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Aldrin returns to DC to talk space travel

Apollo 11 astronaut Buzz Aldrin returned to the Capitol on Thursday to discuss the future space travel with members of Congress.

Aldrin has been a frequent visitor in Washington over the past few months arguing for bold new plans for the country's space program.

The 79-year-old pioneer stopped in to see Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.) who is chairwoman of the House Science and Technology Space and Aeronautics Subcommittee.

Giffords tweeted:

http://twitpic.com/h7a8s - Apollo Astronaut Buzz Aldrin visited me this a.m. Frank discussion on the future of space w/ the 2nd man to walk on moon

The second-term Democrat previously received a visit from shuttle commander Michael Collins in July. Giffords is married to another NASA shuttle commander, Mark Kelly.

Here is a photo of Giffords and Buzz:

Buzz Aldrin


Specter: Wilson apology not enough

Sen. Arlen Specter (D-Pa.) said on Thursday that Rep. Joe Wilson's (R-S.C.) apology for shouting "you lie!" at President Obama during his Wednesday night speech was not "adequate."

Wilson made his outburst after Obama said that his health reform plan would not ensure illegal immigrants. After making the remark, the president glared at the Republican side of the aisle, as did House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Vice President Joe Biden.

The fifth-term senator tweeted:

Rep. Wilson apologized immediately afterward but I don't think that’s adequate.

"This evening I let my emotions get the best of me when listening to the president’s remarks regarding the coverage of illegal immigrants in the health care bill," Wilson said after the speech.

"While I disagree with the president’s statement, my comments were inappropriate and regrettable. I extend sincere apologies to the president for this lack of civility," he added.

Many members of Congress condemned Wilson's disruption following the address.


Wilson gains thousands of Twitter followers after outburst

Rep. Joe Wilson's (R-S.C.) decision to shout "you lie!" at President Obama during his speech Wednesday night may not have been the most politically expedient move, but it did wonders for his Twitter follower count.

Before his speech, Wilson had just over 2,300 Twitter followers before the address. Now he has more than 6,900 people tracking him, just about tripling his follower base.

The fifth-term Republican has not tweeted since Monday.

Usually, users gain followers by tweeting often and by other high-follower users re-tweeting their messages. Wilson's retort proved to be an exception to these trends.

Wilson's last tweet came at a Labor Day rally in Chapin, S.C.:

Happy Labor Day! Wonderful parade at Chapin, many people called out to oppose Obamacare which I assured them would be relayed tomorrow to DC

The South Carolinian's website has also seen exceptionally high traffic since his outburst, causing the site to crash, reports The Hill's Eric Zimmermann.


Gingrich lauds young tennis phenom

Amid the aftermath of President Obama's speech last night, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich appears to have also been paying attention to the U.S. Open tennis championship.

He tweeted praise for 17-year-old phenom Melanie Oudin, who surprisingly advanced to the quarterfinals, but was ousted by ninth-ranked Caroline Wozniacki in straight sets on Wednesday:

All of us can be proud of melanie oudin's great competitiveness at the us open. She has a remarkable future ahead of her.

"It was a lot," Oudin said after the match of the attention surrounding her. "These past two weeks have been really different for me. I've gone from being just a normal, like, tennis player to almost everyone in the United States knowing who I am now."


Liberal Dem: Obama 'nailed' public option

A vice chairman of the Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC) said on Thursday that President Obama "nailed" the public option during his speech to a joint session of Congress last night.

Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.) took to Twitter to endorse the president's take on the controversial public health plan. However, not all liberal House leaders shared Ellison's exact sentiments.

CPC co-chairman Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-Ariz.) said that while he was glad Obama kept the public option on the table, "the president needs to be more direct on what the public option means and what it will do for the American people."

Ellison tweeted:

Obama hit ball out of the park. Obama nailed PO. Progressives sent letters to WH, gathered signatures, held mtgs, stood against bullies.

The second-term Democrat credited liberal members of Congress several times for Obama' stance on the public plan, tweeting earlier:

No doubt, Progressives in Congress & across U.S. pushed WH to stick w/ PO. Credit Obama for listening. Progressives=Power. Get use to it.

Here is a key portion of Obama's speech that discusses the public option:

But an additional step we can take to keep insurance companies honest is by making a not-for-profit public option available in the insurance exchange. Let me be clear – it would only be an option for those who don’t have insurance. No one would be forced to choose it, and it would not impact those of you who already have insurance. In fact, based on Congressional Budget Office estimates, we believe that less than 5% of Americans would sign up...

