Former Sen. Pete Domenici, R-New Mexico, who is helping to lead the Debt Reduction Task Force, part of a group called the Bipartisan Policy Center. (Photo Credit: Paul Courson/CNN)
Washington (CNN) - A citizen task force made up of fiscal and political heavyweights hopes to come up with a bipartisan deficit-reduction strategy that Congress and the White House may use in crafting the federal budget.
"We're in this because America has probably the worst economic future that we've ever had," declared former Sen. Pete Domenici, R-New Mexico, who is helping to lead the Debt Reduction Task Force, part of a group called the Bipartisan Policy Center.
Domenici was chairman of the powerful Senate Budget Committee before his retirement. He was joined at a news conference Monday by Alice Rivlin, a Democrat who has been a director of the Congressional Budget Office and a vice-chairman of the Federal Reserve Board, among other positions.
Both acknowledged talk of cost-cutting budget panels from both the White House and Congress. Rivlin said her group intends to come up with a complete budget and a strategy that could be used as a guide to cutting the deficit.
Washington (CNN) – A man flashed bogus credentials and was permitted to reach the outer office of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius over New Year's weekend, agency officials confirmed Friday.
Sebelius was not in the building during the incident January 2, but a spokeswoman issued a written statement saying "this was a troubling incident" and acknowledged that the man was on a list of people barred from entering the building.
The man is considered an intruder and remains in federal custody pending a detention hearing next week, according to documents filed at U.S. District Court in Washington.
Washington (CNN) - Thousands of American Indians would receive as much as $1,000 each if they accept the proposed settlement of a class action lawsuit over government mismanagement of tribal lands.
The suit, filed in 1996, accused the U.S. Department of the Interior of failing to account for and provide revenue from a trust fund representing the value of Indian assets managed by the government.
Individual Indian Money accounts are supposed to represent the property of individual Indians, held by the United States as trustee on their behalf. The lawsuit had accused the government of failing to account for the money, failing to make proper payments, and converting tribal money for the government's own use.
A federal judge must approve the plan, and Congress would have to enact a bill to implement it.
Alexandria, Virginia (CNN) – A federal judge ruled Wednesday that former Rep. William Jefferson of Louisiana can remain free pending appeal of his conviction on corruption charges.
The appeal must be filed by November 23.
Jefferson, a Democrat who was defeated after nine terms representing the New Orleans area, was indicted in 2007 for bribery and other charges. The case included the discovery of $90,000 in the freezer of his Washington home.
Jefferson was not present at the hearing at U.S. District Court.
U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis last week allowed him to waive his appearance, and to travel back to New Orleans.
ALEXANDRIA, Virginia (CNN) - Former U.S. Rep. William Jefferson is scheduled to be sentenced in federal court Friday for his conviction last summer on 11 counts of corruption.
He faces a sentence of up to 150 years in prison, but the judge may accept sentencing guidelines that range from 27 to 33 years. Prosecutors and Jefferson's defense attorney have filed arguments they hope will influence the judge's decision.
The case has included allegations of influence-peddling and the discovery of $90,000 in cash in Jefferson's freezer.
Jefferson, a Louisiana Democrat who served 18 years in Congress representing the New Orleans area, already faces the forfeiture of nearly half a million dollars - money a jury said is linked to criminal activity for which he stands convicted.
The jury August 5 found Jefferson guilty on four bribery counts, three counts of money laundering, three counts of wire fraud and one count of racketeering. He was acquitted on five other counts including wire fraud and obstruction of justice.
Washington (CNN) - Police arrested six demonstrators Tuesday inside the Capitol Hill office of Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Connecticut), after a group protesting his views on health-care legislation refused to leave.
Lieberman was not there at the time.
A group calling itself the "Mobilization for Health Care for All" littered the floor and hallway with symbolic "money," and said campaign donations to Lieberman by the insurance industry have affected his judgment of health-care legislation.
The group is upset that Lieberman refuses to support the "public option," that they believe would reduce the number of people without health-care insurance.
Lieberman later denied that his view has been affected by political support from the insurance industry. "I'm for health insurance reform," he told CNN, "I don't want however, as part of that to create another large, government-run insurance company. We can't afford it, we're already deeply in debt, the taxpayers can't afford it, our government can't afford it."
WASHINGTON (CNN) – Members of the Congressional Black Caucus urged President Obama on Tuesday to act on the humanitarian crisis in Sudan, including pressuring China to intervene in the mass killing of civilians in the African nation.
"We have to act," said Rep. John Lewis, a Democrat from Georgia. "If we fail to act, we fail to do something, history will not be kind to any of us. This is genocide."
The Darfur conflict started in February 2003 when black African rebel groups attacked government property, accusing the government of neglecting Darfur in favor of the Arab population in Sudan. Darfur is a region in Sudan.
Lewis, who is also a civil rights activist, was arrested during a protest last month outside the embassy of Sudan in Washington. He and others called for expressions of solidarity such as fasting, petition drives and meetings with top U.S. envoys.
Actress Mia Farrow was a keynote speaker at a news conference lawmakers held near the U.S. Capitol. The actress said Obama has yet to affirm his strong statements made as a senator against the situation in Sudan.
WASHINGTON (CNN) – Some school kids learned Monday that getting better grades means getting to go to the White House Easter Egg Roll next week, with federal and local school officials stopping at one school in the District of Columbia to announce distribution of the hard-to-get tickets.
U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan told a classroom of wide-eyed third-graders that, "We're going to give out 4,000 tickets to school children in this area, but 2,000 here to the D.C. public schools - and this is because you guys are working so hard."
As he visited with students Monday to tell them about the tickets, the secretary was accompanied by District of Columbia Mayor Adrian Fenty and Michelle Rhee, the chancellor of public schools in the District of Columbia.
Among the surprised school children was 8-year-old Chauntia Mabry, who stood and thanked Duncan.
(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) – Former Secretary of State Colin Powell told reporters Friday that he enjoys his private life, and that he does not want a job with the incoming administration.
Powell, who crossed party lines weeks before the general election to endorse Obama, has said before that he is not interested in working for the soon-to-be president. Powell is currently an honorary co-chair of Obama’s Presidential Inaugural Committee.
“I am very happy in private life, thank you very much, and I'm trying to be as helpful as I can to the president-elect and the vice president-elect,” Powell told reporters Friday. “I look forward to assisting in anyway that I can, but I have not been offered a job, and I've kind of made it clear that I am not looking for a position.”
Powell also praised incoming Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and called her “the most distinguished public servant.”
“I am a very close friend of hers, and I congratulate her selection and appointment as Secretary of State,” Powell said. “I think she'll do a very, very - a very, very fine job.”
Powell spoke at a Washington event Friday unveiling an Obama community service program and the web site USAservice.org, an online tool to publicize available service projects and connect volunteers with non-profit organizations.