May 5th, 2009
04:58 PM ET
13 years ago

Sestak questions Specter's 'reliability'

WASHINGTON (CNN) – Pennsylvania Democrat Rep. Joe Sestak is stepping up his drumbeat of criticism directed at fellow Pennsylvania Sen. Arlen Specter, who recently defected from the Republican Party in order to seek re-election as a Democrat in 2010.

During a Tuesday interview, Sestak rhetorically asked CNN's Rick Sanchez what Specter's positions were on issues including health care and education. "But, more than that . . . it's reliability," he told Sanchez.

"Will he be with us in 2016? This appears to me to be, unfortunately, more of the political Democratic establishment that made a understandably – but I think short-sighted - decision for expediency here in Washington. What's in it for Pennsylvanians is the question in the long term."

Sestak also said Tuesday that Specter's likely vote with Senate Republicans against the Employee Free Choice Act won't be the sole decisive factor in whether he challenges the incumbent in the Democratic primary.

Sestak, who told CNN Sunday that he wasn't sure whether Specter was a really Democrat yet, also said Tuesday that it was his new colleague's "responsibility to act how he thinks is right. It's our responsibility as Pennsylvanians to judge his actions."

Specter's recent decision to switch to the Democratic Party was immediately followed by pledges of support from President Obama and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.

Filed under: Arlen Specter • Joe Sestak • Pennsylvania • Senate
May 5th, 2009
04:01 PM ET
13 years ago

White House restates support for Specter

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption="A new poll handicaps Arlen Specter's general election chances in 2010 against two prominent Pennsylvania Republicans."]
WASHINGTON (CNN) - The White House restated its support for Republican-turned-Democratic Sen. Arlen Specter on Tuesday despite his vote against its budget and a threatened primary challenge.

"I think the president was pretty clear on this," White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said. "Senator Specter has his full support and he'll do what's necessary to see him re-elected."

Specter, of Pennsylvania, jumped parties last week in a move that could give Democrats a filibuster-proof supermajority in the Senate. But Rep. Joe Sestak, who had been considering a Senate run before Specter's decision, has questioned party leaders' acceptance of the five-term senator.

Specter quit the GOP ahead of a primary challenge in that party that he admits he was likely to lose. Though his support for President Barack Obama's nearly $800 billion economic stimulus plan angered conservative Republicans, his first vote was to oppose Obama's upcoming budget.


Filed under: Arlen Specter
May 5th, 2009
04:00 PM ET
13 years ago

Deal on 'cash for clunkers' bill

WASHINGTON ( - The Obama administration has signaled its support for a congressional effort that aims to boost the troubled car industry by subsidizing new cars sales for consumers who scrap old ones.

Congressional Democrats, emerging from a meeting at the White House on Tuesday, said they had struck a deal on a bill to establish a one-year program to encourage the purchase of 1 million new cars and trucks that get better gas mileage.

Under the so-called cash-for-clunkers legislation, consumers with old, gas guzzlers could get $3,500 or $4,500 in government vouchers to use toward the purchase of new cars that get gas mileage that exceeds the old car's by four miles per gallon.

"It's going to be a dramatic boom for our economy," said Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Calif., who heads the House Energy Committee.

The bill would be a part of a larger energy bill, which House leaders hope to pass before Memorial Day, Waxman said in an impromptu press conference on the White House lawn with other Democrats on the House Energy committee.

Full Story

Filed under: Democrats
May 5th, 2009
03:30 PM ET
13 years ago

Cafferty: Palin most "prominent and articulate voice" for conservatism?

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption=" Join the conversation on Jack's blog."]
As the Republican Party continues to struggle, some of them are starting to sound silly. Rush Limbaugh is now suggesting that Sarah Palin is the most prominent and articulate voice for good old-fashioned American conservatism.

Recalling the disastrous interviews Ms. Palin did with Katie Couric on the CBS Evening News during the campaign, 'prominent' and 'articulate' are not the words that immediately pop into my mind.

But the leader of the Republican Party, Rush Limbaugh, thinks differently…

Limbaugh also insists that some Republican leaders hate, despise and fear Sara Palin as well as find her embarrassing. The embarrassing part I definitely understand.

He's referring to that new group formed by old Republicans called the National Council for a New America. It's made up of folks like Jeb Bush, Mitt Romney, Bobby Jindal and John McCain who are working to re-brand the GOP.

To read more and contribute to the Cafferty File discussion click here

Filed under: Cafferty File
May 5th, 2009
02:51 PM ET
13 years ago

Bunning blames McConnell for GOP losses in Senate

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption=" Bunning blamed McConnell for the GOP's loss of Senate seats."]
WASHINGTON (CNN) – Sen. Jim Bunning is again attacking his fellow Kentucky Republican, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, calling him "selfish" and blaming for his party's loss of seats in the Senate.

"So if leadership means anything, it means you don't lose approximately 19 seats in three election cycles with good leadership," Bunning said on a conference call with local reporters on Tuesday, according to the Louisville Courier-Journal.

Bunning has lashed out at McConnell and other Senate Republicans before. Earlier this year, he blamed McConnell for his poor fundraising performance and threatened to sue the National Republican Senatorial Committee if it backed an alternative GOP candidate.

