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Tuesday, Sep 23rd

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House, Senate appear to have deal on VA care

Vet bill passes CongressTop lawmakers appear to have reached a deal on a bipartisan bill that would allow veterans to seek private care if they face long wait lines at Veterans Affairs' facilities.

An aide close to the negotiations said the compromise addresses both the short- and long-term needs of VA. The aide sought anonymity so as not to pre-empt a formal announcement panned for Monday afternoon.

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Former CIA officials can't see 'torture' report

CIA torture reportAbout a dozen former CIA officials named in a classified Senate report on decade-old agency interrogation practices were notified in recent days that they would be able to review parts of the document in a secure room in suburban Washington after signing a secrecy agreement.

Then, on Friday, many were told they would not be able to see it, after all.

Some of them were furious, while Democratic Senate aides were angry that they were given the chance in the first place.

It's the latest chapter in the drama and recriminations that have been playing out behind the scenes in connection with what some call the Senate torture report, a summary of which is being declassified and is expected to be released in the coming weeks.

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Rep. Curt Clawson Mistakes U.S. Officials For Indian Nationals

Curt ClawsonRep. Curt Clawson (R-Fla.) addressed what he believed were two members of the Indian government at a House hearing on Thursday and assured them that, as a U.S. representative, he would support all efforts to facilitate a better relationship between America and "your country" and "your government."

There was only one problem. The officials testifying before the House Asia and Pacific subcommittee weren't Indian officials at all, but two senior members of the U.S. government.

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Obama signs bill to overhaul job training programs

Job training bill overhaulFederal job training programs will see their biggest overhaul in 16 years after President Obama put his signature Tuesday on a law intended to streamline a tangled web of programs.

It's the first major rewrite of federal job training programs since Congress passed the Workforce Development Act in 1998 — when Netscape was the Web browser of choice, résumés were on paper and largely sent in the mail and newspaper want ads were the primary way of learning of job openings.

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U.S. House Appropriations chair: Obama border security request too high

House rejects Obaba request for immigrant fundsdThe Obama administration's $3.7 billion request for emergency funds to bolster U.S. border security and deal with a massive influx of migrant children from Central America is too high and will be reduced, an influential Republican lawmaker said on Friday.

House of Representatives Appropriations Committee Chairman Harold Rogers said the amount was "too much money" and a large portion of the funds needed to deal with the problems could be handled through the normal spending bills for the 2015 fiscal year starting on Oct. 1.

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Sen. Robert Menendez seeks probe of alleged Cuban plot to smear him

Robert MenendezSen. Robert Menendez is asking the Justice Department to pursue evidence obtained by U.S. investigators that the Cuban government concocted an elaborate plot to smear him with allegations that he cavorted with underage prostitutes, according to people familiar with the discussions.

In a letter sent to Justice Department officials, the senator’s attorney asserts that the plot was timed to derail the political rise of Menendez (D-N.J.), one of Washington’s most ardent critics of the Castro regime. At the time, Menendez was running for reelection and was preparing to assume the powerful chairmanship of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

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Senate passes vote to promote shooting on public land by 82 to 12

Senate passes shooting billLegislation to promote shooting on public land and relax ammunition regulations sailed through Congress on Monday night after Senators voted overwhelmingly in favour of a key procedural motion.

In stark contrast to gun control legislation, which has been stalled since last April, the bipartisan "sportsmen's act" has been promoted by gun enthusiasts and attracted support from several Democrats facing re-election in Republican-leaning states.

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