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Republicans block Senate bill to boost veterans' benefits

Senate GOPA divided Senate on Thursday derailed Democratic legislation that would have provided $21 billion for medical, education, and job-training benefits for the nation's veterans. The bill fell victim to election-year disputes over spending and fresh penalties against Iran.

Each party covets the allegiance of the country's 22 million veterans and their families, and each party blamed the other for turning the effort into a chess match aimed at forcing politically embarrassing votes.

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Most Americans say this Congress is worst in their lifetime

Congress the worst everThe current Congress is not only unproductive, but most Americans see it as the worst they've ever known, according to a new CNN/ORC International poll released Thursday.

Two-thirds said the 113th Congress, which left for the year last week, is the worst in their lifetime. Twenty-eight percent disagreed. Nearly three in four said this Congress has done nothing to deal with the nation's problems.

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Senate Republicans block attempt to update firearms rules for 3D guns

3-d gunsAn attempt to update firearms rules to cover weapons made using 3D printers was blocked on Monday night as a fresh row over gun control erupted in the Senate.

Existing legislation requires all plastic weapons made or carried in the US contain some metal parts so they can be picked up by security detectors.

The law, dating back to the 1980s, was due to expire on December 9 but was extended by both the House and Senate with only hours to spare.

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U.S. Senate goes 'nuclear,' changes filibuster rules

Senate goes nuclearSenate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., pushed through a controversial change to Senate rules Thursday that will make it easier to approve President Obama's nominees but threatens to further divide an already polarized Congress.

Fifty-two Senate Democrats and independents voted to weaken the power of the filibuster. The change reduces the threshold from 60 votes to 51 votes for Senate approval of executive and judicial nominees against unanimous GOP opposition. Three Democrats — Sens. Mark Pryor of Arkansas, Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Carl Levin of Michigan — opposed the change.

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Congress' approval rating: 9 percent

CongressIt's official....this is the most disliked Congress in the 39-year Gallup poll history of measuring such matters. The latest approval rating: 9 percent.

"The government shutdown in October clearly didn't help Congress' image, and it appears that the impact of that incident may linger, given the record-low approval this month," according to a new Gallup analysis.

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US lawmakers call for action to curb Internet child trading

Internet child tradingU.S. lawmakers called Tuesday for federal action to prevent parents from giving unwanted adopted children to strangers met on the Internet, and the Illinois attorney general urged Facebook and Yahoo to police online groups where children may be advertised.

The demands come as nations whose orphans have been adopted by Americans contend that the U.S. government isn't doing enough to stop the practice, known as "private re-homing."

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Patriot Act author prepares bipartisan bill to curb NSA

Jim SensenbrennerThe conservative Republican who co-authored America's Patriot Act is preparing to unveil bipartisan legislation that would dramatically curtail the domestic surveillance powers it gives to intelligence agencies.

Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner, who worked with president George W Bush to give more power to US intelligence agencies after the September 11 terrorist attacks, said the intelligence community had misused those powers by collecting telephone records on all Americans, and claimed it was time "to put their metadata program out of business".

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