HARI SREENIVASAN: The Senate formally opened debate today on a financial regulation reform bill. Republicans agreed last night to stop blocking the measure, in return for Democratic concessions. Those included dropping a $50 billion fund collected from the financial industry to wind down failing companies. After days of heated disagreement, senators on both sides struck a positive tone today.
SEN. CHRISTOPHER DODD, D-Conn.: There will be times during this debate when we will be at very different sides on issues. And that will happen. And that’s as it should be. There’s nothing wrong with that at all. But I think it’s better to begin a process where you can agree on things, and setting down at least your ability to come to some common understandings.
SEN. SAXBY CHAMBLISS, R-Ga.: And I am very hopeful, at the end of the day, that we will come out with a product that the American people can look back and say, wow, that’s the way the Senate is supposed to work, and the people that we sent there to do the people’s business have in fact put together a good product that’s going to benefit America.
HARI SREENIVASAN: More than 100 amendments from both parties were circulating, but none were expected to be debated until Tuesday.
Wall Street had a good day. Stocks rallied after several major companies posted strong earnings. The Dow Jones industrial average gained 122 points to close at 11167. The Nasdaq rose 40 points to close near 2512.
Florida Governor Charlie Crist announced today he’s leaving the Republican Party to run for the U.S. Senate as an independent. Crist had fallen far behind former statehouse speaker Marco Rubio in the Republican primary. The likely Democratic nominee is Congressman Kendrick Meek.
British Prime Minister Gordon Brown appealed to voters today to overlook a major gaffe. Yesterday, Brown was overheard calling a woman bigoted and had to apologize. Today, he addressed the issue at the start of the final prime ministerial debate before next week’s elections.
GORDON BROWN, British prime minister: There’s a lot to this job. And, as you saw yesterday, I don’t get all of it right.
But I do know how to run the economy in good times and in bad. When the banks collapsed, I took immediate action to stop crisis becoming calamity and to stop a recession becoming a depression.
HARI SREENIVASAN: But Conservative Party leader David Cameron attacked the ruling Labor Party for running up huge deficits. He said Britain now faces a range of hard choices as a result.
DAVID CAMERON, leader, British Conservative Party: The whole reason we’re having this debate about how difficult it is to get taxes down, how difficult it is going to be to cut spending is because this prime minister and this government have left our economy in such a complete mess, with a budget deficit that, this year, is forecast to be bigger than that of Greece.
HARI SREENIVASAN: The third man in the race, Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg, blamed both Labor and the Conservatives for Britain’s troubles. And he urged voters to break with the past.
NICK CLEGG, leader, U.K. Liberal Democrat Party: The way they got us into this mess is not the way out. So, we need to be frank about the cuts that will be needed, so we can protect things like schools and hospitals.
We will need to break up our banking system, so that irresponsible bankers can never again put your savings and your businesses at risk.
HARI SREENIVASAN: The latest polls have the Conservatives still leading, but not by enough to gain an outright majority in Parliament. The election is May 6.
Two coal miners were killed in Western Kentucky today when a mine roof collapsed. It happened near Providence. The men were working four miles inside the mine at the time.
Governor Steve Beshear spoke near the site this afternoon.
GOV. STEVE BESHEAR, D-Ky.: This whole commonwealth is saddened by the deaths of these two young men. They were engaged in an essential industry in this state and in this country. And it’s a — it’s a terrible tragedy to have lost their lives in this occupation.
HARI SREENIVASAN: Federal records showed the mine had been ordered closed twice this year for safety violations. Twenty-nine miners were killed earlier this month in West Virginia.
Hundreds of thousands of Graco and Simplicity baby cribs will be recalled in the United States. The Consumer Product Safety Commission said today hardware could fail, causing babies to suffocate or strangle.
And Toyota announced it’s resuming sales of the 2010 Lexus GX460, after halting them last week. It said a software fix is now available at dealers to stabilize the vehicle in tight turns.
For the record, Toyota is an underwriter of the “NewsHour.”
Hundreds of mourners, from the president on down, paid final respects today to civil rights leader Dorothy Height. Family, friends, political leaders, and members of the general public attended the funeral at Washington National Cathedral.
In his eulogy, President Obama recalled Height’s 40 years as head of the National Council of Negro Women.
U.S. PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: Dorothy Height was a drum major for justice, a drum major for equality, a drum major for freedom, a drum major for service. And the lesson she would want us to leave with today, the lesson she lived out each and every day, is that we can all be first in service. We can all be drum majors for a righteous cause.
HARI SREENIVASAN: Dorothy Height died last week at the age of 98.