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Friday, Jul 03rd

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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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Trafficking deal clears path for attorney general vote

Loretta LynchSenate leaders announced a deal Tuesday to move forward on a stalled human trafficking bill, clearing the way for a vote on President Barack Obama's attorney general nominee within days.

The deal unveiled on the Senate floor aimed to solve a dispute over abortion that had stalled the once-popular trafficking bill for weeks. Attorney General-designate Loretta Lynch was caught in the crossfire, infuriating Democrats, because Republican leaders decided to hold off on her confirmation vote until the trafficking bill was resolved.

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U.S. senators agree on path to fast-track trade bill

ast track okayedU.S. senators said on Thursday they could present a bipartisan bill to move trade deals quickly through Congress as soon as later in the day after reaching agreement on aid for workers hurt by trade.

The move set the stage for a tough fight with critics.

Republican Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch said the legislation, key to closing a 12-nation Pacific trade pact and the Obama administration's pivot to Asia, could be unveiled in the afternoon and ready for full Senate consideration next week.

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