Congress

House Speaker John Boehner, commenting on President Obama's strategy to defeat Islamic State militants, says Congress has received a request for authorization to train Syrian rebels and "we ought to give the president what he's asking for."

Republicans are increasingly confident that when this year's midterm elections are over, they will control both houses of Congress. But in this period of polarization and gridlock, what difference would it make?

This midterm election doesn't seem to be about anything in particular other than whether you like President Obama or not. There's no overarching issue, no clashing national agendas. Instead, it's just a series of very expensive, brutally negative races for Congress.

The top four congressional leaders will be at the White House today to talk to President Obama about U.S. military action against the group known as the Islamic State, or ISIS. This comes just one day before Obama will address the nation and lay out his strategy for dealing with the extremist group.

The president says he wants congressional buy in, but "buy in" can mean a lot of things.

Keith Allison / Creative Commons

The National Football League's punishment for acts of domestic violence is too lenient, according to U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal. He responded to the new video showing former NFL player Ray Rice knocking his then-fiancée unconscious in an elevator.

Tanned and rested after a five-week summer vacation, Congress has returned for a brief session before returning home to campaign for re-election. This autumn session is expected to last a couple of weeks, give or take a couple of days.

What can be accomplished in so short a time? A great deal, if House and Senate choose to work together. Or nothing, if they don't. If you are wondering which will happen, you haven't been watching the 113th Congress up to now.

Rep. Paul Ryan, chairman of the House Budget Committee, used to have a habit of describing the American people in two categories. There were the "makers" — people paying taxes — and the "takers" — people getting government benefits.

Today, the Wisconsin Republican says he was wrong, and that the country needs to overhaul how it thinks about poverty. In his new book, The Way Forward: Renewing the American Idea, he offers ways to redirect federal spending to fighting poverty.

  College costs have reached emergency status for many Americans.

In today’s Congressional Corner, Connecticut Senator Chris Murphy tells WAMC’s Alan Chartock that the industry needs a paradigm shift.

Chion Wolf / WNPR

The flood of unaccompanied minors crossing the U.S. border from Central America has slowed from a record high earlier this summer.

When members of Congress return from summer recess, though, they'll still have to vote on how much money should be spent to deal with the migrants already here. 

Flickr Creative Commons / lindsay-fox

A dozen Senate Democrats are pushing federal legislation that would require child-proof bottles for the liquid nicotine used in e-cigarettes.

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.

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