Washington (CNN) – A prominent Democratic senator predicted Sunday that her party will succeed in passing a reconciliation bill that puts the finishing touches on President Obama’s plan for health care reform. But, Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-California, also said the legislation isn’t “perfect” and that the reform package will likely be altered at a later date to work out any issues that may arise.
“I believe, at the end, more than 51 Democrats will hold firm and will pass the reconciliation bill and we will have health care reform,” Feinstein said on CNN’s State of the Union.
But Feinstein also said, “This isn’t the perfect bill. We all know that. We all know that there are going to have to be fixes down the road just as every major [federal] program has had – Medicare has had, Social Security will likely have because of the explosion of costs.” In defense of the controversial and unpopular Democratic package, Feinstein pointed out that the United States spends more on health care than its European counterparts without achieving better outcomes. “We spend a lot of money but we don’t necessarily spend it in the right way or in the right places.”
And Feinstein continued with a prediction if her party is not successful in passing the legislation after the past year of wrangling on Capitol Hill.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - A leading Democrat on Capitol Hill urged President Barack Obama to heed the advice of his top commander in Afghanistan, who is calling for more troops.
Sen. Dianne Feinstein, head of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said Sunday that U.S. troops would be put in "jeopardy" if Obama does not listen to Gen. Stanley McChrystal.
"I don't know how you put somebody in who's as crackerjack as General McChrystal, who gives the president very solid recommendations, and not take those recommendations if you're not going to pull out," the California senator said on ABC's "This Week."
McChrystal is reportedly asking for up to 40,000 extra troops. Some reports say there is an option on the table to send 60,000 additional troops, almost doubling the U.S. force now in the country.
"If you don't want to take the recommendations, then you ... put your people in such jeopardy, just like the base in Nuristan," Feinstein said.
“My view is that the mission has to be very clear,” Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein, Chair of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, said Sunday on CNN’s State of the Union.
“I believe it is not now,” Feinstein also said, “I don’t believe we can build a democratic state in Afghanistan. I believe it will remain a tribal entity.”
The California Democrat also said the White House should have a clear sense of how much longer troops would be in the country.
“I believe the mission should be time-limited, that there should be no, ‘Well, we’ll let you know in a year-and-a-half depending on how we do.’ I think the Congress is entitled to know, after Iraq, exactly how long are we going to be in Afghanistan.”
The mission for U.S. troops entails, in Feinstein’s view, clearing the Taliban and al Qaeda out of the country and training Afghan military and police forces.
Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, a New Hampshire Democrat who sits on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, largely agreed with Feinstein. In addition to waiting for the release of a report about likely increases in troop levels from the top U.S. military commander on the ground, Shaheen said Congress should also wait on information relating to the benchmarks it has “mandated” from the White House for determining success of the mission in Afghanistan.
Compared to the two Democrats, Maine Republican Sen. Susan Collins sounded a more pessimistic tone.
“To the best of my knowledge, there has been no interference with the election. There has been no manipulation of people following the election,” Feinstein, the Chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said Sunday on CNN’s State of the Union.
“These questions have been asked as late as this past week of people in the clandestine operations who would know this – in a formal setting – and that’s the answers we were given,” the California Democrat added.
Asked about past American intelligence failures in Iraq, Feinstein expressed some misgivings about U.S. intelligence on Iran.
“I don’t think our intelligence – candidly - is that good. I think it’s a very difficult country in which to collect intelligence right now. I think our ability to get in there and change the course of human events is very low . . .”
After saying she thought President Obama was handling the situation appropriately, Feinstein also said it was important that the U.S. not be perceived as interfering in Iran’s political situation.
(CNN) – Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor told Sen. Dianne Feinstein Tuesday her controversial Latina remarks were a "poor choice of words," the California Democrat said.
“She said, 'Obviously it was a poor choice of words if you read on and read the rest of my speech you wouldn’t be concerned with it but it was a poor choice of words,'" Feinstein told reporters.
