Congress

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While all the other members of Connecticut's congressional delegation voted against it, Jim Himes has been a strong supporter of "fast track" trade authority, which allows the president to negotiate with 11 other Pacific nations.

Jeff Cohen / WNPR

U.S. Senator Chris Murphy applauded today's Supreme Court decision upholding the part of the Affordable Care Act that allows the government to subsidize health care for the poor and middle class. 

Office of Rep. Joseph D. Courtney

A deep diving submarine that was once one of the most secretive vessels in the U.S. fleet is now part of a permanent installation at the Connecticut Submarine Force Museum.

Rep. Joe Courtney and Chief of Naval Operations Jonathan Greenert attended Wednesday’s ribbon cutting ceremony for the NR-1 submarine exhibit in Groton.

Chion Wolf / WNPR

The U.S. needs more than just a military response to the violence of the self-proclaimed Islamic State. That’s the message from Connecticut Senator Chris Murphy, who’s issued a call for new principles in U.S. foreign policy. 

Chion Wolf / WNPR

Since taking office, Sen. Chris Murphy has been vocal on U.S. foreign policy both in the Ukraine/Russia conflict, and in the Middle East. In a recent op-ed for Foreign Affairs, he joined other senators to advocate for new foreign policy principles.

C-Span

Senator Chris Murphy is pushing for congressional action to ban the deployment of U.S. ground troops to Iraq and Syria. Murphy spoke about his amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act on the Senate floor on Wednesday.

Updated at 1:45 p.m. ET

The U.S. Supreme Court has struck down a law that allowed Americans who were born in Jerusalem to list Israel as their birthplace on their passports.

In a 6-3 ruling, the court said that the law, passed by Congress in 2002, interferes with the president's constitutional right to recognize foreign nations. The U.S. State Department has a long-standing policy not to recognize any nation's authority over Jerusalem until Israelis and Palestinians resolve its status.

The case is seen as an important separation-of-powers ruling.

The Senate has approved the USA Freedom Act, which will alter the way U.S. agencies conduct surveillance and gather data. A final vote on the bill came late Tuesday afternoon, after amendments to the bill failed.

Update at 9:30 p.m. ET: Obama's Signature

Following an expedited enrollment process, President Obama signed the bill into law late Tuesday.

(This post was last updated at 11:09 p.m. ET.)

It was a dramatic day on the floor of the United States Senate on Sunday. Unable to overcome parliamentary maneuvers by Sen. Rand Paul, the body adjourned and let three controversial provisions of the Patriot Act expire at midnight.

Trying to beat a midnight deadline during a rare Sunday session, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell tried to fast track a House bill that would overhaul the government's bulk collection of Americans' phone records.

Former Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert was indicted Thursday by a federal grand jury in Chicago. The Illinois Republican, 73, is charged with trying to evade cash withdrawal requirements, and with lying to the FBI about it.

Paul Morigi / Brookings Institution / Creative Commons

FBI Director James Comey recently made his second visit to the New Haven field office since becoming director nearly two year ago. He said he spoke with local police chiefs about how law enforcement can better participate in the conversation about race and profiling.

What Can We Do About Student Debt in Connecticut?

May 26, 2015
Aleutie/iStock / Thinkstock

The federal reserve has calculated the amount of American student loan debt is over $1 trillion, greater than car loan and credit card debt. Lawmakers are trying to provide relief for students.

The Senate voted 62-37 late Friday to grant President Obama additional trade powers, which the president plans to use in pushing through an extensive new agreement with a group of Asian countries.

The administration's Trans-Pacific Partnership has been opposed by labor groups and some Senate Democrats because of concerns that the deal could cost some U.S. workers their jobs.

Chion Wolf / WNPR

Connecticut Senator Chris Murphy unveiled federal legislation on Friday that would help streamline the college credit transfer process.

National Transportation Safety Board

Connecticut Senator Richard Blumenthal is calling on Congress to invest more in the nation's transportation infrastructure, including the implementation of positive train control on most rail lines.

Lawmakers working on fixes to the justice system say that unrest in places like Ferguson, Mo., and Baltimore is pushing them to act.

"The whole idea of a young man dying in police custody, the confrontations with police, the looting and burning of innocent minority owned businesses," Texas Republican Sen. John Cornyn said on the Senate floor this month. "The question arises, what can we do?"

