GOP senators in flap over prairie chicken as endangered species

A group of Republican senators asked the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to delay a decision on whether to list the lesser prairie-chicken as a threatened species.

In a letter to agency director Daniel Ashe, Sens. John Cornyn (Texas), Ted Cruz (Texas), James Inhofe (Okla.), Tom Coburn (Okla.), Pat Roberts (Kan.) and Jerry Moran (Kan.) requested that the decision on the lesser prairie-chicken be delayed for six months in order to allow states to prepare.


Schumer: 'Flawed Medicare law' forces seniors to overpay for rehab

Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) pushed for a change to Medicare on Wednesday so that elderly patients are not charged for nursing home care after being hospitalized.

Currently, Medicare only covers post-acute care in a skilled nursing home facility if a patient has three consecutive days of hospitalization as an inpatient. Schumer’s Improving Access to Medicare Coverage Act would allow “observation” stays to be counted toward the three-day mandatory inpatient stay for Medicare to cover rehabilitation post-hospital visits.


Schumer calls on Russia to process pending US adoptions

Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) called on Russia to allow American families who have already begun the process of adopting a Russian child to complete the adoption.

At the end of last year, Russia banned all U.S. adoptions of Russian children, but the law allows Russian officials and courts to allow pending adoption to be finalized. Schumer said Tuesday that until a long-term agreement is reached to lift the ban, that the Russian government should allow the few pending adoptions to go through.


Senate Democrats want more data on hate crimes against Arab Americans

A group of Senate Democrats wants the federal government to collect more information on hate crimes against Sikh, Hindu and Arab Americans.

Sens. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) and Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) lead 24 other Democratic senators to write a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder and FBI Director Robert Mueller on Tuesday. The senators requested that Holder and Mueller revise the Hate Crime Incident Report to collect data on hate crimes motivated by bias against Sikh, Hindu and Arab Americans.


Toomey questions Panetta’s decision on the new medal for drone operators

Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) told Defense Secretary Leon Panetta that he has concerns about a new medal for drone operators and others not in direct ground combat.

Toomey sent Panetta a letter Tuesday saying he doesn’t think the new Distinguished Warfare Medal should be ranked above some traditional combat valor medals such as the Bronze Star.


Sessions calls Obama's immigration plan 'fatally flawed'

Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) called President Obama’s immigration plan “fatally flawed” on Monday.

Sessions accused Obama of meeting with special interest groups that want to maintain low-wage earners and prioritizing those needs as higher than the American people’s.


Sen. Murphy: NRA is ‘out of step’ with gun owners

Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) said Monday that the National Riffle Association’s (NRA) leadership is “out of step” with gun owners.

Murphy’s comment came after his office released a report on U.S. gun owners’ views. Murphy said the data showed that NRA members and American gun owners support measures to reduce gun violence, such as background checks.

“The NRA’s leadership continues to demonstrate just how out of step they are with the American public, their own membership, and reality in general,” Murphy said. “NRA members and responsible gun owners across the country want to ensure the safety of our children and our communities, and support common sense measures to reduce gun violence.”


Bipartisan group of senators want to legalize growing hemp

A bipartisan group of senators introduced a bill that would remove hemp from the list of controlled substances in order to allow U.S. farmers to grow the plant.

Sens. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Rand Paul (R-Ky.), Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) introduced a bill Thursday to amend the Controlled Substances Act to exclude industrial hemp from the definition of marijuana.


Senate Dems introduce bill expanding military benefits to gay members

Sens. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) introduced a bill Thursday that would give same-sex spouses in the military equal benefits.

The Charlie Morgan Military Spouses Equal Treatment Act would require the Departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs to honor any marriage that has been recognized by a state and provide equal benefits to the spouses of all service members.


GOP bill would tighten rules on parental consent for abortion

A group of GOP senators introduced a bill Thursday that would prohibit minors from crossing state lines to avoid parental involvement in the decision to get an abortion.

Sens. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) are the lead sponsors of the legislation. Some states don’t require parental consent for minors to get an abortion, causing some to cross state lines in order to avoid telling their parents about the procedure.