Bunning, who is considered one of the most vulnerable Republicans going into the 2010 election cycle, has raised $262,980 so far, according to his most recent FEC filing. He may face a serious primary challenge, and a number of Democrats have already thrown their hats in the ring, including his state's Attorney General Jack Conway and Lt. Gov. Dan Mongiardo.

On Tuesday, Bunning also criticized Sen. Arlen Specter's decision last week to defect to the Democratic Party, calling his former colleague "as selfish as our leader."

"Do you know Arlen Specter will be 80, has had four bouts with cancer and he still wants to run for the U.S. Senate?" Bunning told reporters on the call. "And I'm being criticized at 77 and healthy for wanting to run for the U.S. Senate by certain leadership people in my party. Give me a break."

Filed under: Jim Bunning
May 5th, 2009
01:57 PM ET
13 years ago

Maine lawmakers approve same-sex marriage

WASHINGTON (CNN) – The Maine House of Representatives voted to pass a bill legalizing same-sex marriage on Tuesday afternoon.

After a nearly three-hour debate, the House voted in favor of the bill by a vote of 89-57. The measure, which was passed by the state Senate last week, now heads to the governor's desk for a final decision.

Democratic Gov. John Baldacci "has not yet made a decision" on whether or not he will sign the bill, Deputy Director of Communications Joy Leach said.

If the governor signs the bill, Maine will be the fourth state to recognize same-sex marriage, joining Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Iowa. A law passed by Vermont lawmakers to legalize gay and lesbian marriages takes effect later this year and New Hampshire is close to passing similar legislation.

Also on Tuesday, the Washington D.C. City Council voted to recognize same-sex marriages from states that allow those unions.

Filed under: Same-sex marriage
May 5th, 2009
01:23 PM ET
13 years ago

Group says Bristol Palin to promote teen pregnancy prevention

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption="Last year, Gov. Palin revealed that her teen daughter, Bristol, was unmarried and pregnant just as the Republican National Convention was beginning."]
WASHINGTON (CNN) – Bristol Palin, the daughter of Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, will participate in a town hall meeting on Wednesday to help raise awareness for teen pregnancy prevention, the Candie's Foundation announced Tuesday.

"I am so happy to have this opportunity to work with The Candie's Foundation on spreading the message of teen pregnancy prevention," Palin said in a statement released by the group. "I feel that I could be a living example of the consequences of teen pregnancy. If I can prevent even one girl from getting pregnant, I will feel a sense of accomplishment."

Palin, 18, gave birth to a son, Tripp Easton Mitchell Johnston, in December.

The Candie's Foundation, whose mission it is to "educate teens about the devastating consequences of teenage pregnancy," tapped her to be the teen ambassador for its National Day to Prevent Teen Pregnancy. The group said she will participate in a town hall meeting at the Times Center in New York City Wednesday with actress Hayden Panettiere, baseball player Matt Garza, and other panelists.

Filed under: Bristol Palin • Popular Posts
May 5th, 2009
01:04 PM ET
13 years ago

Bernanke: Economy to turn up in 2009

NEW YORK ( – Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke said Tuesday that the U.S. economy is stabilizing and will begin to rebound later this year, but the recovery will be slow and cautious.

At a hearing of the Joint Economic Committee of Congress, Bernanke said consumer sentiment, the housing market and spending have begun to show signs of life.

But he expects the economy will continue to shed jobs and credit will remain tight for some time. He said the recent frugality trend will continue due to deflated household wealth, and business spending will be slow to bounce back as well.

"We continue to expect economic activity to bottom out, then to turn up later this year," said Bernanke in prepared testimony. "Even after a recovery gets under way ... we expect that the recovery will only gradually gain
momentum and that economic slack will diminish slowly."

Bernanke said the recent gross domestic product report, which showed the economy contracted by 6.1% in the first quarter, was disappointing. But he said
the economic contraction will "moderate considerably in the near term and recover later this year," as businesses look to replace their liquidated inventories.


Filed under: Ben Bernanke • Economy
May 5th, 2009
12:40 PM ET
13 years ago

D.C. council votes to recognize same-sex marriage

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption="While the council voted to recognize same-sex marriages, those marriages are not currently allowed in the district."]WASHINGTON (CNN) - The Washington D.C. City Council voted 12-1 Tuesday to recognize same-sex marriages from states that allow those unions.

Mayor Adrian Fenty has indicated he will sign the measure. It will then become law after a mandatory 30-day congressional review period if Congress fails to overturn the measure.

Former Mayor Marion Barry cast the lone dissenting vote.

While the council voted to recognize same-sex marriages, those marriages are not currently allowed in the district.

Three states - Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Iowa - currently allow same-sex marriages. A law passed by Vermont legislators that makes gay and lesbian marriages legal takes affect in September. New Hampshire lawmakers are close to passing a similar bill.

Fifty-four percent of adults questioned in an April 23-26 nationwide CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll said that marriages between gay or lesbian couples should not be recognized as valid, with 44 percent suggesting they should be considered legal.

Filed under: Same-sex marriage
May 5th, 2009
12:05 PM ET
13 years ago

Senator tweets from trapped subway car

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption="Sen. Claire McCaskill was trapped in a Senate subway car Tuesday morning in Washington along with three other senators, according to her Twitter page."]
(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."

Filed under: Claire McCaskill • Twitter
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