Hammering Out A Deal

June 9, 2011 By Melissa Silverman

Vice President Biden’s bipartisan budget working group meets again today, for the sixth time, in an ongoing effort to hammer out a deal of spending cuts tied to an increase in the debt ceiling. Sen. Jon Kyl (R-AZ), a member of the group, said that Republicans would want to find $2.5 trillion in spending cuts in order to allow a $2.4 trillion increase in the debt ceiling, which would provide enough borrowing authority to last through the 2012 election. In the coming days, the Senate may take a vote – similar to the House’s – on a “clean” increase in the debt limit.  This morning, the Senate Armed Services Committee is holding a confirmation hearing for CIA Director Leon Panetta, President Obama’s nominee to succeed Defense Secretary Bob Gates.

Must Reads

Who’s In the News

Senators Air Afghanistan Concerns at Crocker Confirmation Hearing (Emily Cadei—CQ)

The likely next U.S. ambassador to Afghanistan received a strong demonstration of the growing doubts in Congress over the sustainability of the Obama administration’s Afghan strategy during his confirmation hearing Wednesday.

Smart Power

White House disputes pessimistic Senate Afghanistan report (Sam Youngman—The Hill)

The White House said Wednesday that it welcomed a Senate Foreign Relations Committee report critical of U.S. policies in Afghanistan, but it said some of the report’s conclusions are wrong.

More Trade and More Aid (Matthew J. Slaughter and Robert Z. Lawrence—NY Times Op-Ed)

A feud over trade has erupted in Washington, and American workers are caught in the middle. Congressional Republicans (and some Democrats) are threatening to hold up approval of free-trade agreements with South Korea, Colombia and Panama if President Obama keeps insisting on renewing expanded benefits under Trade Adjustment Assistance, the main aid program for American workers harmed by foreign trade.

Politics/Foreign Policy

Leon Panetta’s 5 challenges (Charles Hoskinson—Politico)

Leon Panetta, President Barack Obama’s choice to replace Robert Gates as defense secretary, faces a grilling Thursday from the Senate Armed Services Committee, and senators will have plenty to ask him about.

Funding for Cuba programs stalled in Congress (Juan O. Tamayo—Miami Herald)

An Obama administration effort to spend another $20 million on Cuba democracy programs has been blocked for two months amid bitter clashes over policy and personalities.

DeMint Maneuvers for Climate Debate With Attempt to End Aid Account (Geof Koss—CQ)

Sen. Jim DeMint has a message for international negotiators gathering this week in Germany for the next round of global warming talks: Do not expect the United States to foot the bill. Among the raft of amendments the South Carolina Republican has filed to an economic development bill is one that would terminate a federal fund that funnels aid overseas to help developing countries address climate change. Any unspent dollars in the fund would be credited to the general treasury, under the DeMint proposal.