Washington (CNN) - As Tea Party activists mounted protests in Washington and announced a list of Congressional Democrats they're targeting for defeat in November, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi dismissed the group's impact on Democrats in the upcoming midterm elections and argued the Tea Party could hurt Republicans.
"I think it's going to have an impact on Republicans in November. We always just keep our eye on the ball as to what our own races are and keep going in a forward direction," Pelosi said Thursday.
Pelosi explained that Republicans could suffer is because Tea Party activists are promoting conservative challenges to GOP candidates in their primaries.
Washington (CNN) - President Barack Obama has told the Department of Health and Human Services to establish a rule that would not allow hospitals to deny visitation privileges to gay and lesbian partners.
The president's memo Thursday notes that "There are few moments in our lives that call for great compassion and companionship that when a loved one is admitted to the hospital ... Yet every day, all across America, patients are denied the kindnesses and caring of a loved one at their sides ... "
Gay and lesbian Americans are "uniquely affected" by the relatives-only policy at hospitals, Obama said, adding that they "are often barred from the bedsides of the partners with whom they may have spent decades of their lives - unable to be there for the person they love, and unable to act as a legal surrogate if their partner is incapacitated."
Washington (CNN) - Former House Majority Leader Dick Armey said Thursday that the Tea Party movement won't be fading away any time soon.
"I think they're already a force to be reckoned with," Armey said in an interview with CNN Chief National Correspondent John King. "They have maintained a very consolidated commitment to the big issues of our time."
But the FreedomWorks chairman warned there would be consequences for conservatives if third-party Tea Party candidates siphon votes away from Republicans in 2010.
"In New Jersey, if you take a look at the third party candidate in that race, that candidate had polling numbers going into the election week, that had they met on election day, would have assured a re-election of the incumbent liberal Democrat," he said.
Washington (CNN) - A top GOP Senator promised Thursday to subpoena the Obama administration if they fail to provide information sought in a Congressional investigation into last November's mass shooting at Fort Hood.
Sen. Susan Collins of Maine, the ranking Republican on the Senate Homeland Security Committee, said the Obama administration is "stonewalling" their investigation.
Both Collins and Sen. Joe Lieberman, the chairman of the committee, have been trying since November to obtain information from the Justice and Defense Departments about the shooting rampage, in which Army Major Nidal Malik Hasan killed 13 people.
"It makes you wonder if the White House doesn't want to hear what we're going to find about inadequate information sharing between the FBI and DoD, information that had it been shared might have prevented this tragedy," Collins said on CNN's "John King USA."
Though the administration has provided some details about the shooting, officials have said that turning over more information could compromise their case against Hasan.
(CNN) - Former Wisconsin Gov. Tommy Thompson has decided against mounting a Senate bid, dealing a blow to Republicans who viewed him as the party's best chance to topple incumbent Democrat Russ Feingold.
"My family didn't want me to run," Thompson told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel Thursday about his decision not run. The onetime presidential candidate announced his decision at a Tea Party rally outside the Wisconsin State Capitol.
"It's time for new voices and new faces," Thompson told the crowd, according to local television station WBAY.
New York (CNNMoney.com) - The Senate voted Thursday to push back the deadline to file for extended unemployment benefits until June 2.
The $18 billion measure now returns to the House for a final vote, which is scheduled for later Thursday.
More than 200,000 jobless Americans were expected to stop receiving benefits last week after lawmakers let the April 5 deadline pass. Checks would be retroactive to that date.
Washington (CNN) - With just over a month to go before the May 18 special election to fill the House seat formerly held by the late Rep. John Murtha, political ads are starting to light up the airwaves in Pennsylvania's 12th congressional district.
Republican Tim Burns and Democrat Mark Critz are both being attacked in TV spots financed by national party committees.
On Thursday, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee released an ad alleging that Burns would raise taxes. As the ad's narrator tells it, "Southwestern Pennsylvania is hurting, but millionaire Tim Burns would make things even worse."
The National Republican Congressional Committee went on TV earlier this week with an ad painting Critz as too liberal for Pennsylvania because of his support for federal health care legislation.
Washington (CNN) - It was one of those behind-the-scenes moments that a reporter covering the Tea Party rarely gets to witness.
About 1:35 a.m. Thursday, a man ran up to a Tea Party Express bus, approaching from the left, waving his arms and shouting something that none of us on the bus could understand.
I was sitting in the "sidekick seat," a leather perch near the driver with a clear view.
The three-bus caravan had just rolled into Washington, hours ahead of the final rally of the "Just Vote them Out" tour - the movement's third national event since coming together a little over a year ago. The bus I was on carried about 14 weary travelers: Tea Party leaders and activists, journalists and Casey the dog, a small girl with floppy ears belonging to Tea Party Express Chairman Mark Williams.
We had just arrived after a grueling trip from Boston, Massachusetts, where Sarah Palin rallied a crowd of thousands on Boston Common, and were blocks away from our destination.
The bus was hard to miss, wrapped full-on in a Tea Party advertisement.
Apparently, just the sight of it made the man angry. As he rushed us, shouting all the way, the bus driver cautiously slid open his window.
Washington (CNN) - Any new member to the most exclusive club in American government needs a keen ability to get along with the other eight members, two members of the U.S. Supreme Court said with a vacancy looming.
Justices Clarence Thomas and Stephen Breyer testified before a congressional budget hearing Tuesday and were asked about the pending retirement of Justice John Paul Stevens. President Barack Obama is currently deciding whom to nominate as the 89-year-old justice's replacement.
Thomas and Breyer refused to comment on specific candidates or professional criteria they would want in a new justice. But Thomas said certain personal qualities were desirable.
"What we look for, those of us who have been there awhile, is someone we can get along with, who is an honest person, a person who will be
conscientious, a person who will realize it's a small group of us making hard decisions," said Thomas, who joined the Court in 1991. "I don't think we have ever discussed, at least during my tenure, how a particular person would vote. And that's the way we operate."
President Obama said Thursday that he is ‘100 percent committed’ to the mission of NASA. (PHOTO CREDIT: Getty Images)
CAPE CANAVERAL, Florida (CNN) - President Obama said Thursday that he is "100 percent committed" to the mission of NASA and its future.
Speaking at the Kennedy Space Center, the president sought to try to sell his vision for the space program and assuage workers' concerns about his plan.
Obama's proposal would pump an additional $6 billion into NASA over the next six years, but would pull the plug on a project to send astronauts to the moon.
The White House budget office said the Constellation Program, which had sought to send astronauts back to the moon by 2020, is behind schedule, over budget and overall less important than other space investments.
The administration would instead invest in deep space exploration and scientific development.