The final mission of the Space Shuttle Atlantis came to an end early this morning on the Florida coast where it launched 13 days ago, and where the shuttle program got its start more than 30 years ago.
When its wheels touched down this morning at the Kennedy Space Center, Atlantis brought to a close the current era of manned space flight for the United States.
Following the landing, mission commander Christopher Ferguson joined NASA Administrator Charles Bolden at the landing site for a ceremony marking the end of the shuttle program. More »
White House talks with Congressional leaders resumed yesterday as President Obama’s hopes for a deficit reduction deal to coincide with an increase in the debt ceiling resurfaced. On Wednesday, Obama called Congressional leaders to the White House in separate meetings to discuss the “Gang of Six” proposal.
A growing number of bipartisan Senators are backing the "Gang of Six" plan, but it could be difficult to pass the U.S. House because it raises revenue. But anti-tax crusader Grover Norquist, whose anti-tax pledge many Republicans signed and campaigned on, told the Washington Post Editorial Board that allowing the Bush-era tax cuts expire does not amount to a tax increase, which the Washington Post called a "significant" development. But in House Speaker John Boehner's (R-OH) news conference this morning, he disagreed. “I believe that would be raising taxes," Boehner said. More »
Today marks the one-year anniversary of the enactment of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act. One of the products under the Dodd-Frank law is the creation of a new consumer-watchdog agency, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), which officially opens its doors this morning.
This morning, Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA) and government's top financial officials testified before the Senate Banking Committee to discuss the implications of the Dodd-Frank legislation. Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke, Securities and Exchange Commission Chairman Mary Schapiro and acting Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. chairman Martin Gruenberg appeared at the hearing to provide insights from their agencies on the bill. More »
The Senate Special Committee on Aging held a hearing on Medicare Prescription Drug Costs. Americans spend more than $250 billion a year on prescription drugs, with prices by most estimates continuing to rise much faster than inflation. Some Congressional Democrats have proposed giving the Health and Human Services Secretary more power to bargain with drug companies for lower prices as part of an overall debt reduction package.
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Senators on both sides of the aisle warned senior military commanders that budget cuts are coming and that the Pentagon would need to stay heavily involved in those decisions. The Armed Services Committee heard from the nominees for Joint Chiefs of Staff Vice Chairman, Army Chief of Staff and Transport Commander.
A new study published in the National Academy of Sciences could help scientists better understand the effects of future spills on sea life. The Senate Commerce Subcommittee on Oceans, Atmosphere, Fisheries & the Coast Guard held a meeting on the ongoing response and lessons learned from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Witnesses include representatives from the U.S. Coast Guard, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the American Petroleum Institute.
The Senate Caucus on International Narcotics Control held a hearing on counternarcotics operations in Afghanistan. The country is one of the biggest producers of opium and heroin. Proceeds from drug sales have traditionally been a major source of funding for the Taliban.
Press Secretary Jay Carney said at the daily White House briefing that “there is still time to do something significant” on reaching a deficit reduction agreement before for U.S. reaches the August 2nd deadline to raise the debt ceiling and avoid going into default. Mr. Carney also said that the White House is “enthusiastic” about a deficit reduction plan put forward on Tuesday by a bipartisan group of Senators known as the Gang of Six.
Four Senate Democrats said that the House Republicans’ “Cut, Cap, and Balance” bill would dramatically alter Medicare and Social Security benefits. The Republicans’ bill passed the House by a vote of 234 to 190. It includes $111 billion dollars in cuts to next year’s budget, a cap on overall federal spending in future years and requires Congress to pass a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution as a condition for raising the federal debt ceiling.
The Senate Commerce Committee held a hearing on ways to promote private investment in federal transportation projects. Members also discussed proposals to create infrastructure banks to invest in large projects with significant national or regional economic benefits, such as roads, airports, levees, and drinking water systems. Witnesses include representatives from the Transportation Department, unions and investment companies.
The Senate Judiciary Committee met to consider legislation that would repeal the Defense of Marriage Act, the 1996 law signed by President Clinton that bars federal recognition of same-sex marriages. Witnesses include advocates for and against gay marriage. Currently six states and the District of Columbia recognize gay marriages. Vermont Democrat Patrick Leahy chairs the hearing.