Bulletins the AP: "The U.S. economy lost momentum in the opening quarter of 2005, growing at an annual rate of 3.1 percent. The slowest pace of expansion in two years, amid soaring gasoline prices and rising interest rates, offered new evidence the economy has hit a soft patch. The latest reading on gross domestic product, released by the Commerce Department on Thursday, showed that consumers and businesses turned cautious in their spending in the January-to-March quarter, a key factor in the slower economic growth. High energy prices and rising borrowing costs are causing Americans to tighten their belts a bit."
The presidential news conference has spurred Democrats to up the volume on their bracketing today. Sens. Reid, Schumer, Stabenow and others will hold a news conference at 11:45 am at the Jefferson Memorial to call on the GOP to "protect checks and balances in government" and accuse the GOP of refusing to compromise on the filibuster fight. Later, Sen. Barack Obama and Reid will speak on the Senate floor followed by a pen and pad.
Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi has a news conference at 10:45 am ET.
James Dever and Robert Conrad, both nominated to be district court judges in North Carolina, are expected to be confirmed by the full Senate today, and Democrats will use that event, if it happens, to make the case that they're not obstructing the President's nominees. Meanwhile, the Judiciary Committee holds an executive session to consider the Terrence Boyle, William Pryor, and Brett Cavanaugh nominations, as well as to consider mark-ups to the latest version of the asbestos trust fund legislation.
The Senate officially convenes at 9:30 am ET for yet more debate on the highway bill. The House is in session at 10:00 am ET.
At 11:00 am ET, Sens. Luger and Dodd, Reps. Pence and Boucher will hold a news conference calling for the quick passage of their Free Flow of Information Act, a media shield law.
At 12:30 pm ET, Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-NE) is the National Press Club luncheon speaker today. The topic: "America's Competitive Position in the World."
President Bush meets at 11:25 am ET with the President of Panama. Mrs. Bush has Helping America's Youth events in Alameda and Portland. HHS Secretary Mike Leavitt speaks at the University of Missouri in Kansas City today.
The Republican Party's state chair meeting kicks off today at the Renaissance Hotel in downtown Cleveland, as the Plain Dealer curtain raises. LINK
(Will anyone take Kris Warner aside? LINK )
John Edwards speaks tonight at the National Conference of Black Mayors dinner in Columbus.
One calendar event for y'all tomorrow: White House Counsel Harriet Miers speaks to the DC chapter of the Federalist Society at Tony Cheng's around noon.
The presidential news conference:
Sig Rogich, Don Fierce, and all Bushies who read The Note: we invite your responses to the tone and tenor of today's coverage, because we looked hard to find an article suggesting the Bush Administration is operating smoothly and smartly (which is not to say it isn't . . . ). firstname.lastname@example.org
Bloomberg's Richard Keil leads thusly: "President George W. Bush closes out the first 100 days of his second term this weekend with his ambitious agenda weighted down by political diversions and by public and partisan opposition to his signature issue."