This Week in Washington - February 12, 2012


In This Issue:


Budget.  Next Monday, President Obama will release his Fiscal Year 2013 budget proposal.  On Wednesday, the House passed “The Expedited Legislative Line-Item Veto and Rescissions Act,” which would give the President line-item veto and rescission authority.  The White House signaled its support for the bill Monday.

Insider Trading.  Thursday, the House of Representatives passed the Stop Trading on Congressional Knowledge Act (STOCK Act), which would prevent Members of Congress and staff from financial market trading based on nonpublic information obtained via their work.  The House bill differs in some respects from the Senate version passed last week, so the House has returned the bill to the Senate.  Meanwhile, the Securities and Exchange Commission is reportedly investigating House Financial Services Committee Chair Spencer Bachus (R-Alabama) for insider trading, a charge that Congressman Bachus denied Friday.....


Syrian Conflict.  Monday, the United States suspended Embassy operations in Damascus, citing safety and security concerns and naming Poland as the U.S. protecting power in Syria.  U.S. Ambassador Robert Ford will be based in Washington, continuing his outreach to Syrian opposition groups, among other activities.  Following last week’s veto by Russia and China of the U.N. resolution in support of the Arab League’s transition plan for Syria, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov traveled this week to meet with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.  Meanwhile, the Arab League reportedly may seek approval for its plan in the U.N. General Assembly, while Syrian regime forces shelled the opposition stronghold of Homs this week and instituted a crackdown on dissidents in Hama.  On Tuesday, the states of the Gulf Cooperation Council expelled Syria’s envoys and recalled their own.  Friday afternoon, Senators Bob Casey (D-Pennsylvania) and Marco Rubio (R-Florida) introduced a resolution calling on the Administration to provide “substantial material and technical support” to the Syrian opposition, a concept for which Senators Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina), Joseph Lieberman (I-Connecticut), and John McCain (R-Arizona) also have voiced support, but that most Obama Administration officials oppose to this point.  The resolution also expresses support for a “Friends of the Syrian People” Contact Group.  Secretary Clinton and other State Department officials have been discussing a “Friends of Syria” group with their foreign counterparts, including the Arab League, and Assistant Secretary of State Jeffrey Feltman is on a trip to France, Morocco, and Bahrain to bolster support for the idea.  After calling this week for an international conference on Syria, Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu is scheduled to meet next Monday with Secretary Clinton to discuss the conflict....

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DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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