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Feb 10, 2015

Obama readying request to use force against Islamic State

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The White House will ask Congress by Wednesday for new authority to use force against Islamic State fighters, congressional aides said on Monday, paving the way for lawmakers’ first vote on the scope of a campaign that is already six months old.

The United States is leading an international coalition against Islamic State, and President Barack Obama launched an air campaign in August against the militant fighters, who have killed thousands of people while seizing swaths of territory in Iraq and Syria.

Feb 6, 2015

U.S. lawmakers begin push for more sanctions on North Korea

WASHINGTON, Feb 5 (Reuters) – U.S. lawmakers introduced
legislation on Thursday to broaden sanctions against North Korea
by imposing stiffer punishments on foreign companies doing
business with Pyongyang, a measure that could impact mostly on
Chinese firms.

“In the wake of the state-sponsored cyber-attack on Sony
Pictures, the bipartisan legislation targets North Korea’s
access to the hard currency and other goods that help keep the
regime in power,” the bill’s co-sponsor, U.S. Republican
Representative Ed Royce, said.

Feb 5, 2015

U.S. lawmakers set new push for more North Korea sanctions -aides

WASHINGTON, Feb 5 (Reuters) – U.S. lawmakers introduced
legislation on Thursday to broaden sanctions against North Korea
by imposing stiffer punishments on international companies that
do business with Pyongyang, congressional committee aides told

The bill would authorize sanctions on people and businesses
outside the United States, the sources said. Current sanctions
are largely focused on Americans and U.S. companies.

Feb 4, 2015

U.S. official: Guantanamo ‘not on table’ in Cuba talks

WASHINGTON, Feb 4 (Reuters) – The U.S. State Department
official leading negotiations with the Cuban government said on
Wednesday the United States is not considering returning the
U.S. Naval Base at Guantanamo Bay to Havana as it discusses
improved ties.

“The issue of Guantanamo is not on the table in these
conversations,” Roberta Jacobson, the assistant secretary of
State for the Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs, testified
during a House of Representatives hearing.

Feb 3, 2015

U.S. officials cautious as Cuba political detentions decline

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Political detentions have declined in Cuba since the Dec. 17 U.S.-Cuban rapprochement but it is unclear if this is a trend, a U.S. human rights official told a congressional hearing on Tuesday.

“The nature of the Cuban regime has not changed and we have not claimed so,” Assistant Secretary of State Tom Malinowski told U.S. lawmakers’ first hearing on Cuba since President Barack Obama and Cuban President Raul Castro said they would seek to normalize relations.

Feb 2, 2015

U.S. lawmakers preparing Cuba telecomms, agriculture bills -aides

WASHINGTON, Feb 2 (Reuters) – U.S. lawmakers are preparing a
series of bills to ease U.S. restrictions on trade with Cuba,
with plans to introduce them in the Senate in the next two
months, senior congressional aides said on Monday.

These would be the first practical steps toward lifting the
U.S. trade embargo on the communist island following an
announcement by the two countries in December that they would
improve relations after five decades of hostility.

Jan 29, 2015

U.S. Senate panel advances Iran sanctions bill

WASHINGTON, Jan 29 (Reuters) – The U.S. Senate Banking
Committee voted 18-4 on Thursday to advance a bill that would
toughen sanctions on Iran if international negotiators fail to
reach an agreement on Tehran’s nuclear program by the end of

However, the bill is not expected to come for a vote in the
full Senate until at least March 24, after a group of senators,
in the face of President Barack Obama’s threat to veto the
measure, reached an agreement to hold off for two months to
allow time to reach a diplomatic solution.

Jan 29, 2015

U.S. lawmakers seek to end restrictions on travel to Cuba

WASHINGTON, Jan 28 (Reuters) – Eight Republican and
Democratic U.S. senators will introduce legislation on Thursday
to end restrictions on U.S. citizens’ travel to Cuba, the first
effort in Congress toward ending the U.S. embargo since
President Barack Obama moved to normalize relations last month.

The bill would end legal restrictions on travel to the
island by U.S. citizens and legal residents, according to a
statement about the senators’ plans.

Jan 27, 2015

U.S. Democrats hold off on new Iran sanctions vote -for now

WASHINGTON, Jan 27 (Reuters) – Key Democratic U.S. senators
said on Tuesday they would put off supporting new Iran
sanctions for at least two months, after a threat by President
Barack Obama to veto a bill he said could scuttle talks with
Tehran over its nuclear program.

With Republicans holding 54 seats in the 100-member chamber
and needing 67 votes to override a veto, they would need
significant support from Obama’s fellow Democrats to pass the
bill against Obama’s wishes.

Jan 27, 2015

Menendez, other U.S. Senate Democrats, to hold off on new Iran bill – for now

WASHINGTON, Jan 27 (Reuters) – U.S. Senator Robert Menendez,
co-sponsor of legislation that would tighten sanctions on Iran
over its nuclear program, said on Tuesday he and other
Democratic senators would not back passage of the bill until
after March 24 and only if there is no framework agreement with

President Barack Obama has said voting now for more
sanctions, which are strongly supported by Republican lawmakers,
could upset talks now under way with Iran. He has pledged to
veto any bill imposing new sanctions during the talks.

    • About Patricia

      "Patricia Zengerle covers foreign policy and national security on Capitol Hill for Reuters. She recently covered the 2012 campaign and the White House and had been an editor in Washington, D.C., an editor in London, and a correspondent in Miami, Pittsburgh and New York. You can follow her on Twitter @ReutersZengerle"
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