May 31st, 2012
10:59 PM ET
There were smiles, laughter and tears - but little politics - when former Presidents George W. Bush and his father, George H. W. Bush, joined current President Barack Obama at the White House for the unveiling Thursday of the younger Bush's official portrait.
May 31st, 2012
12:47 PM ET
(CNN) - President Obama will focus on jobs Friday continuing to press Congress on his so-called "to do" list. Friday’s item: pushing for the establishment of a Veterans Job Corps. At a Honeywell International plant in a Minneapolis suburb, he will make his case that the country needs to "honor our commitment to returning veterans," according to a White House release.
Friday’s event coincides with the release of the May unemployment numbers. Economists will be closely watching the jobs numbers after two months of slowdown in the sputtering U.S. economy.
Mr. Obama announced his plan to establish a jobs program for veterans from the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars earlier this year. Currently the unemployment rate for veterans is 9.2%, more than a full percentage point higher than the overall unemployment rate which stands at 8.1% for April. The so-called Veterans Jobs Corps would be similar to a 1930's government program, the Civilian Conservation Corps. It is designed to put veterans to work building infrastructure like roads and bridges. FULL POST
May 31st, 2012
08:12 AM ET
Thursday two former presidents, two former first ladies, the current president and the current first lady (phew) will be in the White House for the unveiling of the official portrait of George W. Bush. The two Presidents Bush will be attending but WH spokesman Jay Carney Wednesday didn't think that talk of politics would dominate the presidents time together. At the briefing saying, "[T]here is so much shared experience between so far the men and one day the men and women who hold this office that there is much to talk about that is - that they hold in common. So there's not a lot of need to talk about where they - where they differ."
The presidents and first ladies will have lunch in the Red Room which is closed press. The unveiling is in the East Room at 1:25 ET.
Full schedule after the jump
May 30th, 2012
05:10 PM ET
By CNN's Sally Holland
WASHINGTON (CNN) - President Barack Obama broke out his pens Wednesday to sign legislation reauthorizing the Export-Import Bank, which makes it easier for U.S. companies to sell their goods overseas by providing financing for exports.
In a rare bipartisan vote, Congress passed the legislation in mid-May.
"There are a number of things that my administration can do on our own and we're gonna keep on doing them, but it gets a whole lot easier if we get some help from Congress, and this is a great example and great model of what can happen," said Obama at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building signing ceremony.
The Export-Import Bank, which dates back to the Roosevelt administration, is tasked with providing loans and other support for both large and small businesses to ply their products outside the U.S. borders. These loans are generally considered to be more risky due to the volatility of the overseas marketplace.
In the Senate, the reauthorization passed by a vote of 78 to 20. One of those "no" votes came from Sen. Mike Lee, a Republican from Utah.
"We need to end the corporate welfare that distorts the market and feeds corny capitalism," Lee said on the Senate floor on May 15. "The corporations that largely benefit from the Ex-Im Bank should have no trouble marshaling their resources to compete in today's economy."
The legislation Obama signed allows the bank to approve new financing until September 2014. It also permits the bank to increase its lending limit to $120 billion immediately. In the longer term, that limit can be raised to $140 billion if the bank submits a business plan and continues to maintain a low default rate on its loans.
During the signing ceremony, the president listed other goals he would like Congress to work toward, including providing a $3,000 credit for Americans who refinance their homes, supporting clean energy, and working to create a better job market for veterans.
Also on his congressional "to-do" list is help for small businesses.
"Congress still has the opportunity to do more to help small-business owners, who create most of the new jobs in America so we want to give them a tax break for hiring more workers and providing those workers higher wages," he said.
According to a White House fact sheet on the bill signed Wednesday, Export-Import Bank authorizations last year reached $32.7 billion, "supporting $40 billion in export sales and 290,000 American jobs at more than 3,600 U.S. companies."
The president used 10 pens to sign the export-import legislation, a common White House practice that allows each of the pens to be either displayed or distributed as a souvenir.
CNN Producer Scott Spoerry contributed to this report.
May 30th, 2012
10:18 AM ET
By CNN's Bob Kovach
(CNN) - The White House was in damage control Tuesday evening after words that President Obama used at a ceremony honoring 12 Americans with the Medal of Freedom sparked outrage.
