Unveiling his budget proposal Wednesday at the White House, President Obama said the U.S. economy is "poised for progress" -- as long as Washington doesn't get in the way.
"Frankly, the American people deserve better than what we have been seeing, a shortsighted, crisis-driven decision making, like the reckless across-the-board spending cuts that are hurting a lot of communities out there, cuts that will cost us hundreds of thousands of jobs during the course of this year," Obama said, according to a rush transcript.
House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) on Wednesday told reporters that the House will review gun control legislation produced in the Senate. "It's important for the Senate to do its work," Boehner said, adding that if legislation passes, "we'll be happy to review it."
Boehner's remarks come as a deal has reportedly been reached between Sens. Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Pat Toomey (R-PA) to expand background checks. The two senators are scheduled to unveil their progress at 11 a.m. ET Wednesday at a press conference on Capitol Hill.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) has scheduled a preliminary vote on gun control measures for Thursday. "It'd be a real slap in the face to American people not to do something on background checks, on school safety, on federal trafficking," Reid told reporters on Tuesday. "The American people deserve a vote."
Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ) told MSNBC on Wednesday that he hasn't been interviewed by the FBI or a grand jury, which is reportedly investigating the senator's work on behalf of Salomon Melgen, a wealthy campaign donor and friend.
"And the reality is, is look, we welcome any review by any entity," Menendez said. "Because at the end of the day, we know that review will prove that we have acted appropriately at all times. What we don't know in this process is who was behind the money and the smears that they tried to level. We do know that there were people behind it. We do know that Republican operatives were at play, by a whole host of press accounts. We'd love to know who was behind that."
MSNBC host Chuck Todd pressed Menendez on his relationship with Melgen and asked if he can say with certainty that he never advocated on behalf of his friend beyond what he would do for any other constituent.
"We have all types of constituents, both in New Jersey and from across the country, who bring us issues," Menendez said. "And we look at those issues, we make a determination as to whether or not those issues have legitimacy, and then we make a decision to pursue it ourselves if we think the issue has legitimacy. And in this case, as in every other case, that's the road that we followed. It's the same road for everyone. And as I say, I'm, you know, happy to see our actions reviewed, because, at the end of the day, they were totally appropriate."
The FBI has probed Menendez's dealings with Melgen over a port security contract in the Dominican Republic, according to the Washington Post. In a recent interview with Bloomberg News, Melgen acknowledged that he has discussed the port security contract with Menendez, adding that there was no foul play.
The Post also reported that the FBI has investigated allegations that Menendez solicited prostitutes in the Dominican Republic. Menendez has denied the allegations, and the Post's report, published in mid-February, said there was no evidence to support the claims.
Sens. Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Pat Toomey (R-PA) have reportedly reached a deal on background checks for gun sales, and the two senators are scheduled to hold a press conference at 11 a.m. ET Wednesday to announce their progress.
The Associated Press reported that the senators' deal would close the gun show loophole and expand background checks for online sales, but not for face-to-face transactions.
First lady Michelle Obama is scheduled to deliver a speech on youth violence Wednesday in Chicago, CBS News reported.
"First Lady Michelle Obama will return to her hometown to address local business and community leaders about providing more opportunities for young people to achieve their full potential," the White House said in a statement, according to NBC News.
Obama is expected to join Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel at a lunch with business leaders, where she will make her pitch to increase investment in youth opportunities, according to NBC's report. After the lunch, Obama will meet with students from Harper High School, a school that has seen 29 of its current or former students shot in the last year, according to CBS.
House Budget Committee Chair Paul Ryan (R-WI), the architect of the House GOP's budget, said on Wednesday that he fears President Obama's budget will maintain the status quo.
"The status quo's not working too well," Ryan said on MSNBC's "Morning Joe." "We have massive deficits, a crushing debt, a slow economy, high poverty rates. So is he going to break the status quo? Is he going to take on real entitlement reform? Is he going to kick start true negotiations? That's the question that is open in my mind. I don't hear much of that, though, so my fear, based on what I now know and what I've heard, is that it's more of a status quo budget."
But Ryan resisted going after Obama's proposal too aggressively before he has seen all the details.
"The good news in all this, and I want to be constructive here, is at least we've got everybody putting a plan on the table," Ryan added. "We haven't had that for four years. So now the Senate has given us a budget. Don't like the budget. They don't like ours. That's fine. And at least the President, two months late, is putting his budget on the table. So now we're going to have to start looking for where the common ground exists."
The President's budget does embrace changes to entitlement benefits, including adopting Chained CPI. Obama is scheduled to discuss his budget proposal at 11 a.m. ET Wednesday at the White House.
The Treasury Department has responded to critics of a recent trip to Cuba by Jay-Z and Beyonce, calling the U.S.-approved travel "educational."
"It is our understanding that the travelers in question traveled to Cuba pursuant to an educational exchange trip organized by a group authorized by OFAC (Office of Foreign Assets Control) to sponsor and organize programs to promote people-to-people contact in Cuba," Treasury's Assistant Secretary of Legislative Affairs Alastair M. Fitzpayne wrote in a letter Tuesday to Reps. Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL) and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL).
The two members of Congress wrote a letter to the Treasury Department last week seeking information on "the type of license that Beyonce and Jay-Z received, for what purpose, and who approved such travel.” Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) also weighed in earlier this week, issuing a statement calling on the Obama administration to explain and justify its approval of the trip.
Despite the United States' official approval of the trip, Ros-Lehtinen issued a statement critical of the travel -- and the Obama administration's approval of it. "If the tourist activities undertaken by Beyonce and Jay-Z in Cuba are classified as an educational exchange trip, then it is clear that the Obama Administration is not serious about denying the Castro regime an economic lifeline that US tourism will extend to it," she said. "That was a wedding anniversary vacation that was not even disguised as a cultural program. As more human rights activists engage in hunger strikes, I don't think they will see any evidence of how this scam endeavor will help them become independent of the regime."
Diaz-Balart also criticized the administration's decision, calling the Treasury's response vague. “Cuba remains an island prison for those still struggling for basic freedoms," he said in a statement. "I urge President Obama to side with the Cuban people and halt any further channeling of U.S. tourism dollars to the their jailers.”
Two people are in critical condition after a stabbing Tuesday at the Cy-Fair campus of Lone Star College, Harris County, Tex. Sheriff Adrian Garcia said at a press conference. Garcia said there are currently 14 victims related to the incident.
Garcia said that a 911 call received Tuesday morning was described as "male on the loose, stabbing people." He said the suspect was a white male wearing a black hat and a black-and-white shirt. Garcia said video evidence has allowed police to confirm "at least one and only one suspect." A white male has been taken into custody, Garcia said, adding that the suspect is approximately 21 years old and currently enrolled in the Lone Star College system. The Cy-Fair campus is located in Cypress, Tex.
Garcia said the exact type of weapon used is not known. He also said no guns have been found in the investigation so far.