The Deadline Approaches

July 18, 2011 By Melissa Silverman

With Aug. 2 debt limit deadline fast approaching and fears of a default growing, this week will be critical as Congress and the White House try to forge a compromise.  As negotiations around Sen. McConnell’s debt increase alternative continue, tomorrow the House will vote on “cut, cap and balance” legislation that would impose deep budget cuts for FY12, institute stringent budget caps over the next decade, and block any increase in the debt ceiling unless both house of Congress approve a balanced budget amendment.  The measure is unlikely to pass the Senate but is an indication of the strong opposition among many conservatives in the House to any compromise to increase the debt ceiling.

Must Reads

USGLC in the News

A New Idea for U.S. Aid – Political Reform for Foreign Assistance (All Africa Global Media)

President Obama issued a directive for U.S. development policy in September 2010, which called for social and political reforms as a prerequisite for foreign assistance contributions from the United States, more investment from the private sector and a greater sense of ownership for a project from benefitting nations. Leaders from four U.S. agencies devoted to different aspects of overseas aid shared their views on how the policy is taking hold as part of a panel at a Washington conference July 12.

Secretary Clinton’s Change in PR Strategy (The Will and the Wallet, Joel Smith)

The foreign affairs budget has come under attack lately given today’s fiscal environment. Secretary Clinton seemed to be responding to this attack Monday in a speech at the annual U.S. Global Leadership Campaign conference in which she highlighted the State Department’s focus on “commercial diplomacy,” proclaiming U.S. “foreign policy must be a force for economic renewal here at home.”

Mr. Chabot goes to Washington (Hesperia, CA Star, Beau Yarbrough)

“The point of the conference is really to let our congressional and Senate leaders know that we cannot ignore issues outside of our borders,” Chabot said Wednesday, while waiting for his plane at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport. He spent Tuesday and Wednesday “speaking with Democrats and Republicans, everyone (understanding) the value of us having an international footprint, not just for our national security, but also for our economic prosperity.”

Smart Power

Gates invests more money in innovative medicine (Bloomberg Businessweek, Donna Gordon Blankinship)

Using microwaves to kill malaria parasites and developing a way to give fetuses immunity to HIV are among the dozen ideas the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation thinks are worth more research dollars, after giving more than 500 scientists seed money to take an initial look at some far-out concepts. A dozen scientists or teams of researchers will each get an additional $1 million over five years to take their ideas to the next level and see if they have the potential to save lives, the foundation announced Wednesday.

In Sierra Leone, New Hope for Children and Pregnant Women (New York Times, Adam Nossiter)

Sierra Leone is at the vanguard of a revolution — heavily subsidized for now by international donors — that appears to be substantially lessening health dangers here in one of the riskiest countries in the world for pregnant women and small children…By waiving the requirement for payments — which sometimes amount to hundreds of dollars and clearly represent the main barrier to using health facilities — the government here appears to have sharply cut into mortality rates for pregnant women and deaths from malaria for small children.

Politics/Foreign Policy

House leaders to Palestine: seek U.N. recognition, forget foreign aid (Foreign Policy, Josh Rogin)

The top Republican and Democrat foreign aid leaders in the House of Representatives are warning the Palestinian Authority (PA) that U.S. aid will be withheld if the Palestinians seek recognition of a Palestinian state at the United Nations in September…The House plans to mark up its fiscal 2012 appropriations bill on July 27, and several foreign aid accounts are under scrutiny. And following the apparently fruitless meeting this week of the Quartet members here in Washington, the path back to direct negotiations remains unclear — a fact that will only further endanger U.S. assistance to the PA.

Dems, State Dept near resolution on Cuba money (AP, Desmond Butler)

A top Senate Democrat is close to ending his hold on $20 million that the administration had ticketed for a program to promote democracy in communist Cuba, a monthslong challenge to President Barack Obama with possible ramifications for the 2012 election. Foreign Relations Committee Chairman John Kerry said Thursday he was working with the State Department and the U.S. Agency for International Development on ensuring the effectiveness of the program to promote human rights and basic freedoms. Established in 1996, the Cuba Program has been beset with reports that some grantees misused funds and the government provided little oversight.

Gen. David H. Petraeus ends his command in Afghanistan (Washington Post, Joshua Partlow)

Gen. David H. Petraeus relinquished his command of U.S. and NATO troops in Afghanistan on Monday, handing the reins to Marine Gen. John Allen as the United States and its allies begin to withdraw troops from the country where they have waged war for nearly a decade. Petraeus ends his tour in Afghanistan without conclusive signs that the counter-insurgency strategy he helped design has turned the tide in the war against the Taliban. The more than 140,000 NATO troops under his command have weakened the insurgency in some of its key strongholds in the south, but other parts of the country remain treacherous, and Taliban leaders still operate with relative impunity from Pakistan.