(CBS News) Republican Senator John McCain of Arizona said the amount of information he is receiving on the Colombian misconduct scandal is lacking and "unacceptable."
"We need to know the facts," McCain said. "We need to know the impact of this potential misconduct....Yet, we are being denied access to the information we need in order to make informed judgments or take needed actions. This is entirely unacceptable."
McCain, the top Republican on the Senate Armed Service Committee, and his colleague Senator Carl Levin (D-MI), who chairs the same committee, received a briefing Wednesday by the Department of Defense on the Colombian incident 12 Department of Defense service members.Continue »
Updated 8:55 p.m. ET
(CBS News) The Obama campaign announced the official open of the president's re-election effort.
In a conference call with reporters, Mr. Obama's campaign manager Jim Messina began by saying, "Welcome to the general election."
Messina announced that the president and First Lady Michelle Obama will hold two rallies on Saturday, May 5. The first will take place in Columbus at Ohio State University and the second in Richmond, Virginia at Virginia Commonwealth University.
The announcement to reporters coincided with a text message alert to supporters with the greeting "Big news."
The Obama campaign launches into general election mode after the Republicans "settled for their candidate," Messina said.Continue »
Updated 6:30 p.m. ET
(CBS News) The U.S. Senate passed legislation Wednesday afternoon that would preserve post office services now set to be slashed due to the agency's financial problems.
The measure, which passed 62-37, eases the Postal Service's money woes by reimbursing the agency to the tune of $11 billion for overpaying into federal workers' retirement fund.
The Senate bill would slow or prevent the closing of many low-revenue post office locations that have been slated to close. It also prohibits the elimination of Saturday delivery for at least two years to allow cost-cutting measures to go into effect. In addition, the measure authorizes the Postal Service to offer buyouts and early retirement incentives to its employees.
Without legislative action before May 15, the Postal Service would be forced to close post offices and mail processing centers, cut Saturday delivery and possibly lay off workers to address more than $8 billion worth of losses.Continue »
(CBS News) With opening arguments in the trial of former U.S. senator and presidential candidate John Edwards set to begin on on Monday, a CBS News/New York Times poll shows that public opinion of him has plummeted since he was a candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2007. Now, he is now most known for cheating on his wife.
The CBS/NYT poll reveals that only 3 percent of those polled hold a favorable view of Edwards, who has been charged with misusing campaign funds. That is down from 30 percent in 2007 when he was running for the Democratic nomination, which is also the last time the question was asked among registered voters.
Since 2007, Edwards' unfavorable ratings have risen eleven points, from 30 percent to 41 percent today. However, half of those polled are undecided or don't have an opinion of Edwards.Continue »
(CBS News) Orrin Hatch of Utah overcame Tea Party-tied opposition to advance his quest for a seventh term in the Senate, but did not perform well enough at the Republican Party's state convention to avoid a run-off election.
Obtaining 59.2 percent of the vote of delegates at Saturday's state convention, Hatch will face Dan Liljenquist, a former member of the State Senate, in a run-off on June 26.
Although the veteran lawmaker easily obtained 40 percent of delegates' support to advance, he fell a hair short of obtaining the 60 percent support of state delegates necessary to avoid a run-off.
Hatch was forced to fight a tough race as conservative activists continued their push to elect new members into Congress. Furthermore, the group FreedomWorks (run by former House Majority Leader Dick Armey, which organizes the Tea Party) has been working to unseat Hatch.
After Tea Partiers ousted Hatch's former Senate colleague Bob Bennett at the state convention in 2010 with ardent opposition from activists, Hatch strategically began organizing to perform well at this year's meeting, at which the most activist elements of the Republican Party participate. Hatch also moved his positions to the political right in an attempt to secure his seat.Continue »
Updated 11:15 a.m. ET
(CBS News) Senator Charles Grassley, the top Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee, sent a letter to the head of the Secret Service Friday evening asking if White House staff are also subjects of the investigation into the Colombian prostitution scandal.
Grassley is questioning the "possible involvement of staff from the White House Communications Agency and the White House Office of Advance," spokesperson Beth Levine wrote in a statement.
The consequences of the scandal expanded Friday as three more Secret Service personnel stepped down, bringing the number to six who have left or are in the process of leaving the agency. The number of Secret Service agents and uniformed personnel being investigated now totals 12, while 11 members of the Department of Defense are also being investigated.
Grassley, whose committee has oversight of the Secret Service, sent the letter to Director Mark Sullivan and Department of Homeland Security Inspector General Charles Edwards on Friday evening after his staff received the latest briefing on the incident.Continue »
Updated 9:40 a.m. ET
(CBS News) Freshman Senator Roy Blunt, R-Mo., said the Senate's vote on the Buffett Rule is a symptom of misplaced priorities.
Blunt called the Buffett Rule "a gimmick that would do nothing to jump-start jobs or lower fuel prices for average Americans." The Buffett Rule, which failed to clear a Senate vote earlier this week, would impose at least a 30-percent tax rate on those making more than $1 million per year.
"Unfortunately, instead of working together to pass bipartisan solutions that would relieve pain at the pump and pressure on jobs, this administration is focused on the wrong things," Blunt said in the Republican weekly address.Continue »
Updated 9:15 a.m. ET
(CBS News) The president kicks off his next policy battle - student loans - by dedicating his weekly address to the issue.
"In America, higher education cannot be a luxury. It's an economic imperative that every family must be able to afford," the president said.
The president is set to visit universities in North Carolina, Colorado and Iowa next week, as well as appear on "Late Night with Jimmy Fallon," to put pressure on Congress to extend a lower student loan interest rate before the rates are set to increase from 3.4 percent to 6.8 percent on July 1.
