Political squabbling over student loans continues
College students stand behind Pres. Obama and Secretary of Education Arnie Duncan in the East Room of the White House as the president calls on Congress to stop interest rates on student loans from doubling.
June 21st, 2012
04:46 PM ET

Political squabbling over student loans continues

WASHINGTON (CNN) - With time running out for Congress to prevent a doubling of interest rates on federal student loans, the White House and Republican leaders exchanged accusations Thursday on who was to blame for the lack of an agreement.

President Barack Obama chided Republicans for holding up a deal with unreasonable demands, and he urged college students to continue raising their voices on the issue.

However, spokesmen for Republican leaders in the House and Senate denied an assertion by press secretary Jay Carney that the White House has been working with them to try to reach a deal.

Asked about GOP complaints that the White House has not reached out to Republicans on the issue in recent days, Carney said that "we are actively working with members of Congress to get this done," adding, "in both parties."

Spokesmen for House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, disputed Carney's account.

On the Senate floor, McConnell accused Obama and Democrats of playing political games on the issue.

"It is the Democrat-led Senate that has failed to act and the president who has failed to contribute to a solution, and the reason is obvious," McConnell said. "It was reported yesterday that the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee is launching a website with a student loan countdown clock aimed at raising money off this issue. The implication is that Republicans are the ones dragging their feet. "

FULL POST

June 21st, 2012
02:14 PM ET

Contempt vote inflames Fast and Furious debate

WASHINGTON (CNN) - A possible U.S. House vote next week on citing Attorney General Eric Holder for contempt of Congress in connection with the botched Fast and Furious gun-running sting evoked bitter political sniping Thursday between Republicans and Democrats.

Despite statements by all parties favoring a deal to avoid what would be an unprecedented contempt citation against a sitting attorney general, the heated rhetoric indicated congressional leaders and Holder remained committed to deeply rooted stances on the politically charged issue.

House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, defended the House Oversight Committee vote Wednesday to refer the contempt citation to the full House, saying the goal was to uncover the truth about Fast and Furious, including what he called certain White House involvement.

"The House will vote next week on a contempt measure unless these documents are released," Boehner said.

At the White House, spokesman Jay Carney called the Republican investigation a "politically motivated, taxpayer funded, election year fishing expedition."

"It is this approach that explains at least in part why this Congress has the lowest approval ratings of any in recent memory," Carney said.

Holder, meanwhile, said his offer still stands to turn over some of the documents sought by House Republicans.

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Obama loses business voice with Bryson departure
June 21st, 2012
02:05 PM ET

Obama loses business voice with Bryson departure

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) - John Bryson resigned his post as Commerce Secretary on Thursday, less than two weeks after an episode involving a seizure and a series of traffic accidents.

Bryson, a former energy industry CEO, had served in the position since October, and his departure leaves the Obama administration with one fewer private-sector luminary.

Bryson brought significant business experience to the Commerce Department, having served as CEO and chairman of the parent company of Southern California Edison for almost 20 years.

Bryson retired from Edison in 2008, and was working as a senior adviser at private equity firm Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co at the time of his nomination.

Bryson's selection was widely viewed as an example of the Obama administration's efforts to improve its occasionally rocky relationship with the business community.

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Topics: Commerce • President Obama
POTUS's schedule for Thursday, June 21
June 21st, 2012
08:37 AM ET

POTUS's schedule for Thursday, June 21

It's going to be a scorcher in D.C. today and the White House grounds staff started watering the lawn early this morning. Today, President Obama and his administration (mainly Press Secretary Jay Carney) are surely to be grilled on yesterday's claiming of executive privilege and the vote on the Hill to hold Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt. But the president will be focusing on student loans and trying to prevent interest rates from doubling at the end of the month if Congress doesn't act. He was in Las Vegas earlier this month, touting his plan to students at UNLV where he argued that it will cost students up to $1000 extra if Congress doesn't pass legislation to prevent the doubling. ā€œI just said to Congress, get this done. Get it done. Get it done. This is not complicated. Last month, Democrats in the Senate put forward a plan that would have kept these low rates in place, wouldn't have added a dime to the deficit. The Senate Republicans got together, they blocked it. They said, no. House Republicans voted to keep your rates down only if we agreed to cut things like preventive health care for women. So that's not a smart thing to do,ā€ Mr. Obama said two weeks ago. So we expect him to say more of the same thing today when he holds an event in the East Room to continue to put the pressure on Congress.

For the President's full schedule, click below. FULL POST