Executive and Legislative Branch Activity
The Fiscal 2014 National Defense Authorization Act (S.1197) is expected to come to the Senate floor this week. Speculation is high the Senate debate will be truncated in order to conclude before the Thanksgiving congressional recess.
Vice President Joe Biden and Secretary of State John Kerry continued to advocate that the Senate refrain from enacting new sanctions against Iran. Both argued new sanctions could undermine the ongoing P5+1 Talks with Iran. The Talks are expected to resume with Iran this Wednesday, November 20, in Geneva.
Last week, Sens. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Kelly Ayotte (R-NH), John Cornyn (R-TX) and Bob Casey (D-PA) introduced the Syria Sanctions Enhancement Act of 2013 (S. 1714). The bill would, among other things, expand U.S. sanctions to prohibit financial institutions from doing business with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and his senior officials.
U.S. negotiators for the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) indicated flexibility last week on the European Union’s (E.U.) demands for greater financial services regulations. U.S. and E.U. counterparts will next meet in Brussels on November 27 to further discuss this topic.
Last week, House Ways and Means Committee Chair Dave Camp (R-MI) said:
“Currency manipulation is a serious problem that can erode the benefits of our trade agreements. I hear regularly from other Members of Congress and stakeholders about their shared concerns. The Administration has made progress through the G20, IMF, and WTO to address currency issues, but more must be done. It’s time to have a serious discussion about the pros and cons of including currency provisions in trade agreements – and what those provisions might look like. If the Administration continues to delay its engagement on this politically and economically important issue, it will undermine support for TPP [Trans-Pacific Partnership] and could delay our ability to conclude TPP.”
Ways and Means Ranking Member Sander Levin (D-MI) is advocating for currency-related provisions in both TPP and any prospective Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) bill.
Senate Finance Committee Chair Max Baucus (D-MT) said last week that he is “very close” to reaching an agreement on TPA with House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp (R-MI). Chairman Baucus expects to introduce the legislation before the end of the year but timing for the committee markup remains uncertain.
Once the TPP final text is approved, the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) indicated last week it will take at least five months to assess the potential economic impact of the negotiated trade agreement. Historically, Congress has not approved a trade agreement until after the completion of an ITC economic costs and benefits study.
Vice President Biden travels this week to Panama, where he will tour the Panama Canal expansion project and meet with Panamanian President Ricardo Martinelli. The White House said the Vice President’s visit to Panama should be viewed in the context of increased U.S. engagement with the Americas more broadly.
Intelligence and Surveillance
The Review Group on Intelligence and Communications Technology provided the White House with its interim report on government surveillance programs last week. The final report is due by December 15, which is when more details on the group’s recommendations are expected to be made public.
This Week’s Hearings:
- Tuesday, November 19: The Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on East Asian and Pacific Affairs will hold a hearing titled, “Assessing the Response to Typhoon Yolanda/Haiyan.”
- Tuesday, November 19: The Senate Foreign Relations Committee will hold a confirmation hearing for Dana Hyde to be Chief Executive Officer of the Millennium Challenge Corporation.
- Tuesday, November 19: The House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Africa will hold a hearing titled, “Crisis in the Central African Republic.”
- Tuesday, November 19: The House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Europe will markup H. Res. 188 – a bill calling on the Government of Turkey to facilitate the reopening of the Ecumenical Patriarchate’s Theological School of Halki without condition or further delay.
- Tuesday, November 19: The House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on the Middle East and North Africa will hold a hearing titled, “U.S. Policy Toward the Arabian Peninsula: Yemen and Bahrain.”
- Wednesday, November 20: The Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on East Asian and Pacific Affairs will hold a hearing titled, “Rebalance to Asia IV: Economic Engagement in the Asia-Pacific Region.”
- Wednesday, November 20: The House Foreign Affairs Committee will markup the following bills: (1) H. Res. 147, Calling for the release of United States citizen Saeed Abedini and condemning the Government of Iran for its persecution of religious minorities; (2) H. Res. 402, Supporting the European aspirations of the peoples of the European Union’s Eastern Partnership countries, and for other purposes; (3) H.R. 1992, Israel Qualitative Military Edge Enhancement Act; (4) H.R. 3470, The Naval Vessel Transfer and Arms Export Control Amendments Act of 2013; and (5) H.R. 3509, Assessing Progress in Haiti Act of 2013.
- Wednesday, November 20: The House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Terrorism will hold a hearing titled, “Terrorist Groups in Syria.”
- Wednesday, November 20: The House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Asia and the Pacific will hold a hearing titled, “Bangladesh in Turmoil: A Nation on the Brink?”
- Thursday, November 21: The Senate Foreign Relations Committee will hold a hearing titled, “Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.”
- Thursday, November 21: The Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on Near Eastern and South and Central Asia Affairs will hold a hearing titled, “Political, Economic, and Security Situation in Africa.”
- Thursday, November 21: The House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Africa will markup H.R. 1777 – Increasing American Jobs Through Greater Exports to Africa Act of 2013.
- Thursday, November 21: The House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Global Health will hold a hearing titled, “The Global Challenge of Alzheimer’s: The G-8 Dementia Summit and Beyond.”