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Wednesday, May 27th

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Obama's plans for trade deals with Asia and Europe in tatters after Senate vote

Senate rejects trade billBarack Obama’s ambitions to pass sweeping new free trade agreements with Asia and Europe fell at the first hurdle on Tuesday as Senate Democrats put concerns about US manufacturing jobs ahead of arguments that the deals would boost global economic growth.

A vote to push through the bill failed as 45 senators voted against it, to 52 in favor. Obama needed 60 out of the 100 votes for it to pass.

Failure to secure so-called “fast track” negotiating authority from Congress leaves the president’s top legislative priority in tatters.

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Republicans put plans to reauthorize Patriot Act on hold after court ruling

US SenateSenate Republicans have conceded they may have to temporarily suspend plans for a long-term reauthorization of the Patriot Act after a court ruling against its use by the National Security Agency dramatically turned around the prospects for surveillance reform in Washington.

Three US appeal court judges threw the existing plan – to extend the NSA’s power to collect bulk metadata from American phone records for five years – into chaos on Thursday when they ruled that it was unlawful even under the old legislation.

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Senate votes overwhelmingly to pass Iran nuclear bill

Mitch McMcConnellThe US Senate on Thursday advanced legislation that would allow Congress to review a nuclear deal between world powers and Iran, clearing a major hurdle after weeks of Republican infighting threatened the bill’s passage.

Senators overwhelmingly voted 98-1 in favor of the bill, with only Tom Cotton against its passage. Under the compromise, Congress would have 30 days to both review any nuclear accord with Iran and pass a resolution of disapproval. In the event that lawmakers passed such a resolution, Barack Obama would be unable to lift some of the congressional sanctions on Tehran.

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Prosecutor in Eric Garner chokehold case elected to Congress

Prosecutor in NY police chokehold electedA U.S. House seat in deeply Democratic New York City will remain under Republican control.

Staten Island District Attorney Daniel Donovan — who empaneled the grand jury that declined to indict a white police officer who placed Eric Garner, an unarmed black man, in a fatal chokehold — on Tuesday captured a vacant congressional seat that spans Staten Island and a small part of Brooklyn.

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Senate passes GOP budget plan targeting 'Obamacare'

Senate budget bill passedThe U.S. Senate on Tuesday narrowly passed a Republican budget plan that prescribes deep domestic spending cuts to eliminate deficits by 2024 and aids the party's goal of trying to dismantle President Barack Obama's signature healthcare law.

The first combined House-Senate budget in six years passed 51-48 with all Senate Democrats voting against it.

Sens. Ted Cruz of Texas and Rand Paul of Kentucky, both presidential contenders, were the only Republicans who voted against the blueprint. GOP Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, also seeking the White House, voted in its favor, as did Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, a potential presidential candidate. All Democrats voted in opposition.

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Pentagon accused of withholding data on sex assaults at US bases

GillibrandThe number of sex-related crimes occurring in U.S. military communities is far greater than the Defense Department has publicly reported, a U.S. senator said Monday in a scathing critique that asserts the Pentagon has refused to provide her information about sexual assaults at several major bases.

The spouses of service members and civilian women who live or work near military facilities are especially vulnerable to being sexually assaulted, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., said in a report. Yet they "remain in the shadows" because neither is counted in surveys conducted by the Defense Department to determine the prevalence of sexual assaults within the ranks, the report said.

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GOP, Pentagon tussle over East Coast shield

East coast shieldThe Pentagon has repeatedly said it doesn’t need — nor can it afford — a third anti-missile battery on American territory to defend against a possible attack from North Korea or Iran.

But that hasn’t stopped congressional Republicans, ideologically predisposed to a more comprehensive missile shield than Democrats, from pushing for one on the East Coast.

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