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mitchmartinson's MyC-SPAN

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    Senators Leahy and Flake and Representative Van Hollen on U.S.-Cuba Policy Changes

    Senators Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Jeff Flake (R-AZ) and Representative Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) reacted to President Obama’s announcement of changes to U.S. policy toward Cuba following the release of U.S. contractor Alan Gross.

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    Deep Space Exploration

    Witnesses testified on the nation’s deep space exploration programs and capabilities. William Gerstenmaier provided an update on the Space Launch System (SLS) and Orion programs. Cristina Chaplain outlined NASA short- and long- term financial resource challenges for deep space exploration programs, telling committee members of a $400-900 million funding shortfall for the SLS program.

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    Islamic State Threat Assessment

    Brett McGurk, the Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Iraq and Iran testified at a House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing on the Obama administration’s strategy against Islamic State* militants, including the coalition air campaign and the support of partners on the ground. He also spoke about the humanitarian situation in the region.

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

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    Use of Military Force Against ISIL

    Secretary of State John Kerry testified before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee about the use of military force against so-called Islamic State* militants. Secretary Kerry said a new congressional authorization for use of military force (AUMF) against the ISIL should not be limited to Iraq and Syria nor should it bind President Obama from ever deploying ground troops against ISIL if needed.

    *The Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), also known as the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), an extremist Sunni militant group that has called itself the Islamic State.

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    Health Care Law Enrollment

    Witnesses testified before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee about enrollment issues with the Affordable Care Act’s Healthcare.gov website. Jonathan Gruber, a former consultant and adviser during the law’s creation, apologized for comments he made in which he called voters stupid and said the controversial law was passed because voters did not know better. Marilyn Tavenner also apologized for the wrong enrollment numbers she reported to the committee, calling it an inadvertent mistake.

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    Senator Jeff Flake on U.S.-Cuba Ralations

    Senator Jeff Flake (R-AZ) talked about the possibility of normalizing relations with Cuba. He stressed that he had long believed Cuba did not belong on the state- sponsored terror list.

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    Unaccompanied Immigrant Children

    Witnesses testified about immigration policy and unaccompanied immigrant children illegally crossing the southern U.S. border.

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    U.S. Strategy Against ISIS

    Joint Chiefs of Staff Chair General Martin Dempsey and Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel testified at a hearing on efforts to combat ISIS* militants who had taken over parts of Syria and Iraq. Secretary Hagel gave an update on the military strategy in Iraq and Syria, saying progress was being made. General Dempsey provided specifics on the strategy, telling the committee that 80,000 Iraqi forces were needed in Iraq and on the Syrian border. General Dempsey also said a “modest” number of American forces could be sent to Iraq to help Iraqi troops with complex missions against ISIS.

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

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    U.S. Marine in Mexican Custody

    A subcommittee of the House Foreign Affairs Committee held a hearing on Mexico’s imprisonment of U.S. Marine Sergeant Andrew Tahmooressi, who had been held for more than six months after crossing the border carrying three loaded firearms in his truck. He served two tours of duty in Afghanistan and suffers from post-traumatic stress syndrome.

    Sergeant Tahmooressi’s mother, one of the four witnesses, said her son tried to kill himself after receiving threats of rape, torture, and execution, and she urged the Mexican government to release him. Republican committee members criticized President Obama for not taking action and calling the Mexican president.

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    Phoenix VA Inspector General's Report, Panel 1

    Witnesses testified at a House Veterans' Affairs Committee hearing on the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) inspector general’s report on long wait times for health care and other concerns at the Phoenix, Arizona, VA Medical Center. This panel included the acting inspector general and whistle-blowers in the VA system. Former Phoenix VA Medical Director Sam Foote criticized the report, calling it a whitewash and saying it minimized the scandal.