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The Journal Gazette

Thursday, May 17, 2018 1:00 am

Politics

Senate panel OKs Haspel to lead CIA

News Services

Republicans are pushing for a speedy confirmation vote as early as today after the Senate Intelligence Committee endorsed Gina Haspel to lead the CIA.

But opponents concerned about Haspel's role in the spy agency's covert detention sites after 9/11 could delay a vote by the full Senate until next week.

The committee voted 10-5 in Haspel's favor Wednesday, paving the way for her expected confirmation to become the first woman to lead the CIA. Republican leaders in the Senate want to hold that vote this week, but she is opposed by Republican Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky and some Democrats who could object.

Bill would restore net neutrality

Senate Democrats, joined by three Republicans, pushed through a measure Wednesday intended to revive Obama-era internet rules that ensured equal treatment for all web traffic, though opposition in the House and the White House seems insurmountable.

Republicans on the short end of the 52-47 vote described the effort to reinstate “net neutrality” rules as “political theater” because the GOP-controlled House is not expected to take up the issue and the Senate's margin could not overcome a presidential veto.

Democrats, however, were undeterred, saying their push would energize young voters who are tech-savvy and value unfettered access to the internet.

House OKs shift in vets' health care

The House voted Wednesday to give veterans more freedom to see doctors outside the Veterans Affairs health system, a major shift aimed at reducing wait times and improving medical care despite the concerns of some Democrats who cast it as a risky step toward dismantling the struggling agency.

The plan seeks to fulfill President Donald Trump's promise to expand private care to veterans whenever they feel unhappy with VA health care.

The long-awaited bill would change how veterans receive their medical treatment by allowing them to go to a private physician when they felt government-run VA medical centers couldn't provide the care they needed, with the approval of a VA health provider.

Trump welcomes Uzbek president

President Donald Trump and the leader of Uzbekistan pledged a close partnership on trade and military ties Wednesday, as the two leaders conferred on the country's strategic position near Afghanistan.

Trump welcomed President Shavkat Mirziyoyev to the Oval Office for the first time and nodded as the Uzbekistan leader credited the U.S. president for “achieving very outstanding results” in job creation and last year's tax overhaul.

The Uzbek president, who came to power in 2016 following the death of the country's longtime autocratic ruler, Islam Karimov, hailed a “new era for strategic partnership” between the two countries.

Uzbekistan provides a crucial supply route for U.S. forces based in Afghanistan. The two leaders were expected to discuss the situation as the U.S. aims to bring the Taliban to the peace table.