Senators Tom Kaine (D-VA) and Robert Menendez (D-NJ) spoke to Alhurra’s Congressional Correspondent Rana Abtar about the debate regarding Syrian refugees in the United States. In separate interviews both Senators, who are members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, spoke about the strenuous vetting process for all refugees including Syrians. Sen. Kaine said, “we’ve actually added more steps to the process if they are a refugee from Syria.” While Sen. Menendez pointed out that most of the Syrian refugees are women, children and families, stating, “these are families, fleeing persecution, going through the most stringent background check.”

Senators Corker and Menendez provide reaction to Iran deal on Alhurra TV

Sen. Corker stated that he was still reviewing the agreement, but was starting “in a very skeptical place.” He questioned how the P5+1 and the European Union went from a goal of dismantling Iran’s nuclear program to coming to an agreement that would be “an industrialization of their nuclear program.” He stated that the agreement was a “far cry from where we began.” Sen. Corker said he felt the U.S. had substantial leverage going into the negotiations, but ended up with a deal that “we have to be defensive about.”

U.S. Senators deplore Azerbaijan’s “politically motivated arrests,” call For Ismayilova’s release

A group of 16 U.S. Senators, led by Minority Whip Sen. Richard Durbin (D-IL), addressed Azeri President Ilham Aliyev with growing concern about “a systematic crackdown on human rights and independent civil society” in Azerbaijan, calling on him in a letter issued yesterday [full text here] to “provid[e] a more tolerant environment” for media, reopen RFE/RL’s Baku bureau, and release Khadija Ismayilova, the country’s most prominent investigative reporter, who was imprisoned on fabricated charges last December.