This Week in Washington - April 6, 2012

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In This Issue:

- DOMESTIC POLICY MATTERS

Congress is in recess, returning April 16th. Late last week, newly-appointed Senate Parliamentarian Elizabeth MacDonough released a procedural opinion that last summer’s deal on the debt ceiling and spending caps – the Budget Control Act – does not preclude the Senate from taking up other budget resolutions this year. Any Senator now can place a budget proposal on the Senate calendar, although Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nevada) may choose not to bring proposals to the floor for consideration.

Supreme Court: Health Care Law Case. On Monday, President Obama stated that the Supreme Court overturning the health care reform law passed by an elected Congress would constitute “an unprecedented, extraordinary step”. Those remarks drew heavy criticism from Republican lawmakers, many of whom have argued against the constitutionality of the law. On Thursday, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (RKentucky) accused the President of trying to intimidate the Justices and suggested he “back off.” U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder elaborated on the President’s remarks in a letter Thursday affirming the Court’s power to review the constitutionality of legislation while defending President Obama's statement that courts should show strong deference to Congress' Commerce Clause-based laws....

- FOREIGN POLICY MATTERS.

Syrian Conflict. Next Tuesday (10th) is the effective deadline for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s forces to halt the use of heavy weapons and pull back from population centers in compliance with the six-point peace plan proposed by U.N. and Arab League Envoy Kofi Annan. Last Sunday in Istanbul, Secretary Clinton met with Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu and Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan. At the Friends of Syria Conference Sunday, Secretary Clinton criticized Assad’s troops for launching new assaults on Syrian cities and called for new steps to “ratchet up pressure on the regime, provide humanitarian relief …, and support the opposition ….” Secretary Clinton also met with Arab League Secretary General Nabil Al-Araby, and she met separately with the Syrian National Council. Today, at least 24 Syrians were reportedly killed in violence allegedly perpetrated by Syrian forces. Meanwhile, thousands of Syrian refugees continue to cross the border seeking a safe haven in Turkey....

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