New York (CNNMoney.com) – Seeking to appease deficit hawks, Senate Democrats scaled back unemployment benefits and Medicare physician reimbursement measures on Wednesday.
The revised jobs bill eliminates a $25 weekly supplement for the jobless that had been part of the last year's stimulus act. Those currently receiving the supplement in their unemployment benefits check will continue to do so until they exhaust their extended benefits, or until the week of Dec. 7, whichever comes first. That cut will reduce the bill's cost by $5.8 billion over the next decade.
The new version of the bill would also freeze a 21% cut to Medicare physician reimbursement rates only through November, instead of through 2011. This will reduce the bill's size by $16.4 billion over 10 years.
The legislation, which has been stuck in the Senate for more than a week, originally came in at about $140 billion and would have added about $78.7 billion to the deficit. The overall impact of the revised bill on the deficit has not yet been determined.
NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) – BP: Kick up $20 billion to pay for the recent oil spill in the Gulf region. And make it snappy.
That's the message Senate majority leader Harry Reid and members of the Senate Democratic Caucus sent to BP CEO Tony Hayward in a letter on Monday.
"Establishment of this account would serve as an act of good faith and as a first step towards ensuring that there will be no delay in payments or attempt to evade responsibility for damages," the letter said.
But it maybe hard for BP to comply: The London-based company only had about $7 billion in cash as of March 31, according to its most recent financial statement. And the oil giant is scheduled to pay out dividends on June 21 - although it is holding a board meeting Monday to discuss the matter.
Read the full story here.
Washington (CNN) - Walking into the room, the Senate Democrats issues conference looked at first glance like any other business meeting: Men and women in suits, sitting at long tables covered in black table cloths - each with a bottle of water and a pen and notepad in front of them.
But once the session with President Obama got going, it was clear these were not your average conference-goers. These were a group of politicians who knew the moment, and how to use the live television cameras to seize it.
It was no accident that six out of the eight Democrats who Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid called on to ask the president a question are in a tough re-election battle this year. It was even less of an accident that those Democratic Senators used their time live on CNN to show frustrated voters that they're not afraid to stand up to the president.
Sen. Arlen Specter, D-Pennsylvania, fighting for his political life in Pennsylvania, kicked the session off with a question about the "trade imbalance" with China and how that hurts union workers. He even asked the president to revoke America's trade agreements with China.
"Arlen, I would not be in favor of revoking the trade relationships that we've established with China," the president responded dryly.
(CNN) - President Obama will address Senate Democrats and take questions Wednesday morning at their Issues Conference, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid's office announced.
The event will be open to television cameras and follows a similar appearance the president made before House Republicans last week.
(CNN) - Senate Democrats released an ad Friday morning linking Massachusetts Senate candidate Scott Brown to Wall Street execs and his opposition to President Obama's bank fee plan – though they quickly pulled the spot for an edit after critics pointed out that a visual of the World Trade Center appeared briefly in the background.
"Republican Scott Brown opposes President Obama's plan to reform Wall Street," the narrator said in "Derail," the 30-second ad from the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee.
"That's right, Scott Brown actually opposes the plan to crack down on the greed and corruption that nearly destroyed our economy. …But if Brown won't protect American consumers from corporate predators, what IS his agenda?"
DSCC spokesman Eric Schultz said Friday afternoon that a new version of the ad had already been shipped to stations.
Updated 6:30 pm ET: Earlier today, two sources - one White House and one Senate - indicated White House chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel had suggested to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid the possibility of using budget reconciliation to pass health care. Both sources now tell CNN that Emanuel did not make that suggestion. One of the sources said there had been some recent White House interest in using the reconciliation process. However, the source acknowledged that the idea now appears to be a non-starter. Reid has said he opposes using the legislative maneuver.
Washington (CNN) – As the White House rushes to the finish on health care reform, fissures on the best way to get there are developing between the White House and Senate Democrats.
Two sources have told CNN that White House Chief of staff Rahm Emanuel has been asking Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to use the budget process known as reconciliation to push through health reform – and that Reid has rejected that request.
The procedure, which can only be used on budget measures, would allow Senate Democrats to bypass the 60-vote threshold required to end debate on the current bill, and pass the proposal by a simple majority – but would require major changes to the legislation.
Reid’s resistance, said the sources, stemmed from concern that adoption of the strategy would spark major political pushback from Democrats facing re-election next year.
Washington (CNN) – Traditional Senate decorum yielded to brass-knuckle politicking in the health care debate Friday as top congressional Democrats sought to close party ranks before a key procedural vote this weekend.
Senate Democrats slammed their Republican colleagues as leaders of a counterproductive party of fear caught in an obstructionist mindset dating back to the New Deal. Republicans, in turn, ripped Democrats for pushing a bill that conservatives claim will force millions of Americans to drop insurance plans they like while jacking up premiums and doing nothing to slow spiraling medical costs.
The harsh rhetoric served as a backdrop for a rare Saturday night Senate
vote on whether to formally proceed with floor debate on Senate Majority Leader
Harry Reid's sweeping $848 billion health care bill.
If Republicans stay unified in opposition to the bill, Reid will need the support of all 58 Senate Democrats along with independent Sens. Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Joe Lieberman of Connecticut to reach the 60 votes necessary to overcome a filibuster.
Three key Democratic moderates - Sens. Mary Landrieu of Louisiana, Blanche Lincoln of Arkansas and Ben Nelson of Nebraska - have refused to publicly indicate if they'll back Reid. Each has expressed concern about the cost and scope of the legislation.
(CNN) – Democratic Sens. Blanche Lincoln, Mary Landrieu and Ben Nelson, who have all expressed skepticism about the party's health care reform plan, were summoned to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid's office Wednesday to get a sneak peak at his health care bill.
Reid spokesman Jim Manley said Wednesday the senator invited these three moderate Democrats into his office to give them the "particulars on the bill."
All have been withholding support on voting to start debate - and the fact that Reid is giving the three their own special briefing, before the broader Democratic meeting at 5 pm Wednesday, is a signal of their power.
Assuming no Republican senator joins Democrats in voting to end debate, Reid needs all 60 senators in his party's caucus to vote in favor of a so-called "motion to proceed."
If any Democrat votes no on proceeding to debate, Reid's health care bill will go down before it starts.
Washington (CNN) - Senate Democrats are set to hold a vote Tuesday on breaking a GOP filibuster against a district judge first nominated by President Barack Obama for a seat on the federal appeals court eight months ago.
Indiana Judge David Hamilton - Obama's first judicial nominee - was tapped to fill a vacancy on the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in March.
His nomination cleared the Senate Judiciary Committee in June, but leading Republicans have since prevented a final vote, arguing that Hamilton is too liberal.
Congressional Democrats have expressed growing unease over what they argue is a slow pace of both judicial nominations and confirmations since Obama took office. Obama's high profile nomination of Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor was successful, but only six of the president's nominees have been approved so far for the federal bench.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - A Democratic leadership source tells CNN they are now optimistic about getting a House-Senate stimulus deal by this afternoon.
In fact, they are arranging for a formal conference committee meeting this afternoon to start officially drawing up the legislation.
Meetings with key centrist senators and Democratic leaders, which lasted for some nine hours yesterday, are expected to begin again later this morning.
Even after Rahm Emanuel and Peter Orszag left yesterday, and the final meeting in Nancy Pelosi’s office broke up close to midnight, staffers spent the night working on the bill.