President Obama on Wednesday signed the STOCK Act into law, a bipartisan bill designed to stop so-called "congressional insider trading."
The measure, which passed in Congress last month, prohibits members of Congress from financial market trading based on nonpublic information they have obtained in the course of their congressional work.
The president hailed the law as a "good and necessary" step in the fight against corruption and the influence of money in politics. Still, the president encouraged Congress to enact more reforms, while some public advocates lamented the fact that the bill was watered down.
In spite of its shortcomings, Mr. Obama said the law's bipartisan support "shows when an idea is right we can still accomplish something on behalf of the American people to make our government and our country stronger."Continue »
Updated at 4:05 p.m. ET
The Republican-led House of Representatives on Thursday passed a conservative, $3.5 trillion budget bill that has no chance of becoming law but that draws a clear line in the sand between Republican and Democratic goals.
By a partisan vote of 228 to 191, the House passed Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan's budget proposal, which calls for steep spending limits and dramatic changes to Medicare. Ten Republicans voted against the bill, and no Democrats voted for it.
"People in this country are looking, they are desperate to see a strong signal from Washington that we are prepared to make the tough decisions necessary to address our fiscal crisis," House Majority Leader Eric Cantor said on the House floor.
The Republican budget calls for $1.028 trillion in discretionary spending in 2013 -- below the $1.047 trillion spending cap Democrats and Republicans agreed to in a debt deal last August. It would also reshape Medicare starting in 2023, giving seniors subsidies to purchase either private insurance or traditional, government-run insurance on an exchange. Ryan's proposed budget takes a number of other dramatic steps, such as creating just two income tax brackets at 10 and 25 percent.Continue »
Military leaders have told Congress that their proposed 2013 budget strikes the right balance between reining in costs and sufficiently supporting defense efforts, but a leading House Republican said Thursday he's skeptical Pentagon officials are being sincere.
"We don't think the generals are giving us their true advice," House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan said at an event in Washington. He blamed the cuts in President Obama's 2013 budget for compelling the Pentagon to create "a budget-driven strategy, not a strategy-driven budget."
Ryan's remarks came on the same day the House was set to pass a bill that would challenge the president's Pentagon budget -- and as other Republicans decried further Pentagon cuts looming on the horizon.Continue »
The 15-member, presidentially-appointed committee, known as the Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB), is scheduled to begin recommending cost-control measures for Medicare in 2014. Republicans argued the yet-to-be-established panel is a rationing board that would bypass congressional authority and punt on true Medicare reform.
Congressman Phil Roe (R-TN), a former physician, said during House Floor debate that"we don't want Washington-based bureaucrats getting in between the doctor-patient relationship. Decisions should not be made by health insurance and not 15 bureaucrats in Washington. It should be made between a doctor and their family."Continue »
Updated at 2:30 p.m. ET
Congress on Thursday passed a final, scaled-down version of the STOCK Act, a bill designed to stop so-called "congressional insider trading."
The measure, which passed in the House last month, would prevent members of Congress from financial market trading based on nonpublic information they have obtained in the course of their congressional work.
The Senate voted to proceed with the bill by an overwhelming vote of 96 to 3 -- far surpassing the 60 votes needed to overcome a filibuster -- and then passed the bill by unanimous agreement. The three senators who voted against proceeding with the bill were Republicans Tom Coburn of Oklahoma, Richard Burr of North Carolina and Charles Grassley of Iowa.Continue »
The first leg of the Keystone XL oil pipeline is slated for construction, and President Obama on Thursday sought to remind voters he backs at least this portion of the controversial project.
"Producing more oil and gas here at home has been, and will continue to be, a critical part of our all-of-the-above strategy," Mr. Obama said from Cushing, Oklahoma, the site where the Southern portion of the pipeline will begin construction.
That has not stopped Republicans from attacking Mr. Obama for failing to embrace the cultivation of domestic oil resources. And as new evidence shows the public getting behind the project, environmentalists are desperately calling on the administration to slow down and consider what they say will be disastrous environmental and economic risks that come with putting a pipeline directly through the Midwest's agricultural base.
Mr. Obama stopped in Cushing as part of a two-day tour touting his energy policies. The stop gave the president a prime photo opportunity among pipes in TransCanada Pipe Yard -- evidence he's attempting to pursue his "all-of-the-above" energy strategy amid rising gas prices.Continue »
Updated at 11:45 a.m. ET
House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan on Tuesday released his proposed 2013 budget, calling for steep spending limits and dramatic changes to Medicare -- setting up more contentious partisan battles in Congress.
The Republican budget calls for $1.028 trillion in discretionary spending in 2013 -- below the $1.047 trillion spending cap Democrats and Republicans agreed to in a debt deal last August. By calling on his party to push for even further spending limits, Ryan could be creating the conditions for another budget battle and possible government shutdown at the end of September, Democrats say.
"We are here to offer Americans the chance to choose which future they want for themselves," Ryan said today upon unveiling his plan, comparing it to President Obama's proposed 2103 budget, "the president's path of debt and decline, or a path to renew prosperity for Americans."
The proposal would balance the budget by 2040, Ryan argues, and lead to federal government surpluses.
"We want to get ahead of a debt crisis," Ryan said Tuesday on "CBS This Morning." "We want to take all of the empty promises that our government is making and make sure that they're not broken promises." (Watch in the video above)
As he did in last year's proposed budget, Ryan once again proposes significant changes to Medicare, the popular government-run health care program for seniors. Last year's House GOP budget became a lightening rod for criticism of the GOP, spurring Democrats to charge that Republicans wanted to essentially end Medicare.Continue »
A local election board voted along partisan lines today that Republican Sen. Richard Lugar of Indiana, who's currently facing in a tough primary challenge, isn't eligible to vote in his home precinct, the Indianapolis Star reports.
