Step Forward for Same-sex Partners
President Obama has ordered the government to issue new medical rules that would give them the right to visit their partner in the hospital.
The White House says the rule changes would also make it easier for gay men and lesbians to make medical decisions on behalf of their partners; Obama says the new rules would affect any hospital that participates in Medicare or Medicaid.
Mr. Obama said: “Every day, all across America, patients are denied the kindness and caring of a loved one at their sides,” adding that the rules could also help widows and widowers who rely on friends and members of religious orders who care for one another.
With unemployment remaining stubbornly high, Congress has passed - and Obama quickly signed into law last night - legislation maintaining jobless benefits.
The $18 billion measure extends federal benefits through June 2; it means Americans out of work can get up to 99 weeks of assistance in some states. Although the measure passed the House in a bipartisan 289-112 vote, it was held up in the Senate over concerns it will add to the ballooning deficit.
The President's Day
After his usual intelligence briefing, the President delivers remarks at the White House Conference on America’s Great Outdoors, which will be held indoors at the Department of the Interior.
WWR has never heard of such an event. The White House press office says: "He will address the challenges, opportunities, and innovations surrounding modern-day land conservation and the importance of reconnecting Americans and American families to the outdoors."
After returning to the White House, Obama will meet with his national security team on Afghanistan and Pakistan in the Situation Room. Expected attendees include:
* Vice President Joe Biden
* Secretary of State Hillary Clinton
* Ambassador Susan Rice, Permanent U.S. Representative to the United Nations (via videoconference)
* USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah
* Deputy Secretary of State James Steinberg
* Deputy Secretary of State Jack Lew
* Deputy Secretary of the Treasury Neal Wolin
* Under Secretary of Defense Michele Flournoy
* Ambassador Richard Holbrooke, U.S. Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan
* Karl Eikenberry, U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan (via videoconference)
* Anne Patterson, U.S. Ambassador to Pakistan (via videoconference)
* Admiral Michael Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff
* General James E. Cartwright, USMC, Vice Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff
* General David Petraeus, U.S. Central Command
* General Stanley McChrystal, U.S. Commander in Afghanistan (via videoconference)
* Admiral Dennis Blair, Director of National Intelligence
* CIA Director Leon Panetta
* General James Jones, National Security Advisor
* Tom Donilon, Deputy National Security Advisor
* John Brennan, Assistant to the President for Counterterrorism and Homeland Security
* Tony Blinken, National Security Advisor to the Vice President
* Lieutenant General Douglas Lute, Special Assistant to the President for Afghanistan and Pakistan
The U.S. troop surge in Afghanistan, incidentally, is still underway. When it is complete, it will bring U.S. force levels there to 100,000. And then they will begin coming home - with withdrawals starting, the White House maintains, in July 2011. But many Republicans say a deadline they consider to be arbitrary is risky and will just strengthen the hand of the Taliban and al-Qaeda.
After the meeting breaks up, Obama and Vice-President Biden will have their weekly lunch in the Private Dining Room.
In the afternoon, the President will convene a meeting of his Economic Recovery Advisory Board (PERAB) in the Roosevelt Room. On the agenda: a range of economic issues, including financial reform, job creation and the President’s proposal to double U.S. exports over the next five years.
In-Town Travel Pool
Wires: AP, Reuters, Bloomberg
Wire Photos: AP, Reuters, AFP
TV Corr & Crew: ABC
Print: Politics Daily/Sun Times
9:30AM Pool Call Time
9:30AM THE PRESIDENT and THE VICE PRESIDENT receive the Presidential Daily Briefing
10:15AM THE PRESIDENT delivers remarks at the White House Conference on America’s Great Outdoors
Department of the Interior
Pooled for TV and still photographers and open to pre-credentialed correspondents (Travel Pool Gather Time 9:45AM – North Doors of the Palm Room)
11:00AM THE PRESIDENT meets with his national security team on Afghanistan and Pakistan
12:45PM THE PRESIDENT and THE VICE PRESIDENT have lunch
Private Dining Room
1:30PM THE PRESIDENT and THE VICE PRESIDENT meet with the PERAB
Pool spray at the top (Gather Time 1:20PM –Briefing Room)
"Associate with men of good quality if you esteem your own reputation; for it is better to be alone than in bad company." - George Washington