Washington (CNN) - Senators began floor debate Tuesday on the nomination of Elena Kagan to the Supreme Court, with Republicans mustering little desire to delay a final vote. The 50-year-old solicitor general is expected to be confirmed as the 112th justice on Thursday, and would be sworn into her judicial post by week's end.
The start of three days of off-and-on debate centered on Kagan's lack of judicial experience, and whether that would hurt her ability to sit on the nation's highest court. All nine members of the current court came from various federal appeals courts.
"I have long urged presidents from both political parties to look outside what I have called 'the judicial monastery,'" said Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vermont, chairman of the Judiciary Committee, who, by tradition, kicked off the Senate debate. "Her credentials and legal abilities have been extolled by many from across the political spectrum including [retired] Justice [Sandra Day] O'Connor and Justice [Antonin] Scalia. No one can question the intelligence or achievements of this woman. No one should question her character either."
The committee's ranking Republican, Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Alabama) raised concerns that her past work in the Clinton White House and her lack of a judicial background would make her a political "activist" on the bench. "She has less real legal experience than any Supreme Court nominee in 50 years," noted Sessions. "Her testimony and her history demonstrate a dangerous political approach to the law that is contrary to our magnificent heritage of an impartial judge who fairly decides disputes."
Editor's Note: The following story appeared on the CNN Political Ticker on August 3, 2009.
Rep. Joe Sestak is expected to officially declare his candidacy for the Democratic Senate nomination.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Rep. Joe Sestak is expected to officially declare his candidacy for the Democratic Senate nomination Tuesday, setting up a primary season showdown with incumbent Sen. Arlen Specter, a source close to Sestak confirmed to CNN Monday.
Sestak's campaign said in a Twitter message Monday morning that the Philadelphia-area congressman will be making a "major announcement" Tuesday at 8:30 a.m. The announcement, which will take place at a VFW hall in his district, will be webcast live on his campaign site.
A Quinnipiac poll late last month indicated that Specter, who's received the public backing of President Obama and party leaders since his defection from the Republican Party this spring, had a 55 percent to 23 percent advantage in a hypothetical Democratic primary matchup – though his 20-point edge over prospective GOP challenger Pat Toomey had vanished.
Washington (CNN) - Voters from the Great Lakes to the Plains head to the polls Tuesday with primaries in Kansas, Michigan, and Missouri. In the spotlight are a competitive Republican Senate contest and gubernatorial primaries, as well as a key provision in the new federal health care reform law.
The GOP Senate battle is the marquee race in Kansas, as two congressmen fight to replace fellow Republican Sen. Sam Brownback, who is running for governor rather than for re-election.
According to the most recent polls, Rep. Jerry Moran heads into primary day with a lead over Rep. Todd Tiahrt..
"It's been a classic GOP primary, with each congressman claiming to be the true conservative. Moran has tried to be the more fiscal hawk and Tiarht is probably closest to conservatives on social issues," says Nathan Gonzales, political editor for the nonpartisan Rothenberg Political Report.
Two other Republicans are also on the ballot. While five candidates are on the ballot in the Democratic primary, whoever captures the GOP contest will be considered the overwhelming favorite in the general election.
Washington (CNN) - Monkeys on cocaine. New windows for a closed visitor's center. Modern dance as a tool for software development.
A report released Tuesday by conservative Sens. Tom Coburn and John McCain cited these and 97 other projects as leading examples of misguided or wasteful spending under the Obama administration's $862 billion economic stimulus bill.
Titled "Summertime Blues," the report is the third by the two senators targeting projects that they say fail to meet the job-creation goal of spending under the Recovery Act of 2009.
The report highlights the extraordinary "waste and mismanagement" of taxpayer dollars, said McCain, R-Arizona. The stimulus plan "was supposed to create jobs. It does not."
(Updated at 12:10 p.m. ET)
Editor's Note: In the final 100 days before Election Day, CNN has been profiling one race at random each day from among the nation's top 100 House races, which we've dubbed "The CNN 100." Read the full list here. Today's featured district is:
Oregon 5th – Rep. Kurt Schrader (D) is seeking a 2nd term
Primary: May 18, 2010
Location: Willamette Valley/Central Coast
Days until Election Day: 91
Scandal plagued the Republican nominee in Oregon's 5th district in 2008 and helped Democrats add to their 12-year lock on this seat. This year, Republicans have a new candidate they hope will give Democratic freshman Rep. Kurt Schrader the kind of serious challenge he missed out on two years ago.
New York (CNNMoney.com) - Senate Democrats are once again trying to push through a bill that would send $27 billion to needy states.
The measure contains $16 billion in additional Medicaid money and $10 billion in education funding to prevent teacher layoffs. State officials have been desperately lobbying their representatives, saying they need the money to shore up their budgets. President Obama weighed in Monday, asking lawmakers to pass the bill.
Lawmakers will take a procedural vote on Wednesday. It needs 60 votes to pass, meaning some Republicans would have to cross the aisle. If it passes this hurdle, a final vote could come late in the week, just before the Senate is scheduled to recess for the long August break.
Washington (CNN) - A majority of Americans want the Senate to confirm Elena Kagan to the Supreme Court, according to a new poll. But a CNN/Opinion Research Corporation national survey also indicates that there is a large partisan divide over Kagan's nomination.
Fifty-four percent of people questioned say they would like to see senators vote in favor of Kagan serving on the high court, with 34 percent opposed.
"That gives Kagan virtually the same amount of support that the public gave the two most recent Supreme Court nominees - Sonia Sotomayor and Samuel Alito - just days before they were confirmed by the Senate," says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland.
The survey's Tuesday release comes as the full Senate is scheduled to begin deliberations on Kagan's nomination.
The CNN Washington Bureau’s morning speed read of the top stories making news from around the country and the world.
For the latest political news: www.CNNPolitics.com
CNN: California Democrat charged with House ethics violations
A House ethics investigative panel has charged a high-ranking Democratic congresswoman with violating House rules by seeking federal assistance for a bank with financial ties to her husband. According to the House ethics committee, California Rep. Maxine Waters helped arrange a meeting in September 2008 between Massachusetts-based OneUnited Bank and Treasury Department officials. OneUnited Bank ultimately received $12 million in bailout funds. Waters is a senior member of the House Financial Services Committee.