News / USA

Washington Week: Focus on Scandals and Tragedies

Brian Padden
U.S. President Barack Obama visits a town devastated by a killer tornado and federal investigations continue into the cause of a major bridge collapse in Washington State and a freight train collision in Missouri.  Congress is not in session this week so investigations into recent scandals continue to dominate the Washington political agenda.

President Obama traveled Sunday to Moore, Oklahoma to meet with and console residents of the midwestern town devastated by a tornado that killed 24 people and injured more than 200 others.  The president has pledged $3.4 million in federal aid to help the town rebuild.

“This is a strong community, with strong character.  There is no doubt they are going to bounce back, but they need help. Just like any of us would need help if we saw the kind of devastation that we are seeing here," he said.

Investigators are looking into the cause of two major transportation accidents in the United States - the collapse of a major road bridge in Washington state and a freight train collision in rural Missouri that caused the collapse of a highway overpass.  Robert Sumwalt is a member of the National Transportation Safety Board.

“Anytime we have something like that, we are very concerned about it.  That is why we are here.  We are here to find out what happened so we can learn from it and keep it from happening again," he said.

The Federal Highway Administration says about a quarter of the country’s 607,000 bridges are structurally deficient.

Secretary of State John Kerry travels from Ethiopia to Jordan for a World Economic Forum that is expected to include talks on Syria.

Speaking Saturday to cadets at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said he will work to change the military culture in light of a new Pentagon report showing that as many as 26,000 military service members may have been sexually assaulted last year.

"Sexual harassment and sexual assault in the military are a profound betrayal - a profound betrayal - of sacred oaths and sacred trust.  This scourge must be stamped out.  We are all accountable in ensuring this happens," he said.

And while Congress is not in session this week, calls for investigations into the Internal Revenue Service after learning it targeted conservative groups for special scrutiny, and into the Justice Department’s decision to search the emails of journalists working on stories about national security, continue to dominate the news in Washington.

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