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Dec 20, 2013

Obama orders one-year review of sexual assault problem in military

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Barack Obama ordered U.S. military leaders on Friday to conduct a one-year review of efforts to eliminate sexual assaults in the armed forces and toughen the response to such cases.

He acted in response to a spate of embarrassing sex-related incidents in the military that provoked strong calls for reform and a Pentagon report showing a 37 percent jump in the estimated number of cases of unwanted sexual contact last year.

Dec 19, 2013

U.S. Capitol faces massive overhaul – and not via the ballot

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Americans longing for a makeover in Washington will get their wish partially granted as the dome of the U.S. Capitol – but not the lawmakers who work inside – undergoes a $60 million restoration.

After 150 years of exposure to rain, snow, sun and sleet, the cast-iron landmark is suffering from water leaks, cracks and corrosion that urgently need repair, Stephen Ayers, the Architect of the Capitol, said on Thursday.

Dec 19, 2013

U.S. senators make move toward more sanctions on Iran

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Despite opposition from the Obama administration, 26 U.S. senators introduced legislation on Thursday to impose new sanctions on Iran if the country breaks an interim deal under which Tehran agreed to curb its nuclear program.

It will be weeks at the earliest before the bill comes to a vote in the 100-member Senate, if it gets that far, given staunch opposition by President Barack Obama’s administration and many of its supporters in Congress.

Dec 19, 2013

U.S. senators offer measure to impose more Iran sanctions

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Despite opposition from the Obama administration, U.S. senators introduced legislation on Thursday to impose sanctions on Iran if the country breaks an interim deal struck last month under which Tehran agreed to curb its nuclear program.

Democrats Robert Menendez, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and Charles Schumer, the third-ranking Democrat in the Senate, and Republican Senator Mark Kirk introduced with 23 others the bill intended to choke off funding to Iran’s nuclear program by cutting off its oil sales.

Dec 18, 2013

U.S. Senate panel passes measure to ease aid to Egypt

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee overwhelmingly passed legislation on Wednesday to ease tight U.S. controls on aid to Egypt, which was largely cut off after Egypt’s military ousted President Mohamed Mursi last summer.

The panel passed the measure by a 16-1 vote hours after Egypt’s public prosecutor escalated a crackdown on the movement that brought Mursi to power by charging the ousted president and 35 other leading Islamists with international conspiracy.

Dec 18, 2013

U.S. senator demands CIA report amid dispute over torture study

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – A member of the U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee on Tuesday disclosed the existence of a secret Central Intelligence Agency document that committee members believe supports their conclusions in a study highly critical of “waterboarding” and other harsh counterterrorism practices.

Senator Mark Udall, a Colorado Democrat, demanded the document – a CIA study of the interrogation techniques – at a confirmation hearing for Caroline Krass, President Barack Obama’s nominee to be the CIA’s general counsel.

Dec 16, 2013

Head of Pentagon’s effort to curb sexual assault retires

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The head of the Defense Department’s effort to curb sexual assault in the military, Major General Gary Patton, has decided to retire and will step down in mid-January, a Pentagon spokesman said on Monday.

Patton, who heads the Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office, will be replaced on January 15 by Major General Jeffrey Snow, Pentagon spokesman Steve Warren said. Snow previously worked as director of strategy and plans in the office of the deputy chief of staff of the Army.

Dec 13, 2013

U.S. senators to visit Ukraine on day of opposition rally

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. Senators John McCain, a leading Republican voice on foreign policy issues, and Chris Murphy, the Democratic chairman of the Senate’s Europe subcommittee, will visit the Ukrainian capital on Sunday, the day the Ukrainian opposition plans a mass rally, aides said on Friday.

Also on Friday, senators issued a resolution calling for the United States to consider sanctions in case there is further violence against peaceful demonstrators.

Dec 13, 2013

U.S. House passes bill authorizing $633 billion in defense spending

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. House of Representatives overwhelmingly approved the annual defense policy bill on Thursday, authorizing $633 billion in spending for 2014, strengthening protections for victims of sexual assault in the military and easing some transfers from the prison at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba.

The House voted 350-69 to pass a slimmed-down version of the National Defense Authorization Act, which was introduced as a compromise early this week. Its passage clears the way for final consideration by the U.S. Senate, likely next week.

Dec 12, 2013

White House bid to hold off Iran sanctions gains backing

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Barack Obama’s campaign for Congress to hold off on new sanctions over Iran’s nuclear program won a key endorsement on Thursday when the chairman of the U.S. Senate Banking Committee rejected tightening measures against Iran now.

Senator Tim Johnson, a Democrat, said he agrees with the Obama administration that such legislation could disrupt delicate negotiations seeking to curb Iran’s nuclear program. The Banking Committee oversees sanctions legislation in the Senate.

    • 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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