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    Iran Sanctions and the Nuclear Agreement

    Juan Zarate and Richard Nephew testified on the structure and implications of sanctions relief to Iran through the nuclear agreement known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). Mr. Zarate served in the George W. Bush administration, and Mr. Nephew in 2013 and 2014 was the lead sanctions adviser for the U.S. team negotiating with Iran. They discussed concerns of increased funding of terror groups by Iran, the snapback provisions that would re-impose economic sanctions if Iran violates the deal, and the role of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in monitoring Iranian compliance.

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    Iran Nuclear Agreement

    Secretary of State John Kerry, Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz, and Treasury Secretary Jack Lew testified before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee about the details of the recently signed nuclear agreement with Iran and its enforcement.

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    Monetary Policy and the Economy

    Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen presented her semiannual report on the current status of the economy and what monetary policy was doing to sustain the recovery to the Senate Banking Committee.

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    Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Semiannual Report

    Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) Director Richard Cordray testified on his agency’s semi-annual report. The latest report, released in June 2015, last month, showed that CFPB actions resulted in financial institutions providing $114 million in redress to over 700,000 consumers. In this hearing Mr. Cordray answered questions on such topics as Honda’s U.S. financial division $25 million settlement to resolve allegations of giving minority buyers higher interest rates on vehicle loans without regard to credit history, the CFPB’s data collection practices, and the agency’s work with Native American tribes.

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    Transportation Technology

    Business and transportation sector leaders testified at a hearing on federal government use of new technologies to improve the national transportation infrastructure. Topics included automated vehicles, safety of railways and freight shipping, and actions to foster innovation.

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    Export-Import Bank Reauthorization

    Export-Import Bank President Fred Hochberg testified at a hearing on the bank’s re-authorization, which was set to expire June 30, 2015. The bank is a federally-backed institution that guarantees loans for purchases of U.S. exports. Topics addressed in the hearing were the Export-Import’s risk management practices, the definition of defaults, the economic impact of funding a foreign company that competes with U.S. businesses, and the benefits of having foreign companies buy U.S. goods. 

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    Iran Nuclear Agreement and U.S. Middle East Policy

    Middle East scholars testified about the implications of a potential Iranian nuclear agreement for U.S. policy in the region. They discussed the threat of nuclear proliferation in the region, the effect of the lifting of sanctions, Iran’s destabilization of state institutions, and whether or not Congress should pass an advanced authorization for the use of military force should Iran violate the terms of an agreement.

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    Air Traffic Control Modernization

    Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Administrator Michael Huerta was among a panel of witnesses who testified on his agency’s efforts to modernize the air traffic control system, and the Next Generation Air Transportation System (NextGen) initiative. Senators also asked questions on questionable pricing practices for fliers, and potential privatization of air traffic control systems and management. Senators from more rural states expressed concern for the implications of privatization on rural airports and air traffic.

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    Senate Democrats on Amtrak Funding

    Senate Democrats representing states along Amtrak’s Northeast corridor held a news conference. The called on Congress to fully fund the rail service’s fiscal year 2016 funding request following the May 12, 2015, derailment in Philadelphia that killed eight people and injured more than 200.