In This Issue:
Domestic Policy Matters:
Congress is in pro forma session, with the House scheduled to reconvene fully on January 17 and the Senate on January 23.
Last Friday (December 30th), the White House agreed to hold off on formally requesting a $1.2 trillion increase in the debt limit in order to give Congress time to vote on it after returning from the holiday recess.
President Barack Obama made four recess appointments on Wednesday, including Richard Cordray to head the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and three new members of the National Labor Relations Board – Sharon Block, Terence Flynn, and Richard Griffin. Republicans in the Senate had voted in December to block Cordray’s nomination. Following the recess appointments, Republican leaders characterized the President’s move as “unprecedented” and “potentially illegal.” In response, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said Thursday that the Obama administration is “very confident” that the President’s recess appointments are legal....
Foreign Policy Matters:
Iran Sanctions. Saturday (December 31st), President Obama signed into law the Fiscal Year 2012 National Defense Authorization bill (H.R. 1540). The President issued a signing statement again objecting to the terrorist detainee provision and also said Section 1245 (the Iran sanctions provision) will be treated as non For binding, if the application of the provision conflicts with his constitutional authority to conduct foreign relations. Also last Saturday, in response to sanctions against Iranian oil interests, Iran threatened to close the Strait of Hormuz; a threat U.S. officials characterized as “bluster.” Iran has commenced a naval exercise in the area. The Pentagon said Friday a U.S. aircraft carrier group, which Iran warned not to return to the Persian Gulf, rescued 13 Iranians held hostage for weeks by pirates in the Arabian Sea. Meanwhile, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is scheduled to visit Latin America this coming week. In response Friday, the State Department warned “countries around the world that now is not the time to be deepening ties, not security ties, not economic ties with Iran......
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