This Week in Washington - March 23, 2012


In This Issue:


Budget. Tuesday, House Budget Committee Chair Paul Ryan (R-Wisconsin) released a draft Fiscal Year (FY) 2013 Budget Resolution. If enacted, Chairman Ryan’s proposal would set the FY 2013 discretionary spending limit at $1.028 trillion, which is $19 billion less than the cap of $1.047 trillion established in the Budget Control Act. In addition to reducing spending by $5.3 trillion and lowering taxes by $2 trillion over ten years, the plan offers an alternative to the first round of almost $110 billion in automatic sequestration cuts set to take effect next January. The Budget Committee passed the proposal (19-18) Wednesday, with two Republicans joining all Committee Democrats in voting no, sending it on to the full House for expected passage next week. Senate Budget Committee Chair Kent Conrad (D-North Dakota) and Senate Appropriations Committee Chair Daniel Inouye (D-Hawaii) sent a letter to House Republican leaders suggesting that departing from the top-line spending figure set in the Budget Control Act amounts to a “breach of faith.” House Foreign Affairs Committee Ranking Member Howard Berman (D-CA) alleged “the Ryan budget fails to recognize that diplomacy and development are essential to protecting our national security….” House and Senate Democrats also expressed opposition to the proposal’s extensive tax cuts, alterations to Medicare, and cuts to Medicaid, “food stamps,” and Pell Grants....


Syrian Conflict. On Friday, under increasing pressure, the E.U. added 12 Syrians to its list of sanctioned individuals, including the wife and mother of Syrian President Bashar al Assad. This week, Russia and China joined a U.N. Security Council presidential statement endorsing U.N.-Arab League Special Envoy Kofi Annan’s ceasefire plan for Syria, which does not dictate terms for President Assad’s removal from office. President Obama departs this weekend for Seoul to attend the second biannual Nuclear Security Summit, where he is expected to hold bilateral meetings with Chinese President Hu Jintao and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, with the Syrian crisis reportedly on the agenda, along with North Korea. The U.S. Government continues to pressure the Iraqi government to halt Iranian cargo overflights to Syria, which the Administration believes the flights carry massive and illegal shipments of arms to aid the Assad regime. With the Syrian rebels reportedly running low on ammunition and other supplies, Turkey will host the next Friends of Syria meeting on April 1st....

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