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Nearly 300 Congress members declare commitment to 'unbreakable' U.S.-Israel bond

Nearly 300 members of Congress have signed on to a declaration reaffirming their commitment to "the unbreakable bond that exists between [U.S.] and the State of Israel", in a letter to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

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House passes historic health-reform bill

House Democrats scored a historic victory in the century-long battle to reform the nation's health-care system late Sunday night, winning final approval of legislation that expands coverage to 32 million people and attempts to contain spiraling costs.

The House voted 219 to 212 to approve the measure, with every Republican voting no. The measure now awaits President Obama's signature. In remarks Sunday night, he said that the vote "proved that we are still capable of doing big things. We proved that this government -- a government of the people and by the people -- still works for the people."

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and her colleagues erupted in cheers and hugs as the votes were counted, while Republicans who had fought the Democratic efforts on health-care reform for more than a year appeared despondent.

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$940-billion estimate clears way for House healthcare vote

The Congressional Budget Office on Thursday estimated the cost of the proposed healthcare overhaul at $940 billion over 10 years, a scoring that clears the way for a House vote as soon as Sunday.

Democrats greeted the number with joy because it was less than the $1-trillion price tag that they were using as a ceiling. Republicans immediately pledged to fight the healthcare overhaul through its convoluted parliamentary route in the House and Senate. "We're absolutely giddy over the great news we have gotten from CBO," Rep. James Clyburn (D-S.C.), the majority whip, told reporters.

The CBO scoring sets the stage for the Democrats' push to collect the 216 votes needed to pass the bill. Democrats have pledged to allow 72 hours for public study, meaning the soonest the vote could come is on Sunday, when President Obama is scheduled to fly to Asia.

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Rep. Patrick Kennedy rips media in Afghan speech

U.S. Rep. Patrick Kennedy is blasting the news media as "despicable," accusing it of ignoring the war in Afghanistan even as troops continue to die there. The Rhode Island Democrat shouted, pointed and waved his arms excitedly during a speech on the House floor Wednesday on U.S. policy in Afghanistan.

He chastised the media for focusing "24/7" on former Rep. Eric Massa of New York, who resigned from Congress amid sexual harassment allegations, at a time when lawmakers were debating the future of the war.

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John Conyers' Wife Sentenced to Jail

A former Detroit councilwoman married to Democratic U.S. Rep. John Conyers Jr. was sentenced to 37 months in prison Wednesday for accepting bribes from a waste-management company trying to win city business.

Monica Conyers is appealing the sentence, which includes two years of supervised release after prison, according to the office of U.S. District Judge Avern Cohn, who handled the case.The sentencing is the latest chapter in the latest scandal to plague Detroit, already struggling with severe unemployment, poverty and blight.

Mrs. Conyers in June admitted she took bribes from Houston-based Synagro Technologies Inc. as it sought a $47 million sludge-disposal contract from the city. The company won the contract in a 5-4 vote, with Mrs. Conyers voting in its favor after initially opposing it.

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TVNL Comment:  Now we know why impeachent talk disappeared along with all investigations into 2004 voting machines in Ohio.  Now we know.

Senator warns against $1B deal with Blackwater

A senior Senate Democrat said Thursday the Pentagon should consider barring Blackwater from a new $1 billion deal to train Afghan police because of "serious questions" about the contractor's conduct.

The comments by Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin suggests thinning patience in Congress for the Pentagon's heavy reliance on contractors on the battlefield.  U.S. efforts to rebuild Iraq and Afghanistan using independent contractors has been a boon for companies like Blackwater and saved money and time for the Defense Department, whose forces are busy in combat.

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Inquiry sought into disappearance of e-mails in interrogations case

Senior Democratic lawmakers and watchdog groups demanded Friday that the Justice Department investigate the disappearance of e-mail messages written by Bush administration lawyers who drafted memos blessing harsh interrogation tactics, saying their absence cast doubt on an ethics report that cleared the lawyers of professional misconduct.

The lost e-mails cover a critical period in 2002 when Justice Department attorneys labored under heavy pressure on a memo that gave the CIA a green light to use simulated drowning, sleep deprivation and other interrogation techniques against al-Qaeda suspects.

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