Today’s Headlines

December 13, 2011 By Melissa Silverman

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Who’s In the News

Senate OKs One Diplomatic Pick, Rejects Cloture on Another (Joanna Anderson, CQ)

The Senate on Monday signed off on President Obama’s pick for ambassador to the Czech Republic but blocked a confirmation vote on another diplomatic nominee. Both Norman L. Eisen, nominated to represent the United States in Prague, and Mari Carmen Aponte, picked to serve as ambassador to El Salvador, were given recess appointments last December. Their tenure is about to end.

Smart Power

Obama abroad: Democratic realism (E.J. Dionne, Washington Post)

It was gratifying to hear a despotic leader blame the United States for the rise of a democratic protest movement against his regime. Vladimir Putin, the Russian prime minister, wants his people to think that those who have taken to the streets to express their rage over rigged elections are nothing but tools of American foreign policy, put to work by none other than Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton. The first week of December was an extraordinary time for Clinton.

Politics/Foreign Policy

Spending bill hostage in payroll tax fight (David Rogers, Politico)

A massive year-end spending deal hung in the balance late Monday as a frustrated Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid sought to use the package to win more cooperation from the Republican House on the question of extending payroll tax breaks backed by President Barack Obama.

Lawmakers freeze $700 million to Pakistan, ties strained (Qasim Nauman and Rebecca Conway, Reuters)

A Congressional panel has frozen $700 million in aid to Pakistan until it gives assurances it is helping fight the spread of homemade bombs in the region, a move one Pakistani senator called unwise and likely to strain ties further. Pakistan is one of the largest recipients of U.S. foreign aid and the cutback announced is only a small proportion of the billions in civil and military assistance it gets each year.

Albright backs up Clinton, calls out Putin (Josh Rogin, The Cable)

Russia’s once-and-future president, Vladimir Putin, should stop blaming Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for Russia’s domestic unrest and take a look in the mirror, former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright said on Friday.