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GOP, Pentagon tussle over East Coast shield

East coast shieldThe Pentagon has repeatedly said it doesn’t need — nor can it afford — a third anti-missile battery on American territory to defend against a possible attack from North Korea or Iran.

But that hasn’t stopped congressional Republicans, ideologically predisposed to a more comprehensive missile shield than Democrats, from pushing for one on the East Coast.

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How the Trans Pacific Partnership Signals the Death of the Republic

US SenateOn April 22, 2015, the Senate Finance Committee approved a bill to fast-track the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a massive trade agreement that would override our republican form of government and hand judicial and legislative authority to a foreign three-person panel of corporate lawyers.

The secretive TPP is an agreement with Mexico, Canada, Japan, Singapore and seven other countries that affects 40% of global markets. Fast-track authority could now go to the full Senate for a vote as early as next week. Fast-track means Congress will be prohibited from amending the trade deal, which will be put to a simple up or down majority vote.

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Aide to Mississippi Sen. Cochran arrested on drug charge

CochranAn aide to Republican Sen. Thad Cochran of Mississippi has been charged with possession with intent to distribute methamphetamine after federal agents raided his home.

Fred W. Pagan, an office administrator for Cochran, was arrested Thursday.  Court papers said Customs and Border Protection officers found a package on April 9 in Cincinnati, Ohio, that contained 1.1 kilograms of the drug known as GBL. The package was bound for Pagan's home address.

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Bill Shuster muscled through transportation bill pushed by lobbyist girlfriend

Bill shusterLast year, Rep. Bill Shuster approached fellow Republican Rep. Tom Graves with a request. The powerful Transportation and Infrastructure Committee chairman wanted to take over Graves’ moribund Travel Transparency Act, an industry-friendly bill that would allow airlines to advertise the base price of a ticket without including fees and taxes.

The bill had gone nowhere under Graves (R-Ga.) — it didn’t even muster a hearing in committee. Once the Pennsylvania congressman took over, though, it moved at lightning speed: He introduced a revised version of the bill in March of last year, the same day he met with an airline industry group that supported it. A month later, Shuster shepherded the measure through his transportation panel in roughly 10 minutes. It sailed through the full House three months later without a roll call vote.

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Senate confirms Lynch for attorney general

Lynch is confirmed as AGFive months after her nomination, Loretta Lynch was confirmed, 56-43, by the U.S. Senate to serve as attorney general.

Lynch, whose nomination languished longer than the previous seven attorneys general combined, becomes the first African American woman to hold the job and the nation's 83rd chief law enforcement officer.

Her confirmation was not in doubt after enough Republicans publicly announced their support to clinch the simple majority needed for confirmation.

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Patriot Act extension bill introduced by Sen. McConnell

Patriot extension billSenate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., introduced a bill Tuesday to extend the controversial Patriot Act and its surveillance provisions until 2020.

The extension would allow the National Security Agency to continue to collect data of millions on U.S. phone records daily. The NSA does so under the authority of Section 215, which allows for secret court orders to collect "tangible things" that could be used by the government in investigations.

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Emotions over Obama's trade agenda roil Senate, delay action

Trade billEmotional disagreements over trade erupted in Congress on Wednesday, when a liberal senator delayed a committee's likely endorsement of a top trade priority for President Barack Obama.

The day began with Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, predicting a "strong bipartisan vote" for "fast track" legislation. The measure would renew presidential authority to present trade deals that Congress can endorse or reject but not amend.

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