Senators ask DOD when tuition funding for service members will be restored

Sens. James Inhofe (R-Okla.) and Kay Hagan (D-N.C.) asked the Defense Department when it will restore funding for the tuition assistance program for military service members.

“We request that you update us on the Department’s implementation plan, including a time frame describing when service members may expect Tuition Assistance to be restored,” Hagan and Inhofe wrote in a letter to Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel on Thursday.


Senate GOP blasts EPA for release of private business info to environmental groups

Senate Republicans on the Environment and Public Works Committee this week criticized the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for improperly releasing private personal and business information to environmental groups.

Sen. David Vitter (R-La.), the lead Republican on the committee, and other committee Republicans charged that the EPA answered a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request last year by including business information that should have remained private.


Senate hearing to examine US military needs in Korea

The Senate Armed Services Committee will meet next week to hear from military leaders in the Pacific Command and Korea to discuss the future military needs in the region.

North Korea has been escalating threats of attacks against South Korea and the United States. General James Thurman, Commander of U.S. Forces in Korea, will testify before the committee on Tuesday along with U.S Pacific Commander Admiral Samuel Locklear.


New Mexico senators push to increase mental health services in schools

New Mexico Sens. Tom Udall (D) and Martin Heinrich (D) said Thursday that they would lead an effort to increase school grants for mental health services.

"Removing the stigma around mental illness and making treatment available at early ages is critical to raising a stable and productive society," Udall said. 


Inhofe: Immigration reform must 'prioritize' border security

Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.) said Wednesday that any immigration reform being considered by Congress should “prioritize securing our borders.”

“Any immigration reform legislation Congress considers in the coming months must prioritize securing our borders and creating an effective system that tracks whether those entering on temporary visas have left the country,” Inhofe said during a visit to the U.S.-Mexico border on Wednesday. 


McConnell calls on FDA to address 'pain pill epidemic'

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) asked the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to ensure that generic painkillers are tamper-proof to prevent abuse.

“I believe more can be done to prevent an influx of generic opiates from coming to market that fail to incorporate technologies to reduce the likelihood of misuse and abuse,” McConnell wrote in a letter to FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg on Wednesday.


Schumer to introduce bill lowering taxes for hard cider producers

Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) announced Tuesday that he plans to introduce a bill when the Senate returns next week that would allow hard cider producers to pay lower tax rates.

“New York is the second-largest apple producer in the country, and there’s no doubt it should be at the core of the hard cider industry, which is rapidly growing in popularity,” Schumer said. “However, current federal tax rules make it extremely costly for Capital Region producers and consumers alike to produce, market and sell this product.”


Schumer proposes federal grants to tap maple syrup on private land

Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) on Monday proposed a new federal grant program aimed at encouraging the development of maple syrup production on privately held land, including land in upstate New York.

Schumer said his Maple Tap Act is aimed in part at making New York a maple syrup powerhouse that can compete with Canada.


Shaheen tells the Pentagon to use 'flexibility' to avoid furloughs

Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) told the Department of Defense to maximize “flexibility” in order to lighten the effects of the sequester on federal defense workers.

“As we continue to seek a long-term deficit deal to replace sequestration, I respectfully urge you to make every effort to mitigate the impact that such indiscriminate reductions in spending could have on members of our federal workforce,” Shaheen said Friday.