A $6.4 billion plan to extend unemployment insurance benefits to eligible workers for another three months cleared a key procedural hurdle in the Senate on Tuesday as 60 senators - including six Republicans - voted to move ahead with debate on the measure.
"Today brought us a glimmer of hope," said Sen. Charles Schumer, D-New York, after the vote. "It shows that the big plates - the tectonic plates in our politics - are moving."
But House Speaker John Boehner said he told President Barack Obama a month ago that another extension of temporary emergency unemployment benefits "should not only be paid for but include something to help put people back to work. To date, the president has offered no such plan. If he does, I'll be happy to discuss it, but right now the House is going to remain focused on growing the economy and giving America's unemployed the independence that only comes from finding a good job."
Still, the 60 yea votes were the minimum needed to allow debate to go forward and avoid a filibuster in the Senate. Democrats got help from Republicans Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire; Dan Coats of Indiana; Susan Collins of Maine; Dean Heller of Nevada, Lisa Murkowski of Arkansas; and Rob Portman of Ohio.FULL STORY
Correction: We hate to admit it, but in the heat of live-blogging President Barack Obama’s year-end news conference, we misquoted him as saying he “screwed the duck” with the Obamacare rollout. What he actually said was: “We screwed it up.” And in this case, so did we. We regret the error, and we thank our audience for the feedback.
[Updated at 3:16 p.m. ET] Obama hailed what he said was the first rollback in Iran's nuclear capabilities in a decade. Iran's pursuit of nuclear weapons has long posed a challenge to U.S. national security, and the U.S. now has a structure under which Iran can "get right with the international community in a verifiable fashion" and prove that any peaceful nuclear program will not be weaponized and that it won't threaten the U.S. and its allies in the region, including Israel.
If Iran reverts to its old ways, Obama said he would put more pressure on Iran, but that isn't necessary right now. Existing sanctions remain in place, costing Iran billions of dollars each month in oil sales, along with banking sanctions, he said. There is no need to leave a club hanging over Iran's head, Obama said, because there's no doubt among Iranians that Congress will pass more sanctions if necessary.
[Updated at 3:10 p.m. ET] Asked about the implications of nominating Sen. Max Baucus as ambassador to China when Baucus offered the best hope of overturning the tax code, Obama called for "swift confirmation" of Baucus as ambassador and said that if Democrats and Republicans are "serious about tax reform, then it's not going to depend on one guy."
[Updated at 3:04 p.m. ET] Despite the negative publicity surrounding his health care initiative, 2 million people or more have signed up, Obama said, saying the program is "working."
"The demand is there, and as I've said before, the product is good," he said.
[Updated at 3:00 p.m. ET] Obama declined to comment specifically about Edward Snowden, saying he would let the courts and attorney general comment on his case, but he said that Snowden's leaks have "done unnecessary damage to U.S. intelligence capabilities and U.S. diplomacy."
He further said the United States is a country that "abides by the rule of law, that cares deeply about privacy, that cares about civil liberties, that cares about our Constitution," where countries with less concern for civil liberties have been able to sit on the sideline and cast aspersions as a result of the leaks.
However, he called the debate that was sparked by the Snowden incident an "important" one.
[Updated at 2:55 p.m. ET] Asked what his New Year's resolution would be, Obama responded, "To be nicer to the White House press corps," earning some laughter and light applause.
[Updated at 2:54 p.m. ET] Obama cites "comprehensive immigration reform" as an example where there's largely bipartisan support on an issue. He expressed hope that despite a "few disagreements," Congress could pass reform that would boost the economy and allow the country to attract more high-skilled workers.
[Updated at 2:50 p.m. ET] Asked to name his worst mistake of the year, Obama said, "since I'm in charge, obviously we screwed it up" on the health care roll-out. Despite meeting every three weeks with officials to ensure that consumers had a pleasant experience with the roll-out, "the fact is it didn't happen in the first month, in the first six weeks, in a way that was at all acceptable."
[Updated at 2:46 p.m. ET] While insisting that the NSA has committed no abuses in performing its surveillance duties, "there may be another way of skinning the cat" to alleviate Americans' concerns, Obama says.
[Updated at 2:42 p.m. ET] "This is only going to work if the American people have confidence and trust," Obama says of the NSA surveillance program, while conceding that American trust in the process has "diminished."
[Updated at 2:36 p.m. ET] Obama says there is a review of NSA surveillance under way to determine if current programs balance the need to keep the country secure while "taking seriously the rule of law and our concerns about privacy and civil liberties."
As for the controversial collection of metadata, Obama says there have been no alleged instances of the NSA acting inappropriately in the use of the data. The president says he has confidence that the NSA is "not engaging in domestic surveillance or snooping around."
[Updated at 2:31 p.m. ET] Asked if 2013 was the worst year of his presidency, Obama chuckled and said that despite Congress failing to act on his legislative initiatives, there have been many successes. Among those are an increase in wireless capacities in classrooms, a manufacturing hub in Youngstown, Ohio, that will "build on the renaissance we're seeing in manufacturing" and the fact that the U.S. is "producing more oil and natural gas in this country than we're importing."
