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Dec 4, 2014

McCain blocks Obama’s pick as No.2 diplomat over Iraq policy

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. Senator John McCain said on Thursday he is blocking President Barack Obama’s nomination of Anthony Blinken as the country’s number two diplomat, citing sharp disagreement with the nominee’s past statements on Iraq.

“He’s totally unqualified,” the Republican senator told Reuters, when asked why he was holding up Blinken’s nomination to be deputy Secretary of State.

Dec 3, 2014

U.S. senator seeks formal declaration of war against Islamic State

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Republican Senator Rand Paul called on Congress on Wednesday to formally declare war on Islamic State, as debate intensified in the Senate and House of Representatives over the campaign in Iraq and Syria.

The Kentucky senator introduced a Senate resolution seeking to declare that a state of war exists with the militant group, the target of four months of air strikes by U.S. and allied forces.

Dec 2, 2014

Senators renew push for military sex assault bill

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – A bipartisan group of senators on Tuesday renewed a push to overhaul the military’s handling of sexual assault cases, and the effort’s main sponsor said she might block President Barack Obama’s nominee to be secretary of Defense over the issue.

Senator Kirsten Gillibrand has been working for much of the past two years for the military to shift authority for prosecuting sexual assault cases to an independent prosecutor instead of top commanders, prompted by a sharp increases in reports of such crimes.

Nov 24, 2014

Iran extension prompts calls for more sanctions in U.S. Congress

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Several U.S. Republican lawmakers insisted on Monday that the extension of nuclear talks with Iran be accompanied by increased sanctions, setting the stage for a battle with the Obama administration after their party takes full control of Congress next year.

Senators John McCain, Lindsey Graham and Kelly Ayotte, three of the party’s leading foreign policy voices, said they view Iran’s insistence on having any enrichment capability at all as problematic and warned that a “bad deal” would lead to a nuclear arms race in the Middle East.

Nov 21, 2014

Powerful U.S. pro-Israel lobby holds fire as Iran deadline looms

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – As the United States and other powers negotiate down to the wire on a nuclear deal with Iran, one voice has been unusually quiet – the main pro-Israel lobby in Washington.

Israel deeply distrusts the attempt to reach a deal at talks in Vienna that would lift harsh international sanctions on Iran in return for limits to its nuclear program, aimed at preventing it from developing an atomic bomb.

Nov 21, 2014

Exclusive: U.S. increasing non-lethal military aid to Ukraine

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The United States plans to increase non-lethal military assistance to Ukraine, including deliveries of the first Humvee vehicles, having decided for now not to provide weapons, U.S. officials said.

The increase in non-lethal aid to Ukraine, which is grappling with a Russian-backed separatist movement in its east, is expected to be announced on Thursday during a visit to Kiev by Vice President Joe Biden.

Nov 20, 2014

Exclusive: U.S. increasing non-lethal military aid to Ukraine, U.S. officials say

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The United States plans to increase non-lethal military assistance to Ukraine, including deliveries of the first Humvee vehicles, having decided for now not to provide weapons, U.S. officials said.

The increase in non-lethal aid to Ukraine, which is grappling with a Russian-backed separatist movement in its east, is expected to be announced on Thursday during a visit to Kiev by Vice President Joe Biden.

Nov 20, 2014

NSA chief warns Chinese cyber attacks could shut U.S. infrastructure

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – China and “probably one or two” other countries have the ability to invade and possibly shut down computer systems of U.S. power utilities, aviation networks and financial companies, Admiral Mike Rogers, the director of the U.S. National Security Agency, said on Thursday.

Testifying to the House of Representatives Intelligence Committee on cyber threats, Rogers said digital attackers have been able to penetrate such systems and perform “reconnaissance” missions to determine how the networks are put together.

Nov 19, 2014

Republicans block overhaul of NSA surveillance reform

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – A bill to end the National Security Agency’s bulk collection of telephone records failed on a procedural vote in the U.S. Senate on Tuesday after senior Republicans said it would benefit enemies of the United States, including Islamic State militants.

The “USA Freedom Act” was supported by an unusual coalition of Democrats and conservative Republicans concerned about Americans’ privacy, but failed 58 to 42, falling short of the 60 votes needed to move ahead.

Nov 18, 2014

U.S. surveillance bill faces tough fight in Senate

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – A bill to end the bulk collection of telephone records by the National Security Agency appeared to be in jeopardy on Tuesday after senior Republican senators said the measure would benefit Islamic State militants and other enemies of the United States.

Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell came out strongly against the “USA Freedom Act,” which needs several votes from his party to reach the 60 needed to clear a procedural hurdle in a vote in the chamber later on Tuesday.

    • 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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