Washington (CNN) – New legislation introduced Wednesday aims to close one loophole in the process of purchasing a gun.
The bill from Sen. Lindsey Graham and three other bipartisan lawmakers expands the scope of mental health information submitted to the background check system used by gun sellers. It has the backing of the National Rifle Association, and background check-related legislation has been considered the most likely of the various gun violence proposals to survive the legislative process.
Washington (CNN) – Senate Judiciary Committee staffers met Wednesday with two Facebook executives to discuss the social networking site's controversial decision to allow third-party sharing of users' information.
"While he appreciates the tremendous value Facebook and other social networking sites provide to their users, the senator feels strongly that these sites should establish an opt-in policy for sharing users private data with third party companies and the default setting should always be more restrictive, not less," Brian Fallon, a Schumer spokesman, said in a statement to CNN. The Judiciary staffers work for Schumer, a member of the committee.
Andrew Noyes, a Facebook spokesperson who participated in the meeting via telephone, sought to emphasize the common ground between the senators and Facebook.
"We share the goal of user trust, the importance of innovation on the Internet, and how innovation can create better experiences for users," he said. "We talked about the success of the personalization announcements we made last week and the measurable benefits users and our Web partners have experienced. At the same time, we recognize that some users have concerns and we discussed ways to address them."
WASHINGTON (CNN) – Alaska officials Sarah Palin and Mark Begich are speaking out Friday about Interior Secretary Ken Salazar's decision to retain a Bush-era regulation limiting the protection of polar bears under the Endangered Species Act.
"This is a clear victory for Alaska," Gov. Palin said in a statement released Friday. "We all want to preserve and protect the polar bear using the best possible tools, but there is absolutely no need to change the 4(d) rule to accomplish this purpose. I want to thank Secretary Salazar for his careful review of the science and the administrative record that led to this decision."
Begich agreed with the Alaska governor, lauding the Interior Secretary's decision to keep the existing rule.
"I commend Secretary Salazar for protecting the polar bear while also recognizing it is not appropriate to use a federal law like the ESA to try to regulate greenhouse gas emissions," Begich said Friday. "I support Secretary Salazar's belief that we need a comprehensive energy and climate strategy to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, but the ESA should not be used as a back-door regulatory tool to achieve this goal."
But Democratic California Sen. Barbara Boxer, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, slammed the department's decision to monitor the situation saying it's not enough to protect the polar bear.
The remarks follow Salazar's announcement that he will retain the special rule promulgated under the Bush administration in December, but left the door open to implement future measures that would protect the polar bear and its habitat.
(CNN) – Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin said Thursday she believes voters deserve another chance to consider electing Ted Stevens to the U.S. Senate now that federal prosecutors have decided to drop their case against him, and supports a re-match between the former senator and Democrat Mark Begich.
Begich defeated Stevens last November soon after the incumbent was convicted on ethics charges.
"Many voters did not choose Stevens because they were told he was guilty, and now, after the election we see there was improper conduct in his trial, so how fair an election was that?" asked Palin, in an email to an Alaska Public Radio reporter. CNN has confirmed the authenticity of the e-mail.
"I agree with other Alaskans who would like to see an election that's free from improper influence, and I can't imagine how Mark Begich could argue that," she continued.
(updated after the jump with Begich camp response)
WASHINGTON (CNN) – Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin is congratulating Anchorage Mayor Mark Begich on winning his Senate race against veteran lawmaker Ted Stevens.
“I extend my congratulations to Mark Begich and his family,” Palin said in a statement released by her office Wednesday. “This is a new era for Alaska and I look forward to working with Mark on the many issues that are important to our state. I am confident he will add a compelling new voice to the U.S. Senate.”
"I also thank Senator Ted Stevens for his 40 years of dedicated service to Alaska,” the statement said. “His tireless efforts on behalf of the state he loves have benefited all those who call it home. Todd and I join all Alaskans in gratitude to Sen. Stevens."
Palin wasn’t always so effusive toward Stevens, the longest serving Republican in the Senate. During her vice presidential bid, after Stevens was indicted on seven felony counts, she would not say whether she planned to vote for the senator in his re-election bid.
In October, after Stevens was found guilty of making false statements on his financial disclosure reports, Palin initially said it was “a sad day” for Alaska but did not call for the senator to step down. The next day, in a television appearance with John McCain, Palin went a step further and said Stevens should indeed resign.
On Election Day in her hometown of Wasilla, Palin refused to say if she voted for Stevens.
“I am also exercising my right to privacy, and I don't have to tell anybody who I vote for, nobody does, and that’s really cool about America also,” she told a reporter.
WASHINGTON (CNN) – Sen. Ted Stevens turned 85-years-old Tuesday, but his slice of birthday cake was served with a side of bitter. The one-time powerful lawmaker lost re-election to Anchorage Mayor Mark Begich.
He now heads home to Alaska, and quite possibly prison. Stevens was convicted last month on seven federal corruption charges for filing false statements on his Senate ethics forms.
