Executive and Legislative Branch Activity
National Security Agency
The Senate Intelligence Committee will hold a closed door meeting this week on competing National Security Agency (NSA)-related bills that might be considered in that panel. Senate Judiciary Committee leaders are expected to unveil their bipartisan measure, which will also address NSA initiatives.
Reports emerged last week that the NSA allegedly eavesdropped on the phone calls of at least 35 world leaders. The German and French governments have demanded talks with the United States by the end of the year to address the reported NSA activities. German Chancellor Angela Merkel said
“spying on friends is not acceptable at all.”
German Chancellor Merkel also said existing bilateral agreements under which electronic data is shared with the U.S. intelligence community may be compromised by the reported NSA spying activities, saying: “[W]e need to ask what we need, which data security agreements we need, what transparency we need between the United States of America and Europe.” The Senate Finance Committee will hold a hearing this Wednesday, October 30, to examine the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership.
The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) countries announced the following intersessional meetings: (1) the rules of origin meeting will be held October 28-November 1 in Mexico City; (2) the SOE disciplines meeting is set for November 5-6 in Santiago, Chile; (3) the government procurement group will meet October 30-November 3 in Washington, D.C.; and (4) the investment group will also meet November 5-8 in Washington. Singapore will host the next meeting of TPP ministers in December; date yet-to-be-determined.
The White House briefed Senate staffers last week on negotiations with Iran over its nuclear program. The Administration is trying to persuade Congress to delay new sanctions against Iran in advance of the next round of P5+1 Talks scheduled for November 7-8 in Geneva, Switzerland.
The United Nations (U.N.) announced last week that U.N.-Arab League Special Envoy Lakhdar Brahimi will convene a trilateral meeting with U.S. and Russian officials in Geneva on November 5. The U.S. delegation will be led by Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Wendy Sherman and include U.S. Ambassador to Syria Robert Ford. This Thursday, Ambassador Ford will testify before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Syria.
This Week’s Hearings:
- Tuesday, October 29: The House Foreign Affairs Committee will hold a hearing (originally scheduled for last week) titled “Next Steps on Egypt Policy.” Officials from the Departments of State and Defense will testify, along with an official from the U.S. Agency for International Development.
- Tuesday, October 29: The House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on the Middle East will hold a hearing titled “After the Withdrawal: The Way Forward in Afghanistan and Pakistan (Part II).”
- Tuesday, October 29: The House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Human Rights will hold a hearing titled “Guo Feixiong and Freedom of Expression in China.”
- Wednesday, October 30: The Senate Finance Committee will hold a hearing titled “The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership: Achieving the Potential.”
- Wednesday, October 30: The House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Emerging Threats will hold a hearing titled “China’s Maritime and Other Geographic Threats.”
- Wednesday, October 30: The House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Africa and the Subcommittee on the Middle East and North Africa will hold a joint hearing titled “Establishing a Syrian War Crimes Tribunal?”
- Thursday, October 31: The Senate Foreign Relations Committee will hold a hearing on Syria. U.S. Ambassador to Syria Robert Ford is scheduled to testify, as well as other U.S. officials.
- Thursday, October 31: The Senate Foreign Relations Committee will hold a business meeting to review a bill on the Westgate Mall terrorist attack in Kenya (S. Res 268) and 25 nominations.