(CNN) - The conservative neurosurgeon Ben Carson, who last month equated homosexuality with pedophilia and bestiality in a television appearance, withdrew as Johns Hopkins University's medical school commencement speaker on Wednesday.
"Given all the national media surrounding my statements as to my belief in traditional marriage, I believe it would be in the best interests of the students for me to voluntarily withdraw as your commencement speaker this year," Carson, a surgeon at Hopkins, wrote in an email to the medical school's dean Paul Rothman. "My presence is likely to distract from the true celebratory nature of the day. Commencement is about the students and their successes, and it is not about me. I want to make certain that remains so."
(CNN) - On a day with gun control and the federal budget in the spotlight, President Barack Obama continued his congressional outreach at dinner with a dozen Senate Republicans in the Old Family Dining Room of the White House.
Wednesday's event marked Obama's second dinner meeting with Senate Republicans in a little more than a month, though the guest list was different from the last meet-up. Senators began arriving at the White House around 6:45 p.m., and a White House official said the dinner ended at 9:17 p.m.
Washington (CNN) – Gabby Giffords is planning to come to Washington, D.C., next week, just as the Senate will be immersed in debate over new gun legislation, which she has been lobbying senators to support.
Giffords, who plans to travel with husband Mark Kelly, will attend an unveiling of a bust of Gabe Zimmerman, one of her former aides who was killed along with 5 others the day she was shot in 2011.
Washington (CNN) – A filibuster of major gun legislation by a vocal band of conservative Republican senators may have misfired, as a growing number of their GOP colleagues appear ready to help break it when it comes up for a vote on Thursday.
The public split is a rarity for Senate Republicans, who over the past few years have kept divisions to a minimum.
Los Angeles (CNN) - Former Vice President Dick Cheney will address members of the Republican National Committee gathering here in California this week for strategy sessions on how to broaden the GOP’s appeal with voters.
It is unclear what topic Cheney will speak on, but this is the first formal gathering of national party members since RNC Chairman Reince Priebus issued a report last month examining all aspects of the national party, including what steps the GOP should take to reach out to new voters, specifically Asian Americans, blacks, Hispanics and young people.
(CNN) - Weeks ago, virtually no one thought it would happen, but it now seems possible Congress could enact new gun regulations, even against the wishes of powerful gun groups like the National Rifle Association.
Republican Sen. Pat Toomey and Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin have struck a bargain to expand background checks to firearms bought at gun shows and on the internet. But it is unclear how many of Toomey's Republican colleagues will vote for the bipartisan plan. Toomey said a number of them have expressed interest.
Washington (CNN) – Buried deep inside President Obama's 2014 budget released on Wednesday is a new proposal to expand federal health insurance benefits to same-sex domestic partners.
Framed as a measure to reduce the deficit, the proposal would amend the Federal Employee Health Benefits Program beginning in 2015 to add a "self plus one" enrollment option in addition to the "self" and "family" options. Like the Domestic Partnership Benefits and Obligations Act that the administration has endorsed in prior budgets, this new FEHB formulation would work within the current legal constraints of the Defense of Marriage Act by adding a new classification for additional enrollees beyond family.
New Orleans (CNN) - In a small gun range 20 minutes outside New Orleans, a steady stream of gun enthusiasts fill the air with the scent of gunpowder and the sharp bang of shots.
Many of the customers - a range of ex-military men, off-duty law enforcement officers and a sprinkling of women learning how to handle a firearm for self-protection - said they have grown up around guns and are leery of interference by the federal government on gun rights.
(CNN) - The Senate, by an 87-11 vote Wednesday, confirmed Sally Jewell, top executive of outdoor gear company REI, as the next secretary of the interior.
Jewell is considered an expert in energy and conservation issues and has a long history of involvement in the administration's environmental efforts. She helped create and implement the president's America's Great Outdoors program.
(CNN) – The chief of a powerful gun owners group said Wednesday he doesn't trust the methodology of polls showing an overwhelming number of Americans favoring universal background checks on gun sales.
"I'm not sure I believe any polls at this time. I don't think they know how to ask the right questions," Larry Pratt, executive director of Gun Owners of America, told CNN's Wolf Blitzer during a contentious interview on "The Situation Room." When Blitzer asked if that included Fox News' survey, Pratt said it did.