA Executive Director Nick Ayers told CNN. "Nikki's going to be just fine."
The poll, which surveyed likely GOP primary voters on Wednesday, comes as both campaigns are jousting for media exposure and dialing donors for last minute contributions.
Results of the survey were provided to CNN by a source close to Haley. CNN cannot independently verify the methodology of the poll.
The poll shows that Haley's support has shot up 13 points since her dominant showing in Tuesday's Republican primary and she now leads Barrett by a 62-28 margin, according to the poll. Haley finished with 49 percent of the vote on Tuesday, while Barrett trailed a distant second with 22 percent.
Washington (CNN) – Jersey Shore sensation Snooki got tanning tips from an unlikely source Wednesday - Arizona Sen. John McCain.
During a sneak peak of Jersey Shore Season 2 at the MTV Movie Awards Sunday, Snooki was seen at her house in Poughkeepsie, New York packing to head back to the beach.
"I don't go tanning anymore because Obama put a 10 percent tax on tanning and I feel he did that intentionally for us," Snooki said in the preview. "McCain would never put a 10 percent tax on tanning."
McCain responded on Twitter Wednesday: "@Sn00ki u r right, I would never tax your tanning bed! Pres Obama's tax/spend policy is quite The Situation. but I do rec wearing sunscreen!"
Snooki then wrote: "Haha Yes!!"
A spokeswoman for the Arizona senator said McCain thought Twitter would be an "amusing way to respond to her comments."
"Twitter is a good medium for that kind of conversation," McCain communications director Brooke Buchanan told CNN.
McCain is one of the most popular politicians on Twitter with over 1.7 million followers.
An MTV spokeswoman told CNN Snooki is a fan of McCain, but could not confirm if she voted for the 2008 presidential candidate when reached at 12:00 pm ET.
Snooki was still sleeping.
(CNN)– While many of Helen Thomas' colleagues condemned the longtime White House reporter over her controversial comments on Israel, Thomas herself took aim at her fellow journalists in a just-published interview.
In the interview with Vice Magazine conducted in March but published Thursday, Thomas says White House reporters failed in their duty to question the Bush administration's assertions in the lead up to the Iraq War.
"I think that journalists became afraid to be called unpatriotic if they didn't support a war, even one that was obviously not true," Thomas said in the interview. "No one asked for proof of weapons of mass destruction. It was very, very clear that President Bush wanted to go to war at any cost….We went to war on lies."
The magazine said it decided to publish the comments in the wake of Thomas' resignation after she said Israel should "get the hell out of Palestine," and that the Jewish people should go home to "Poland, Germany … and America and everywhere else." The White House Correspondent's Association condemned the statements, though did not directly call for her resignation.
Thomas, a longtime critic of both the war in Iraq and Afghanistan, also told Vice her colleagues bear some of the blame for the ongoing conflicts.
"Everyone rolled over and played dead at a time when they should have been really penetrating. They were there for Watergate. But in this case they bought all the propaganda. Or, whether they bought it or not, they took it and spouted it," she said.
Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Florida, blasted federal officials Thursday for failing to alert local authorities that oil from the Gulf disaster has now entered Florida waters. Nelson noted that oil has entered Florida's Perdido Bay, near the Alabama border.
"The Coast Guard is doing a great job but they are stretched to the limit," Nelson said during a Senate hearing on the spill. "We are livid that the command and control is not there. ... Communication is not coming to the state and local government."
New York (CNNMoney.com) - The federal government could have pressed the private sector to help rescue AIG when the company was on the verge of collapse in September 2008, a government watchdog has found. Instead, it let Wall Street off easy.
The government's $182 billion bailout of the global insurer has left taxpayers holding the bag, while ensuring that all of AIG's creditors and business partners are paid in full, said a Congressional Oversight Panel report released Thursday.
The oversight panel, which is charged with monitoring the government's use of Troubled Asset Relief Program funds, criticized the Federal Reserve and Treasury Department for repeatedly saying they had to choose between letting the world's largest insurer fail or
The government chose not to push major lenders to privately bail out AIG or propose a rescue that combined public and private funds. Nor did it require AIG to negotiate with its business partners, or counterparties, as a condition of its rescue. Since AIG's counterparties emerged unscathed, sophisticated investors who participate in the risky derivatives market now think that taxpayers will come to their rescue as well, the report said.
"The government distorted the marketplace by transforming highly risky derivative bets into fully guaranteed transactions, with the American taxpayer standing as guarantor," the panel wrote.
New York (CNNMoney.com) - Never let a good crisis go to waste. That's paraphrasing White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel's supposed argument for sweeping reforms to the American economy amid the meltdown.
Now many say lawmakers are doing just that with the oil spill: failing to enact sweeping energy reform to wean the nation off fossil fuels while the public is fixated on events in the Gulf.
"This incident is a punctuation point," said Joseph Stanislaw, an independent energy adviser at Deloitte & Touche. "We've never had an energy policy, and we've been squandering opportunities for decades."
The energy policy favored by Stanislaw, many Democrats in Congress, and most renewable energy advocates involves making fossil fuels more expensive either by adding some type of tax or putting a price on carbon emissions. It also involves requirements that utilities buy more clean energy, as well as lots of money for energy conservation.
Washington (CNN) – Three weeks after acknowledging he had misstated his military record during the Vietnam era, a new poll suggests Richard Blumenthal maintains a large lead in the Connecticut Senate race.
But the Quinnipiac University survey shows that the Democratic Senate candidate's lead has been cut by 13 points since his public apology for previous suggestions he had served in the Vietnam War. Blumenthal served in the Marine Corps Reserves during the war and was stationed stateside.
Blumenthal, the state's attorney general, holds a 20 point lead over likely Republican rival and former World Wide Wrestling CEO Linda McMahon in the new survey, 55 percent to 35 percent. That compares to a 56-31 percent lead in a similar survey conducted in late May.
The survey also shows Blumenthal leading former Rep. Rob Simmons, who has suspended his campaign, by a 54-33 percent margin and businessman Peter Schiff by a 56-29 percent margin.
"Blumenthal has lost a little more ground to Linda McMahon, but he still has a comfortable lead," said Quinnipiac University Poll Director Douglas Schwartz. "Prior to the Vietnam controversy, Blumenthal led by 33 points. A week after the controversy, his lead was 25 points. Now it's down to 20 points.
The poll, conducted from June 2-8, interviewed 1,350 registered voters in Connecticut and carries a sampling error of plus or minus 2.7 percentage points.
(CNNMoney.com) - The number of people filing for ongoing unemployment insurance plummeted by 255,000 to the lowest level since December 2008, according to government figires released Thursday.
According to a Labor Department report, 4,462,000 people filed continuing claims in the week ended May 29, the latest week available, down more than a quarter-million from the previous week.
Continuing claims reflect people who file each week after their initial claim until the end of their standard benefits, which usually last 26 weeks.
The figures do not include those who have moved to state or federal extensions, nor people who have exhausted their benefits.