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Wednesday, Jul 23rd

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House votes to hold Lois Lerner in contempt of Congress

Lois LernerThe House of Representatives voted Wednesday to hold a former Internal Revenue Service official in contempt of Congress for refusing to cooperate with an ongoing investigation into the agency's special targeting of groups with “tea party” or “patriot” in their names that were seeking tax-exempt status.

On a 231 to  187 vote, the House approved a contempt citation against Lois G. Lerner, whose admission last year that the tax-enforcement agency had targeted conservative groups infuriated lawmakers in both parties, led to an overhaul of the IRS and Lerner's eventual retirement from government service.

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Bachmann votes against a women’s history museum that features her

Michelle BachmannThree years ago, Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) was happy, “humbled” even, to be included in the National Women’s History Museum’s online exhibit “Profiles in Motherhood.”

But it turns out she doesn’t support the institution that recognized her.

The House voted Wednesday to appoint a bipartisan commission to conduct a feasibility study for the nearly two-decades-in-the-making National Women’s History Museum. Thirty-three House members, and just two women, voted against the measure. It’s safe territory for Republicans because the plan is to fund the museum with private money. Right now the museum exists only as an idea, with an active Web site.

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Senate GOP blocks Dems' minimum wage boost

GOP Senate Republicans blocked an election-year Democratic bill on Wednesday that would boost the federal minimum wage, handing a defeat to President Barack Obama on a vote that is sure to reverberate in this year's congressional elections.

The measure's rejection, which was expected, came in the early months of a campaign season in which the slowly recovering economy — and its impact on families — is a marquee issue. It was also the latest setback for a stream of bills this year that Democrats have designed to cast themselves as the party of economic fairness.

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CIA’s use of harsh interrogation went beyond legal authority, Senate report says

CIAA classified U.S. Senate report found that the CIA's legal justification for the use of harsh interrogation techniques that critics say amount to torture was based on faulty legal reasoning, McClatchy news service reported on Thursday.

The Central Intelligence Agency also issued erroneous claims about how many people it subjected to techniques such as simulated drowning, or "water boarding," according to the news service, citing conclusions from the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence report obtained by McClatchy.

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CIA torture report: Nancy Pelosi blames Dick Cheney

CIA torture reportA senior Democrat has fuelled an acrimonious row over a Senate report into torture by the Central Intelligence Agency, by blaming the abuses on former vice-president Dick Cheney.

Nancy Pelosi on Sunday raised the stakes over the landmark study by shifting responsibility from the agency to Cheney, who steered much of the Bush administration's response to the September 11 2001 attacks.

The House minority leader said Cheney, a Republican, set the tone of CIA actions during an era of harsh interrogation methods, a controversy which has flared anew in the runup to congressional elections in November.

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Senate Report: Torture Didn't Help Capture Osama bin Laden

seante report on tortureFor those who want to defend the CIA's torture program, the link between the interrogation programs and the capture of bin Laden has been both a frequent argument and a crown jewel. But there is no link — at least, not according to congressional aides and experts familiar with the controversial Senate Intelligence Committee report that is due to be released imminently.

It has been regularly suggested that torture of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed led to information about a figure named Abu Ahmed al-Kuwaiti, who provided a critical link to bin Laden. The Senate report, however, indicates that the al-Kuwaiti information only emerged well after the torture took place, the Associated Press reports. What's more, even then it was of more limited value than has been suggested, and did not not include his real name. The CIA has also suggested that information from the torture of Abu Faraj al-Libi introduced the connection to al-Kuwaiti; the report also discredits that idea.

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GOP lawmaker dependent on Medicaid opposes Medicaid expansion

Josh MillerArkansas Rep. Josh Miller (R), who is paralyzed and completely dependent on Medicaid, has spoken out recently in strong opposition to the Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act.

Arkansas lawmakers must re-approve funding for the expansion, with a 75 percent supermajority, to keep the program intact. Approval of the bill is still a few votes short, including Miller's.

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