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Matthew David Albritton's MyC-SPAN

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    Marine Corps Nomination Hearing

    The Senate Armed Services Committee held a hearing on the nomination of General Joseph F. Dunford as U.S. Marine Corps commandant. Among his statements General Dunford told committee members that U.S. military leaders did not recommend the White House announce a zero troop presence in Afghanistan in 2017 but would have preferred more ambiguous troop numbers. Other topics included the counterterrorism capabilities in the region, the recent Afghan elections, and future strategies of the U.S. Marine Corps.

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    Patient Safety

    Medical doctors specializing in patient safety testified on preventable medical errors that can lead to death or serious financial problems as bills mount to correct the medical mistake.

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    Veterans Administration Health Care

    The Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee held a hearing to spotlight the steps taken by the Veterans Administration to provide health care to patients on long waiting lists.

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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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    Child Trafficking

    The Children and Families Subcommittee of the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions convened a hearing to learn more about child trafficking issues facing states. A Health and Human Services Department official and other experts testified on the need for more government resources and funding to address child trafficking. Topics included the practice of the online “advertising” and “re-homing” of adopted children without the oversight of child welfare agencies.

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    Seventh Circuit Judicial Conference Dinner

    Solicitor General Donald Verrilli talked about his role as the government’s top lawyer. Topics included his relationship with members of President Obama’s cabinet and the process for deciding how to argue cases before the Supreme Court. He was introduced by Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan, who also served as solicitor general.

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    Veterans Affairs Overhaul Conference Meeting

    Members of the House and Senate met to negotiate differences between their respective bills to overhaul the Veterans Affairs Department (VA). The bills sought to improve access to care and introduce new accountability measures for senior staff. Under the House bill, VA leadership would have been able to fire department officials, and veterans would be allowed to get private care if they experienced long wait times. The Senate’s bill would have created more veterans' health centers around the country.

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    50th Anniversary of the Warren Commission

    James Swanson talked about the formation, goals, and legacy of the Warren Commission, which was established to investigate the assassination of President John F. Kennedy in 1963. Mr. Swanson is the author of End of Days: The Assassination of John F. Kennedy. Mr. Swanson was introduced by Chief Justice John Roberts. The program was hosted by the Supreme Court Historical Society.

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    Campaign Finance

    Witnesses that included Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) testified at a hearing on a proposed constitutional amendment in response to the Supreme Court’s decision on campaign finance in McCutcheon v. FEC. The amendment would allow Congress and the states to set limits on the raising and spending in political campaigns. Senator Reid said “dark money” was “perverting” the electoral system and described the Court’s ruling as taking the country “back to the sewer.” Senator McConnell in turn called the amendment a “ploy” designed to stir up the Democrats' base for the November 2014 elections.

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    Veterans Choice Act

    Senators John McCain (R-AZ), Tom Coburn (R-OK), Richard Burr (R-NC), and Jeff Flake (R-AZ) spoke to reporters about their Veterans Choice Act. The goals of the bill were to provide veterans with greater flexibility and choice in health care providers and to increase accountability and transparency at the Department of Veterans Affairs. Senator McCain also responded to the the Obama administration’s deal to swap five detainees for the release of Army Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl. He said the deal should not have been made, but he would have made every effort to bring him home through other means. He added that these prisoners were wanted war criminals and their release only put at risk service members serving abroad.