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Friday, Aug 22nd

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Republican Senator Susan Collins endorses same-sex marriage

Susan Collins-Maine Republican Susan Collins became the fourth sitting GOP senator to publicly come out in favor of same-sex marriage, announcing her support Wednesday.

Collins publicly announced her support for same-sex marriage after the Human Rights Campaign, America's largest LGBT advocacy group, endorsed her re-election over Democrat challenger Shenna Bellows.

"A number of states, including my home state of Maine, have now legalized same-sex marriage, and I agree with that decision," Collins explained to the Bangor Daily News.

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Congress poised to approve $41m to clear backlog of untested rape kits

Cpngress to fund rape kit processingThe US Congress is on the verge of approving an additional $41m in grants to process tens of thousands of unprocessed sexual assault DNA kits, adding to the $1.2bn the federal government has spent over 10 years trying to reduce a nationwide backlog.

The Senate is scheduled to vote on Tuesday on a bill that passed the House last month.

“It is a travesty when communities are terrorized and innocent people are victimized simply because evidence that could be used to prevent these crimes sits untested on a shelf somewhere," said Steve Cohen, a Democrat representing Tennessee, in a statement before the House approved the appropriations on May 30. An amendment named for the representative added $5m in funding to the $36m line item.

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Eric Cantor Will Step Down As House Majority Leader

Eric Cantor Rep. Eric Cantor will step down as majority leader, according to several Republicans sources, ending a meteoric 13-year Congressional career.

Several GOP sources say his resignation from that job will be effective July 31.

The Virginia Republican, who came to Washington in 2001, lost his primary election Tuesday night to Dave Brat, an economics professor at Randolph-Macon College in Ashland, Va.

The announcement comes as House Republicans are grappling with the defeat of their No. 2 leader, who many assumed was the next speaker of the House. Just hours after Cantor lost his primary, his GOP colleagues began rallying support for leadership races.

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U.S. student loan refinancing bill fails Senate hurdle

US loan refinance bill failsDemocratic-sponsored legislation to allow student loan borrowers to refinance at lower interest rates failed to clear a procedural hurdle in the U.S. Senate on Wednesday.

The Senate voted 56-38 to end debate and move to a final vote, short of the 60 votes required.

Democrats had said their measure would let holders of both federal and private undergraduate loans - some with rates of 9 percent or higher - to refinance at 3.86 percent.

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2 Million Will Go Hungry If Congress Has Its Way

maritime billIn the coming weeks, Senators on the Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee will have a choice to make: Give a $75 million subsidy to the maritime shipping industry, or ensure that several million people in impoverished and war-torn countries have food to eat.

At issue is how the Senate will address a provision quietly tucked into the House-approved version of the Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation Act. The obscure provision would raise the percentage of U.S. food aid that is required to be transported on privately owned, U.S.-flagged commercial vessels from 50 to 75 percent. This would effectively deny 2 million people in countries like Haiti, South Sudan and the Central African Republic access to lifesaving U.S. food assistance.

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House stops feds from executing raids in medical marijuana states

House of RepresentativesJust after midnight Friday, congress voted to approve an amendment that would bar federal agencies from holding raids in states that allow medical marijuana.

If the amendment passes, the Senate, the Drug Enforcement Administration and the Justice Department would have to halt all efforts to curb the distribution and cultivation of marijuana in states that legally "authorize the use, distribution, possession, or cultivation of medical marijuana."

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VA groups slam Burr over Shinseki letter

Richard BurrSen. Richard Burr and several veterans' groups continued swiping at each other throughout the weekend over the allegations plaguing Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki.

The scuffle was set off when the North Carolina Republican sent an open letter to veterans, accusing many of the veterans' service organizations who testified before the VA committee earlier this month of being "more interested in defending the status quo within VA, protecting their relationships within the agency, and securing their access to the Secretary and his inner circle."

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