Congress is Back in Town

March 28, 2011 By Mac Stoddard

Congress returns from recess for a three-week session as negotiations continue behind closed doors between House and Senate leadership and the White House over the scale of discretionary budget cuts for FY 2011. Negotiators have two weeks until the current Continuing Resolution (CR) expires on April 8, and the chances that a government shutdown could occur after the CR expires appear to be increasing. The White House and Democratic lawmakers are working on a proposal to cut an additional $20 billion in spending (in addition to the $10 billion in cuts that already have been enacted). However, Congressional Republicans are insisting on the $61 billion level of cuts adopted in H.R. 1. Next week action on the FY12 budget will also get underway, with the House Budget Committee scheduled to mark up its FY 2012 budget resolution, with the goal of floor action prior to the two-week Spring Recess that begins on April 18.

Must Reads

Who’s In the News

Obama to Deliver National Address on Libya (VOA)

U.S. President Barack Obama will address the American people Monday on the situation in Libya, as some in Congress say U.S. actions there and their objectives are still unclear. The Obama administration has defended its decision to intervene militarily in Libya and help enforce a United Nations-authorized no-fly zone.

Luck as America’s Foreign Policy (Jim Talent, National Review Online)

The last four American presidents have failed to do what only they could have done: define America’s strategic mission in the post–Cold War world by identifying the national interests the United States will seek to advance and the means by which it will advance them.  In the absence of strategic clarity, foreign policy becomes a series of impulses, expressed through often contradictory decisions, in reaction to events that no one managed until they grew into crises that were not anticipated.

Smart Power

U.S. donations are critical to saving lives around the world (The Olympian)

The American response to the earthquake and tsunami in Japan has been immediate and generous. KOMO 4 television in Seattle alone raised more than a half million dollars in just a few days to help the American Red Cross respond to the millions of Japanese residents suffering from the destruction.

MCC Considering $100-150 million aid for Georgia (New Europe)

In January board of directors of US government foreign aid agency Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) had announced Georgia and Ghana eligible to develop proposal for package of grants under its aid program for the second time, Civil Georgia reported.

Politics/Foreign Policy

Time short and tempers flaring in budget showdown (Andrew Taylor, AP)

The specter of a partial government shutdown looms again as Congress returns to Washington with Democrats and Republicans as far apart on spending priorities as they were when winter turned to spring.

Why President Obama must speak of more than just Libya Monday night (David Rothkopf, FP)

We can thank John F. Kennedy for the common misconception that the Chinese word for crisis contains characters signifying both danger and opportunity. We can thank Rahm Emanuel for the more recent assertion that crises should not be wasted. But it is far too early to determine who will be thanked by their supporters for seizing the opportunity that the upheaval sweeping the Middle East represents.

Syrian rebels don’t want U.S. aid, at least for now (Eli Lake, the Washington Times)

Syrian rebels who have shaken the regime in Damascus do not want U.S. assistance, at least for now, a Syrian dissident in close touch with the network of protesters told The Washington Times on Sunday.