WASHINGTON (CNN) - House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md, insisted Tuesday that Congress, not President Obama, would decide whether to put more limits on earmarks in upcoming spending bills.
Asked about a statement by White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs Monday that the Obama Administration was formulating guidelines for earmark reform, Hoyer said flatly, "I don't think the White House has the ability to tell us what to do." He paused deliberately and quipped to reporters in the room, "I hope you all got that down."
He added, "It is certainly appropriate for the White House to suggest ways of going forward so that we can have agreement between the White House and ourselves."
Hoyer pointed out that Democrats have cut down the number of earmarks and now require that all requests get posted on the internet. But he conceded "I think there are additional things we can do and consider." He said Congressional leaders already talked to the White House about "concerns it had,” but refused to offer any specifics.
Rush Limbaugh is the face of the Republican Party — at least that’s how some Democrats want it.
White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel calls Limbaugh the “voice and intellectual force and energy” behind the GOP and Press Secretary Robert Gibbs says he’s “a national spokesperson for conservative views.” This after the radio host recently repeated his claim that he wants President Obama to fail.
It also comes at the same time as a dust-up within conservative ranks between Limbaugh and Michael Steele, chairman of the Republican National Committee. Over the weekend, Steele called Limbaugh an “entertainer” whose comments are “ugly.”
Needless to say, Limbaugh has had a field day with all the finger-pointing, going after both the Democrats and Steele on his radio show. Limbaugh insists he’s not in charge of the GOP and doesn’t want to be. He says considering the sad state of the Republican Party, he would quit if he were chairman.
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WASHINGTON (CNN) - While taking questions from reporters during a meeting with the British Prime Minister, President Obama also touched on a letter between himself and the President of Russia.
Watch: Obama explains Russia letter
WASHINGTON (CNN) - The Club for Growth has bestowed the three moderate senators who supported President Obama’s stimulus plan with their monthly “Comrade of the Month” award.
The small government advocacy group announced Tuesday that 86 percent of its members chose to give the February award to Sen. Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania and Sens. Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins of Maine, who broke with their party last month to give the White House the 60 votes needed to pass the stimulus package.
“As future generations of American taxpayers struggle to pay off the country’s mountain of debt, they will have these three Republican Senators to thank,” said Club for Growth Executive Director David Keating in a press release.
According to the group, the dubious honor “is awarded at the end every month to the public official or figure who best lives up to the policies of big government and favors restrictions on economic freedom.”
The jab at Specter is particularly eyebrow-raising because it comes one day after the Club’s president, Pat Toomey, said he is considering challenging the Pennsylvania senator in next year’s Republican primary. If Toomey runs, it would set-up a re-match of the bruising 2004 GOP primary battle that Specter ultimately won.
WASHINGTON (CNN) – Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius, President Obama’s nominee to head the Department of Health and Human Services, is getting some support from Christian leaders in what could be a brewing battle over her position on abortion policy.
Sebelius, who is Catholic and personally opposed to abortion, has nonetheless angered some religious groups with her policy positions on abortion during her tenure as governor.
In a statement issued Monday, a group of Christian leaders said that under Sebelius, the number of abortions in the state had decreased, pre-natal care had expanded, adoption funding and incentives increased, and legislation passed that protected the unborn from crime.
“Such a record demonstrates a commitment to results rather than rhetoric on life issues,” the group said.
Citing her appeal in a heavily Republican state, the group also suggested Sebelius has the ability to bridge ideological divides. “Her record and her relationships with leaders in both parties are proof that pro-choice and pro-life leaders can work together to advance a pro-family agenda....Efforts to discredit her will no doubt arise,” they said, but Sebelius “deserves a fair hearing in Congress and in the public square.”
(CNN) - It's a crowded ballot today in Chicago, where nearly two dozen candidates are running in a special primary election to replace former Rep. Rahm Emanuel.
Twelve Democrats, six Republicans and five Green Party candidates are vying to succeed Emanuel, who was re-elected in November to a fourth term but stepped down at the beginning of this year to serve as President Obama's White House Chief of Staff.
The winners of each party's primary will face off in a general election contest on April 7.
The district stretches from Chicago's wealthy North Side along Lake Michigan to more middle class ethnic enclaves in the northwest part of the city to suburban areas in neighboring Cook County. The district is dominated by Democrats. Emanuel won 78 percent of the vote in his re-election last November.
"This is a solidly Democratic district. It went overwhelmingly for Barack Obama. A Democrat has make an effort to lose that seat," says CNN Senior Political Analyst Bill Schneider.
(CNN) – Republican National Committee Chair Michael Steele sent a letter to GOP supporters Tuesday asking for contributions to “stop liberal Democrat comedian Al Franken from stealing Norm Coleman’s U.S. Senate seat in Minnesota.”
“I’m no stranger to the gutter campaign tactics and shady legal maneuverings of the Left Wing,” Steele said in the letter. “They don’t fight fair, and they’ll stop at nothing to consolidate the power they crave. This outrageous power grab by Al Franken and Harry Reid must not stand.”
The nail-biting election between Coleman and Franken for the Minnesota senate seat was forced into a recount, which ended with a slim 225-vote lead for Franken. Coleman took the recount to court in January, alleging that thousands of ballots were improperly rejected. The judges overseeing the trail said the ballots were not legally cast under Minnesota law.
In his letter, Steele called the continuing Senate battle in Minnesota “unfinished business” for the GOP, and urged Republicans to contribute to Coleman’s recount fund. He also criticized President Obama’s “outrageous, pork-laden stimulus package” and said with Coleman in office, it would have been more difficult to pass the legislation.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius' experience working with both Democrats and Republicans in her home state could be an asset to President Obama as he embarks on an effort at bipartisanship in reforming health care.
Obama on Monday nominated Sebelius to be his health and human services secretary.
Sebelius is a two-term Democratic governor in a Republican-leaning state. She previously served as a state insurance commissioner and oversaw Kansas' Medicaid program.
In a show of her bipartisan appeal, Republican governors such as Arnold Schwarzenegger of California and Jon Huntsman of Utah commended her selection.
Schwarzenegger said Sebelius "has a well-earned reputation of working across the political aisle," and Huntsman called the appointment "a welcome announcement."
Republicans from Sebelius' home state also threw their support behind the governor.
Former Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole, R-Kansas, and Kansas GOP Sen. Pat Roberts, attended the announcement at the White House on Monday.
Kansas Sen. Sam Brownback released a statement with Roberts congratulating Sebelius and expressing an eagerness to work with their fellow Kansan on health issues.
But Brownback and Roberts came under criticism from some Republicans because they oppose abortion while Sebelius supports a woman's right to choose.
Brownback, who ran for the GOP presidential nomination, is considered one of the leading anti-abortion voices in the Senate.
RNC chairman Michael Steele said he was "all good" with Rush Limbaugh after speaking with the conservative radio talk show host on Monday night. (Photo Credit: Getty Images/File)
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele said Tuesday he has spoken with Rush Limbaugh about his comments regarding the conservative radio talk show host.
"We had a nice conversation last night," Steele said in a statement sent to CNN. "We are all good."
RNC officials described the call as private and did not elaborate on the details of the conversation between the two men.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - President Barack Obama announced Tuesday that the country is already "seeing shovels hit the ground" on the first infrastructure repair project funded through the Transportation Department's share of the $787 billion stimulus bill.
Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood added, "The work begins today in Montgomery County, Maryland, where a work crew is starting on a project to resurface Maryland State Highway 650 - a very busy road that has not been fully repaired in 17 years."
Obama and LaHood made the announcement during an appearance before federal workers at the Transportation Department.