(CNN) - President Obama will address Senate Democrats and take questions Wednesday morning at their Issues Conference, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid's office announced.
The event will be open to television cameras and follows a similar appearance the president made before House Republicans last week.
[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/images/02/02/art.bonh0202.gi.jpg caption="President Obama took questions from voters after announcing his plan for a small business lending fund in New Hampshire Tuesday."]
New York (CNNMoney.com) - President Obama called on Congress Tuesday to recycle $30 billion of the remaining Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) funds into a new government lending program offering super-cheap capital to community banks that boost their small business lending this year.
Touted last week in Obama's State of the Union address, the plan is the latest incarnation of a proposal the president first floated in October. While credit conditions for large businesses have improved over the past year, small companies are still widely reporting problems finding the capital they need to fund their operations.
Since small businesses employ about half of American workers, policymakers worry that the ongoing credit crunch they face is contributing to the nation's high rate of job losses. Improving the job market "must be our No. 1 focus in 2010," Obama said last week.
At a town hall meeting in Nashua, N.H., Obama unveiled his proposed new Small Business Lending Fund. The initiative targets banks with assets of under $10 billion, which collectively account for more than half of the nation's small business lending, according to White House estimates.
[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/11/10/art.getty.rahm.emanuel.jpg caption="Palin says Emanuel should be fired over a recently reported comment."](CNN) - This time, White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel has gone too far, Sarah Palin says.
The former Alaska governor is calling on President Obama to fire his notoriously coarse top aide after a report in the Wall Street Journal last week quoted Emanuel as referring to liberal groups in August who attacked the president's health care plan as "F-ing retarded."
In a posting on Facebook, Palin says the language is not only "caustic [and] crude" but deeply offensive to those with disabilities. She also compares the choice of words to that of the "N-word" in reference to African-Americans.
"His recent tirade against participants in a strategy session was such a strong slap in many American faces that our president is doing himself a disservice by seeming to condone Rahm's recent sick and offensive tactic," Palin wrote.
Washington (CNN) - Several senators announced legislation Tuesday that would cut off funding for the federal trial of alleged 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and four accused accomplices, saying the five should be tried in a military court.
"We believe we're at war," said Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-South Carolina, who stood with a number of senators that included Democrats and Sen. Joe Lieberman of Connecticut, an independent.
"The law enforcement model being used by the Obama administration should be rejected," Graham said. "We're not fighting a crime, we're fighting a war."
Laying the groundwork for a repeal of the policy will take more than a year, Gates said. In the interim, however, the Defense Department will start enforcing the policy "in a fairer manner," he told members of the Senate Armed Services Committee.
President Obama called for a repeal of the policy during last week's State of the Union address.
Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Adm. Mike Mullen also endorsed a repeal Tuesday, telling the committee it is his "personal belief" that "allowing gays and lesbians to serve openly [in the military] would be the right thing to do."
"For me, personally, it comes down to integrity," he said.
(CNN) - More than 13,000 gay and lesbian service members have been discharged under the military's "don't ask, don't tell" policy, according to the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network. President Bill Clinton tried to lift the military's ban on gays altogether in 1993, but settled for the "don't ask, don't tell" compromise amid opposition from Congress and the military. Now, Defense Secretary Robert Gates is launching a yearlong study on how to phase out the policy.
Amid the ongoing debate over its effectiveness, Rep. Jim Moran, D-Virginia, said that the number of troops discharged under "don't ask, don't tell" in 2009 was roughly one-third the number dismissed in 2001. "This shows that during wartime, DADT is not being pursued aggressively because one's orientation has nothing to do with their ability to fight," he said in a written statement.
Fact Check: Have discharges related to "don't ask, don't tell" declined significantly since the start of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan?
- Just before the war in Afghanistan began, the annual number of discharges peaked at 1,227 in 2001, according to Defense Department statistics. The number had topped 1,000 every year prior to that, dating back to 1998.
- After the war in Afghanistan began, those same statistics show the number fell to 885 in 2002.
- Pentagon figures show the discharges dropped to 770 in 2003, the year the Iraq war began. The numbers remained in the 600-700 range every year until 2008, and dropped to 428 in 2009.
Get the bottom line after the jump:
[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/images/02/02/art.lowden.ad.youtube.jpg caption="Sue Lowden is up with her first ad of the 2010 capaign."](CNN) - Sue Lowden, one of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid's top Republican challengers, is up with her first ad of the 2010 campaign.
The 30-second spot is all biographical and describes Lowden, a former state senator and onetime television news anchor, as a "conservative" fighting for "lower taxes, less spending."
Lowden's ad - titled "Leading With Integrity" - features no shots at Reid, who trails both Lowden and another Republican frontrunner, Danny Tarkanian, by roughly 10 points, according to recent polling.
"We made the decision based on the fact that many Nevadans haven't yet gotten to know Sue Lowden," said Lowden's campaign manager Robert Uithoven. "Nevada voters already have their mind made up on Reid."
[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/images/02/02/art.lama.file.gi.jpg caption="President Obama still plans to meet with the Dalai Lama."]Nashua, New Hampshire (CNN) – President Barack Obama still plans to meet with exiled Tibetan religious leader the Dalai Lama despite recent protests from Chinese officials, according to the White House.
"The president told China's leaders during his trip last year that he would meet with the Dalai Lama and he intends to do so," said Deputy Press Secretary Bill Burton aboard Air Force One.
"To be clear, the U.S. considers Tibet to be a part of China and we have human rights concerns about the treatment of Tibetans," Burton continued.
Although a date for the meeting has not been announced, Burton emphasized that the White House expects to continue maintaining a positive relationship with China despite the protests against the meeting with the Dalai Lama.
"[As] the president has expressed, we expect that our relationship with China is mature enough where we can work out issues of mutual concerns such as climate, the global economy, and nonproliferation, and discuss frankly and candidly those issues where we disagree," Burton said.
[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/12/01/art.huck1201.gi.jpg caption="Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee heads to a key primary state later this month."]Washington (CNN) - Mike Huckabee, the onetime presidential candidate turned conservative talk show host, will make a political stop in the early primary state of South Carolina later this month.
Huckabee will campaign in Greenville on Feb. 18 for House candidate Rex Rice, who is running to fill the 3rd congressional district seat left open by Rep. Gresham Barrett, a Republican candidate for governor. Rice backed Huckabee's 2008 presidential bid.
Though the campaign stop is in Greenville, the city is actually situated in the 4th congressional district, represented by Rep. Bob Inglis. A Rice spokesman said the location was chosen to accommodate Huckabee, who is flying into Greenville for only a couple of hours.
It's unclear if Huckabee's trip signals an interest in a second run at the White House: his star was tarnished last December by the revelation that as Arkansas governor, he granted clemency to Maurice Clemmons, the man who murdered four police officers in Washington. And Huckabee's political action committee only had $192,000 in the bank at the end of 2009.
[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/images/02/02/art.murtha.file.gi.jpg caption="Rep. John Murtha underwent gallbladder surgery last week."]Washington (CNN)- Rep. John Murtha, D-Pennsylvania, is recovering from gallbladder surgery at the intensive care unit at Virginia Hospital Center outside Washington, a source close to Murtha told CNN Tuesday. The source asked not to be identified given the sensitive nature of the matter.
Separately, Murtha's spokesman Matthew Mazonkey confirmed to CNN that the 77-year old Democrat underwent scheduled laparoscopic surgery to remove his gallbladder last week.
"Complications did arise from the surgery and he is currently at the Virginia Hospital Center in Arlington," Mazonkey said.
The news of Murtha’s condition was first reported by Politico.