Feinstein, a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, added that she and Sotomayor "generally" discussed the issue of abortion, and that the judge believes strongly in legal precedent.
"I believe she has a real respect for precedent and ... if that is really true then I will agree with her and I believe it is," the senator said.
– CNN's Ted Barrett contributed to this report
WASHINGTON (CNN) - President Barack Obama's decision to release four Bush-era memos regarding the use of so-called "enhanced interrogation techniques" was heavily criticized Sunday as a couple of prominent senators told CNN's John King that the decision was a potentially dangerous mistake.
"I think it was a mistake to release the techniques that we're talking about and inform our enemy as to what may come their way," Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-South Carolina, said on "State of the Union."
Graham, who opposed the use of techniques that many consider to be torture, added that he still believed "there's a way to get good information in an aggressive manner to protect this nation without having to go into the Inquisition era."
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Just two days after she criticized President-elect Obama’s pick to head the sometimes-troubled CIA because he is not an intelligence professional, incoming Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Dianne Feinstein says she will support Leon Panetta because he will “tell truth to power.”
In an interview with CNN, Feinstein said she believes Panetta, a former congressman and Clinton White House chief of staff, will “surround himself with very qualified intelligence professionals in the top positions.” She praised Panetta, whom she’s known for 20 years, as “smart” and “credible.”
“He will, as has been said, tell truth to power. Not what power wants to hear but should here,” Feinstein said. “That’s probably the most fundamental part of all of this. That what many of think happened with the Iraq NIE (National Intelligence Estimate) never happens again.”
Feinstein denied that the short statement she issued Monday, after news of the Obama’s selection was reported by the New York Times, was designed to send a message to the incoming administration that she was angry at not being consulted about the selection.
“That’s nonsense,” she said.
“Yesterday morning the president-elect called, the vice president-elect called. I had a thorough, thoughtful conversation with both of them. They said sorry, we screwed up. I understand that,” she said. “This is his choice and I understand that. He wants to make a clean cut, open a new chapter. And I support that.”
(CNN) – Outgoing Senate Rules Committee Chairman Dianne Feinstein said Tuesday she disagrees with her Democratic leadership blocking Roland Burris from being seated in the Senate.
“The question is really one, in my view, of law,” Feinstein told reporters in a Capitol hallway.
“Does the governor have the power, under law, to make the appointment? And the answer is yes. Is the governor discredited? The answer is yes. Does that affect his appointment power? The answer is no, until certain things happen,” she said.
“So, if you don’t seat Mr. Burris, it has ramifications for gubernatorial appointments all over America. Mr. Burris is a senior, experienced politician. He has been Attorney General, he has been Controller, and he is very well-respected. I am hopeful that this will be settled.”
Feinstein is currently chairman of the Senate's Rules Committee, although New York Sen. Charles Schumer is slated to take over that post in the next few days.
(CNN) - From horse-drawn carriages to bullet proof sedans – presidential transportation has surely changed since William McKinley took the oath of office at the turn of the century. But Barack Obama’s takes it to a whole new level, as his ride may be the most secure, heavily-fortified vehicle in the world. In the latest installment of CNN=Politics Daily, CNN’s Jeanne Meserve takes a look at “The Beast.”
The President-elect wants to spend big to jump-start the economy. His 775 billion dollar stimulus plan involves major tax cuts to individuals and families which can explode the budget deficit and add to a staggering national debt. So, what will the President-elect do when the economy is back on track? CNN’s Christine Romans looks at the ramifications of Obama’s big plan.
Plus: Former Clinton White House Chief of Staff Leon Panetta is Obama’s choice to take over a key intelligence position - director of the CIA. The appointment surprised those in Washington and prominent Democrats are raising questions on the President-elect’s pick. CNN’s Kate Bolduan tells us why.
Finally: The Obamas just moved to Washington, D.C. and even the soon-to-be first family needs to know the city’s hot-spots. CNN’s Jim Acosta helps the Obamas get to know their new neighborhood.
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