House Action on the Budget

June 1, 2011 By Melissa Silverman

As expected, yesterday the House failed by a 97-318 vote to pass legislation raising the debt ceiling without accompanying spending cuts, with all Republicans and many Democrats voting against it. In the meantime, Congressional leaders continue to look to Vice President Biden’s budget working group to produce a bipartisan package of spending cuts, which could then make way for the debt ceiling to be raised later this summer. Today the House Appropriations Committee continues to move forward on the FY12 spending bills, with a subcommittee markup of the Defense bill.  The measure provides $530 billion, $17 billion above current levels but $8 billion below the President’s request.

Must Reads
Who’s In the News

Our current time for choosing (Jon Huntsman – Wall Street Journal)

This year marks the centennial anniversary of Ronald Reagan’s birth—and America finds itself at a crossroads that brings to mind the title of that great man’s famous speech in support of Barry Goldwater’s presidential candidacy: “A Time for Choosing.” We should not underestimate the seriousness of the responsibility. This is the moment when we will choose whether we are to become a declining power in the world, or a nation that again surpasses the great achievements of our history.

US foreign assistance and the Arab Spring: Bold, but not bold enough (Sarah Margon – Huffington Post)

The President’s pledge to provide some debt relief to Egypt, immediate assistance to Egypt and Tunisia — as well as other governments in transition — are commitments that will be welcomed across the region. The strong defense of civil society is another meaningful development priority. Equally as important was President Obama’s decision to keep elevating development as a key pillar of U.S. foreign policy.

Smart Power

Fighting the Taliban one irrigation project at a time (Maura O’Connor – Slate Magazine)

When people hear about the U.S. military doing development work in Afghanistan, they think about “winning hearts and minds” through humanitarian aid or building schools. The idea is that if Americans do nice things for Afghans, they will be so grateful they will begin to support the counterinsurgency.

Pharmaceutical giant to give $5.7 million towards health programs in poor countries (Donald G. McNeil, Jr. – New York Times)

Fulfilling a promise made several years ago, the pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline, based in London, will use 20 percent of the profits it made in the world’s poorest countries to finance health care initiatives, the company announced last week.   In 2010 that amount was $5.7 million, and it will be given over to partnerships in 37 countries in Africa and Asia with three different nonprofit groups: Save the Children, Care International UK and Amref, which was formerly the African Medical and Research Foundation and included the famous Flying Doctors.

Politics/Foreign Policy
US Institute of Peace is target in spending war (Norman Ornstein – Roll Call)

It is time for another award — unfortunately of the dubious distinction variety. This one, for Most Head-in-the-Sand Neanderthal Effort of the Year, goes hands down to Reps. Chip Cravaack (R-Minn.) and Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) for their amendment to the Defense Authorization Act to eliminate — not just by defunding but by revoking its federal charter — the U.S. Institute of Peace.

House rejects proposal to raise debt ceiling (Lori Montgomery and Paul Kane – Washington Post)

With an August deadline looming, the House overwhelmingly refused Tuesday to raise the legal limit on government borrowing, setting the stage for a long, sweaty summer of haggling over the shape of the largest debt-reduction package in at least two decades.  Not a single GOP lawmaker voted for the measure to raise the limit on the national debt from $14.3 trillion to $16.7 trillion — a sum sufficient to cover the government’s bills through the end of next year. Republican leaders said their troops would reject any increase without a plan to sharply curtail spending and, thus, future borrowing.