[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/images/03/11/art.hanks.spielberg.gi.jpg caption ="Tom Hanks and Steven Spielberg are expected to attend a White House viewing Thursday of their new HBO mini-series ‘The Pacific.’"]Washington (CNN) - A group of Hollywood heavyweights and military veterans will attend a preview of HBO's new mini-series "The Pacific" at the White House Thursday.
The president, the first lady and the producers of the series, Tom Hanks and Steven Spielberg, are expected to be at the viewing in the White House screening room.
The miniseries which debuts on March 14 follows three U.S. Marines through their battles during the war, HBO says. HBO is owned by Time Warner, which is also the parent company of CNN.
Also expected to attend the event are the Joint Chiefs of Staff, National Security Advisor Gen. Jim Jones and members of Congress.
The screening Thursday will come after a ceremony at the National WWII Memorial. The ceremony will be a tribute to about 250 World War II veterans.
Washington (CNN) - House Republicans agreed Thursday to adopt a ban on congressional earmarks in spending bills for next year, upping the ante with Democrats in the political battle over fiscal responsibility and pork barrel spending.
"Federal spending is out of control and the American people know it," said Rep. Mike Pence, R-Indiana. Earmarks are "emblematic of everything that's wrong" in Washington, he said.
"Earmarks" refer to federal funding designated for particular projects, with taxpayer money allocated by members of Congress to home-state and home-district projects, often with an eye toward re-election.
Such projects bring money into a congressman's district - providing jobs and funding projects sought by local constituents.
[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/images/03/11/art.housedems.file.gi.jpg caption="An ongoing CNN survey reveals that House Democrats face an uphill battle to pass health care."]Washington (CNN) - House Democratic leaders hoping to pass a health care reform bill by the Easter congressional recess face increasingly difficult odds, as several of the party's rank-and-file have come out against the plan passed by the Senate in December.
According to an ongoing CNN survey, 17 House Democrats indicate that they would vote no on the Senate plan as currently written, including six members who voted in favor of the House bill passed in November.
Several of these representatives indicated that they would consider voting for the Senate bill if it were significantly modified. However, the lack of support among these members for the underlying plan passed by the Senate on Christmas Eve illustrates the challenge party leaders face in winning over enough votes to pass what has become the Obama administration's signature legislative priority.
Some members made clear that their votes are not negotiable.
Josh Taylor, a spokesman for Texas Rep. Chet Edwards, said the congressman "voted no on health care the first time around and will vote no the second."
Washington (CNN) - President Obama has set them - and they've repeatedly been missed.
But with Easter recess coming, Obama's latest deadline to pass health care reform legislation could be his last one.
Over the summer, as the health care reform battle was brewing in Congress and at town hall meetings across the country, the president called on both the House and Senate to pass legislation by the end of August in order for a comprehensive bill to see its way to his desk by the end of the year.
That didn't happen.
The White House and members of Congress faced several hurdles, from Republican opposition to divisions within the Democratic Party, on specific items in the proposed legislation.
CNN has a list of all the deadlines missed so far.
Follow Ed Hornick on Twitter: @HornickCNN
[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/images/03/11/art.dodd.file.gi.jpg caption="Chris Dodd said Thursday that he will release a draft bill on Monday."]Washington (CNNMoney.com) - A key Senate banking panel is poised to release and start working on its financial overhaul bill next week, despite a lack of consensus on some key issues.
Senate Banking Chairman Chris Dodd, D-Conn., said Thursday he planned to release a draft bill on Monday, even though a "few outstanding issues remain."
Dodd has been promising to release a draft bill for several weeks, but delayed it while trying to work with key Republicans on the panel. Regulatory overhaul cannot pass the full Senate without some Republicans on board.
The Dodd announcement may signal that the senator wants to get the process moving, with or without Republican support.
It was not specified by Dodd what the "outstanding issues" are. But one has been a proposed consumer financial protection agency and another has been how much regulatory power to strip away from the Federal Reserve.
[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/images/03/11/art.dems.file.gi.jpg caption="President Obama will meet Thursday with some Congressional Democrats to discuss health care reform."]Washington (CNN) - The fight for health care reform will take the political center stage again Thursday as President Barack Obama and top congressional Democrats work behind closed doors to nail down a final agreement.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi - who has sounded increasingly optimistic that she will be able to round up the 216 votes needed to pass the Senate health care bill - will host a meeting of the entire House Democratic caucus during the morning.
