Congressional news

With its leadership changing and the views of its eight Republican members ranging “all over the map,” the Senate Foreign Relations Committee (SFRC) of the 113th Congress is likely to showcase “a lack of cohesion,” as well as strong, vigorous debates, CQ.com reports. This new dynamic could “reinvigorate a panel that has grown increasingly marginalized on Capitol Hill in recent years,” though it also runs the risk of “creating more dysfunction, with committee infighting bogging down the legislative agenda.”

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Former Nebraska Sen. Chuck Hagel (R) is “likely” to be confirmed by the Senate as the next Secretary of Defense, according to Senate Majority Whip Richard Durbin (R-IL). Durbin has said that so far, he has not counted a single Democratic “no” vote (CQ.com reports). Even so, CQ.com also reports that Sen. Thad Cochran of Mississippi is the only Republican who has committed to voting for Hagel’s confirmation.

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A bipartisan group of Senators introduced a bill yesterday that would automatically grant green cards to international graduates of U.S. universities with degrees in the STEM fields, as well as significantly increase the number of H-1B visas, CQ.com reports.

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Early in 2013, Congress and the White House finally reached an agreement to keep the U.S. from plunging over “the fiscal cliff.” While this agreement included some provisions on spending and revenue and resolved the expiration of the Bush tax cuts, it delayed the more critical decisions needed to prevent sequestration and achieve long-term deficit reduction. Because of this, sequestration and its embedded automatic spending cuts were not avoided but simply delayed, until March 1 – a date that both coincides with the time the U.S. is expected to again hit the debt ceiling, and is only weeks before the current FY 2013 continuing resolution (CR) expires, on March 27.

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By a vote of 94 to 3, the Senate overwhelming approved Sen. John Kerry (D-MA) yesterday afternoon as the United States’ next Secretary of State, The Washington Post reports. Kerry abstained from voting but watched the proceedings from the front of the Senate chamber. Three Republicans voted against Kerry: Sens. Ted Cruz and John Cornyn of Texas, and Sen.

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Testifying before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee (SFRC) during his confirmation hearing to become the next U.S. Secretary of State, Senator John Kerry (D-MA) expressed his great appreciation for the work of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who has “served above and beyond duty,” and vowed to build on her record, as well as President Obama’s vision.

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee (SFRC) will hold a full committee confirmation hearing this coming Thursday, January 24, on the nomination of Senator John Kerry (D-MA) to be Secretary of State.

The hearing will be held at 10:00 am in Room 216 of the Hart Senate Office Building.

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President Obama nominated former Nebraska Senator Chuck Hagel (R) to succeed Leon Panetta as Secretary of Defense, several news sources including the New York Times and the Washington Post report.

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The 113th Congress was sworn in today and its “demographic composition … is in some sense historic,” CNN reports.

Some interesting statistics on the new Congress compiled by CNN and The Week are below:

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Sen. John Kerry’s confirmation as Secretary of State is expected to go smoothly, due to wide support among both Democratic and Republican Senate colleagues and will, according to CQ.com, coincide with President Obama’s inauguration to a second term in office. Once confirmed, Sen. Kerry (D-MA) will bring decades of foreign policy experience and many vital personal relationships with U.S.

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