Back-to-back news conferences by Democratic and Republican House leaders, given from the same podium on Thursday, showed a contrast in how both parties are responding to the politics of a deadly train crash that killed at least eight people and injured scores more.

Transportation funding was going to get plenty of attention this week in Washington — even before an Amtrak train derailed about 140 miles to the north.

This is National Infrastructure Week, so lobbyists, labor leaders and activists started swarming Capitol Hill on Monday, seeking funds for roads, bridges and other projects related to transportation.

The Senate could begin debate Tuesday on a bill that would give President Obama fast-track authority to complete a Pacific Rim trade agreement.

The Trans-Pacific Partnership has become the president's signature trade initiative, but it is also very unpopular with Democrats.

Leading the charge from the left against the deal in Congress is Sen. Elizabeth Warren from Massachusetts. She says the TPP could result in the watering down of Wall Street regulations put in place by the Dodd-Frank Act, after the 2008 financial crisis.

Flickr CC by Ryan Lackey

Congresswoman Elizabeth Esty is sponsoring a bill to have the federal VA create a research center focused on the health of Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans who were exposed to burn pits. Burn pits were used to get rid of all kinds of garbage on military bases. 

The National Security Agency's practice of collecting data about Americans' telephone calls in bulk goes beyond what Congress intended when it wrote Section 215 of the USA Patriot Act, a federal appeals court ruled on Thursday.

The three-judge panel was asked to consider whether the program violated the Constitution. Instead, the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals panel punted on the constitutional claim, deciding the program was simply not authorized by federal law.

Sen. Bernie Sanders made it official Thursday. He will seek the Democratic Presidential nomination.

Sanders made his announcement with an early morning email and then spoke to reporters just outside the U.S. Capitol building in Washington, D.C. He plans a formal campaign kickoff in Vermont at the end of the month.

VPR News has learned from several sources that Independent U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders will announce his candidacy for the Democratic presidential nomination on Thursday.

Sanders will release a short statement on that day and then hold a major campaign kickoff in Vermont in several weeks.

Updated at 11:41 a.m. ET

Loretta Lynch is the new U.S. attorney general.

Lynch was sworn in today by Vice President Joe Biden, who said the daughter of a Baptist minister who preached during the sit-ins in Greensboro, N.C., will now be "leading the march to a more perfect union."

Lynch, 55, is the nation's 83rd attorney general and the first black woman to hold the position. She said during a ceremony at the Justice Department that she would work to "imbue our criminal justice system with both strength and fairness" to protect the rights of all.

The Senate voted Thursday, 56-43, to approve the nomination of Loretta Lynch to serve as U.S. attorney general, ending a more than five month-long political impasse that had stalled her bid to become the first black woman to lead the Justice Department.

Lynch, 55, grew up in the shadow of the civil rights movement in North Carolina, where her family had preached for generations. Most recently, she prosecuted terrorists, mobsters and white collar criminals as the top federal prosecutor in Brooklyn, a district that covers 8 million people.

A full-fledged Democratic trade war has broken out.

"I love Elizabeth. We're allies on a whole host of issues, but she's wrong on this," President Obama said Tuesday night in an interview on MSNBC's Hardball with Chris Matthews, referring to liberal Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren.

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Connecticut Senator Richard Blumenthal is seeking to amend a federal education bill and set aside funding to train teachers in social and emotional learning. 

U.S. Department of State

Skepticism remains in the United States and Iran about the framework agreement reached last week regarding the latter's nuclear program. Many in Congress are wary of Iran, including some of Connecticut's lawmakers.

(This post was last updated at 8:12 p.m. ET.)

Sen. Robert Menendez, a New Jersey Democrat, has been indicted on federal corruption charges.

The indictment alleges that Menendez abused his office to benefit Salomon Melgen, a Florida eye doctor who was the senator's friend and donor. Menendez has always maintained his innocence.

During a press conference in Newark, New Jersey, Menendez said he was "confident that at the end of the day, I will be vindicated."

Harry Reid, the wily Democratic Senate leader, was likely — once again — to be one of the most vulnerable incumbents up for re-election in 2016.

Few, though, would have bet the house against Reid — a sharp-elbowed campaigner — especially in a presidential year when demography will favor Democrats in a state where almost 3 in 10 people are Hispanic.

"Do you really want to go up against Harry Reid?" said one national GOP operative, pointing out Reid's bare-knuckles style of campaigning.

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