Shutdown Averted

April 11, 2011 By Melissa Silverman

Senate and House negotiators and the White House agreed on a spending plan for the rest of FY11 late Friday, hours before a government shutdown would have begun. The deal reached by House Speaker John Boehner and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid would cut a total of $38.5 billion relative to current spending levels, higher than House Republicans’ original cut of $33 billion but lower than their revised package of $61 billion. The “policy riders” banning funding for Planned Parenthood and limiting the EPA’s regulatory abilities were not part of the package. The government is currently operating under a one-week short-term CR while the details of the deal are worked out. The House will take up the deal on Wednesday and it is expected to reach the President’s desk for signature by the end of the week. Indications are that funding for the International Affairs Budget will be around $50.8 billion, significantly below the current funding level of $52.9 billion. The FY12 House budget resolution also reaches the House floor this week, where it will be subject to alternative proposals from Budget Committee Ranking Member Chris Van Hollen and the Republican Study Committee.

Must Reads

Who’s In the News

Ros-Lehtinen brings anti-communist fervor to once-staid committee (Mary Beth Sheridan, Washington Post)

When a Venezuelan prisoner escaped last year and fled to the United States, the Caracas government called him a fugitive. Raul Diaz Pena had been convicted of helping bomb two diplomatic missions — “a terrorist,” according to President Hugo Chavez. But when the 36-year-old Diaz Pena arrived in Florida, Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R) declared him something else: a hero.

Grounds for U.S. military intervention (Henry A. Kissinger and and James A. Baker III, Washington Post)

The change sweeping the Arab world has brought to the forefront a controversy dating to the early days of our Republic. Should American military might be used for idealistic reasons or as an expression of a vital national interest? Or both? Having served four U.S. presidents during a variety of international crises, we view the choice between “idealism” and “realism” as a false one. Just as ideals must be applied in concrete circumstances, realism requires context for our nation’s values to be meaningful. To separate them risks building policy on sand.

Smart Power

In US, Budget Deal Slashes $8B for Foreign Affairs Spending (Eliza Villarino, DEVEX)

The last-minute budget deal forged in Congress last Friday involves significant cuts to the Obama administration’s foreign affairs spending in fiscal 2011. In a blog published the day after the deal was struck, White House Communications Director Dan Pfeiffer said reductions to the budget for State and overseas operations amount to $8 billion.

Republican Budget Proposal Embraces Only Part of Divided Aid Request (Emily Cadei, CQ)

House Budget Chairman Paul D. Ryan’s fiscal 2012 budget proposal signals that Republican leaders have accepted the administration’s argument that foreign assistance and diplomacy are critical components of national security. But GOP support for that position extends only to activities in discrete conflict zones.

Politics/Foreign Policy

Talks Focus on Programs’ Cuts (Janet Hook, WSJ)

Republicans and Democrats continued to haggle over how to spread nearly $39 billion in cuts across a multitude of government programs behind the deal that averted a government shutdown last week. Aides from both parties said State Department and other foreign-aid programs were set $8 billion below the White House request but would still be around the $49 billion appropriated for 2010.

A National Strategic Narrative (CAPT Wayne Porter, Col Mark Mykleby, Woodrow Wilson Center)

This Strategic Narrative is intended to frame our National policy decisions regarding investment,security, economic development, the environment, and engagement well into this century. It is built upon the premise that we must sustain our enduring national interests – prosperity and security – within a “strategic ecosystem,” at home and abroad; that in complexity and uncertainty, there are opportunities and hope, as well as challenges, risk, and threat.

The Challenges After Gates (Andrew Krepinevich, Defense News)

One of Washington’s favorite parlor games involves guessing which of the president’s key advisers may be departing and the identities of those who might replace them. At the center of this game is U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates, who is widely rumored to be departing his post sometime this year, perhaps as soon as this summer.

World Bank urges new focus on global development in fragile states (Julian Borger, the Guardian)

The World Bank is calling for a new focus in global development efforts towards providing justice, law and order to the estimated 1.5 billion people living in fragile and failed states. In its World Development Report 2011, the bank warns that one of the biggest threats to development in the 21st century is chronic insecurity caused by cycles of criminal and political violence that defy easy answers.