Washington (CNN) - There was little debate about job qualifications and more talk about whether screeners at the nation's airports should be able to unionize during Thursday's confirmation hearing for the president's latest nominee to head the Transportation Security Administration.
John Pistole, currently deputy director of the FBI, generally received praise for his law enforcement experience, but several Republican senators - including South Carolina's Jim DeMint, who placed a hold on an earlier nominee for the same reason - pressed Pistole to oppose allowing airport screeners to unionize.
Texas Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchinson told Pistole she is "adamantly against" allowing screeners to join unions.
"You can't have eight hour days," said Hutchinson. "You have to be able to respond to emergencies."
Pistole did not express an opinion on whether TSA workers should be able to unionize but told the senators that Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano has asked him to study the issue.
Port Fouchon, Louisiana (CNN) - A Louisiana parish leader who was shown around the world last week alongside President Obama as he visited the Gulf coast now tells CNN "we are being used" by the White House to promote its energy agenda.
"I think he has an agenda." LaFource Parish President Charlotte Randolph said in an interview Thursday. "And this is certainly working into his agenda Right now we are the poster children for alternative energy. He can point to us and say this is why we need to move on to alternative energy."
Randolph spoke to CNN after an event at which she joined a host of Louisiana officials to criticize the administration's six month moratorium on deepwater offshore oil drilling.
"The other morning I heard he was looking for some butt to kick. What he doesn't realize is that he is kicking our butts right now," Randolph said. "We can recover from all the storms we have had in the past. We are managing the oil. We can't over come this overriding issue this moratorium now."
Washington (CNN) - A new Congressional cyber security proposal would give the president emergency powers to protect critical private networks under attack, but the bill's sponsors insisted it does not allow the government to take control of any private cyber-network.
Senate Homeland Security Committee Chairman Joseph Lieberman, I-Connecticut, who helped create the legislation, said the president could order a patch or tell a cyber network to stop receiving incoming data from a particular country when critical infrastructure in the private sector such as the electrical grid or financial grid is threatened or attacked. A company that complies with the order would be given immunity from any liability for any consequences of the action.
Sen. Susan Collins, the ranking Republican on the Homeland Security Committee, emphasized the proposal does not allow for any new surveillance authority.
"This isn't a case of the federal government increasing its surveillance of private sector computers nor would it permit the government to take over private networks," said Collins. "It enables the government in concert with the private sector to better protect our nation's cyber assets."
The bipartisan bill announced by Lieberman, Collins and Sen. Thomas Carper, D-Delaware, creates a cyber security center at the Department of Homeland Security and would make the cyber security coordinator at the White House a permanent position, confirmed by the Senate. The position is currently appointed by the president.
(CNN) - According his official schedule, President Obama did not attend the May 25 memorial service in Jackson, Mississippi for the workers who died in the Deepwater Horizon explosion because he was en route to a fundraiser for Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-California, in San Francisco.
At Thursday's White House briefing, Press Secretary Robert Gibbs was asked why Obama did not attend the service. The president's spokesman answered, "I'd have to look at the schedule. I don't know the answer."
CNN examined the president's schedule for that day, and according to it, the president left the White House at 2:55 p.m. EST en route to Andrews Air Force Base for the cross-country flight to the San Francisco fundraiser.
A Jackson source in possession of the memorial service program told CNN that the service began at 2:00 pm EST and lasted "more than an hour and a half" - putting the president in transit to the fundraiser during the second half of the memorial service.
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: November true test for Tea Party success
As Sharron Angle celebrated her win in Nevada's Republican Senate primary, she praised the Tea Party activists who backed her campaign and vowed to return the country to its constitutional principles. As Angle was declaring victory, several time zones away, a slew of Tea Party candidates were going home empty-handed after establishment candidate Robert Hurt stomped them in the primary race for Virginia's 5th Congressional District. Despite a nationwide wave of anti-incumbent fervor and a Tea Party cry to "throw the bums out," far more sitting lawmakers have survived than have been ousted.
More stories after the jump