It has been a hard fall for the one time chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee. Stevens was once one of the most influential lawmakers on Capitol Hill, if not in the nation’s capital. As oil poured south from the Alaska pipeline – “Uncle Ted” as he is affectionately known in his adopted home state – made sure federal dollars flowed north. His diligence in sending what some critics describe as pork dollars helped to build the infrastructure of modern-day Alaska, which won statehood in 1959.
On Tuesday, Stevens expressed his frustration to reporters including my colleague Ted Barrett about the toll this ordeal has taken on him.
“I wouldn’t wish what I’m going through on anyone, my worst enemy,” Stevens told reporters in the Capitol. He went on to complain that he has not “had a night’s sleep in almost four months.”
And it has been a lonely four months for the veteran senator, who saw his Republican colleagues distance themselves from him. This did change Wednesday morning as National Republican Senatorial Committee Chairman John Ensign opened his political briefing by stating that Democrats would have at least 58 seats in the new Congress.
Now, Democrats are just two seats away from a filibuster-proof majority with unresolved races in Georgia and Minnesota determining what will happen.
It was a bittersweet loss for Ensign. Stevens’ troubles added to a long list of Republican ethical woes in the past few years that have helped tarnish the GOP brand. But had Stevens won, Ensign predicted the Alaska senator would have been expelled by his Senate colleagues thus creating a special election. Under this scenario, Ensign predicted that Republicans would have held onto the seat and limiting Democratic gains by at least one.
As of early Wednesday afternoon, Stevens had not conceded the race and Ensign said that he would leave that up to him. But as far as Senate Republicans are concerned they have moved on and now are solely focused on winning Georgia and Minnesota – two contests critical to helping the GOP stage a strong defense against Democratic policies and President-elect Barack Obama’s agenda.
What will happen to Stevens is still unknown. He has yet to be sentenced and his fate now lies in the hands of outgoing President George Bush - who could pardon the one-time Capitol Hill titan and spare him prison time.
(CNN) - Alaska Sen. Ted Stevens, the Republican lawmaker convicted on felony corruption charges in October, appears to have lost his bid for re-election to Democrat Mark Begich, according to a release from Begich's campaign and unofficial results from state officials.
The statement and results Tuesday come two weeks after the election, after absentee ballots were counted.
With 100 percent of Alaska's precincts reporting, Begich, the mayor of Anchorage, had roughly 47.7 percent of the vote, compared with about 46.6 percent for Stevens, according to unofficial results posted on the Alaska Secretary of State's Web site.
He appears to have bested Stevens by 3,724 votes, according to the posted results.
WASHINGTON (CNN) – Senate Republicans have decided to delay a vote on a resolution to strip embattled Alaska Sen. Ted Stevens from his committee assignments, Republican senators told CNN Tuesday.
The Senate GOP caucus is delaying the vote in part because the outcome of Stevens' reelection race against Anchorage Mayor Mark Begich remains in doubt.
South Carolina Sen. Jim DeMint - a leading Republican critic of Stevens - issued a statement saying it is "clear there are sufficient votes to pass the resolution... The question now is timing. Some who support the resolution believe we should address this after the results of his election are confirmed in Alaska."
DeMint stated that he would ask the GOP Conference to postpone the vote on Sen. Stevens until Thursday.
One Republican senator told CNN there is no point in holding any vote to strip Stevens of his committee assignments if Stevens loses his seat.
Begich currently has a narrow lead over Stevens, with 47.37 percent of the votes counted, compared to 47.02 percent for Stevens. The two are separated by 1,022 votes out of more than 290,000 cast, according to the Alaska Division of Elections Web site.
Today, 24,000 outstanding votes from the southern part of Alaska are expected to be counted. Absentee ballots, however, are still coming in from overseas. All absentee ballots must be received by tomorrow.
Stevens, who turns 85 Tuesday, was convicted in October of filing false statements on Senate financial disclosure forms. He currently serves on the Senate Appropriations, Commerce, Homeland Security, and Rules committees.
(CNN) - Republican Sen. Ted Stevens has fallen 814 votes behind Democratic challenger Mark Begich as vote counting continues in Alaska.
The Anchorage mayor was trailing Stevens in the initial count, which did not include at least 90,000 absentee, early and provisional ballots.
With nearly two-thirds of those votes now tallied, Begich has taken the lead. An estimated 40,000 ballots have yet to be counted – a majority of them from the area of the state that includes Anchorage, according to state elections officials.
Updated Wednesday evening with latest count.
(CNN) - Alaska Sen. Ted Stevens’ lead over Democratic challenger Mark Begich disappeared late Wednesday, with thousands of votes yet to be counted.
Stevens began the day with a lead of more than 3,200 votes, but as the state continued its count of at least 90,000 outstanding votes -– a total that includes early votes, absentee votes and disputed ballots - the state’s Division of Elections reported that the incumbent Republican had 125,016 votes, and Begich had 125,019.
Around a third of those ballots had yet to be counted, in a process that is expected to continue into next week.
Alaska has no provision for a runoff if no candidate gets at least 50 percent of the vote; whoever gets the most votes wins.
Defeated candidates may ask for recounts.