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mitchmartinson's MyC-SPAN

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    Medicare Oversight

    Nancy Griswold from the Office of Medicare Hearing and Appeals (OMHA) testified about the Medicare appeals process and the backlog of appeal claims. She discussed the steps her office had taken to address those problems. At the time of the hearing, OMHA had a backlog of 460,000 Medicare appeal claims waiting to be heard by administrative law judges.

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    Border Security Technology

    Witnesses testified at a House Science, Space, and Technology subcommittee joint hearing on surveillance technologies that could help secure the U.S. border with Mexico. They talked about the Department of Homeland Security’s use of border security technology and offered recommendations to the department for improving its research and technology efforts.

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    Environmental Regulations and Small Businesses

    Bob Perciasepe testified on the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and its potential effects on small businesses.

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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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    Immigration Services Oversight

    Leon Rodriguez testified about Citizenship and Immigration Services policies regarding deportation, immigration benefits, and the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals Program. The hearing was held in an effort to better deal with the influx of unaccompanied children from Central America who were crossing the U.S. border from Mexico. Among other topics Mr. Rodriguez answered questions on were the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, E-Verify, prosecutorial discretion, and the “credible fear” asylum interview process.

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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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    Internal Revenue Service Political Targeting investigation

    Deputy Attorney General James Cole testified on the Justice Department’s response to allegations that the Internal Revenue Service targeted conservative organizations. He said the investigation had been broadened to include the loss of e-mails from the computer of former IRS official Lois Lerner who headed the division dealing with tax-exempt organizations. Some Republicans expressed doubts about the department’s probe of the matter and called for an investigation by an independent prosecutor.

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    Veterans Administration Mental Health Care

    The House Veterans Affairs Committee held a hearing on improving access to mental health care services for former soldiers, and the level of care veterans receive for problems such as post-traumatic stress disorder and brain injury. The witnesses included Veterans Health Administration (VHA) officials, mental health experts, and family members of war veterans who killed themselves after returning from active duty. Jean and Howard Somers told a story about their son, Daniel, being told no beds were available when he attempted to check himself into the VHA for a mental health crisis. Daniel in response sat down on the floor and cried. A VHA staff person told him he could stay and cry as long as he needed before driving himself home.