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Powerful Senate Republican tamping down torture disclosures

Richard BurrWhen the Senate Intelligence Committee released the much anticipated executive summary of the full report on the CIA’s torture program on Dec. 9, details of techniques like extreme sleep deprivation and anal rehydration gripped the country.

Now the committee’s new Republican chairman is trying to make sure that disclosure is its last.

Sen. Richard Burr, R-N.C., took over as the committee’s chairman in January, after the GOP midterm landslide gave control of the Senate to the Republicans. An intelligence hawk, he has quickly moved to keep documents related to the CIA’s interrogation program out of the public eye and the Intelligence Committee under tight control.

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Nancy Pelosi leads House delegation to Cuba

Nancy PelosiHouse Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi traveled with a congressional congregation to Cuba on Tuesday.

The trip is the first official House delegation to travel to the island nation since President Barack Obama announced late last year an easing of trade restrictions with the Castro regime.

“This delegation travels to Cuba in friendship and to build upon the announcement of U.S. normalization of relations and other initiatives announced by President Obama,” Pelosi (D-Calif.) said. “This delegation will work to advance the U.S.-Cuba relationship and build on the work done by many in the Congress over the years, especially with respect to agriculture and trade.”

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Congress clears Keystone XL pipeline bill, setting up veto

Keystone voteThe Republican-controlled Congress approved a bill Wednesday to construct the Keystone XL oil pipeline, setting up a confrontation with President Barack Obama, who has threatened to veto the measure.

The House voted 270-152 to send the bill to the president, endorsing changes made by the Senate that stated climate change was real and not a hoax, and oil sands should no longer be exempt from a tax used to cleanup oil spills. Only one Republican voted against the measure.

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Obama to send his new war powers request to Capitol Hill

US CapitolThe White House was ready to share with lawmakers Tuesday its plan to seek authority for the use of military force against the Islamic State group, setting up the first war vote in Congress in 13 years.

Presidential counsel Neil Eggleston was set to address the Senate Democrats' luncheon, the day before President Barack Obama is expected to formally unveil his proposed authorization, a Democratic official revealed.

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Israeli Official Suggests Boehner Misled Netanyahu On Congress Speech

netanyahuA senior Israeli official suggested on Friday that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had been misled into thinking an invitation to address the U.S. Congress on Iran next month was fully supported by the Democrats.

Netanyahu was invited by the Republican speaker of the house, John Boehner, to address Congress on March 3, an invitation Boehner originally described as bipartisan.

The move angered the White House, which is upset about the event coming two weeks before Israeli elections and that Netanyahu, who has a testy relationship with Democratic President Barack Obama, is expected to be critical of U.S. policy on Iran.

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ADL Chief Calls on Netanyahu To Scrap Speech to GOP Congress

BibiAs the controversy surrounding Benjamin Netanyahu speech to Congress reaches new heights, one of the Jewish community’s top leaders is calling on the Israeli prime minister to stay home.

Abrahm Foxman, national director of the Anti Defamation League said that the political uproar ignited by Netanyahu’s invitation to speak to a joint meeting of Congress makes such a move unhelpful and therefore it should be scrapped.

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Israeli officials fail to quell Democratic revolt

Dems revolt against NetanyahuIsraeli Ambassador Ron Dermer and Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein rushed to meetings on Capitol Hill on Wednesday trying to calm a furor created by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s planned speech to Congress next month and quell a Democratic revolt that has dozens threatening a boycott.  It didn’t work.

If anything, Democrats finished the day more frustrated. According to a source in the room, one Jewish Democratic member of Congress even accused Dermer of being insincere when he claimed not to have anticipated the partisan uproar he’d ignite when he skirted protocol and went around the White House and scheduled the speech only with House Speaker John Boehner.

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