A New Year and a New Congress

January 3, 2011 By Melissa Silverman

As Washington shakes off the holiday season, all eyes turn towards the 112th Congress. New members will be sworn in on Wednesday, and the House is expected to elect John Boehner as Speaker of the House Wednesday afternoon. The House also plans a reading of the U.S. Constitution on Thursday morning. The month ahead promises to be an important one, with debates over the debt ceiling, revisiting health care reform and an active schedule of oversight hearings.  In addition, Thomas Nides was confirmed as the Deputy Secretary of State for Management and Resources and news came over the break that the release of the Fiscal Year 2012 budget will be delayed one week to February 14th – something to look forward to for Valentine’s Day.

Must Reads

USGLC in the News

Why Foreign Aid Is a Smart Investment (Fox News.com Opinion)

In these difficult economic times, we clearly need to tighten our belts as Americans, and we must be smart about the investments we make with the taxpayers’ dollars. Two areas we cannot afford to shortchange right now though are our national security and our economic prosperity, which is why we must continue to have a strong and effective International Affairs Budget.

Who’s In the News

Names: Radelet from State to USAID (Josh Rogin, the Cable blog, Foreign Policy)

Steve Radelet, who joined the State Department last January to be Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s top advisor on development, is moving over to USAID to be their first  Chief Economist since the 1990s.

Morgan Stanley’s Nides Confirmed to State Department (Nicholas Johnston, Bloomberg)

Thomas Nides, Morgan Stanley’s chief operating officer, was confirmed by the Senate as deputy secretary of state for management and resources. Nides, 49, has been with Morgan Stanley since 2005. His resume includes jobs in politics and public relations such as a stint as chief of staff for then-Democratic Connecticut U.S. Senator Joseph Lieberman during his unsuccessful vice- presidential campaign in 2000.

Politics/Foreign Policy

Five key foreign policy issues to watch in the new year (Bridget Johnson, The Hill)

Unresolved issues and new challenges face President Obama on the foreign policy front in 2011, including a new Republican House with lawmakers raring to confront what they see as failing policies.

Diplomats Help Push Sales of Jetliners on the Global Market (Eric Lipton, New York Times)

Each of these government leaders had one thing in common: they were trying to decide whether to buy billions of dollars’ worth of commercial jets from Boeing or its European competitor, Airbus. And United States diplomats were acting like marketing agents, offering deals to heads of state and airline executives whose decisions could be influenced by price, performance and, as with all finicky customers with plenty to spend, perks. To a greater degree than previously known, diplomats are a big part of the sales force, according to hundreds of cables released by WikiLeaks, which describe politicking and cajoling at the highest levels.

No White House action on Afghanistan oversight; McCaskill irate (Josh Rogin, the Cable blog)

A full year has passed since a bipartisan group of senators began calling for the sacking of Arnie Fields, the embattled Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR), and those senators are as frustrated as ever that the White House refuses to address the situation.

Opinion: How to Stay Friends With China (Zbigniew Brzezinski, New York Times)

The visit by President Hu Jintao of China to Washington this month will be the most important top-level United States-Chinese encounter since Deng Xiaoping’s historic trip more than 30 years ago. It should therefore yield more than the usual boilerplate professions of mutual esteem. It should aim for a definition of the relationship between the two countries that does justice to the global promise of constructive cooperation between them.