WASHINGTON (CNN) - Can professional basketball help thaw the partisan stalemate that may threaten a shutdown of the federal government next week? That question may or may not be on the agenda Wednesday night at the White House when President Obama hosts members of both parties in Congress to watch his hometown Chicago Bulls take on the Charlotte Bobcats.
The president's guest list mainly features members of Congress from both the Chicago and Charlotte delegations. It also comes just before the president plans to honor the Stanley Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks at a White House ceremony on Friday.
Although the party is closed to any coverage by the press, the White House did release the guest list:
WASHINGTON (CNN) - With civil war and unrest unfolding across portions of the Middle East and North Africa, President Barack Obama is seeking to fill an important diplomatic post in the region by nominating Dan Shapiro to be the next U.S. ambassador to Israel.
The nomination of Shapiro, currently senior director for the Middle East and North Africa on the National Security Council, was announced Wednesday by the White House.
Shapiro was a key adviser on the Middle East to Obama's presidential campaign. He also played a big role in Obama's outreach to the U.S. Jewish community during the campaign.
WASHINGTON (CNN) – President Obama praised the "Dean of the Washington press corps" on Wednesday calling political columnist David Broder "the most respected and incisive political commentator of his generation."
In a written statement, the president and first lady expressed their sympathy and condolences saying, "through all his success, David remained an eminently kind and gracious person, and someone we will dearly miss."
Broder, who died on Wednesday from complications of diabetes at the age of 81, began covering politics in the 1950s. He joined The Washington Post in 1966, winning a Pulitzer Prize in 1973 for his role in the coverage of Watergate. He traveled with the press corps covering numerous candidates, including his last campaign trip in October 2010 with Vice President Biden to Ohio for a stop for then-Gov. Ted Strickland.
Although Broder and the president both hailed from Chicago, that didn't stop the writer from being tough on Obama, just as he had been with the ten presidents who preceded him.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Citing progress in the areas of arms control, as well as cooperation over the situations in Iran and Afghanistan, Vice President Biden told Russian President Dimitry Medvedev Wednesday that "we've proved the skeptics wrong" when it comes to the "re-set" in relations between the two countries.
In a brief evening appearance at Medvedev's dacha in the Russian countryside before journalists covering the visit, the two men hailed the ratification of the New START nuclear arms accord, Russia's bid to join the World Trade Organization, as well as the current wave of unrest currently rolling across the Middle East and North Africa.
Biden told Medvedev the situation will "require a joint effort," by the US and Russia according to members of the American press pool traveling with the vice president.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - President Barack Obama made it official today when he announced the expected nomination of Commerce Secretary Gary Locke to become the next U.S. ambassador to China.
Locke, a former governor of Washington, was the nation's first Chinese American governor and commerce secretary, and will be the first to serve as ambassador to China.
In remarks to reporters in the White House Diplomatic Room, President Obama highlighted Locke's family ties to the country.
"More than 100 years ago, Gary’s grandfather left China on a steamship bound for America, where he worked as a domestic servant in Washington State," Obama said. "A century later, his grandson will return to China as America’s top diplomat."
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Australia's Prime Minister Julia Gillard addressed a joint meeting of Congress this morning. Gillard met with President Obama earlier this week discussing a wide range of issues including Afghanistan, where Australia is an international ally with the United States. Wednesday Gillard told Congress, "We share your resolve Afghanistan must never again be a safe haven for terrorism." Gillard is the fourth Australian prime minister to address Congress. There is often confusion between a joint meeting of Congress and a joint session of Congress. It is called a joint session of Congress only when there is a State of the Union address. (Source: U.S. House Radio TV Gallery) (see a history of foreign dignitaries to address Congress)
The White House this morning released the following statement to mark the beginning of Lent:
Michelle and I join with millions of Christians here and across the world to mark Ash Wednesday. As we observe the season of Lent, we receive with thanksgiving this opportunity for grace and repentance, recommit ourselves to our faith, and remember our obligations to one another.
The president has no public events on his schedule today. In addition to the daily briefings, he will meet separately with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Veterans of Foreign Wars National Commander Richard Eubank. Later in the evening, the president will host a party to watch his hometown Chicago Bulls take on the Charlotte Bobcats. The guest list includes a "group of bipartisan members of Congress representing Charlotte and Chicago."
Here is the schedule, as released by the White House:
9:30AM THE PRESIDENT receives the Presidential Daily Briefing Oval Office Closed Press
10:00AM THE PRESIDENT receives the Economic Daily Briefing Oval Office Closed Press
11:10AM THE PRESIDENT meets with Secretary of State Clinton Oval Office Closed Press
3:50PM THE PRESIDENT meets with Veterans of Foreign Wars National Commander Richard Eubank Oval Office Closed Press
7:00PM THE PRESIDENT hosts a party to watch the Chicago Bulls vs. Charlotte Bobcats gameClosed Press
12:30PM Briefing by Press Secretary Jay Carney