Budget Negotiations Continue

July 5, 2011 By Melissa Silverman

The House and Senate are both in session this week as tense budget negotiations continue. The Defense appropriations bill will be on the House floor starting Wednesday. In the Senate, Budget Committee Chairman Conrad (D-ND) could unveil his FY12 budget resolution this week, although he still wants to hold off on moving it forward while the budget negotiations are underway. The Senate will debate the Kerry-McCain resolution supporting the Libya operation this week.

Must Reads

USGLC in the News

Independence Day blues? Americans sense decline (Christian Science Monitor, Howard LaFranchi)

“Americans have often been reluctant to engage in world affairs, and yet they recognize the need to do so,” says Mark Green, a former US ambassador to Tanzania and former Republican congressman from Wisconsin who is now senior director of the US Global Leadership Coalition. “When we talk about the tremendous opportunities for job growth and economic growth through building good relations around the world, people understand that.” That may be, but it is still true that Congress, in another isolationist turn, has started to take a knife to the next fiscal year’s proposed international affairs budget. In response, the USGLC last week sent a letter to Congress – signed by more than 50 of the country’s most prominent corporate leaders – encouraging members to consider the link between America’s strong engagement in the world and a robust economy.

Who’s In the News

It’s official: Sherman nominated as undersecretary of State (Foreign Policy, Josh Rogin)

President Barack Obama officially announced his intention to nominate Wendy Sherman to be the next undersecretary of state for political affairs today. Currently the vice chair of the Albright Stonebridge Group, Sherman was counselor to Secretary of State Madeline Albright, where she also served as North Korean policy coordinator. She served as assistant secretary of State for legislative affairs from 1993 to 1996 under Secretary of State Warren Christopher. She is also chair of the board of directors of Oxfam America and serves on the U.S. Department of Defense’s Defense Policy Board.

Let’s Not Linger in Afghanistan (New York Times Op-Ed, Jeff Merkley, Rand Paul and Tom Udall)

National security experts, including the former C.I.A. director Leon E. Panetta, have noted that Al Qaeda’s presence in Afghanistan has been greatly diminished. Today there are probably fewer than 100 low-level Qaeda operatives in Afghanistan. Al Qaeda has a much larger presence in a number of other nations. Our focus shouldn’t be establishing new institutions in Afghanistan, but concentrating on terrorist organizations with global reach. And our military and intelligence organizations have proved repeatedly that they can take the fight to the terrorists without a huge military footprint.

Smart Power

U.S. foreign policy: In praise of nation-building (LA Times Op-Ed, Max Boot)
The problem isn’t that we are engaged in nation-building. The problem is that we do it so poorly. The U.S military hasn’t fully embraced it as a part of its mission, and neither has the State Department. The job often falls to the U.S. Agency for International Development, but it is so under-resourced that it has become little more than a contract-oversight office.

Politics/Foreign Policy

Departing U.S. Envoy Sees Progress in Afghanistan, and Pitfalls Ahead (New York Times, Alissa J. Rubin and Rod Rordland)

From an American policy standpoint, the changing of the guard means little, but from the Afghan standpoint, in which a leader’s personality can determine the policy, the triple departure, along with President Obama’s June 22 speech on the withdrawal of troops, has stoked fears of abandonment, especially for Afghans who have depended on the Americans. General Rodriguez, who made his farewell tour of eastern Afghanistan last week with stops in Paktika and Ghazni and at Bagram Air Base, is acutely aware of the amount of money and jobs the military funnels into the Afghan economy and said he, too, was concerned about how to cement gains.

The number of contractors barred by USAID has more than doubled this year (Washington Post, Michelle Jamriskoan)

The U.S. Agency for International Development, as it cracks down on vendor impropriety, has more than doubled the number of companies and nonprofit groups it has suspended or debarred from receiving new contracts. “We will hold all of our implementing partners to strict account, regardless of their size,” USAID administrator Rajiv Shah said of the suspension in a speech at the Center for Global Development in Washington this year. “ ‘Too big to fail’ simply does not exist in development,’’ he said.