Barack Obama

(via Flickr/USACEpublicaffairs)

Mo. Gov. Jay Nixon is asking President Barack Obama to issue a major disaster declaration for 23 northern counties hit by severe storms and flooding along the Missouri River. He announced the request Monday.

The disaster request would cover events since June 1. If approved, it would allow government aid to flow to families and public agencies that have suffered losses. The counties included in the request are:

(Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

Thank you for joining us this morning for NPR's special live coverage of this event.

From NPR's "The Two-Way":

"Saying he is prepared 'to take significant heat' from members of his own party in order to achieve meaningful debt and deficit reduction, President Obama this morning again pushed for a big, long-term budget deal with Republicans.

And he heaped praise on House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) for his efforts to strike such a grand bargain, even though the Republican leader has said that he probably can't get such a plan approved by members of his party. The president said that both he and Boehner need to convince skeptics in their parties' ranks of the need for action.

(Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

During a press conference today, the president addressed negotiations over the federal budget deficit and debt ceiling, the economy and the military campaigns in Afghanistan and Libya.

So you can catch up or review, here's a live blog from NPR's The Two Way that breaks down the President's remarks.

Official White House Photo by Pete Souza

This evening, at approximately 7 p.m. CT, President Obama announced a reduction in troop levels in Afghanistan.

For more, see this live blog of the speech from NPR's "The Two Way."

Join us in listening live to the speech and commentary here:

UPI/Rick Meyer

Obama Visits Joplin

Exactly a week after Joplin was hit by the deadliest tornado to strike the U.S in decades, President Barack Obama visited the Missouri city to offer hope to survivors and promises of help. Obama took to the stage during the Joplin Community Memorial Service, delivering a message of hope and support.

Along with promises to help rebuild the devastated community, Obama honored some of Joplin’s “heroes,” whom he says acted swiftly – often at the expense of their own lives – to save those around them.

Missouri Governor Jay Nixon will shift $25 million from next year’s state budget to help pay for damage in Joplin caused by last weekend’s deadly tornado.

Nixon says he doesn’t yet know which areas of the FY 2012 budget he’ll use to help offset tornado expenses.

“What decisions we have to make because of that to trim the budget and to balance, we’ll make over the coming weeks…if the demands for dollars continue to move up, we clearly have other sources, other ways to get resources,” Nixon said.

(Official White House

Obama to Visit Joplin

Speaking from London, President Barack Obama says he plans to travel to Missouri on Sunday to meet with victims of the "devastating and heartbreaking" tornadoes that hit the state this weekend.

The president says he wants Midwesterners whose lives were disrupted by the deadly storms to be assured that the federal government will use all resources possible to help them recover and rebuild. Obama spoke in London, the second stop on his four-country, six-day tour of Europe. The president is due back in Washington Saturday night.

(Screen capture via YouTube user thomasstout25)

Devastation in Joplin Following Tornado

Rescue workers are searching for survivors following a massive tornado that blasted a four-mile path across southwestern Missouri slamming into the city of Joplin with cataclysmic force. The tornado last night ripped into a hospital, destroyed neighborhoods and upended cars.

Eighty-nine people have been confirmed dead.

(via White House photographer Pete Souza)

Today President Obama addresses the U.S. State Department on the events in the Middle East and North Africa and U.S. policy in the region. 

You can listen to the President's speech live below via NPR beginning at 10:20 a.m.:

Marshall Griffin, St. Louis Public Radio

A potential Republican candidate for president made a stop today at the Missouri Capitol.

Business executive-turned-radio talk show host Herman Cain met with state lawmakers and addressed a Tea Party rally on the South Lawn of the Capitol.

via flickr/Bill Greenblatt

President Obama declared a state of disaster in 59  Missouri counties today as a result of severe winter storms that struck the state between late January and early February. Federal aid has been made available to supplement state and local cleanup efforts.

Federal assistance and funding will be available to state and local governments on a cost-sharing basis in order to help with snow removal, emergency work and repair or replacement of damaged facilities.

(Via Flickr/Rosemary)

Today is the one-year anniversary of President Obama’s health care reform law. Despite threats to repeal the law, Illinois’ top insurance regulator said people are better protected and covered under the law.

After one year of being in effect the law has managed to round up plenty of support but also plenty of disdain.

Missouri Senator Claire McCaskill is calling President Obama's budget a starting point to begin the conversation between Democrats and Republicans.

The Democratic senator says she is anxious to see the Republicans' budget plan in the House. But McCaskill is also criticizing the GOP for focusing on the discretionary domestic budget, which, she says, is only 18 percent of the budget.

Updated at 1:32 p.m. Feb. 15, 2011 with post-ceremony comments

Hall of Fame baseball player Stan Musial was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom today in Washington.

The St. Louis Cardinals outfielder and first baseman received the medal from President Barack Obama today in a ceremony at the White House.

"This is the top honor that I'm ever going to receive," Musial told the St. Louis Beacon in his hotel room before the ceremony.

Missouri's Senators Claire McCaskill and Roy Blunt agree that the president's proposal to cut the deficit does not go far enough.

President Barack Obama proposed a freeze in spending in his State of the Union speech last night.

McCaskill, a Democrat, says the president's spending cuts don't go far enough:

St. Louis Public Radio

Often tax legislation is a little bit muddled. We try to break down Obama's latest for you and let you know what your U.S. Senators, Kit Bond and Claire McCaskill, think as they go to vote on the bill.

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