In This Issue:
DOMESTIC POLICY MATTERS
Fiscal Year (FY) 2013 Budget/Appropriations. On April 18th, Senate Budget Committee Chair Kent Conrad (D-North Dakota) revised his plan to mark up a budget resolution and instead introduced a longer-term deficit reduction proposal modeled after the Simpson-Bowles Presidential Commission. This week, the Senate Appropriations Committee approved its spending cap allocations for each appropriations bill and approved the Commerce-Justice-Science (CJS) and Transportation-Housing spending bills. The House Energy and Water and CJS Appropriations Subcommittees approved their spending bills on Wednesday and Thursday, respectively. As required by the House Budget Resolution, four of the six named authorizing committees introduced reconciliation proposals during the week to list spending cuts necessary to avoid sequestration....
FOREIGN POLICY MATTERS.
Syrian Conflict. While unarmed U.N. observers arrived last weekend to monitor the ceasefire, Syrian forces continued shelling the opposition stronghold of Homs. Acknowledging Syrian forces have not fully complied with the Annan Plan, U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon recommended that U.N. observers be increased to 300, which Russian U.N. Ambassador Vitaly Churkin endorsed. Late Thursday in Paris, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton participated in a Friends of Syria meeting and urged the group to advocate for U.N. sanctions on Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, if he blocks an adequate U.N. peace monitoring mission. Also Thursday, House Armed Services Committee Chair Howard McKeon (R-California) said he would not endorse a U.S. military intervention in Syria. Meanwhile, Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta testified before the Committee, saying the Pentagon is reviewing options for assisting the Syrian people and emphasizing “the only way the U.S. would be militarily involved is if there was consensus in the international community.” Meanwhile, the United States urged countries to refrain from aiding the Syrian “regime’s violent capacities....”
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