The trouble came when he paid tribute to Jan Karski, the former Polish officer who escaped Nazi imprisonment and provided firsthand accounts to the Western Allies of atrocities. Karski received the award posthumously.
"Before one trip across enemy lines, resistance fighters told him that Jews were being murdered on a massive scale, and smuggled him into the Warsaw Ghetto and a Polish death camp to see for himself. Jan took that information to President Franklin Roosevelt, giving one of the first accounts of the Holocaust and imploring to the world to take action," Obama said.
May 30th, 2012
07:47 AM ET
Hurricane season starts on Friday. Sorry Florida. So to prepared, President Obama will attend an annual hurricane preparedness briefing in the Situation Room.
The President will then head to the EEOB to sign the reauthorization of the Export-Import Bank. In a released statement the administration claims, "this important step will help American businesses create jobs here at home and sell their products around the world – all at no cost to taxpayers."
In the East Room later in the evening, the President will make remarks and host a Jewish American Heritage Month reception.
The full schedule after the jump
May 29th, 2012
06:36 PM ET
WHITE HOUSE (CNN) - President Obama honored a dozen heroes from all different aspects of life to the White House and presented them with the highest civilian honor, the Medal of Freedom. The group of honorees included signer and songwriter Bob Dylan, former astronaut and senator John Glenn, former Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens, former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, and legendary women’s basketball coach Pat Summitt. Three recipients were honored posthumously, including the founder of the Girl Scouts Juliette Gordon Low.
Obama commented that all 13 individuals were personal heroes in his life. He mentioned reading novelist Toni Morrison’s Song of Solomon as a teenager and listening to Dylan’s music when he was in college. He praised John Doar for his work as a Justice Department official who enforced civil rights in the 1960s. “I think it's fair to say that I might not be here had it not been for his work,” the president said.
He also mentioned how the winners had impacted his family, particularly his daughters’ lives.
“Everybody on this stage has marked my life in profound ways. And I was telling - somebody like Pat Summitt - when I think about my two daughters, who are tall and gifted, and knowing that because of folks like Coach Summitt they’re standing up straight and diving after loose balls and feeling confident and strong, then I understand that the impact that these people have had extends beyond me,” Obama said. “It will continue for generations to come.”
For more of the story, check out what our friends at CNN wires wrote here.
May 28th, 2012
04:47 PM ET
During a visit to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington DC on Monday afternoon, President Obama celebrated the 50th anniversary of the start of the Vietnam War by honoring its veterans.
Standing before the dark granite wall bearing the names of the 58,282 Americans who died as a result of the war in Vietnam, Obama touched on the nation’s historically contentious relationship with the veterans from one of its most controversial military engagements.
“One of the most painful chapters in our history was Vietnam, most particularly how we treated our troops who served there,” the president said. “You were often blamed for a war you didn’t start, when you should have been commended for serving your country with valor. You were sometimes blamed for misdeeds of a few, when the honorable service of the many should have been praised. You came home and sometimes were denigrated, when you should have been celebrated. It was a national shame, a disgrace that should have never happened. And that's why here today we resolve that it will not happen again.”
May 28th, 2012
02:05 PM ET
President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama greeted the U.S. Navy’s first contingent of women submariners to be assigned to the Navy’s operational submarine force, in the Blue Room of the White House on Memorial Day. The 24 women were accepted into the Navy’s nuclear submarine program after completing an intensive training program and serve on ballistic and guided missile submarines throughout the Navy. Also attending were Admiral Mark Ferguson, left, Navy Secretary Ray Mabus and Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, right.
May 28th, 2012
10:44 AM ET
Hidden from the public’s eyes, seen only by those with special access, Washington D.C. sits on a treasure trove of unique spots off limits to the average tourist. For instance, a view from the top of the US Capitol building requires special permission. A tour of the Oval Office demands an escort and a secret service agent. Another one of those special spots sits right under the White House press briefing room.
A sign on a door reading “Restricted Area” leads down the stairway to an indoor pool built for President Roosevelt in the 1930’s. The pool was covered up during President Nixon's administration and the press briefing room was built on top of it. Today, the walls of the former pool are filled with hundreds of signatures of journalists and celebrities who have visited this secret place. Autographs include the likes of music legend Bono and actress Sarah Jessica Parker. Bono even drew his face! Baseballer Bernie Williams left his mark, so did former President George H.W. Bush. Other not so famous people, but those with special connections, have left their marks as well.