"Nearly seven and half million students will end up owing more on their loan payments. That would be a tremendous blow. And it's completely preventable," the president said.
Mr. Obama argued that the cost of higher education keeps people from attending, and he said interest rates on student loans add to the deterrent.Continue »
(CBS News) Rep. Michele Bachmann charged the president with caring only about his re-election. She also called him "irresponsible" and "infantile" for failing to address the economy and energy prices.
"This is just about waving a tar baby in the air," Bachmann told a conservative Florida website The Shark Tank in a video interview. "The president is a complete and utter fraud and a hypocrite on this issue, with all due respect," she said, referring to the president's energy policy.
Bachmann has come under fire for using the term "tar baby," which is a phrase that denotes a sticky situation and refers to a children's story, the Brer Rabbit. However, the term is also considered derogatory toward African Americans.
Bachmann's spokesperson Becky Rogness says in a Thursday email that Bachmann made a point about Obama's understanding of oil prices that has "nothing to do with race." Instead, Rogness says Obama "has gotten himself into a sticky situation."Continue »
"It's actually disgusting," House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi said on Thursday.
Pelosi, who has not been briefed on the situation, called the incident "stunning."
"It's a stunning thing. It's actually disgusting. There has to be an investigation to see how this could have happened and those responsible should have to pay a price," Pelosi said.
Eleven Secret Service personnel and 10 members of the military are under investigation for involvement with up to 20 women, at least some of whom are believed to be prostitutes. An altercation over money led to the U.S. embassy being notified and the expulsion of 11 Secret Service personnel.
Senate Majority Leader Sen. Harry Reid did not mince words when asked about the situation, calling the agents' actions "either very stupid or a total lack of common sense."Continue »
April 16 is a local holiday in Washington, D.C. -- Emancipation Day -- which is the day in 1862 when President Abraham Lincoln signed a declaration freeing 3,100 slaves living in Washington. The president's action happened nearly nine months before Mr. Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation, which freed slaves in ten Confederate States.
This year, which marks the 150th anniversary of the signing of the Compensated Emancipation Act, includes ceremonies and parades with civil rights leaders Jesse Jackson and Rev. Al Sharpton, religious leader Reverend Joel Osteen and local officials.
Lincoln's action early in the Civil War was considered to be one of the first signs that legal slavery was coming to an end.
Slaves played key roles in the development of a young nation's capital. They cleared the land of trees for the Capitol, built it and played a major role in constructing its expansion in 1850. They also helped to build the White House, too.
To local officials in Washington, the day is also used to push Congress for local autonomy.Continue »
"My committee is going to be investigating exactly how this happened, why it happened, how to prevent it from happening in the future," Rep. Peter King, chair of the House Homeland Security Committee, told CBS News.
The Secret Service said 11 personnel have been placed on administrative leave because of the "nature of the allegations, coupled with a zero tolerance policy," according to Secret Service Assistant Director Paul S. Morrissey of the Office of Government and Public Affairs.
The Secret Service has not released details, but CBS News confirmed that at least one prostitute was involved with a member of the Secret Service. Two of the personnel involved are supervisors and after the U.S. Embassy was notified of the situation, the personnel were ordered from the country.
Although he hasn't announced a Congressional hearing, on CBS New's "Face the Nation," Rep. Darrell Issa, chair of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, said the Secret Service might need to make changes.Continue »
Updated Sunday, 3:05 p.m. ET
(CBS News) Five Department of Defense service members may have been involved in an incident of "misconduct" allegedly involving at least one prostitute that led to the removal 11 Secret Service agents from Cartagena, Colombia working for the president's visit for the Summit of the Americas.
White House spokesperson Jay Carney said, "To be clear, it is our understanding that it is part of the same incident."
The five service members with the Southern Command were working to support the Secret Service and are still in Colombia "because of the expertise and the knowledge that these guys have," according to Colonel Scott Malcom, Chief of Public Affairs US Southern Command.
A statement released by the U.S. Southern Command said the service members "violated the curfew established by the United States Senior Defense Official in Colombia and may have been involved in inappropriate conduct."
However, eleven Secret Service agents involved have been sent back to the United States because of the incident involving at least one prostitute and have been placed on administrative leave.
(CBS News) Expanding on his reasons to support the "Buffett Rule," President Obama said it is "not just about fairness" but economic "growth" as well. (Watch in video above.)
"Now, this is not just about fairness. This is also about growth," the president said in his weekly address. "It's about being able to make the investments we need to strengthen our economy and create jobs. And it's about whether we as a country are willing to pay for those investments."
Just days before the tax filing deadline, the president continued to promote his plan to raise taxes on those earning more than $1 million per year to pay at least a 30-percent tax rate, which the White House says would raise $47 billion over ten years.
"It's simple: If you make more than $1 million every year, you should pay at least the same percentage of your income in taxes as middle-class families do," the president said.Continue »
(CBS News) Rep. Darrell Issa, chair of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, said Jeff Neely, the General Services Administration (GSA) official allegedly involved in a costly Las Vegas conference, must appear before the committee on Monday.
Neely's attorney, Preston Burton, sent a letter to Issa saying Neely planned not to attend because he would "assert his constitutional privilege to remain silent."
In a responding letter, Issa wrote, "I write to advise that the subpoena you accepted on Mr. Neely's behalf remains in effect."
Issa initially issued a subpoena to Neely to appear at Monday's hearing with five other witnesses, including the GSA's Inspector General and the agency's former administrator, Martha Johnson, who resigned after the scandal was made public.Continue »