Washington (CNN)- House Republican leaders, already facing GOP defections over a spending bill many think doesn't cut enough, are now scrambling to stem Republican concern that what it does cut is only a fraction of what's being advertised.
At issue is a new report from the Congressional Budget Office that says while the spending bill does cut roughly $38 billion, only a small part of that – $352 million – will be realized this year.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - With a deadline looming at the end of next week, leaders in both parties sent hopeful signals Friday that they can pass spending legislation to avert a U.S. government shutdown.
"We know that both sides are close. We know that a compromise is within reach," said President Barack Obama.
"We are on the doorstep of a deal," said Sen. Chuck Schumer, the third-ranking Senate Democrat.
"I am not preparing for a government shutdown," House Speaker John Boehner told reporters.FULL STORY
Washington (CNN) - Senate Democratic leaders held a news conference Thursday to warn about the dangers of a Republican-forced government shutdown.
But as one reporter aptly noted to the leaders, it is the Democrats talking most about shutting down the government.
Washington(CNN) - What was expected to be a morning meeting with the president on health care turned into all-day, intense negotiations with Democratic leaders trying to find compromise on differences over House and Senate health care bills.
The meetings did not finally wrap up until after 6:30 p.m. ET.
Senior congressional Democratic sources told CNN that the White House is pushing them hard to move quickly to resolve differences on a broad range of issues. The president and his top aides are being more aggressive than ever before in trying to broker a deal.
Though Democratic leaders and White House officials are tight-lipped about specifics, there is a deep House-Senate Democratic divide over how to pay for health care reform.
"Today we made significant progress in bridging the remaining gaps between the two health insurance reform bills," President Barack Obama, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said in a joint statement Wednesday evening.
"We're encouraged and energized, and we're resolved to deliver reform legislation that provides more stability and security for those with insurance, extends coverage to those who don't have coverage, and lowers costs for families, businesses and governments."
Obama has made clear he favors the Senate Democrats approach - taxing high cost insurance plans. That has caused an eruption inside unions who oppose that approach.
Washington (CNN) - Two senior Democratic sources that former president Bill Clinton will attend the Senate Democrats' weekly luncheon Tuesday to address the caucus on health care.
"All Senators should be aware that former President Clinton will be making a presentation on Health Care at tomorrow's caucus lunch," said a notice sent to all Senate Democrats. "Senator Reid has requested that all Democratic Senators attend."
Democratic leaders have consistently cited what they call a lesson of the Clinton administration: fail to pass health care, and congressional Democrats will suffer on Election Day.
WASHINGTON (CNN) – A copy of the 18-page health care proposal from Sen. Max Baucus, obtained by CNN from both a Democratic and Republican source, reveals more detail about the Finance Committee chairman's proposal.
Read the plan full here (pdf)
A source close to Republican Sen. Grassley tells CNN that in addition to the problem he has with the fee on insurance companies, a concern he expressed on CNN this morning, he also does not like the overall price tag, which he thinks will be about $880 billion. The Iowa senator had been hoping for something in the $750-$780 billion ballpark.
Democratic sources tell us that Baucus will use today's 2:30 pm ET meeting to gauge whether he can get a deal with the Republicans in the so-called "Gang of Six," especially Grassley and Sen. Mike Enzi, or whether he will have to move on and schedule a Finance Committee markup without a bipartisan agreement.
Democratic sources say Baucus will likely make that decision before the president's speech tomorrow night.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - An aide to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi confirms to CNN that, in attempt to quell a revolt among conservative Democrats, she is considering changing House Democrats' health care bill so that it only taxes families making $1 million or more.
"The Speaker has said several times she would like to squeeze more savings out of the system, and if we can do that we can reduce the number of people affected by the surcharge," said Brendan Daly, a spokesman for the Speaker.
To raise revenue to pay for reform, the House Democrats health care bill would impose a surcharge on individuals making $280,000 or more and families making $350,000 or more.
Pelosi is now suggesting starting that surtax at individuals making $500,000 and families making $1 million.
Washington (CNN) – Senate Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy says he plans to put a confirmation vote for Judge Sonia Sotomayor on the committee calendar this coming Tuesday.
However, committee rules allow any one senator to delay consideration of any nomination for one week, and the committee's ranking Republican, Jeff Sessions, suggested to CNN that a week's delay is likely.
"That would be only four days after the end of the hearings, that would be really fast," Sessions told CNN, noting that this is the "U.S. Supreme Court."
Sessions emphasized that he has no interest in delaying the process, but suggested holding a vote next week would be too soon.
Leahy told CNN the ultimate Democratic goal is to hold a full Senate vote before the August recess, and said he is confident that will happen.
Sessions said he has no plans for a filibuster.
"A nominee is entitled to an up-or-down vote," he said.
Washington (CNN) - Negotiations between key Democrats and Republicans in the Senate over health insurance co-ops as an alternative to a government-run health plan were at an impasse Monday over how much federal government involvement there should be in the creation and running of the co-ops, according to senators and aides involved in the talks.
The negotiations could hold the key to bipartisan compromise.
Most Democrats want a heavy federal presence to ensure the co-ops can adequately compete with the big insurers and help drive down costs, but Republicans say they will back co-ops only if the touch from Washington is very light. Republicans say anything more that that is akin to the government-run proposal they uniformly reject.
"It's clear they are not talking about anything close to a national plan with enough clout to keep the insurance companies honest," said Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-NY.
Schumer, an influential member of the Democratic leadership, has been working behind the scenes on a co-op plan that Democrats can live with.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - CNN has learned Senate Democrats will pull money to close the Guantanamo Bay military prison from a war funding bill instead of face an onslaught of criticism from Republicans, who argue it would be reckless to shutter the prison before the Obama administration has decided where to transfer the terrorism suspects who are detained there.
Democratic leaders made the decision this morning, according to two Senate Democratic leadership sources. It is a blow to President Obama who - in one of his first official acts as president - announced that he would close the base by next January 22.
The Senate war supplemental bill, which is scheduled to be voted on this week, included $80 million for the Department of Defense and the Department of Justice to begin the process of shutting down the prison.
Now, that money will be stripped out and replaced with language saying no funds can be used to transfer Guantanamo detainees to the United States, and no additional money will be approved, until 60 days after the president submits to Congress his plan to close the facility. That language is similar to a provision in the House bill.