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.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - The GOP is sending a strong message to the Obama administration: Don't bring former Guantanamo Bay detainees to the United States.
House Republicans introduced legislation Thursday aimed at stopping the release or transfer of terrorists at GITMO from being imported to the United States.
"The world suddenly did not become safer on January 20, 2009," House Republican Leader John Boehner said at a press conference Thursday. "We ought to make clear that none of these detainees should be brought to the United States until such time as the President has had a conversation with the American people, which is the essence of the bill that we are bringing forward."
The Keep Terrorists out of America Act opposes transfer of any detainee to the United States, but requires that governors and state legislatures pre-approve the import of terrorists from the prison camps to their respective states, if such a process should occur.
"Guantanamo was chosen for a specific reason. It is isolated," Texas Rep. Lamar Smith said Thursday. "That all fundamentally changes when you take them off of an island, away from Gitmo, and plunk them down in the middle of Michigan, in the middle of Kansas, in the middle of Virginia, or in the middle of New York."
No time frames or announcements have been made by the White House concerning what to do with some 240 detainees. The review that President Obama ordered at the beginning of his administration continues.
(CNN) - What's the highlight of Mrs. Obama's time in the White House? Hanging out with Elmo, of course.
The first lady stopped by Sesame Street Tuesday, chatting with the furry red monster and making a public service announcement along the way.
"If you want your child to have healthy habits, practice healthy habits too because you're your child's best role model," Michelle Obama advocated in her appearance for Sesame Workshop's Healthy Habits for Life Initiative.
The First Lady told employees at the United Nations in New York Tuesday that it's probably the best thing she's done so far since she and her husband moved into the executive mansion. Mrs. Obama appears to be emerging as a champion of healthy exercise and eating habits, taking up her platform by planting an organic kitchen garden on the White House grounds.
Former first ladies Barbara and Laura Bush also dropped by Sesame Street set during their husbands' terms in office, advocating children's literacy by reading kids' books to Big Bird.
WASHINGTON (CNN) – Democrat Al Franken and his wife dropped by the White House Wednesday to update Vice President Biden on the state of Minnesota's hotly-contested Senate seat.
Franken discussed the Obama administration's agenda and how it would impact the people of Minnesota, according to a statement from Franken's office.
"Minnesotans are eager to see Congress make progress on the administration's agenda – and I'm eager to do my part in that effort," Franken said. "From investments in alternative energy to the expansion of high-speed rail to the Twin Cities, we have a lot to do to help Minnesota's working families, and I was pleased to discuss these important issues with the vice president."
The vice president maintained it's time for the state to have a second senator, insisting that Minnesota's election and recount process was transparent and organized, and applauding the "meticulous" work of Minnesota officials.
"Minnesotans deserve their full representation," Biden said in a statement following the meeting. "Once the Minnesota Supreme Court has issued its final ruling in this case, the president and I look forward to working with Mr. Franken on building an economy for the 21st century.
WASHINGTON (CNN) – Sen. Arlen Specter's recent switch from Republican to Democrat appears to have caused him some confusion over party loyalty.
The Pennsylvania senator said he "misspoke" in an interview with the New York Times Tuesday when he voiced his support for GOP Sen. Norm Coleman, who is locked in a recount battle with Democratic challenger Al Franken in Minnesota.
"In the swirl of moving from one caucus to another, I have to get used to my new teammates," Specter told CQ Politics. "I'm ordinarily pretty correct in what I say. I've made a career of being precise. I conclusively misspoke."
Questioned about who he's supporting in elections Specter responded, "I'm looking for Democratic members. Nothing personal."
Specter's comments came after an interview with the Times in which the Pennsylvania senator declared he is rooting for a Coleman win in the hotly-contested Senate race. "There is still time for the Minnesota court to do justice and declare Norm Coleman the winner," he told the magazine.
WASHINGTON (CNN) – Don't expect to see a Supreme Court nominee in the next few days, the White House advised Tuesday.
Just one day after Utah Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch told reporters he wouldn't be surprised if a Supreme Court justice nominee announcement was imminent, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs told reporters, "It's not going to happen this week."
"The president is…working with the team to get a look at the people that he thinks are best qualified for this position," Gibbs said at Tuesday's press briefing. "And obviously we want to move this process along in a timely fashion."
The press secretary repeated his previous statements that President Obama wants a justice seated before the court's term resumes in October.
(CNN) - Four senators were trapped in a Senate subway car Tuesday morning in Washington, according to tweets from Missouri Sen. Claire McCaskill.
"Stuck in a tram from Capitol to Hart. Broken. Not moving. Lieberman and Alexander in next car. And Voiniitch.[sic] Wonder how long we'll be here?" Sen. Claire McCaskill wrote on her Twitter page.
Lawmakers often use the Senate subway to commute between the Capitol and their offices.
According to recent tweets, McCaskill and her colleagues have since been rescued. The Democratic senator from Missouri is poised to return to the Capitol for a vote - but as for riding the subway back, McCaskill says: "Takes longer, but I think I'll walk."
(CNN) - Former Florida Republican House Speaker Marco Rubio announced Tuesday he will run for Senate in 2010.
In a video released on his campaign website Tuesday, the attorney from Miami declared his candidacy, maintaing his run for Mel Martinez's vacant Senate seat will not "be a campaign against anyone, nor will it be a campaign against anything."
"This is a campaign for the kind of ideas that will change our country for the better," Rubio says citing tax reform and a balanced budget amendment. "Let's be frank, neither Republicans nor Democrats have been able to control runaway government spending."
Florida Republican Gov. Charlie Crist is considering a bid, and Rep. Kendrick Meek and state Sen. Dan Gelber, both Democrats from the Miami-Dade area, have announced their candidacy. Rubio acknowledges the potential competition in his video.
"I know that there are people who are more famous than I who may enter this race and I know that the President of the United States himself will travel to Florida to campaign and raise money against me," the Florida lawyer says. "But nothing in life worth doing is easy and I believe that this is worth doing."
Florida Sen. Mel Martinez announced in December he will not seek reelection in 2010.
(CNN) - Joe Biden didn't heed his own advice.
On Friday, just one day after he warned his family to avoid "confined places" like subways and aircrafts, the vice president took the train from Washington, DC to Wilmington, Delaware. Now he plans to ride the train back to the District Monday evening.
Biden, a long-time Amtrak supporter and veteran rider, attended the kickoff of a $32 million renovation and restoration of Wilmington train station in Delaware Monday morning, telling onlookers, "The people who work at the Wilmington train station, the conductors, the ticket collectors - they are a part of my family. And, for our family, this station is home."
"I am so proud to see Recovery Act funds taking care of critical needs here at the station and putting people to work," the vice president told the crowd.
During his long tenure in the US Senate, Biden was a daily train commuter, traveling to and from his home in Delaware to Washington.
(CNN) – The Capitol is revamping its energy supply.
The Capitol power plant will use natural gas as the primary fuel source for steam used at the compound to heat buildings and water, terminating its coal usage unless needed for emergency backup, according to a statement released by Democratic leaders of the House and Senate Friday.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid claim the switch will improve DC air quality and reduce Congress's carbon pollution impact, serving as an example for cleaner fuel usage across the United States.
"The Congress of the United States should not only be a model for the nation, but also a good neighbor," said Pelosi. Senate Majority Leader Reid echoed the speaker's statement saying the "switch to cleaner burning natural gas shows that the House and Senate are leading by example in reducing our emissions."
The Capitol architect in charge of the switch cited that the complex will revert back to coal usage in "abnormally cold conditions" or in the case of equipment outages.