[Updated at 2:26 p.m. ET] Obama says providing more opportunities for the middle-class and those hoping to join the middle class will be a top priority for 2014, and he'd like to see the country add more jobs, especially those with "wages and benefits that allow families to build a little bit of financial security."
"I think 2014 needs to be a year of action," he says
[Updated at 2:24 p.m. ET] As businesses are positioned to add new jobs amid more growth, Obama predicts 2014 will be "a breakthrough year for America," but much remains to be done, Obama says.
[Updated at 2:21 p.m. ET] So far in 2013, the United States added 2 million jobs as unemployment has fallen to the lowest point in five years, Obama says.
[Updated at 2:19 p.m. ET] Obama's year-end news conference has begun.
[Original story posted at 1:57 p.m. ET] President Barack Obama's year-end news conference is expected to begin at 2 p.m. ET.
When the troubled federal health care website came online, the key "Anonymous Shopper" function was nowhere to be found - even though it passed a key test almost two weeks before HealthCare.gov launched.
That successful test, noted in documents obtained by CNN and confirmed by a source close to the project, contradicts testimony from an Obama administration official overseeing HealthCare.gov, who told lawmakers earlier this month the function was scrapped because it "failed miserably" before the October 1 launch.
Like much of the HealthCare.gov rollout, the subject has become political fodder for Republicans, who claim the decision to nix the anonymous shopper was made by administration officials worried it would produce rate estimates so high they would deter potential enrollees.FULL STORY
There were news conferences and a high-level phone call between President Barack Obama and House Speaker John Boehner, but no immediate sign of progress on reopening the government a week into a partial shutdown or reaching a deal to avoid the first-ever U.S. default next week.
Obama called Boehner on Tuesday morning, and the White House then announced the president would make a statement and take some questions from reporters at 2 p.m. ET.
Earlier, Boehner demanded that Obama and Democrats negotiate with Republicans on steps needed to end the shutdown that began on October 1 and raise the nation's debt ceiling before the deadline for default on October 17.FULL STORY
In a move that makes a government shutdown more likely, House Republicans approved a spending plan Sunday morning that would delay Obamacare for a year and repeal its tax on medical devices.
The temporary budget resolution now goes back to the Senate, where Democrats have consistently said any changes to President Barack Obama's signature healthcare law is a deal-killer.
On top of that, Obama has already issued a veto threat.
If Washington can't reach a deal, a government shutdown will begin at 12:01 a.m. Tuesday.FULL STORY
The United States isn't leaving anything to chance.
While it pursues a diplomatic solution to the Syria crisis by sending U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry to meet with his Russian counterpart in Geneva on Thursday, it has also started arming the rebels. The rebels, though, say the arms have yet to reach them.
Meanwhile, a Vladimir Putin-penned editorial in the New York Times has at least one White House official saying it's an indication the Russian President is "now fully invested in Syria's chemical disarmament." And a U.N. report says that both sides - the regime and the rebels - have committed war crimes in the bloody two-year-long civil war in Syria.FULL STORY
The White House's case for a military strike on Syria enters Round II Wednesday.
Secretary of State John Kerry returns to the Hill, this time to be grilled by the House Foreign Affairs Committee. On Tuesday, he appeared before the Senate Foreign Affairs Committee to sway skeptical lawmakers. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey joined him.FULL STORY
The Obama administration will spend this week trying to persuade lawmakers at home and allies abroad that an attack on Syria is the appropriate response to the alleged use of poison gas by the regime of President Bashar al-Assad.
The White House's push comes after al-Assad once again raised the specter of an all-out regional war if the United States strikes.
Syria's allies Russia and China, meanwhile, remain steadfastly against military action, unconvinced by evidence presented by the United States and France that they say show al-Assad's forces used chemical weapons.FULL STORY
U.N. evidence that could show whether chemical weapons were used in Syria will head to a lab Monday, but the answer may just be a formality.
The American president has already said there's no doubt Syria's government killed hundreds of civilians in a chemical weapon attack. Independent tests have revealed "signatures of sarin gas" in blood and hair samples from Syria, Secretary of State John Kerry said.
President Barack Obama wants Congress to sign off on limited strikes on Syrian targets - but some lawmakers bristle at the idea of getting ensnared in another overseas conflict.FULL STORY
What appeared to be imminent U.S. military action against Syria will have to wait - at least for another week.
Now that U.S. President Barack Obama is asking for Congress' approval before launching strikes, he must wait until at least September 9, when lawmakers come back from recess.
In the meantime, he's getting heaps of criticism from both sides of the debate around the world.
"We can't understand how you can promise to help those who are being slaughtered every day in the hundreds, giving them false hope, then change your mind and say let's wait and see," said the Syrian National Coalition, a key group of Syrian dissidents.
But Iran, a staunch supporter of the Syrian regime, warned the United States will pay a price if it strikes Syria.FULL STORY
U.N. inspectors on Tuesday are expected to examine for a second day sites of reported chemical weapons attacks around Damascus.