On the other side of Capitol Hill, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid will try to build public momentum by framing the issue in more personal terms, holding a news conference with an 11-year-old girl whose mother died of pulmonary hypertension after losing her health insurance.
"We are making progress. A lot of decisions were made," Reid told reporters Wednesday. "I really believe the goal we've been seeking for a long time of health care reform is going to be done. We don't have it all worked out yet but we made a lot of progress."
Obama is set to discuss health care in afternoon and evening meetings with African-American and Hispanic members of Congress. He is also planning to take his increasingly populist, anti-insurance industry message back on the road early next week, delivering yet another reform speech in the political battleground state of Ohio.
[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/images/03/11/art.franken.0911.gi.jpg caption="Al Franken will headline Netroots Nation in July."](CNN) – Sen. Al Franken, D-Minnesota, will headline the upcoming Netroots Nation convention, organizers announced Thursday.
Netroots Nation is the most prominent gathering of liberal bloggers each year. The three day convention begins July 22 in Las Vegas and Franken will deliver the keynote address on July 25.
Franken defeated Sen. Norm Coleman by a razor thin margin in 2008, but was not officially sworn in until July 2009 because of a recount.
"Even during the recount, we knew Sen. Franken would be a fighter," Raven Brooks, the executive director of Netroots Nation said in a statement. "Whether he's fighting for health care or education, he's shown that he represents American families and isn't afraid to stand up for strong progressive values."
Former keynote speakers include former President Bill Clinton, former Vice President Al Gore, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and former Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean.
Washington (CNN) - Steve Hildebrand, one of the top advisers who helped put President Obama in office, has a stark warning for his old friends at the White House and on Capitol Hill.
"I think that there is a real shot we [Democrats] are going to get slaughtered in elections this fall if we aren't leading the efforts to reform Washington," Hildebrand said. "We campaigned in '06 and '08, and if voters don't see that change, we haven't lived up to that promise."
Hildebrand, a highly regarded strategist in Democratic circles who helped deliver the crucial state of Iowa for Obama, is an outside consultant pushing issues such as campaign finance and lobbying reform.
He came to the White House on Wednesday for a quiet meeting with the president's senior adviser, David Axelrod, to express a fear that Republicans are seizing the high ground on cleaning up Washington, on issues such as the ethics probe of Rep. Charlie Rangel, D-New York.
[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/11/11/art.strickland.gi.jpg caption ="Ted Strickland will join President Obama in northeast Ohio on Monday."]Washington (CNN) - Republicans pounced on Missouri Senate candidate Robin Carnahan this week when her campaign said she would be in Washington while President Obama was visiting her home state Wednesday pitching health care reform.
The GOP's claim: Carnahan is trying to keep her distance from the White House in what's shaping up to be a tough election year for Democrats. Democrats dismissed that charge and said it was a scheduling conflict.
But in Ohio, Gov. Ted Strickland is making sure his schedule is cleared for next week's visit by the president. Strickland, who is facing a tough challenge in his re-election bid from Republican John Kasich, will join Obama in northeast Ohio on Monday to promote his health care plan, a Strickland aide said.
The first-term Democrat, saddled with a difficult economy and a state jobless rate nearing 11 percent, led Kasich by five points in a mid-February poll by Quinnipiac University.
[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/images/01/29/art.romney.7.gi.jpg caption ="Mitt Romney’s new book ‘No Apology: The Case for American Greatness’ is set to debut at the top of the New York Times bestseller list on March 21."]Washington (CNN) - Add "best-selling author" to Mitt Romney's long and diverse resume.
The former Massachusetts governor's new book, "No Apology: The Case for American Greatness," is set to debut in the top spot on the New York Times bestseller list due out March 21, a source confirmed to CNN.
Romney, a likely frontrunner for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination, is in the midst of a nationwide book tour that will feature stops in Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina in the coming weeks.
He has been greeted by long lines at his book signings; the Detroit News reported that Romney packed 450 people into a Border's bookstore in the Detroit suburb of Birmingham on Wednesday.
Romney will be signing books in Grand Rapids, Michigan on Thursday before flying to California for a Friday stop in Sacramento.