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    Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act Markup Hearing

    The Senate Foreign Relations Committee met to mark up S. 615, the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act of 2015. The bill requires that Congress review and approve any agreements relating to Iran’s nuclear program. The committee voted unanimously for the bill,

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    Senator Bob Menendez Statement on Indictment

    Senator Bob Menendez (D-NJ) spoke to reporters after a grand jury indicted him on public corruption charges. Senator Menendez said, “This is not how my career is going to end” and “I’m not going anywhere. I’m angry and ready to fight.” He spoke partially in Spanish. He did not responded to questions. This press conference was held at the Hilton Newark Penn Station Hotel.

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    Commercial Drones

    Federal regulators and representatives of private business, lobbying organizations, and think tanks testified at a hearing on the commercial use of unmanned aircraft systems, commonly known as drones. The witnesses addressed such issues as safety, economic impact, and privacy concerns.

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    Federal Communications Commission Oversight Hearing

    The commissioners testified at a Federal Communications Commission (FCC) oversight hearing about operations and budget. The focus was on their recent open Internet vote classifying the Internet as a common carrier, like telephone services. In a 3-2 vote, rules were passed designed to ensure “net neutrality” by prohibiting Internet service providers from blocking or discriminating against legal content moving through their networks.

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    Tax Scam Protection

    Federal and state-level tax, revenue, and justice officials testified on some of the scams being used against taxpayers during the 2015 tax-filing season. The scams ranged from impersonations of IRS agents over the telephone to tax refund identity theft. The witnesses discussed their efforts to help protect consumers and the additional steps that can be taken.

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    National Wireless Public Safety Network

    Representatives of federal agencies and first responder groups testified at a Senate Commerce Committee hearing hearing on progress made toward establishing the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet), which aimed to be the first nationwide wireless broadband network for public safety.

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    Authorization for the Use of Military Force Request

    Secretary of State John Kerry, Defense Secretary Ashton Carter, and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chair General Martin Dempsey testified at a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on President Obama’s request for authorization for use for military force (AUMF) against *ISIL. Also discussed were the talks with Iran over its nuclear program. 

    *The Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), also known as the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS or DAISH in Arabic), is a militant group that has called itself the Islamic State.

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    Ukraine-Russia Conflict

    Officials from the Departments of State, Treasury, and Defense testified at a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on U.S. policy toward Ukraine and Russia. Topics included the Obama administration’s response to the conflict, the potential for the U.S. to provide lethal military assistance to Ukraine, and the impact of sanctions on Russia. Senator Bob Corker (R-TN) called the Obama administration’s policy “feckless.”

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    Senator Bob Menendez News Conference

    Senator Bob Menendez (D-NJ) spoke to reporters about the decision by the Justice Department to file corruption charges against him for allegedly using his office to push the business interests of a donor in Florida. He said that he had always worked hard for the people of New Jersey and that he had done nothing wrong.

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    State Economic Initiatives

    Panelists talked about opportunities to improve low and middle-income wages and working conditions. Topics included minimum wage, health care costs, and women’s health and reproductive rights.