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Tuesday, Sep 02nd

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Former Senate Majority Leader Howard Baker Dies At 88

Howard BakerTennessee Sen. Howard Baker, who served as Senate majority leader in the 1980s and chief of staff under President Ronald Reagan, has died at 88,

Baker died at his home on Thursday due to complications from a stroke he suffered on Saturday, according to the firm, where Baker was senior counsel. Baker's death was also announced on the floor of the Senate by Republican Leader Mitch McConnell, who called him "one of the Senate's most towering figures."

The Associated Press describes Baker as: "The scion of a political family, Baker served 18 years in the Senate, winning widespread respect from Republicans and Democrats alike and rising to the post of majority leader."

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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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GOP-run House votes 274 to 131 to make business tax break permanent--and increase deficit

GOP votes business tax break permanentThe House of Representatives voted 274 to 131 Friday to make the research and development tax credit permanent--and add $155.5 billion to federal deficits over the next 10 years.

Republicans, who have consistently complained about deficit spending, nevertheless were nearly unanimous in backing the plan. Only one Republican voted no. Sixty-two Democrats joined those in favor, while 130 voted no.

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