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    Unaccompanied Immigrant Children

    State and Justice Department officials testified on the influx of unaccompanied minors crossing the U.S.-Mexico border from Central America. 

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    Monetary Policy and the Economy

    Janet Yellen presented to the committee the Federal Reserve Board’s semiannual report on monetary policy. She said the economy had improved but that the recovery was still not complete, and highly accommodative monetary policy was still needed. On asset purchases, Chair Yellen expected additional reductions following future meetings, with purchases likely ending following the October 2014 meeting. Regarding interest rates, she stated that increasing was dependent on economic conditions, and that if the labor market recovered more quickly, increases could happen sooner and more rapidly.

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    Developments in Russia and Ukraine

    Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Victoria Nuland was among a panel of witnesses testifying on U.S. efforts to de-escalate tensions in the Russia-Ukraine conflict. The assistant secretary told the committee the U.S. was ready to impose more sanctions against Russia for its actions in Ukraine.

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    College Athletes and Academics

    NCAA President Mark Emmert, two former college football players, author and historian Taylor Branch, and other witnesses testified on college athletes and academics. The hearing was held in response to criticisms that some college athletes were not getting an education that would lead to a career outside of professional sports, and that college athletic departments were unfairly exploiting athletes. Topics included athletic scholarships, campus sexual assaults, health and safety issues, and the issue of compensating student athletes.

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    Democratic Leaders on Immigration

    House and Senate Democratic leaders held a news conference to mark the one-year anniversary of the Senate’s passage of immigration reform legislation. The House had yet to act on an immigration bill or schedule one for consideration. Some members spoke in Spanish briefly.

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    Climate Change Issues

    Four former Republican Environmental Protection Agency administrators were among the witnesses at a hearing on efforts to address global climate change. The former administrators, invited by Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), supported efforts to address climate change. The final three witnesses, invited by Republican members of the committee, opposed efforts to address climate change. Christine Todd Whitman stated she was tired of the talk over the EPA’s authority to regulate, saying the Supreme Court had settled the issue.

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    Senate Hearing on Housing Nominations

    The Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Development Committee heard testimony from Housing and Urban Development secretary nominee Julian Castro, and Federal Housing Finance Agency inspector general nominee Laura Wertheimer.

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    Ambassador Nominations Hearing

    Nominees testified before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee about their qualifications to represent the U.S. as ambassadors to Qatar, Iraq, Egypt, and Honduras. Gentry O. Smith also testified on his qualifications to be director of the Office of Foreign Missions. Ambassador to Qatar Nominee Dana Shell Smith said she was “cautiously optimistic” of Qatar’s ability to watch over the five detainees released in exchange for U.S. Army Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl.

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    Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Report

    Richard Cordray gave his semi-annual report to Congress of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB). Mr. Cordray said that while building a new federal agency involves significant challenges, progress was being made and the bureau was fulfilling its mission to protect consumers against unfair and illegal financial practices. Most of the questions focused on CFPB practices such as the rulemaking process and the agency’s budget.

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    Communication Network Updates

    Internet industry experts testified on the implications of updating copper wire-based telephone service to Internet-based networks, also known as Internet protocol (IP) transition. They focused on how emergency services like 9-1-1 would function during the transition and the best ways to ensure people retain access to these services. A number of the panelists said people need to be educated on what is required, such as like backup batteries. Other suggestions included redundancy systems for IP and more coordination between utilities and regulatory companies.