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U.S. Politics

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  • Senate panel to grill Obama's nominee for U.S. health secretary>

    Sylvia Mathews Burwell takes center stage on Thursday for the first of two Senate hearings that will determine whether the loyal White House insider will become the next public face of the controversial law known as Obamacare.

    The path to confirmation as U.S. health secretary is expected to be a smooth one for Burwell, a 48-year-old technocrat who was nominated on April 11 by President Barack Obama to replace outgoing Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. Last year, Burwell sailed through the Senate on a 96-0 vote to become Obama's budget director.

    Burwell's new confirmation round begins when she takes the hot seat before the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee. The Senate Finance Committee, which will decide whether to send her nomination to the floor, is expected to hold a hearing at a later date.

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Iran-backed Shi'ite militias to join assault near Mosul on new front

BAGHDAD Iraqi Shi'ite militias backed by Iran said on Friday they would soon join the fight against Islamic State on a new front west of Mosul, a move which could block any retreat by the jihadists into Syria but might alarm Turkey and the United States.