Tampa, Florida (CNN) - One way or another, Evan Draim is the future. The 17-year-old Virginian is the youngest delegate to the Republican National Convention. He’s also one of the GOP’s emergent voices.
He’s passionate about America’s economic woes.
Washington (CNN) - As Congress prepares to vote on the Republican budget plan submitted by Rep. Paul Ryan, some budget experts believe that he federal government is so far in the red that it may not balance the budget again in our lifetime.
"We may never, as a country, have a balanced budget again," said Marc Goldwein, policy director for the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget. "And you know what? We don't have to."
Washington (CNN) – Democrats racing to protect their congressional seats also face a serious battle on their other flank: state capitals. One analyst has found that a quarter of state legislatures are in play this November, with the vast majority of the bodies at risk controlled by Democrats.
"I've been doing this for five cycles now and already we have the most chambers in play as basically at any point, going back to 2002," said Lou Jacobson, who writes for PolitiFact and recently completed an extensive analysis on state legislatures for Governing magazine.
"The other really striking thing," he said, "is this (election) is the biggest differential between the two parties."
Washington (CNN) – As the energy and climate debate in Congress faces partisan gridlock and new problems caused by the massive oil spill in the Gulf, one expert says the U.S. is already changing energy policy without Capitol Hill.
"We have action at all levels of government," said Prof. Marilyn Brown, an energy policy expert at Georgia Tech.
Brown points to President Obama's directives to raise gas mileage in cars and trucks as well as state and local tax credits for more efficient cars and homes.
"We have a renewable fuel standard put in place," Brown said, stressing that the oil debate is not the only piece of the energy equation. "We have electricity and have biofuels and we are pressing hard on both of those."
But, could a major energy or climate bill get through this year? Many in Washington doubt it.
Brown says that the BP oil spill has killed Democrats' strongest olive branch to Republicans: potential expansion of offshore drilling.
"Bill proponents don't have that leverage any more, they can't trade off with a Republican desire for offshore drilling," Brown insisted. "That's a thing of the past."
Listen: Energy policy changing without Congress, says expert
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Washington (CNN) - A finding by the Senate parliamentarian has narrowed Democrats' options for passing health care reform and could force House Democrats to approve the Senate health care bill and have the President sign it into law before they vote on changes to the measure.
Senate Parliamentarian Alan Frumin notified leaders from both parties Thursday that the process Democrats are using to pass health care reform, known as reconciliation, must be tied to something already signed into law, according to staff for Republican Senate Leader Mitch McConnell and other congressional sources.
Practically, this could force House Democratic leaders to ask members who oppose the Senate bill as it stands now to vote the measure into law and have faith that the Senate will agree to a package of changes.
House Democrats are still discussing strategy for passing revisions to the Senate bill using reconciliation. But Democratic aides have admitted that it would be easier to vote on the original Senate bill if it were followed immediately by a vote on the package of changes in reconciliation.
Republicans see the decision as a tactical victory, making the climb to health care passage steeper. Don Stewart, spokesman for McConnell, e-mailed a statement confirming the decision, writing, "The Senate Parliamentarian's office has informed Senate Republicans that reconciliation instructions require the measure to make changes in law."
The parliamentarian's decision leaves open one other option: Democrats could try to tie the changes they want in the Senate health care bill to other laws currently on the books. But it's not clear if that is feasible, especially because some key issues in the health care bill are not found in existing laws, such as how to pay for reform.
Washington (CNN) - Barely a month in office, Sen. Scott Brown, R-Massachusetts, is putting some muscle behind his independent image by twice voting against his own party and questioning the use of the filibuster.
Brown took to the Senate floor Tuesday to announce he would vote for cloture, or to end a Republican filibuster, on a bill extending unemployment benefits and tax credits. This, despite the fact he opposes the bill and technically the filibuster helped his cause.
"I have very serious concerns about the overall cost of the bill," Brown told the chamber, "but my vote for cloture signals that I believe we need to keep the process moving." He also said, "there has been a week of debate and allowing this bill to receive an up-and-down vote, would be a step, I feel, in the right direction."
With Brown’s help, the nearly $140 billion bill cleared the procedural hurdle on a vote of 66-34, setting it up for passage.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Congressional Republicans intensified their calls Wednesday for powerful House Ways and Means Chairman Charlie Rangel of New York to resign his post heading the committee, at least temporarily.
Rep. John Carter, R-Texas, introduced a motion that would have forced Rangel to step down during an ongoing ethics investigation into his finances and activities.
House Democrats responded by voting to shut off debate and instead send the resolution to the House Ethics Committee, where the matter has sat for a year. The move to effectively kill the resolution by sending it to the committee passed on a mostly party-line 246-153 vote.
The vote has no significant effect but shows Republicans are turning up the heat on Rangel and hoping to score political points by highlighting the ethics probe.
WASHINGTON (CNN) – Sonia Sotomayor's nomination to the Supreme Court now seems virtually guaranteed to move on a fast-track in the U.S. Senate, as a top Republican told senators that he opposes a filibuster and expects a final vote on Sotomayor in the next three weeks.
Senator Jeff Sessions, R-Alabama, is his party's ranking member on Judiciary Committee.
Thursday morning, as the committee entered its third round of questions for Sotomayor, he told the New York judge that he will oppose any effort to filibuster or block her nomination and that he does not expect Republicans to mount one.
He then said, "I look forward to you getting that vote before we recess in August."
The words immediately sparked murmurs in the hearing room. For weeks, Sessions and other Republicans have been vocal in expressing concerns about any vote before the August recess.
The Democratic caucus now has 60 votes in the Senate and could override a filibuster move if they united, but many questioned if Republicans would try to push back the Sotomayor vote regardless.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - A $106 billion war spending bill has narrowly survived a nail-biter of a vote in the Senate. Democrats needed 60 votes to waive a budget rule and allow them to attach $1 billion in funding for the so-called "Cash For Clunkers" program, aimed at reviving the auto industry.
The motion to waive the rule passed 60-36, but only after Democrat Maria Cantwell of Washington state switched her vote from "no" to "yes." Democrats also needed help from five Republicans: Sens. Bond, Cochran, Collins, Enzi and Voinovich switched sides to support the Cash for Clunkers funding.
The final vote on the supplemental spending bill is expected to easily get majority approval and go to the president.
Democrats against: Nelson (NE)
Republicans in favor: Bond, Cochran, Collins, Voinovich
WASHINGTON (CNN) - It is part political reality - and, seemingly, part Republican strategy.
The longest-serving Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee tells CNN Radio that as things stand now, Sonia Sotomayor is headed for a Supreme Court confirmation.
"If there are no otherwise disqualifying matters here, it appears to me she will probably be confirmed," Senator Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, said Thursday.
Hatch is acknowledging the Senate landscape. Democrats could have 60 votes in the chamber if Minnesota's Al Franken is seated, and they now hold a 12 to 7 majority on the Judiciary Committee.
But as he speaks to Sotomayor's strength, Hatch is also digging the first Republican battle line on her nomination: the schedule.
"If the Democrats don't overplay their hand and don't try to rush this too much, the process will go well, they'll be better off, she'll get confirmed," he said, again adding that is if no new concerns come to light.
(A report on the Republican battle line over Sotomayor after the jump)