New York (CNNMoney.com) - The Senate Wednesday voted 59 to 39 to restore unemployment benefits to 2.5 million jobless Americans, ending a seven-week stalemate.
The bill, which would push back the deadline to file for extended unemployment benefits until the end of November, now goes to the House, where it is expected to pass on Thursday. The president is expected to sign the measure quickly.
On Monday, Obama called on the Senate to pass the extension, saying the unemployed should not be held hostage to politics. He praised lawmakers after the Senate narrowly approved Tuesday a key procedural step that allowed the bill to move to final passage.
"Today marks an important step toward passing the unemployment insurance extension which is critical to millions of Americans fighting to find a job, put food on the table and make ends meet during this tough economic time," he said on Tuesday.
(CNN) - Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's newly-minted nominee for Chief Justice of the California Supreme Court upon confirmation will be the first Asian-American to head the state's judiciary and would give the court its first ever female majority.
The Republican governor announced his choice, appeals judge Tani Cantil-Sakauye, Wednesday.
"Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye has a distinguished history of public service and understands that the role of a justice is not to create law, but to independently and fairly interpret and administer the law," said Governor Schwarzenegger in a statement. "She is a living example of the American Dream and when she is confirmed by the voters in November, Judge Cantil-Sakauye will become California's first Filipina chief justice; adding to our High Court's already rich diversity."
Cantil-Sakauye, a 50 year-old mother of two young girls, has served as an associate justice for California's Third District Court of Appeal in Sacramento since 2005. The district includes 23 counties in the Northern part of California.
Washington (CNN) - Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said Wednesday he apologized to Shirley Sherrod for forcing her to resign based on incomplete and misleading reports of a speech she gave.
Vilsack told reporters that he alone made the decision regarding Sherrod, with no White House involvement.
He spoke to Sherrod earlier Wednesday and said he asked for her forgiveness, which she gave. Vilsack also said he offered Sherrod another job in the department, and she was taking a few days to think about it.
"She's a good woman - she's been put through hell," Vilsack said of Sherrod. He admitted acting too hastily in the case, acknowledging that he was focused on reversing a history of racial discrimination at the agriculture department.
(CNN) - Is Rob Simmons jumping back into the GOP Senate nomination battle in Connecticut?
It sure looks like it.
The former three-term Republican congressman announced Wednesday he'll run a television commercial asking Connecticut voters to look at the issues when making their decision in the state's August 10 primary.
Former professional wrestling executive Linda McMahon captured the Senate nomination endorsement of Connecticut Republican delegates at the state's GOP convention in May, with Simmons finishing second in the voting and businessman Peter Schiff in third. Soon after the vote, Simmons suspended his campaign and released most of his staff, but he did remain on the primary ballot, which he reminds voters of in his new ad.
Washington (CNN) - Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke is warning Congress that the economic outlook remains "unusually uncertain," although he says the Fed is planning for the ultimate withdrawal of the substantial funds it has injected into the financial system since the onset of the economic crisis in 2008.
After Bernanke's statement before a Senate committee Wednesday, stocks turned sharply lower, with the Dow Jones industrial average down more than 100 points.
In prepared testimony for the Fed's semiannual report on monetary policy, Bernanke emphasizes more than once that economic conditions are likely to keep its short-term interest rates at "exceptionally low levels ... for an extended period," explaining that inflation is likely to remain low for several years. At the same time, he offered the most extensive look yet at the Fed's plans and options for pulling money out of the system and raising short-term rates, as the economy improves.
(CNN) - He has a cozy and lucrative gig as a talk show host and author, but former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee continues to send signals that he's not ready to abandon his political career.
The latest example: Huckabee has instructed his political action committee, Huck PAC, to open a California branch to support candidates for statewide office.
The state PAC, created so the national PAC can comply with California's campaign finance regulations, is being advised by Chuck DeVore, the conservative state Assemblyman who came up short in his GOP Senate primary bid earlier this year against Carly Fiorina and Tom Campbell.
Washington (CNN) – When Robert Byrd passed away last month at the age of 92, he was the oldest member of the Senate, but now, a 95 year-old veteran of West Virginia politics has filed papers to run for the seat.
Former U.S. Congressman Ken Hechler, a Democrat and former West Virginia secretary of state, submitted paperwork Wednesday to enter the special election Senate primary, the Secretary of State's office confirmed to CNN. He'll be challenging the state's governor, Joe Manchin, also a Democrat, who announced Tuesday that he's running for Byrd's seat.
If elected, Hechler will be 96 years old when he assumes the Senate seat in 2011.
Washington (CNN) - White Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said Wednesday that Shirley Sherrod is "owed an apology. I would do that on behalf of this administration."
"A disservice was done. An apology was owed. That's what we've done," he told reporters at the White House.
"Decisions were made based on an incomplete set of facts," Gibbs said. "Members of this administration, members of the media, members of different political factions ... have all made determinations and judgments without a full set of facts."
Gibbs said that "we live in a culture (in which) things whip around, people want fast responses, (and) we want to give fast responses."
"One of the great lessons you take away from this is to ask all the questions first," he added.
Washington (CNN) - Nearly half of all Americans think President Barack Obama does not deserve re-election in 2012, according to a new national poll.
A Quinnipiac University survey released Wednesday indicates that 48 percent of the public thinks Obama doesn't deserve a second term in office, with four in ten saying he does deserve to be re-elected. By a 52 to 34 percent margin, Independent voters say the president doesn't deserve re-election.
Thirty-six percent of people questioned in the poll say they'd vote for Obama if the next presidential election were held today, with 39 percent saying they'd cast their ballot for the Republican candidate. Thirteen percent say their vote depends on which Republican would be facing off against Obama and 12 percent say they are undecided. By a 37 to 27 percent advantage, Independents say they'd vote for the Republican candidate.
"In politics, a month is a lifetime and we have 28 months until November of 2012. But politicians with re-elect numbers at 40 percent bear watching," says Quinnipiac University Polling Institute assistant director Peter Brown.