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Nov 6, 2013

Tough road ahead for change in U.S. military sex assault rules

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. lawmakers announced a renewed push on Wednesday to make sweeping changes in the way the military handles complaints of sexual assault, but they face a tough fight attracting the 60 votes they will likely need to get their plan through the Senate.

Democratic Senator Kirsten Gillibrand of New York said 46 senators – 38 Democrats and eight Republicans – support her proposal to remove responsibility for prosecuting cases of unwanted sexual conduct from the military chain of command and put it in the hand of an independent judge.

Nov 6, 2013

Senate panel approves intelligence authorization bill

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – A Senate panel approved its annual authorization of funding for intelligence operations on Tuesday, including measures to increase spy agencies’ ability to prevent leaks of classified information like those by former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden.

The Senate Intelligence Committee voted 13-2 to approve the 2014 Intelligence Authorization Act, which authorizes intelligence funding to counter terrorist threats, prevent proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and conduct covert actions around the world.

Nov 6, 2013

U.S. senators revive bid to ratify U.N. disabilities treaty

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Senior U.S. senators revived a push on Tuesday to ratify a treaty to protect people with disabilities from discrimination, almost a year after Republican lawmakers blocked approval of the international pact.

Democratic Senator Robert Menendez, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, called a hearing to address concerns about the U.N. Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, during which some Republican lawmakers made strong appeals for more support from members of their party.

Nov 1, 2013

Senate panel passes plan to restrict but keep mass surveillance

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The Senate Intelligence Committee approved legislation on Thursday that would tighten controls on the government’s sweeping electronic eavesdropping programs but allow them to continue.

In a classified hearing, the panel voted 11-4 for a measure that puts new limits on what intelligence agencies can do with bulk communications records and imposes a five-year limit on how long they can be retained.

Oct 31, 2013

Senate panel passes plan to restrict, not end, surveillance

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The Senate Intelligence Committee approved legislation on Thursday to tighten controls on the government’s sweeping electronic eavesdropping programs, but allows them to continue.

In a classified hearing, the panel voted 11-4 for a measure that puts new limits on what intelligence agencies can do with bulk communications records and imposes a five-year limit on how long they can be retained.

Oct 31, 2013

Biden urges U.S. lawmakers to hold off on any new Iran sanctions

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Vice President Joe Biden led a high-powered delegation to Capitol Hill on Thursday to try to persuade U.S. lawmakers to hold off on any more sanctions against Iran and let delicate diplomatic talks over Tehran’s nuclear program unfold.

President Barack Obama is convinced that there is the potential for an international deal to prevent Iran from developing a nuclear weapon but worries that congressional pressure for additional sanctions could complicate negotiations.

Oct 31, 2013

Key U.S. senators strongly criticize Obama’s Syria policy

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Democratic and Republican members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee strongly criticized the Obama administration on Thursday for lacking a plan to resolve the war in Syria.

“I just don’t get a sense that we have a strategy,” said Democratic Senator Robert Menendez, the panel’s chairman, during a contentious hearing on Syria policy.

Oct 30, 2013

White House faces tough sell in Congress on delay of Iran sanctions

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Top Obama administration officials have been pushing U.S. lawmakers hard to hold off on new sanctions over Iran’s nuclear program, but some key lawmakers said on Wednesday they had not yet been convinced to support a delay.

Senator Bob Corker, the top Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and a member of the Senate Banking Committee, which is considering the sanctions package, said lawmakers were skeptical because they felt they had to push the White House to back strict sanctions on Tehran.

Oct 30, 2013

Iraqi PM Maliki struggles to convince U.S. lawmakers to back more aid

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. lawmakers had tough criticism for Iraq’s government after meeting with Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki on Wednesday, saying they were open to meeting his request for military assistance only if Baghdad made significant changes.

Maliki is on his first visit to Washington in two years, urgently seeking U.S. Apache attack helicopters and other military supplies to fight militant groups such as al Qaeda in Iraq as sectarian violence spills over the border from Syria.

Oct 30, 2013

Iraqi PM faces criticism over sectarian violence in Washington visit

WASHINGTON, Oct 30 (Reuters) – Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri
al-Maliki was due to meet with members of Congress on Wednesday
as he seeks increased military aid to fight sectarian violence
amid criticism from U.S. lawmakers that his government has
contributed to the divisions.

As he traveled to Washington on Tuesday, six influential
U.S. senators took a hard line against Maliki in a letter to
President Barack Obama.

    • 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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