The U.S. Army via Flickr CC

U.S. Central Command chief Gen. Joe Votel testified before the Senate Armed Services Committee today. Here's what you need to know:

  1. He admitted there is a "stalemate" in the more than 15-year-old war in Afghanistan and said there is a discussion ongoing with Mattis about sending a few thousand more U.S. troops to the country. Current deployment stands at about 8400.
  2. He said he is concerned the U.S. will be caught between Turkey and U.S.-backed Kurds in Syria, admitted there is a risk of conflict there, and confirmed Marines have been deployed. Read our earlier story on the buffer zone here and Marines being deployed here.
  3. Votel said "Iran poses the greatest long-term threat to U.S. interests" in the region, including concerns about ballistic missiles, naval mines, and UAVs (unmanned aircraft).
  4. Votel said he has reviewed the raid in Yemen that killed a Navy SEAL and found there were no lapses in judgement and that it produced valuable knowledge on al-Qaida militants. He added that between four and 12 innocent civilians were killed in the raid.

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Why it matters: Democrats are exponentially more likely to vote by mail than Republicans this year — and if enough mail-in ballots are lost, rejected on a technicality or undercounted, it could change the outcome of the presidential election or other key races.

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The sudden uncertainty surrounding the future of the Affordable Care Act could be an enormous political liability for Republicans in key states come November.

Between the lines: Millions of people in crucial presidential and Senate battlegrounds would lose their health care coverage if the Supreme Court strikes down the law, as the Trump administration is urging it to.

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