It is only one part of my plan, and should not be used as a handy excuse for the usual Washington ideological battles. To my progressive friends, I would remind you that for decades, the driving idea behind reform has been to end insurance company abuses and make coverage affordable for those without it. The public option is only a means to that end – and we should remain open to other ideas that accomplish our ultimate goal. And to my Republican friends, I say that rather than making wild claims about a government takeover of health care, we should work together to address any legitimate concerns you may have.


Republican group shares speech preview card

Health Care Caucus, a House Republican health policy group, shared an image of the ubiquitous glossy card given to lawmakers just before President Barack Obama's address to a joint session of Congress Wednesday night.

The group, which is headed by House Energy and Commerce Health Subcommittee ranking member Michael Burgess (R-Tex.), took to Twitter to show the card.

The text of the placard stressed that healthcare reform would provide "stability and security" for those who have health insurance and insurance coverage for those who do not have it. The phrase "stability and security" appeared multiple times on the card, demonstrating the White House's effort to ensure people who have coverage will not be adversely affecred by reform.

Here is the tweet and the photo:

This 11" by 5" card was in the seat of every Member. Has talking points on the Obama plan. http://twitpic.com/h5m4r



Lawmakers tweet reactions to Obama's address

Members of Congress took to Twitter en masse to react to President Barack Obama's address to a joint session of Congress Wednesday night.

Though some of the attention was taken away by Rep. Joe Wilson's (R-S.C.) outburst during the speech, in which he yelled at the president "you lie," the majority of the reactions were focused on the speech itself. Obama sought to reclaim the debate on healthcare reform and push for a healthcare plan through Congress. 

The president took on specific issues such as the public option and malpractice insurance, but as he admitted, many specifics of the plan remain undefined.

So what did lawmakers think about the speech? 

Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) said

Pres Obama's speech on health care, made a compelling case for action by reducing costs, providing coverage, and ending insurance denials.

Rep. Gabrille Giffords (D-Ariz.) said:

As the President said, "We did not come here to fear the future, we came here to shape it." We must succeed. http://bit.ly/o5aHO

Rep. Kevin Brady (R-Tex.) compared the president's health plan to a "ShamWow," a made for TV product:

President gave good sales pitch but I'm still not buying the ShamWow. Nothing new. Same government plan. Needlesslly partisan.

By attacking GOP and being, frankly, misleading, President probably destroyed chance for thoughtful bipartisan reform. He's not listening.

I've been working health care reform for years. We need to get it right. First time. Don't start by destroying American system.

Solution: go back to drawing board NOW. Not radical surgery, tackle coverage first, then affordability. don't move on till it's right.

More solution: Next year focus on responsibility/prevention and efficiency. Many great local ideas to improve health care w/out govt.

Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) tweeted his reaction and about a mouse in his House office where he sleeps on a cot:

At its core, the President's proposal is the same....a big federal government takeover of health care. I can not and will not support it.

The federal government is not going to come up with the best solutions. It will be the states that will do the best job.

It is about control. The President wants Federal control and I want state control.

Uh oh! Even bigger trouble. Mouse in the house. Staff tells me they saw a mouse tonight in the office.

The cot isn't that far off the ground. Guess you get what you pay for. PETA, you have exactly one hour to get here and get it.

Otherwise, it is Decon and real mouse traps.

I have made two big decisions tonight. We are killing the health care bill and we we are killing the mouse in the office.

Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) said and commented earlier on her midwestern manners:

Strong speech. Big olive branch to Republicans. Hope they realize the cost of doing nothing is much higher than resonable measured reform.

No tweeting during President's speech. Don't want my mom to holler at me about bad manners.

Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.) said:

Agree w/Pres Obama that 80 percent of what he outlined in health reform we agree on so why not pass that now: no preexisting discrmntn, etc?

Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.) said after the address:

Happy to hear clear focus on cost. Inaction is unfair to consumers, makes business uncompetitive & will bankrupt our gov't.

Also glad he called out "death panel" scare tactics. Whether malice or ignorance, it disrespects families dealing w/ aging issues.

Appreciated Pres' bipartisan tone. Let's keep what works, fix what's broken. We agree on 80%.

Rep. Greg Walden (D-Ore.) said:

Quite a speech. Look forward to reading the President's new plan. He would have to veto the House bill under the terms he just outlined.

Rep. Chellie Pingree (D-Maine) tweeted tonight:

The President did a very very good job, it was a great speech and he laid out a very good plan.

President walked by while I was waiting outside the Chamber. I told him he did very well and he gave me a hug. http://yfrog.com/12ph1rj

Sen. Chris Dodd (D-Conn.), who turned down the chairmanship of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee today, tweeted after the speech

Tonight, President Obama made a tremendous case for action on health care reform.

