Obama led the Blair House Project, inviting members of Congress to a daylong session to discuss healthcare reform. There was little new ground covered in the meeting as Republicans asked that Democrats' proposed plans be tossed and a new start made while Democrats -- led by Obama -- suggested the issue would soon be resolved from the blueprints on the table.
And if that meant moving without Republican congressional votes, so be it. Obama, apparently ignoring the many polls that indicate the U.S. public doesn't like the overall Democratic reform plan -- said Americans don't want lawmakers to wait. He suggested there was only one poll that matters: "That's what elections are for," he said.
So Obama laid down a soft deadline of "a month's time or a few weeks' time" for bipartisanship to hit Capitol Hill.
"And if we can't (resolve the legislation), then I think we've got to go ahead and make some decision."
That means Democrats will blend the massive House of Representatives bill (cost: $1 trillion), the lengthy Senate version (cost: $890 billion) and the White House plan announced Monday (cost: $1 trillion) and bypass possible procedural roadblocks to pass legislation solely with Democratic votes.
Republicans, who say the Democrats' plans all represent a government takeover of U.S. healthcare, are decrying the possible use of the so-called nuclear option of reconciliation, just as Democrats did when Republicans used the scheme to their advantage.
The president -- accompanied by a dozen U.S. middle school students who were in Washington for a national engineering competition -- called the space station from the White House to offer his congratulations for their work. Obama said he is proud and excited about the work being done on the space station and told the crews of space shuttle Endeavour and the ISS he is committed to continuing human space exploration and complimented them on being "great role models."
After the presidential chat, the crews went back to work transferring and installing racks in the space station's new Tranquility node. Then, NASA said, they re-boosted the station using Endeavour's thrusters, reconfigured spacesuits and passed the 75-percent mark of supply and equipment transfers between the two spacecraft.
The 33-minute re-boost procedure occurred a little after 2:30 a.m. EST Thursday. When it was completed, NASA said the station's altitude had been raised by about 1.3 miles to an orbit that ranges from 208 to 219 miles above Earth.
Sarah Palin got a fervent reception Saturday as she told the National Tea Party Convention in Nashville "America is ready for another revolution."
Palin, the keynote speaker at the $549-a-ticket three day event, opened her speech by noting it was Ronald Reagan's birthday and greeted the attendees she called "soldiers of the cause," CBS News reported.
"I am a big supporter of this movement and believe in this movement. America is ready for another revolution and you are part of this," she said.
Palin, who resigned as governor of Alaska last year with more than a year to go on her term, gave no hint of her political plans. But many of the 600 attending the convention would be happy to see her run for president.
Supporter Fremont Brown, who had "Palin 2012" bumper stickers with him at Nashville's Gaylord Opryland Hotel and Convention Center, told CNN Palin is "the right person" for the Oval Office.
"She has fervent heart and she's conservative," added the 59-year-old Brown, who owns a small business in North Carolina. "She was the only one truly qualified with executive experience of the four who ran in 2008. The others were glorified lobbyists."
Palin, who was reportedly paid $100,000 for the appearance, said this week any compensation would "go right back to the (Tea Party) cause." Her upcoming schedule includes appearances with conservative candidates, beginning Sunday when she will go to Texas to campaign for Republican Gov. Rick Perry, who faces a primary challenge from U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison.
The President urged Senate Democrats to "finish the job" on difficult issues even as they head into tough midterm elections.
WASHINGTON, Feb. 1 (UPI) -- The $708 billion U.S. Defense Department fiscal year 2011 proposal includes $159 billion for overseas operations, mainly Afghanistan and Iraq, officials said.
The request, which also includes $549 billion in discretionary budgeting authority, carries on the reforms set in last year's Pentagon budget, as well as builds on initiatives identified by the 2010 Quadrennial Defense Review and 2010 Ballistic Missile Defense Review, Defense Secretary Robert Gates said Monday.
"The fiscal 2011 budget request builds on the reforms begun in last year's defense budget," Gates said. "These substantial changes to allocate defense dollars more wisely and reform the department's processes were broadened and deepened by the analysis and conclusions contained in the Quadrennial Defense Review."
The base budget request is an increase of $18 billion over the $531 billion enacted for fiscal 2010, the Defense Department said.
The budget request calls for the family support program to grow 3 percent above the 2010 levels, including $1.3 billion for childcare services, $1.9 billion for expanded counseling and assistance services and $84 million for enhanced career and educational opportunities for military spouses.
It also would eliminate funding for the C-17 aircraft program, the Joint Strike Fighter Alternative energy program and several other programs.
"The choices made and priorities set in these budget requests and strategic defense reviews reflect America's commitment to succeed in the wars we are in while making the investments necessary to prepare for threats on or beyond the horizon," Gates said.
Defense Department Comptroller Robert Hale indicated the budget includes a 1.4 percent pay raise for military and civilian personnel as well as an average 4.2 percent increase in the basic allowance for housing.
Also included is a 3.4 percent increase for the basic allowance for subsistence and full funding for military healthcare programs at $50.7 billion.
The Pentagon's fiscal 2011 "base budget request" of $549 billion is 1.8 percent higher than 2010's $531 billion total, Hale told the Defense Department news service.
"It's modest, but compared to what other federal agencies will be getting in this budget, we're doing well," he said.