In This Issue:
DOMESTIC POLICY MATTERS
The Senate will be in session next week, but the House will be in recess, returning on Monday, March 19th.
Budget. House Republicans continue to debate whether to set discretionary spending for Fiscal Year (FY) 2013 at lower levels than in last year’s Budget Control Act. Debate also continues in both chambers regarding possible avoidance of sequestration, in light of what Defense Secretary Leon Panetta has described as its potentially “devastating” effects on the Department of Defense. House Speaker John Boehner’s (R-Ohio) spokesperson suggested this week that while the Speaker has not outlined a specific proposal, he believes that Congress will come to a solution to avoid the automatic cuts. Meanwhile, the Congressional Budget Office’s latest Monthly Budget Review estimates that the federal government incurred a budget deficit of $578 billion in the first five months of FY 2012 – $63 billion less than the deficit at the same point in FY 2011....
FOREIGN POLICY MATTERS.
Iran. On Thursday, the House Foreign Affairs Committee (HFAC) advanced legislation (H.R. 3783) calling on the Administration to counter Iran’s influence in the Western Hemisphere. Also Thursday, HFAC Chair Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Florida) and Representative Brad Sherman (D-California) introduced a bill (H.R. 4179) to expand sanctions to include parts of the insurance industry conducting global wire transfers involving Iran or for underwriting Iran-related business. Senator Mark Kirk (R-Illinois) reportedly intends to introduce a similar measure in the Senate. If passed, the sanctions are expected to impact mainly Asian and Russian underwriters. Last Sunday, President Obama delivered remarks at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) Policy Conference; reaffirming a nuclear Iran is counter to U.S. and Israeli national security interests. The President met the next day with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, further discussing all options on Iran. Meanwhile, on Tuesday, the United States, France, the United Kingdom, China, Russia, and Germany announced an agreement with Iran to resume the “P5+1” multilateral talks on Iran’s nuclear program, reportedly scheduled to take place in Turkey in early April....
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