Anyone who doesn't understand the urgency of this crisis fails to recognize the needs of the American people.

The President made it clear tonight that the time to act is now -- and I, for one, am ready to join him in this fight.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said:

Pres. Obama explained his clear vision of health insurance reform. Time to get it done. #hc09

Rep. Lee Terry (R-Neb.) said

#President is a great speaker but pushes gov't control. I'd like to discuss with him my plan for #healthcare and reach a better solution.

Rep. Michael Burgess (R-Tex.) reacted, saying:

It has been 42 days since the President invited "any" member of Congress to the WH to go over the bill line by line. And I accepted.

The WH never followed through with that concept, tonight the President seemed to reprise that offer, saying he wanted to solict ideas D or R

Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.) tweeted how all of us should end the night:

Obama did a great job! Stuck up for the public option, told the fibbers that he was going to "call them out", and addressed cost issues.

"I will not waste time with people who calculate that its better to kill a plan than to improve it" - Pres. Barak (sic) Obama.

Sitting in Bullfeathers nr Capitol talking to Lois Quam re The Obama Speech. She and Rick Jauert are swapping stories re SW Minnesota.


UPDATED Democrats react to Wilson's outburst on Twitter

Democrats have taken to Twitter to condemn Rep. Joe Wilson's (R-S.C.) outburst that interrupted President Barack Obama's address to Congress Wednesday night.

The South Carolina Republican shouted "you lie!" when Obama said that his health reform plan would not insure illegal immigrants.

Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) said Wilson "behaved like a jerk" but did not mention him by name: 

Biggest disappointmnt of evening, the total lack of respect shown by one member for the President.Never acceptable to behave like a jerk.

Rep. Steve Israel (D-N.Y.) did identify Wilson as the heckler:

"You lie" yeller was Rep. Joe Wilson. Shameful.

The Democratic National Committee tweeted:

Note to @CongJoeWilson: the minimum age for the House of Representatives is 25. Act like it.

UPDATED [11:17pm]

Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) is the first Republican lawmaker to chime in on Twitter:

Joe Wilson did the right thing by apologizing for his remark.....


'Joe Wilson' top trending topic on Twitter

It looks like a Republican congressman's outburst on the House floor during President Barack Obama's address to Congress has momentarily eclipsed the speech itself, at least on Twitter.

"Joe Wilson," the South Carolina Republican congressman who shouted "you lie" at the president, is the top trending topic on Twitter right now. Trending topics track the most popular conversation subjects on the microblogging site.

"LIAR" and "R-SC" are also trending topics right now, meaning that three out of the ten topics are related to Wilson. "Obama" is the only non-Wilson topic trending about the speech right now.

Wilson made his comment after President Obama said that his health reform plan will not insure illegal immigrants. Wilson's retort caused the president to pause momentarily during his speech.


Lawmakers tweet in anticipation of president's address

Members of Congress are beginning to file into the U.S. Capitol building to hear President Barack Obama deliver his highly anticipated address on healthcare reform.

Some lawmakers have taken to Twitter to share dispatches as they enter the building or share thoughts about the speech. Others are holding web forums or question and answer sessions about the speech.

Rep. Chellie Pingree (D-Maine) said tonight

Looking forward to hearing the President tonight, long day of health care conversations.

The Capitol is beautiful tonight, Russell Libby from MOFGA will be a guest in the Gallery tonight.

Rep. John Carter (R-Tex.) said

Have questions about #healthcare #hcr? Email me at JudgeCarter@gmail.com, visit http://bit.ly/2S6Um after Obama's speech for live Web cast.

Chief Minority Deputy Whip Kevin Rep. Kevin Brady (R-Calif.) recorded some radio interviews: 

I also recorded interviews with KGET, KBAK, and KERO previewing the President's speech on health care...

Rep. Steve Israel (D-N.Y.) said

Heading to House Floor for Presidents speech.

Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.) said before appearing on CNBC:

Abt to prvw Pres. Obama's speech on CNBC pre-game show w/ my good friend/GOP Banking Cmte colleague Bob Corker of TN.

Rep. Lee Terry (R-Neb.) said

I hope the President makes a clear commitment AGAINST a total #gov’t #takeover of #healthcare.

Rep. Tom Perriello (D-Va.) said

Looking forward to the President's address tonight on health care. Will be on C-SPAN tomorrow morning at 8 a.m.... http://bit.ly/1iAqW

Rep. Michael Burgess (r-Tex.) said

On my way to joint session.

Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.) asked a big question:

Sitting on House floor, reading excerpts of Pres. Obama's speech which he will soon deliver. What will he say on controversial gov't plan?