New York (CNNMoney.com) - The Senate voted Thursday to send $26 billion more in federal aid to cash-strapped states.
The measure, which passed by a 61-39 vote, contains $16.1 billion in additional Medicaid money and $10 billion to prevent layoffs of teachers and first responders.
It now moves to the House, which will return Tuesday from its August recess to vote on the bill.
President Obama visited a Ford plant in Chicago on Thursday. (PHOTO CREDIT: Getty Images)
Chicago, Illinois (CNN) - President Barack Obama praised autoworkers at a Ford plant in Chicago Thursday, and reiterated his administration's high hopes for the U.S. auto industry.
Ford is the only major U.S. automaker that didn't take a government bailout.
"That was a testament to your hard work and choices the company made," the president told the workers. "If your competitors had gone down, the suppliers you use here would've gone down, too. And the brand of American autos would've diminished."
(CNN) – Former Republican vice presidential hopeful Sarah Palin is not letting up in her constant drumbeat of criticism directed about President Obama.
After saying Sunday that Arizona's female Republican governor has more "cojones" than Obama when it comes to immigration and border security, Palin suggested Wednesday night that the 44th president is still trying to figure out his governing philosophy.
Asked about a narrative – which is a persistent theme particularly in Republican and conservative circles – that Obama is too weak when it comes to issues like national security and immigration, Palin shared her insights on Fox News Channel about why she believes Obama is not doing more to secure the borders.
"I think he's quite complacent," the former Alaska governor said. "And I think he's in over his head. And I think he has poor advisers around him. And I think he's really in flux kind of when it comes to what his governing philosophy actually is. Some of this though is a result of he not having much experience and then a complicit media and maybe some voters who chose to not to allow him to be vetted very closely.
"It's a combination of things that's resulting in a president who's not taking a strong stand on those things that are the will of the people. Obviously, the will of the people is to enforce the laws that we have on the books."
New York (CNNMoney.com) - It's official: Social Security will reach its tipping point this year.
For the first time in nearly 30 years, the system will pay out more benefits than it receives in payroll taxes both this year and next, the government officials who oversee Social Security said on Thursday.
And while Social Security cash flow will likely head back into the black for a few years after that, starting in 2015 it looks to stay in the red for the long haul, the trustees said in their annual report.
(CNN) - President Barack Obama is helping out the man who's hoping to keep Obama's old Senate seat in Democratic hands.
The president headlines a fundraiser Thursday afternoon in Chicago for Illinois State Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias, the Democratic nominee for Senate. Giannoulias faces off in November against five-term Republican Rep. Mark Kirk, in a race that recent polls indicate is all tied up.
Giannoulias has seen his bid for the Senate rocked by the controversy over his family's bank, which was taken over by federal regulators earlier this year. Prior to his statewide election victory in 2006, Giannoulias worked at his family's Broadway Bank. Republicans have had a field day attacking the Democratic nominee over the bank, including questioning what they call loans to "unsavory characters and convicted felons."
Kirk had his own problems. This spring he apologized for mischaracterizing portions of his 21-year military career, and the Pentagon confirmed that the candidate was counseled by the military twice in the last two years for violating rules that bar members of the armed services from partisan political activities. He also ran into trouble for embellishing his experience as a teacher.
President Obama and Oprah Winfrey had dinner Wednesday night in Chicago. (PHOTO CREDIT: Getty Images)
(CNN) - When you're the President of the United States, your birthday celebrations don't generally involve a low-key evening alone sulking about the loss of your glory days.
President Obama made that point well last night. After a flight from Washington to Chicago, where he was greeted at O'Hare Airport by Chicago Mayor Richard Daley and Illinois Governor Pat Quinn among others, the President took a traffic-avoiding helicopter ride to a landing zone at Soldier Field home of the Chicago Bears and then a motorcade ride to his own home in Chicago's South Side neighborhood of Hyde Park.
But a little more than an hour later the commander in chief was out on the town for dinner at Graham Elliot, a chic Windy City restaurant that bills itself as the city's first 'bistronomic' restaurant. Bistronomic is a term used to describe an establishment that offers four star cooking in a more casual environment.
Oh, and he dined with Oprah Winfrey and Gayle King.
Obama spent more than three hours inside before emerging before a gathering of about 75 onlookers outside the restaurant. The birthday President gave a wave to the cameras before entering his limousine and motorcading home for the night.
(CNN) - Polls are open in Tennessee, where a Republican gubernatorial battle and some contentious House nomination fights are in the spotlight in Thursday's primary.
Five candidates are on the ballot in the GOP contest for governor, but recent polls indicate it's a three-man race between Knoxville Mayor Bill Haslam, Rep. Zach Wamp and Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey. The race grabbed national attention last month because of controversial comments by two of the candidates.
Last month Wamp appeared to suggest that Tennessee should consider secession in light of mandates forced on the states by the Obama administration's health care bill. The eight-term congressman later walked back from those comments.
Ramsey also drew attention to himself last month after he was seen in a You Tube video questioning whether Islam is a religion while expressing his opposition to the expansion of a mosque in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, which has become a hot-button issue in the city about 35 miles southeast of Nashville.
Editor's note: Gloria Borger is a senior political analyst for CNN, appearing regularly on CNN's "The Situation Room," "AC360°" and "State of the Union," as well as participating in special event coverage.
(CNN) - The thing that is hard to miss in Ted Olson's Washington office are the quills. They're in a mug, all 56 of them, each commemorating an appearance before the Supreme Court. In many of those cases, he was the standard bearer for conservatives. And a successful one; he won 44 times.
In fact, one of his most satisfying and famous wins was against Al Gore, the Democrats and super-attorney David Boies in the contested 2000 election. Olson represented George W. Bush.
The rest, as they say, is history. Olson won, Boies lost. That is except in the movie "Recount," as they both joked to me. Boies won the docudrama.
On Wednesday, the two men won, this time together.
Editor's Note: The following story appeared on the CNN Political Ticker on August 5, 2009.
BURBANK, California (CNN) - Laura Ling expressed the shock that she and Euna Lee felt when former President Bill Clinton showed up in North Korea to secure the two journalists' release.
"We feared at any moment that we could be sent to a hard labor camp, and then suddenly we were told we were going to a meeting," a tearful and emotional Ling said Wednesday.
She spoke at a news conference just minutes after the two women were reunited with their families at Burbank's Bob Hope Airport outside Los Angeles.