Congress

Tucker Ives / WNPR

You’ve probably received a “legislative report” from your elected representatives. These mailers tout their accomplishments and some criticize political opponents. But they’re not paid for with campaign money. This “constituent outreach” is paid for with public dollars. We’ll look at the history of this practice called “franking” at the state and federal level.

Chion Wolf / WNPR

The Pentagon said military strikes have begun against advancing Islamic militants operating near U.S. personnel in northern Iraq. That announcement comes after President Barack Obama authorized airstrikes and humanitarian aid in the region.

In a news conference Wednesday that was largely about international relations and trade, President Obama also addressed the limits of his own authority at home.

"I never have a green light," Obama said. "I'm bound by the Constitution; I'm bound by the separation of powers."

Updated at 8:50 p.m. ET.

House GOP leaders pulled the plug on a $659 million bill to deal with the influx of tens of thousands of unaccompanied minors entering the U.S. from Central America.

The vote on the legislation had been scheduled for this afternoon on the final day before the start of a five-week summer break for Congress.

Ending a contentious and very public spat between two branches of government, Central Intelligence Agency chief John Brennan apologized to Sen. Dianne Feinstein and Sen. Saxby Chambliss because some CIA officers improperly accessed computers used by the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence.

The House voted Wednesday to approve a bill that would address widespread problems with health care for veterans.

The vote in favor of the $16.3 billion package was 420 to 5.

The problems veterans have had obtaining care has drawn national attention in recent weeks. A White House investigation into problems at Department of Veterans Affairs hospitals found "significant and chronic systemic failures."

Chion Wolf / WNPR

Senator Richard Blumenthal spoke in Hartford about a bipartisan compromise to reform the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs health program, which has been impacted by long patient wait times.

Chion Wolf / WNPR

The 2012 race for Connecticut’s Fifth Congressional District seat was filled with campaign-related shenanigans. The person who came out on top was Elizabeth Esty.

She’s running for re-election this year in the “Fightin’ Fifth,” and she joins us for our Where We Vote series to talk politics, foreign relations, immigration, and more.

Chion Wolf / WNPR

U.S. Senator Chris Murphy hopes for a strong vote in the Senate this week on the Bring Jobs Home Act. The bill would take away the ability for businesses to get a tax break for sending jobs overseas, and instead incentivizes companies to bring jobs back to the United States.

WNPR

On Monday at the White House, President Obama urged Russian President Vladmir Putin to order Russian separatists in Ukraine to allow international investigators unfettered access to the crash site of Malaysian Airlines Flight MH17. 

A Democratic effort to override the Supreme Court's recent ruling on contraceptive coverage failed in the Senate on Wednesday.

Bill sponsors fell four votes short of the 60 votes needed to cut off debate on the measure.

Ron Cogswell / Creative Commons

The House has voted to make permanent a moratorium that prevents state and local governments from taxing access to the Internet. 

Av Harris / WNPR

U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal released a letter on Monday to the CEO of Hobby Lobby calling on the company to follow Connecticut law and offer its employees in East Haven and Manchester full contraceptive coverage.

Update at 3:33 p.m. ET

The White House said it's asking Congress for $3.7 billion to address the humanitarian crisis along the border with Mexico.

The statement said the funds would cover domestic enforcement, repatriation and reintegration of migrants, transportation costs, additional immigration judges, prosecutors and litigation attorneys to "ensure cases are processed fairly and as quickly as possible."

The Obama administration will ask Congress for more than $2 billion Tuesday to address the urgent humanitarian crisis along the U.S. border with Mexico.

In the past nine months, more than 50,000 children and teenagers have crossed that border illegally on their own, most from Central America. By law, the administration can't deport those young people until they have an immigration hearing — a process that can take years.

Chion Wolf / WNPR

U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal wants the VA to explain why veterans are waiting longer than 30 days to be seen in Connecticut and nationwide.

Congressional approval ratings are at rock bottom. Why would members pull a stunt likely to make them even more unpopular than they already are?

Chion Wolf / WNPR

A surge in migrants to the U.S. southwest border has prompted President Obama to ask Congress for $2 billion in emergency funding to combat the problem. His request comes one year after a Senate immigration reform bill was passed, and then stalled, in the U.S. House. 

White House Task Force To Save Bees Stirs Hornet's Nest

Jun 27, 2014

When President Obama announced last week that he was creating a federal task force to investigate the nation's vanishing bee colonies, the moment provided newly minted Press Secretary Josh Earnest an opportunity to crack one of his first jokes on the job.

"When I walked out here today, I knew I was going to be handling a range of sensitive issues," he told reporters. "I didn't know I was going to be talking about the birds and the bees."

President Obama has asked Congress for $500 million to train and equip moderate Syrian rebels who are seeking the ouster of Bashar Assad.

If Congress approves the plan, it would supplement a covert training and assistance program already being run by U.S. intelligence agencies, The Associated Press says.

The White House says in a statement that the rebels would be vetted before providing assistance, to ensure that U.S. equipment doesn't fall into the wrong hands.

Office of U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal

U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal has introduced legislation aimed at protecting victims of domestic violence who obtain a temporary restraining order against their abuser.

As the smoke clears from the wreckage of the Republican establishment's monumental loss in the Virginia congressional primary, it appears that hopes of immigration overhaul have been snuffed out.

Economic professor Dave Brat, who beat House Majority Leader Eric Cantor on Tuesday, made immigration policy a major part of his argument against Cantor.

Chion Wolf / WNPR

The latest mass shooting in California has left many questioning America’s gun control policies, and left a grieving father pleading for action from lawmakers -- not sympathy.

This hour, we look at the present and future of gun control in America. We also consider how to celebrate the 200th birthday of Samuel Colt, the man who revolutionized and popularized the gun.

Chion Wolf

Connecticut's congressional delegation has yet to hear from VA officials on how long veterans are waiting for appointments at the agency's hospitals and outpatient clinics in the state. 

Senate Democrats/Center for American Progress

Connecticut's congressional delegation wants full details of audits conducted at Veterans Administration medical facilities, including six in the state. 

Bernard Gagnon / Wikimedia Commons

Senators Richard Blumenthal and Chris Murphy joined 48 other senators calling for the name of the NFL's Washington franchise to be changed. The letter to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell referenced the NBA's response to the Donald Sterling controversy regarding comments Sterling made about African-Americans.

Last year, the Republican playbook for keeping control of the House of Representatives in 2014 and winning the Senate consisted of a fairly simple strategy: Run against Obamacare.

But now that the 2014 races are starting to take shape, that strategy isn't looking quite so simple. Democrats are fighting back. They're focusing on Republican opposition to the health law's expansion of Medicaid as a part of their own campaigns.

MattBevin.com

A Kentucky Tea Party candidate with Connecticut-ties has a tough primary facing him tomorrow.

Matt Bevin trails Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell by 20 points in a new poll. Connecticut residents might remember Bevin as the owner of the bell factory in East Hampton that burned down in 2012.

It's basically Politics 101. To get on the ballot in many states, candidates for office must first collect a designated number of valid signatures from voters, and present those petitions to election administrators.

Connecticut legislators are putting the finishing touches on their work—as this year's regular legislative session is scheduled to end at midnight tonight. While numerous bills still need approval from one chamber or another, many major pieces of legislation from this year's session have already been approved. The list includes a revised $19 billion dollar state budget for the fiscal year beginning July 1.

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