Welcome to Liz’s 360, a lightning round of what’s happening around the world and on Capitol Hill and how it impacts Main Street USA, with a quick sneak peek into next week. Let’s get started.
Now with Labor Day just behind us, I have a lot to share. First up is: we are in the season of global summits. And it matters.
Now South Africa hosted this year’s BRICS summit in late August, and we should pay attention to this one, and here’s why. Now the BRICS is made up of emerging economies: Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa. They’ve been holding these gatherings for 15 years, but this year the group’s hoping to expand their membership inviting six new countries to join next year: Saudi Arabia, Iran, Egypt, UAE, Argentina and Ethiopia. This was China’s vision to expand winning out over India. Clearly China’s hoping to strengthen their competitive hand and some even are saying the expansion is a slap in the face to the West.
Now needless to say, I do think this BRICS summit makes this week’s G-20 summit all the more interesting and perhaps more significant. The summit will be hosted by India, now the world’s most populous country, having overtaken China. President Biden will be there. China’s Xi Jinping and Russia’s Vladimir Putin won’t.
There’s lots of issues to watch but here are two in particular: how will India show up as a voice of the global south and a mediator with the West? And how will this G-20 navigate the war in Ukraine? Will Russia and China veto any joint statement that is critical of Russia’s invasion? Since France has previously refused to endorse any statement that’s silent on Ukraine.
Now, speaking of Ukraine, Speaker McCarthy heads to Japan this week to attend another summit with fellow G7 parliamentarian speakers. So it’s gonna’ be really interesting when Speaker McCarthy meets one of his counterparts: the speaker from Ukraine, who will also be in attendance.
Now all these summits are leading up to this month’s Olympics of diplomacy, the UN General Assembly in New York. I’ll be there with my USGLC colleagues to join the conversations about the food crisis, the sustainable development goals, and of course, the big topic: Ukraine’s reconstruction. These summits sometimes do feel a bit far away from Main Street ,USA, but with economic competition growing with China and others, they really matter to our kitchen table issues. So we’re watching and engaging.
Which brings me to topic number two: Congress is back. And after this long congressional August recess, the Senate is back this week and the house returns next week. One Capitol newsletter I think, nailed it. Their headline read, “Welcome back. Things are a mess.”
Well when it comes to foreign policy, here’s three things to watch. The first is a doozy. Will Congress pass a federal budget before the end of the fiscal year, or will we see a government shutdown? Now between the House and the Senate there are literally only 12 Legislative Days that overlap before the September 30 deadline. Now most likely expect a continuing resolution and the battle will be how long of a runway they create, days, weeks or months. But it still matters that as bills move through Congress, and whenever the all important State and Foreign Operation bills moves forward, maybe to the floor, our focus will be to stop deep cutting amendments to America’s diplomacy and development footprint around the world.
The other key funding issue we’re watching is the emergency supplemental request for disaster relief and critical support for Ukraine. Last month, as a reminder, the administration sent an important proposal to Congress to continue to provide security economic and humanitarian aid to Ukraine. The USGLC actually hosted a national townhall with top military and conservative experts to underscore what’s at stake for the United States economic and security interest. Here’s a clip:
Ambassador Mark Green: “If we allow Putin to hold on to some of his ill-gotten gains, the consequences would be terrifying.”
Lt. General (Ret.) Doug Lute: “So, the economic assistance and the military assistance have to go hand in hand.”
Scott Jennings: “Most Republican leaders understand the incredible return on investment we’re getting here as it relates to our position in the world.”
The USGLC certainly has been weighing in with our support, and I was pleased to see another bipartisan congressional delegation traveled to Kyiv over the August recess, but this time with a group of very unlikely traveling partners: Senators Lindsey Graham and Elizabeth Warren, alongside Richard Blumenthal. If all this wasn’t enough, Congress is working on some big policy issues that have stalled: PEPFAR reauthorization, the Farm Bill, the National Defense Authorization Act – all that have huge important ramifications for our national interests.
Which brings me to topic number three: the 2024 race and global issues. And it’s not going to surprise you that foreign policy has hit the campaign trail. Candidates are talking about America’s role in the world, just like Senator Joni Ernst of Iowa urged the Republican candidates to do when I hosted her earlier this summer.
At the first Republican debate in Milwaukee in late August, with candidates vying to be Commander in Chief, several proactively talked about the importance of America’s global leadership and American support for Ukraine.
Ambassador Nikki Haley: “When you look at the situation with Russia and Ukraine, here you have a pro American country that was invaded by a thug….Less than three and a half percent of our defense budget has been given to Ukraine. If you look at the percentages per GDP, 11 of the European countries given more than the US.
Vice President Mike Pence: “Anybody that thinks we can’t solve the problems here in the United States and be the leader of the free world has a pretty small view of the greatest nation on Earth.”
Well, the next few weeks are jam packed when it comes to the nexus of foreign policy and politics. So stay tuned for the next Liz’s 360