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Matthew David Albritton's MyC-SPAN

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    Veterans Health Legislation

    Veterans Affairs Department officials and advocates testified at hearing on pending health and benefits legislation. Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), and Joe Donnelly (D-IN) testified on their respective legislative proposals. During the hearing, the committee approved the nomination of former U.S. Representative Michael Michaud to be assistant secretary of Labor for Veterans' Employment and Training.

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    Military Operations in Afghanistan

    General John Campbell, commander of U.S. Forces - Afghanistan, testified on U.S. operations in Afghanistan. Topics included the Doctors Without Borders in Kundhz hospital that was hit in a U.S. airstrike, U.S. troop levels and the drawdown plan, training and readiness of the Afghan security forces, and the threat of the Taliban and terrorist organizations to the security and stability of the Afghan government.

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    Aircraft Carrier Program

    Senior Defense Department and military officials from the U.S. Navy testified at a hearing on the Navy’s Ford-class aircraft carrier program. The first two aircraft carriers in the program were facing chronic delays and a total of $4.7 billion over budget.

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    Refugee Resettlement Program

    Obama administration officials testified at a hearing on the fiscal and security implications of the administration’s plan to admit nearly 200,000 refugees over the next two years, the Refugee Resettlement Program. Among other issues the witnesses answered questions on he security screening process, cost increases, and the deterrence of immigration benefit fraud.

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    Pension Advance Programs

    The Senate Special Committee on Aging held a hearing to gather ideas for ways to address pension advances scams and hold perpetrators accountable. Pension advance programs ask retirees to sign over to third parties future pension checks in exchange for a smaller lump-sum payments. Some of these programs are fraudulent and harmful to the elderly. Experts who specifically deal with this issue testified.

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    Cybersecurity Policy

    Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, Deputy Defense Secretary Robert Work, and U.S. Cyber Command Commander Michael Rogers testified on cybersecurity threats facing the U.S. Topics included recent hacking threats against government computer networks, encryption, and preventing state-sponsored cyber attacks. The witnesses also addressed concerns with the Iran nuclear agreement, the threat of a government shutdown, and the recent cyber deal with China.

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    Intelligence and Cybersecurity Issues

    National Security Agency (NSA) Director Michael Rogers testified on the challenges his agency faces, including retention of key personnel, securing the budget, optimization within the NSA, and the need for new legislation that would benefit the organization. He answered questions from the committee on issues that included massive data breaches at Sony Pictures, U.S. efforts to thwart current terrorist threats, and what would ensure the NSA to be more proactive as opposed to reactive.

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    U.S. Military Strategy in Asia

    Admiral Harry Harris and Assistant Defense Secretary David Shear testified on U.S. military strategy in the Asia-Pacific region. The majority of the hearing was focused on the threat posed by China’s aggressive military and territorial expansion efforts in the South China Sea, moves that had been contested by allies such as Taiwan, Vietnam, and Malaysia.

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    Health Insurance Industry Consolidation

    Officials from health insurance groups and advocacy groups testified on proposed mergers within the industry, and the impact of those mergers on consumers. Aetna was attempting to acquire Humana, and Anthem had proposed a deal to buy Signa. The mergers would make Aetna and Anthem the second and third largest health insurance companies. The heads of Aetna and Anthem in their testimonies argued that industry consolidation would benefit consumers.