Executive and Legislative Branch Activity
The third round of Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) discussions get underway this week in Washington. U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman and EU Trade Commissioner Karel De Gucht are expected to meet in either January or February to start a “political review” of the progress made in the TTIP negotiations.
Trade ministers from Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) countries announced last week that they could not conclude negotiations by the end of this year. TPP negotiations are expected to resume in January – date and location to be announced.
Last week, the Administration announced new action against Iranian companies and individuals in advance of a Senate Banking Committee hearing on the Iran Deal. While Banking Committee Chair Tim Johnson (D-SD) agreed to hold off on any new sanctions bill last week, he warned:
“If no final deal is reached, or Iran falls to comply with the first step agreement, this committee will act swiftly to impose a new round of sanctions.”
Budget Deal, and the National Defense Authorization Act
The Senate met briefly Sunday to file cloture on the two-year bipartisan budget deal (H. J. Res. 59) and the compromise FY 2014 National Defense Authorization Act (H.R. 3304). The House passed both measures on Thursday, December 12, before recessing for the year. Senators are expected to begin work on the budget measure Tuesday, followed by the defense bill on Wednesday. Later this week, the Senate is expected to recess for the rest of the year.
This Week’s Hearings:
- Tuesday, December 17: The Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on African Affairs will hold a hearing titled, “Responding to the Humanitarian, Security and Governance Crisis in the Central Africa Republic.”
- Tuesday, December 17: The Senate Foreign Relations Committee will hold a confirmation hearing for the following nominees to be U.S. Ambassadors: (1) Helen Meagher La Lime (Angola); (2) Larry Edward Andre, Jr. (Mauritania); and (3) Eric T. Schultz (Zambia).
- Tuesday, December 17: The Senate Banking Committee will hold a confirmation hearing for Arun M. Kumar to be Assistant Secretary and Director General of the United States and Foreign Commercial Service at the U.S. Department of Commerce.
- Wednesday, December 18: 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, December 18: The Senate Foreign Relations Committee will hold a business meeting to consider the following legislation: (1) S. ___, Egypt Assistance Reform Act of 2013; (2) S. 653 – to provide for the establishment of the Special Envoy to Promote Religious Freedom of Religious Minorities in the Near East and South Central Asia; (3) S. Res. 314 – commemorating and supporting the goals of World AIDS Day; (4) S. Res. 288 – supporting enhanced maritime security in the Gulf of Guinea and encouraging increased cooperation between the United States and West and Central African countries to fight armed robbery at sea, piracy, and other maritime threats; (5) S. Res. 312 – calling on the government of Iran to fulfill their promises of assistance in this case of Robert Levinson, one of the longest held United States civilians in our Nation’s history; (6) S. Res. 75 – condemning the Government of Iran’s state-sponsored persecution of its Baha’i minority and its continued violation of the International Covenants on Human Rights, with amendments; and (7) S. Res. 318 – a resolution expressing the sense of the Senate regarding the critical need for political reform in Bangladesh, and for other purposes. The Committee will also vote on the following nominations: (1) Dana J. Hyde to be Chief Executive Officer of the Millennium Challenge Corporation; (2) Mark E. Lopes to be U.S. Executive Director of the Inter-American Development Bank; and (3) Keith M. Harper to be the U.S. Representative to the United Nations Human Rights Council.