Government and opposition forces have accused each other of unleashing poison gas last week in a number of towns in the region of Ghouta. Syria's opposition said that as many as 1,300 people were killed.
On Monday, as U.N. experts visited the town of Moadamiyet al-Sham.FULL STORY
When Egypt's first democratically elected president was tossed out earlier this year, the White House stopped short of calling it a coup.
Doing so would force an end to the $1.3 billion that the U.S. sends in military aid every year - and change the course of its relationship with one of its strongest Arab allies in the region.
But that was before Wednesday when the military-led interim government stormed two camps full of former President Mohamed Morsy's supporters. More than 300 people were killed and close to 3,000 wounded in the bloodiest day in Egypt's recent history.
Will the carnage in Egypt change the U.S. policy toward the most populous Arab country?FULL STORY
A rodeo stunt at the Missouri State Fair has come under criticism after a clown donned a Barack Obama mask and stuck a broom up his backside.
The stunt took place during the bull riding competition on Saturday night.
Rodeo announcer Mark Ficken, president of the Missouri Cowboy Rodeo Association and a school superintendent, announced a special guest: "President Obama."
Working up the crowd, Ficken said, "We're going to stomp Obama now."
"As soon as this bull comes out, Obama, don't you move," he said. "He's going to getcha, getcha getcha, getcha."FULL STORY
Not long after the United States said it will start arming Syrian rebels, Syria's longtime ally Russia fired back by saying the move supports those "who kill their enemies and eat their organs."
The latest dispute sets a riveting backdrop to the Group of Eight summit in Northern Ireland on Monday, where the Syrian civil war will likely top the agenda among eight of the world's most powerful countries.
On Monday, Russian President Vladimir Putin and U.S. President Barack Obama will meet one-on-one to discuss the war that has now killed more than 92,000 people - including thousands of children.FULL STORY
President Barack Obama vowed Wednesday to hold accountable those at the Internal Revenue Service involved in the targeting of conservative groups applying for federal tax-exempt status, beginning with the resignation of the agency's acting commissioner who was aware of the practice.
In a brief statement delivered to reporters in the East Room of the White House, the president announced that Treasury Secretary Jack Lew had requested - and accepted - the resignation of acting IRS Commissioner Steven T. Miller.
The president said the "misconduct" detailed in the IRS Inspector General's report released Tuesday over the singling out of conservative groups is "inexcusable."FULL STORY
[Updated at 12:58 p.m. ET] In rare bipartisan accord, normally quarrelsome U.S. lawmakers passed a measure designed to end budget-related air traffic controller furloughs blamed for widespread flight delays.
The House of Representatives approved the legislation, capping a major congressional initiative as delays snarled traffic at airports. The House vote comes a day after unanimous approval by the U.S. Senate.
The measure - which is expected to be signed into law by President Obama - gives the Transportation Department budget planners new flexibility for dealing with forced spending cuts.FULL STORY
The politics of oil and ecology have put President Obama between a rock and hard place, as he faces a decision on whether or not to permit construction of a new pipeline. The squeeze just got tighter with a new, negative environmental assessment.
The Keystone XL pipeline will give America energy independence, thousands of jobs, important industrial infrastructure and won't cost taxpayers a dime, say proponents. Many of them are Republican lawmakers.
It is dangerous, inherently filthy and must be stopped, say opponents, some of whom are Democrats who helped get the president elected.FULL STORY
Watch CNN.com Live for gavel-to-gavel coverage of the trial of Jodi Arias, who's accused of killing her ex-boyfriend in 2008. The trial is scheduled to resume on Monday, April 8.
Today's programming highlights...
9:15 am ET - Easter prayer breakfast - President Obama and Vice President Biden speak to faith leaders at an Easter prayer breakfast in Washington.
12:45 pm ET - White House briefing - The North Korea crisis and government spending will likely dominate discussion at the White House briefing in Washington.
CNN.com Live is your home for breaking news as it happens.
President Barack Obama's upcoming budget will include proposed changes to Social Security and Medicare plus some new tax increases, changes that are an effort for the president to reach a deficit deal with Republicans, according to senior administration officials.
The budget will include an offer Obama made to House Speaker John Boehner in December, officials said. That proposal included $400 billion in savings to Medicare over 10 years.
"The President's budget to be presented on Wednesday will show how we can invest in the things we need to grow our economy, create jobs and strengthen the middle class while further reducing the deficit in a balanced way," a senior administration official said.FULL STORY
Watch CNN.com Live for gavel-to-gavel coverage of the trial of Jodi Arias, who's accused of killing her ex-boyfriend in 2008. The trial resumes on Tuesday, April 2.
Today's programming highlights...
10:30 am ET - White House Easter Egg Roll - President Obama speaks to thousands of children, their families and others at the annual White House Easter Egg Roll in Washington.
12:15 pm ET - Pentagon welcomes Singapore PM - Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel hosts an honor cordon to welcome Singapore's prime minister to the Pentagon.
CNN.com Live is your home for breaking news as it happens.