Gavel Down

January 5, 2011 By Melissa Silverman

Today at noon, the first session of the 112th Congress will be gaveled into session.  The House will include a nod to history, as the Speaker’s Chair used on the rostrum will be the same chair used for the opening day of Congress by every Speaker since Sam Rayburn. The first item on the House’s agenda will be a roll call vote expected to elect John Boehner of Ohio the new Speaker.  Later this afternoon, the House is expected to approve a new set of rules with important implications for the budget. The rules package provides new power to incoming House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, allowing him to set overall spending limits for the Fiscal Year 2011 budget.

Must Reads

Who’s In The News

Big changes coming to Obama’s Asia team (Josh Rogin, the Cable Blog)

Several senior Obama administration Asia officials are set to either leave government or move to new jobs within the bureaucracy in the coming months, as the White House tries to hit the reset button on U.S.-China relations

Smart Power

Clinton to staff: A busy year ahead for diplomacy (Josh Rogin, The Cable Blog)

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told her staff in a memo today that the furious pace of international challenges is only going to increase in 2011, as the State Department forges ahead with internal change and a full plate of diplomatic challenges.

Politics/Foreign Policy

Cantor Won’t Rule Out Cuts to National Security Budgets (Billy House, National Journal)

Incoming House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., said Tuesday that defense spending cuts are “on the table” as Republicans look to make good on their oft-stated No. 1 pledge of chopping as much as $100 billion from the nation’s $3 trillion federal budget. Cantor’s comments represented a departure from previous Republican claims that their efforts to return the federal budget to fiscal year 2008 levels would be achieved by cutting non-security discretionary funds.

Forget the Aftershocks (Charles Kenny, Foreign Policy)

Haiti marks a grim anniversary this month: It’s been one year since a catastrophic earthquake struck the island nation, leveling whole neighborhoods of the capital city of Port-au-Prince and killing upwards of 230,000 people. Twelve months later, much of the rebuilding and recovery remains undone.

Taliban benefits as Afghans’ anti-drug efforts stall (Ashish Kumar Sen, Washington Times)

Afghan efforts to eradicate opium-yielding poppy crops that fuel the Taliban-led insurgency have stalled as a result of a lack of incentives and adequate security for farmers who may be inclined to cut ties with the Taliban, according to Afghan and Western officials.