The Marion County Election Board voted two-to-one against Lugar, with both Democrats following the recommendation of the board's attorney. Lugar sold his Indianapolis home in 1977 and has since lived in the Washington, D.C. area. He explained last month that moving to Washington was the only way he could afford to keep his family together and remain involved in his sons' school activities.
The Indiana Election Commission ruled last month that Lugar is still eligible to run for office.Continue »
In a move of bipartisanship, the Senate passed today a two-year extension of programs that fund the nation's highways, public transit and infrastructure. The $109 billion bill passed with the support of 74 Senators and just 22 voting against the extension.
As the Senate advanced the measure, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada called on the House to pass the bill before the current highway bill expires at the end of this month.
"That could lead to the laying off, termination, of well more than a million people," Reid said on the Senate Floor right before the vote. "This bill, when signed by the president, will save or create 2.8 million jobs. It's important we get this done."
The Senate version streamlines transportation programs by cutting and consolidating them by more than two-thirds. It would give states more control over how to use federal transportation funds and it also provides funding for mass transit. The bill would also offer additional grant money to states that make it more difficult for teenagers to get a full driver's license by prohibiting teens from night driving and using mobile devices except in emergencies.Continue »
Two House lawmakers on Tuesday introduced a resolution supporting efforts to counter the Lord's Resistance Army, hoping to build on the momentum created by a viral YouTube video spotlighting the atrocities of LRA leader Joseph Kony.
The resolution, introduced by Reps. Jim McGovern, D-Mass. and Ed Royce, R-Calif., calls for, among other things, expanding the number of regional forces in Africa to protect civilians and placing restrictions on individuals or governments found to be supporting Kony.
Kony gained notoriety in the U.S. this month when a 30-minute video produced by the group Invisible Children went viral, picking up more than 50 million views in just four days. The video spotlighted how the Ugandan warlord has been accused of kidnapping up to 30,000 children in the past 26 years, using girls as sex slaves and boys as child soldiers.Continue »
Updated: 4:08 p.m. ET
(CBS News) The Senate on Thursday struck down a controversial amendment that would allow any U.S. employer, not just those affiliated with a religious institution, to deny contraceptive health coverage to its employees based on religious or moral objections.
The so-called "Blunt amendment," sponsored by Republican Senator Roy Blunt, failed in a 51-48 vote. Florida Republican Senator Marco Rubio co-sponsored the measure.
Maine Senator Olympia Snowe was the only Republican to vote against the amendment. Three Democrats -- Pennsylvania's Bob Casey, West Virginia's Bob Manchin, and Nebraska's Ben Nelson -- broke party lines and voted not to table it. Snowe, who recently announced that she will not seek re-election to the Senate, said on MSNBC Wednesday that the amendment was "much broader" than she could support.
Confusion surrounding his position on the issue emerged earlier in the day, when Romney said he opposed the amendment in an interview with the Ohio News Network.
In the interview, reporter Jim Heath asked Romney about a measure he described as "Blunt-Rubio." Heath asked: "The issue of birth control, contraception, Blunt-Rubio is being debated, I believe, later this week. It deals with banning or allowing employers to ban providing female contraception. Have you taken a position on it? [Santorum] said he was for that, we'll talk about personhood in a second; but he's for that, have you taken a position?"Continue »
After a low-key meeting with President Obama and Democratic congressional leaders Wednesday, House Speaker John Boehner and Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell said they are optimistic about finding common ground on issues like jobs and energy policy.
"Frankly, it was a very good lunch, and I'm encouraged by the attitude and the tone we had during the meeting," Boehner told reporters.
The speaker said Mr. Obama's support for the Jobs Act, a package of House jobs bills aimed at helping small businesses, was "very clear." Mr. Obama's "comments about trying to find some common ground on some of our bipartisan energy bills were also welcome signs," Boehner added.Continue »
Citing reports of "questionable" uses of taxpayer funds, Republican Sen. Rob Portman of Ohio this week launched an investigation into the Obama administration's public relations and advertising expenses.
Portman launched the investigation in conjunction with Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill, the top Democrat in a government oversight subpanel in the Senate's Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee. Portman is the top Republican in the subpanel.
Portman and McCaskill sent letters to 11 federal agencies requesting information regarding all contracts they've entered into since October 1, 2008, relating to public relations, publicity, advertising, communications or other related services.
"Over the past three years, we have seen some reports of questionable uses of taxpayer dollars on public relations to promote the administration's agenda," Portman said in a statement to Hotsheet. "This subcommittee investigation will dig deeper and fulfill our responsibility to police waste and abuse in the federal government."Continue »
Updated at 6:20 p.m. ET
Following the announcement she will not seek a fourth term in the Senate, moderate Republican Olympia Snowe on Wednesday chided her party for failing to reach out to moderates and independents.
Politicians have to "understand that you have to have tolerance for all philosophical views. It's a big tent," Snowe said on MSNBC, pointing out that even President Ronald Reagan prescribed to that philosophy. "That's going to be important for us in supporting a presidential candidate if we want to win."
In an interview with CBS News, Snowe added that there are "fewer and fewer within our ranks" of what she described as "a sensible center."
"You do have a shrinking center, without question. It's unfortunate," Snowe told CBS News correspondent Nancy Cordes.Continue »