(CNN) - The Health and Human Services Department announced Friday that it is making $25 million available to states to support pregnant women and teen parents, in an initiative that the White House is framing as a way to find common ground on abortion.
The new federal Pregnancy Assistance Fund will award grants to states aimed at providing pregnant women and teen parents support for completing high school or college degrees and for getting health care, child care and housing, HHS said in a news release Friday.
The grants can also be used to combat violence against pregnant women,the release said.
In an e-mail announcing the initiative to nonprofit groups on Friday, the Office of Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships at HHS tied the new fund to the abortion issue.
Washington (CNN) - The White House says President Obama will attempt to "seize momentum" in the Middle East peace process when he sits down Tuesday morning for a rescheduled Oval office meeting with Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
"The gaps have narrowed," said Ben Rhodes, Deputy National Security Advisor for Strategic Communications.
In a conference call briefing ahead of the long anticipated meeting, Rhodes and Dan Shapiro, NSC Senior Director for the Middle East and North Africa, said the meeting would focus on how to move proximity talks to direct talks, and on the recent "liberalization" of Israel's policy on commercial traffic into Gaza.
Washington (CNN) - Two more Republican senators have announced they will oppose Elena Kagan's nomination to the Supreme Court.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky and Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski both issued statements Friday afternoon indicating their opposition to Kagan's nomination. The announcements come hours after Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch indicated he would oppose Kagan's nomination.
McConnell said Kagan was "far from forthcoming in discussing her own views on basic principles of American constitutional law" during this week's confirmation hearings.
(CNN) - Former South Carolina GOP chairman Katon Dawson, who finished second to Michael Steele in the Republican National Committee chairman's race last year, is calling on the committee to oust their embattled chairman.
Steele is under fire for suggesting at a fundraiser Thursday that the war in Afghanistan cannot be won. After a salvo of criticism from Democrats and some Republicans Friday, Steele walked back his remarks and said he supports the mission.
"The RNC should do the responsible thing and show Steele the door," Dawson told CNN. "Enough is enough."
Washington (CNN) - House Speaker Nancy Pelosi made a rare House floor vote Thursday defying a veto threat from President Obama and further emphasizing her concerns about the war in Afghanistan.
Pelosi's vote was in favor of an amendment to the Pentagon spending bill. It would have placed tough restrictions on funding for the war in Afghanistan - including a demand for a detailed troop withdrawal plan and a threat to pull money for the war if the military stays beyond next summer.
The amendment failed. But 153 Democrats, well over half the House Democratic caucus, and nine Republicans voted for it, despite a White House veto threat that passage of the amendment would undermine the President's "ability as Commander in Chief to conduct military operations in Afghanistan."
(CNN) - One year after announcing she was stepping down as Alaska governor, Sarah Palin remains firmly in the national spotlight, thanks to television appearances, a national book tour, speaking engagements, Facebook and Twitter.
The 2008 GOP vice presidential nominee also remains a force on the campaign trail, endorsing numerous fellow Republicans in the GOP primaries this year. But the big question remains: Does Sen. John McCain's running mate in the last race for the White House want to make her own bid for the top job in next presidential contest?
On July 3, 2009, the governor, who had 18 months left in her first term in office, announced "that I am not seeking re-election."
(CNN) - When signs of a severe economic downfall emerged more than two years ago, then-candidate Barack Obama was quick to point a finger at the man he hoped to replace.
Seventeen months into his administration, the message is often the same, and Republicans say it's time for him to drop the Bush bashing and take ownership of the problem.
"Nothing makes a president look weaker than pointing the finger at past administrations," said Republican strategist Ron Bonjean. "By blaming somebody, it looks like you are playing politics and people just want jobs. They don't care about whose fault it is. Playing the blame game only boomerangs on yourself."
Obama repeated that message this week when talking about the still-sputtering economy, twice reminding those at a town-hall meeting in Wisconsin that he "inherited" the economic mess.
Washington (CNN) - Kentucky Senate candidate Rand Paul sees economic doom possibly on the horizon for the U.S. using one of the most spectacular collapses in history to illustrate his point.
Paul says there's a similarity between America's current economic situation and the fall of the Roman Empire. On Thursday, the Republican compared recent U.S. government assistance programs – such as the stimulus package – to Roman emperors giving away food and entertainment as the Roman economy collapsed.
"In the latter days of Rome, the economy was crumbling, the emperor…would placate the mob with bread and circus - food and entertainment to placate them since the economy was in shambles and dwindling around them," Paul told Tea Party activists at a rally, according to the Louisville Courier-Journal and confirmed to CNN by Paul's campaign.
Washington (CNN) – The oil gushing into the Gulf of Mexico is spilling onto the television airwaves in the form of political commercials as candidates and interest groups seek to use this economic and environmental disaster to advance their campaigns and causes.
So far, more than $4.3 million has been spent on political TV ads that reference the oil spill caused by the explosion in April of the Deepwater Horizon oil rig operated on behalf of BP.
The commercials appear in state and congressional races as well as in states where organizations are seeking to pressure U.S. senators to support comprehensive energy reform legislation, according to a new analysis conducted for CNN by Kantar's Campaign Media Analysis Group.
New York (CNNMoney.com) - Stimulus money helped revive the government's small business lending program after the recession threw it into a near freeze.
But this quarter, as the bonus funds ran out, the program's growth again began to stall.
The SBA's flagship 7(a) lending program backed 12,123 loans totaling just shy of $3 billion in the three-month period that ended Wednesday. That's a 7% increase from the number of loans made in the same quarter last year, and a 21% jump in the total dollars lent out.
But compared to the first three months of 2010, lending pulled back quite a bit. The number of loans backed by the program fell 27% from the prior quarter, when the SBA processed 16,558 loans totaling $3.7 billion.