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Thursday, Sep 18th

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Outgoing GOP Senator Joins Lobbying Law Firm

Sen. Kit Bond (R-Mo.)Outgoing Sen. Kit Bond (R-Mo.) is headed for a pay raise, announcing on Tuesday he'll be joining a high-profile law firm that lobbies on transportation issues. While in Congress, Bond served as ranking member on a subcommittee that doled out transportation funds. Now he is joining the St. Louis-based law firm Thompson Coburn as a partner.

"I joined this firm to be a lawyer, not to be a lobbyist," Bond told reporters at a press conference on Tuesday, pointing to ethics rules that ban former lawmakers from lobbying for two years after leaving the chamber. "I do not plan to be involved in lobbying Congress."

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Senate approves nuclear arms treaty with Russia

Senate passes START treatyThe Senate approved a new strategic nuclear arms treaty with Russia on Wednesday, handing President Barack Obama a major foreign policy victory in his drive to improve ties with Moscow and curb the spread of atomic weapons to other countries.

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Ron Paul, Author of 'End the Fed,' to Lead Fed Panel

Representative Ron Paul, Texas Republican and author of "End the Fed," will take control of the House subcommittee that oversees the Federal Reserve.

"This is the leadership team that crafted the first comprehensive financial reform bill to put an end to the bailouts, wind down the taxpayer funding of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, and enforce a strong audit of the Federal Reserve," Bachus said in a statement.

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Pentagon, State Dept. criticized over 'elaborate fraud' involving Kyrgyz jet fuel deals

Manas Air BaseTo keep U.S. warplanes flying over Afghanistan, the Pentagon allowed a "secrecy obsessed" business group to supply jet fuel to a U.S. air base in Kyrgyzstan, turning a blind eye to an elaborate fraud involving fuel deliveries from Russia, according to congressional investigators.

In a report due to be released Tuesday, the House Subcommittee on National Security and Foreign Affairs hammers the Pentagon and also State Department diplomats for ignoring red flags raised by jet fuel contracts worth nearly $2 billion for the Manas Transit Center, a U.S. base used for in-flight refueling over Afghanistan.

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Senate Votes to End 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell'

Senate Ends DADTThe US Senate has passed bill to end the military's "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy, putting the long campaign to end the ban on gay men and lesbians close to its conclusion. The final vote was 65 Senators in favor and 31 opposed to the bill.

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Wikileaks did not commit a crime, House Judiciary chairman says

Rep. John Conyers (D-MI)Speaking at a hearing to explore whether Wikileaks violated the Espionage Act -- which the Obama administration claims its editor-in-chief violated -- Rep. John Conyers (D-MI) said that "America was founded on the belief that speech is sacrosanct" and dismissed calls for censorship of media outlets publishing leaked documents.

"As an initial matter, there is no doubt that WikiLeaks is very unpopular right now. Many feel that the WikiLeaks publication was offensive," Conyers said, according to prepared remarks. "But being unpopular is not a crime, and publishing offensive information is not either. And the repeated calls from politicians, journalists, and other so-called experts crying out for criminal prosecutions or other extreme measures make me very uncomfortable."

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Congress passes expansion of GI Bill benefits

G.I. Bill expanded by both housesFor the second time in two years, Congress has approved a major overhaul of GI Bill benefits, this time simplifying the formula for college tuition payments and awarding housing stipends to students attending classes online.

The measure, which passed the House in a 409 to 3 vote Thursday afternoon, would also allow more veterans to use the post-9/11 GI Bill to pay for vocational school and on-the-job training. Veterans groups had lobbied Congress vigorously for that change, saying veterans who were not interested in college classes were too limited under the previous rules.

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