(CNN) - Congressional leaders have been invited to the White House for a meeting at 10 a.m. ET Friday–the day forced spending cuts are scheduled to start taking effect, two sources said Wednesday.
But while President Barack Obama was on Capitol Hill Wednesday for a Rosa Parks statue unveiling, he met with congressional leaders for a brief, minute-long meeting.
Washington (CNN) - It may be politically quixotic, but Sen. Dianne Feinstein proceeded undeterred Wednesday in seeking an updated version of the assault weapons ban she sponsored in 1994 that expired a decade later.
Fierce opposition by the influential National Rifle Association and conservative legislators, including some Democrats, makes it virtually impossible that the kind of ban proposed by Feinstein will win congressional approval.FULL STORY
Washington (CNN) - As the deadline for forced federal spending cuts closes fast, new polling indicates that as of now President Barack Obama has the upper hand over congressional Republicans in the political battle over where blame will fall if the cuts are triggered.
But the surveys also suggest that while the president might be winning the spending argument right now, his poll numbers on the issue are nothing to brag about.
Washington (CNN) - A predictably divided Supreme Court appeared ready to strike down – at least in part – the key enforcement provision of the landmark Voting Rights Act of 1965, with many conservative justices on Wednesday suggesting it was a constitutionally unnecessary vestige of the civil rights era.
Known as Section 5, it gives the federal government open-ended oversight of states and localities mostly in the South with a history of voter discrimination.
(CNN) - Neither the White House nor the Homeland Security Department headquarters were made aware of the Immigration Customs and Enforcement decision to release detainees ahead of the pending forced spending cuts, an administration official said Wednesday.
Separately, at a press briefing, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said the decision was made by ICE "without any input from the White House."
(CNN) - New Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel addressed service members and civilian employees Wednesday, vowing to always be "honest" and "direct" with his staff–and asking the same in return.
"You are not joining my team. I am joining your team," he said. "And I want you to know how proud I am of the opportunity the president of the United States has given me and the Congress of the United States has given me."
New York (CNNMoney) - When it comes to budgeting for the federal government, things are about to get strange.
Starting Friday, federal agencies will be forced to make cuts to their programs without knowing what their actual budgets for this year will be. Why? Because Congress never passed a budget, just a stopgap funding measure that expires soon.FULL STORY
CNN: Iran and world powers agree to expert talks on Tehran's nuclear program
Six world powers and Iran have concluded a second round of talks over Tehran's controversial nuclear program, agreeing to hold "expert-level" consultations in Turkey on a yet undetermined date, Iran's state-run Press TV reported. Iranian negotiators and representatives of the P5 plus 1 nations - the permanent members of the U.N. Security Council and Germany - entered into the talks Tuesday in Almaty, Kazakhstan, before the backdrop of fresh international economic sanctions against Iran.
CNN: Zimmerman's lawyer works to dispel racial overtones in Trayvon Martin case
Whatever the outcome of the Trayvon Martin case, it will be viewed less as a determination of the shooter's guilt or innocence and more as a victory or loss for civil rights, George Zimmerman's lawyer fears. Mark O'Mara said he has been busy trying to dispel the racial overtones in the case by getting out more evidence about his client. His hope, he said, is that people will divorce a verdict from the real civil rights questions.
CNN: Colorado school bars transgendered 1st-grader from using girls' restroom
Just like she did during the first half of the school year, first grader Coy Mathis wants to use the girls' restroom at her Colorado elementary school. But school officials won't let her. The reason? Coy is transgendered, born with male sex organs but a child who identifies herself as female. She has dressed as a girl for most of last year. And her passport and state-issued identification recognize her as female. In December, the Fountain-FortCarsonSchool District informed Coy's parents that Coy would be barred from using the girls' restrooms at Eagleside Elementary in Fountain after winter break.
(CNN) - Illinois state Rep. Robin Kelly, who was boosted by support from New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, won a primary election in Chicago Tuesday, putting her closer to filling the vacant seat previously held by disgraced former Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr.
Her chief rival, Democratic State lawmaker Debbie Halvorson, conceded the race shortly after 8 p.m. local time.