National news in brief

Department of Homeland Security funding extended by a week

On Thursday, Congress passed a one week extension plan to provide funding for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), which secures U.S. borders against threats. President Barack Obama approved the extension later that night, hours before the Department would have been left unfunded.

Republicans in the House of Representatives have been rejecting drafts of these bills for weeks in response to President Obama’s immigration plan that he rolled out late last year, but decided to hold off for a week and not effect a total shutdown. If the shutdown were to occur, nearly 200,000 of what the Department considers “essential” employees, including airport security personnel, would be working with no salary.

Furthermore, employers would be unable to use E-Verify (a government program that checks that potential employees are eligible to work), civil rights and civil liberties call lines and investigations would be called off, no security for 2016 presidential candidates would be hired, and local, as well as state, authorities would not be able to apply for grants for training or new equipment.

The House will vote on another DHS funding bill on Thursday.

Source: BBC

FCC votes to verify net neutrality

n Thursday, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) voted to approve strong net neutrality regulations, pleasing users and smaller Internet companies and going against media giants and large internet service providers. The new regulations essentially beef up the role of the FCC in regulating the Internet, which they feel should be considered a public utility, much like water or electricity.

Net neutrality is the principle that companies and service providers cannot strike deals and exchange money to speed up Internet for specific sites. With the new regulations, the FCC has promised that they will not incite tariffs, or other forms of monetary regulation. These new rules mark a historic distinction: Now the Internet is considered a public utility, and has a government agency regulating it.


Netanyahu to speak in front of Congress

Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu is set to speak to Congress on Tuesday. Netanyahu will warn Congress and the American people about the dangers of a nuclear agreement with Iran, despite President Obama's comments that indicate these discussions will continue.

Netanyahu's visit has several significant political implications: first, that House speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) invited him without consulting the White House — or even House Democrats. He made the invitation solely on behalf of the House Republicans. Secondly, Bibi (as Netanyahu is known in Israel), is coming amidst the tense Israeli elections. His visit is considered a political move by many in the U.S. and in Israel.

Source: [ITAL]Slate[ITAL]

President Obama vetoes Keystone XL pipeline

On Tuesday, President Obama vetoed a bill that would approve the creation of the Keystone XL pipeline. The pipeline, which would span from Canada to Texas, would cost approximately $8 million, but the GOP has said it will create thousands of jobs and allow U.S. oil interests to remain here at home.

The veto is the first since Republicans took control of Congress, and sends a clear message from the White House. Though the pipeline is not by any means unique (others like it already exist in the U.S.), it has prompted a larger debate about where America's environmental future is headed.

Source: ABC News