Test Votes in the Senate

May 26, 2011 By Melissa Silverman

The Senate failed to pass four budget proposals yesterday, indicating that Republicans and Democrats still have much work to do on reaching agreement on a long-term spending deal.  The House-passed FY12 budget resolution failed by a vote of 40-57, with Republican Senators Scott Brown (R-MA), Susan Collins (R-ME), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Rand Paul (R-KY), and Olympia Snowe (R-ME) voting against it.  A Republican-forced vote on the President’s FY12 budget request failed 0-97, as did budgets proposed by Senators Pat Toomey (R-PA) (42-55) and Rand Paul (R-KY) (7-90).  Vice President Biden’s bipartisan working group meets again today and is working toward a $1 trillion savings package.

Must Reads
Who’s In the News

Straight talk on the Arab Spring (Marc Lynch – Foreign Policy)

In a wide ranging-interview with Foreign Policy today, McCain made the case that prosecuting the former Egyptian president for killing unarmed protesters, as the new Egyptian government has promised to do, would encourage the Arab world’s other embattled dictators to cling to power rather than risk the consequences of stepping down. He also weighed in on how the United States should support democratic transitions throughout the Arab world, and blasted cuts to funding for Title VI and other international educational programs as a “short-sighted” move that could weaken American diplomatic capabilities and, over time, create a “hollow diplomatic corps.”

Wendy Sherman emerges as top pick for State’s No. 3 post (Josh Rogin – The Cable blog)

Former State Department counselor Wendy Sherman, a long time confidant of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, has emerged as the “leading candidate” to replace Bill Burns as the third-highest ranking official in Foggy Bottom, according to two State Department officials.

Smart Power

Clinton urged OECD to push growth, guide emerging economies (Nicole Gaouette – Bloomberg)

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton urged the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development to generate economic growth by embracing green energy, lowering barriers to trade and focusing more intently on the development of emerging economies.   Clinton is in Paris for events marking the 50th anniversary of the 34-member OECD. The organization will endorse “a new gold standard for how our companies should operate,” including human rights, the top U.S. diplomat said.

Making the grade: US government progress in global agricultural development (Ertharin Cousin – Dipnote blog)

I am inspired by the Chicago Council on Global Affairs’ gathering of America’s most committed leaders from several professions to focus on global agriculture and food security. This Administration’s progress stems from bi-partisan support for results-driven, country-led, multi-stakeholder collaboration. When leaders such as Congresswoman Kay Granger, Bill Gates, Catherine Bertini, and Dan Glickman put their minds together, there’s no limit to the ingenuity applied to the substantial challenges we face in global agriculture and food security today.

Politics/Foreign Policy
Foreign aid: A very small part of the deficit solution (Rebecca Williams – The Will and the Wallet)

Skeptics of foreign aid fundamentally question its effectiveness and value, and some hope to dramatically reduce America’s debt by slashing foreign aid.  Meanwhile, proponents insist that foreign aid an art more than a science – a modest investment that furthers American foreign policy and addresses a few of the world’s ills.  But hardliners in both camps distort what actually goes on.

Positive signs in Afghanistan (David Ignatius – The Washington Post)

The “fighting season” has started in Afghanistan, with deadly attacks almost every day. But at the same time, diplomats see what one calls “hopeful signs” that a regional framework for peace talks with the Taliban may slowly be emerging.

US must keep strategic ties with Pakistan: Clinton (Arshad Mohammed – Reuters)

Working with Pakistan is a strategic necessity for the United States, even as Washington presses Islamabad to act more decisively on counter-terrorism, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said on Thursday.  Pakistan had been a good partner in international efforts to fight terrorism, she said, despite anger in the United States over the discovery that al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden had been living there for years before U.S. commandos killed him in a May 2 raid.