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    Trucks and Public Safety

    Regulators, safety advocates, and industry representatives testified on ways to improve freight truck safety on U.S. roads. Anne Ferro, the outgoing administrator of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, defended and stressed the need to limit the amount of time a truck driver can be on the road. At the time of the hearing, there were legislative efforts to roll back or temporarily suspend the agency’s hours of service rules.

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    Ambassador Nominations

    John Tefft and Donald Heflin testified before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee about their qualifications to represent the U.S. as ambassadors to Russia and Cape Verde respectively. The committee also heard from the nominees to be ambassadors to Costa Rica, Botswana, Finland, and Brunei, and the deputy U.N. ambassador.

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    Iran Nuclear Negotiations

    Obama administration officials and academics testified on the status of nuclear negotiations between the U.S. and five other global powers (P5+1) with Iran. A July 20th, 2014, deadline to reach a deal had recently been extended by four months. The hearing included a Treasury Department update on the ongoing sanctions against Iran, and the views of former Obama and George W. Bush administration advisers.

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    Iraq Violence and Politics

    State and Defense Department officials, a former CIA analyst, and a former U.S. ambassador to Iraq testified about the dominance of the militant group ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and Syria) in ongoing violence and terrorism in Iraq. Brett McGurk told the committee that the situation in Iraq was extremely serious, and that ISIS was no longer just a terrorist organization but a full-blown army. 

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    Unaccompanied Immigrant Children

    Witnesses testified on the influx of unaccompanied minors crossing the U.S.-Mexico border from Central America. State and Justice Department official spoke about the economic hardships and violence driving children out of their countries. Several Republicans on the committee blamed President Obama’s policies for the problem, including his 2012 move to halt the deportation of some young illegal immigrants. Democrats and the panelists cited the lack of a cohesive immigration policy, and the violence and economic hardships in Central American countries.

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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.