President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden traveled to Orlando, Florida, last Thursday to meet with the families of the 49 victims of the shooting at a gay nightclub last weekend.  President Obama will participate in this week’s SelectUSA Investment Summit, which will be held in Washington, D.C.  Secretary of State John Kerry affirmed last week that the United States has lived up to its obligations under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) with Iran, after the Ayatollah Khamenei accused that was not the case.

Last Tuesday, the Senate passed S. 2943, the Fiscal Year (FY) 2017 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA).  In the aftermath of the Florida attack, Senate Democrats held a nearly 15-hour filibuster concluding early Thursday morning after Republican leaders agreed to allow votes on two proposed gun control measures.  Congress is in session this week.

SelectUSA Investment Summit & Global Entrepreneurship Summit

U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker announced last week that 22 U.S. Chiefs of Mission will join President Barack Obama, Secretary Kerry, and other Administration officials at the 2016 SelectUSA Investment Summit early this week.  The annual Summit brings together international companies and economic development organizations to explore investment opportunities throughout the United States with the goal of creating additional jobs.

On Thursday, the President will travel to San Jose, California, to participate in the Global Entrepreneurship Summit.  This Summit seeks to showcase America’s diverse entrepreneurial spirit and will feature entrepreneurs from across the globe.

Iran – Meeting in Oslo

Secretary Kerry met with his Iranian counterpart Foreign Minister Javad Zarif while in Norway on Wednesday.  The two discussed progress on continuing implementation of the JCPOA, including issues related to banking and relief from nuclear-related sanctions.  In a press conference after the meeting, Secretary Kerry said about the United States’ implementation of the JCPOA:

“We have lifted the sanctions we said we would lift and we have completely kept faith with both the black-and-white print as well as the spirit of this effort.  In fact, I have personally gone beyond the absolute requirements of the lifting of sanctions to personally engage with banks and businesses and others who have a natural reluctance after several years of sanctions to move without fully understanding what they are allowed to do and what they are not allowed to do.”

Last Thursday, Deputy National Security Advisor (NSA) Ben Rhodes addressed an audience at The Atlantic Council – a think tank in Washington – speaking on the evolution of U.S. policy toward Iran.  He said Iran has fulfilled its commitments under the JCPOA.  Deputy NSA Rhodes also affirmed that the United States and partners have “taken the necessary steps to provide Iran with sanctions relief,” while acknowledging that banks and companies have been cautioned about engaging with a country that has faced stringent sanctions.

National Defense Authorization Act – Senate Passes Measure

By a vote of 85 to 13 last week, the Senate passed its amended NDAA bill, which authorizes $602 billion in defense spending for FY 2017.  The bill includes the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act (S. 284).  This provision was included in a broader manager’s package that advanced last week.  President Obama has threated to veto the Senate measure, objecting to a number of provisions contained therein.

TPP – Hearing on Agriculture Focuses on the Trade Deal

The House Ways & Means Trade Subcommittee held a hearing last Tuesday focused on expanding U.S. agriculture exports and eliminating agricultural trade barriers.  In opening remarks, Chairman Dave Reichert (R-Washington) said the Obama Administration needs to work with other TPP countries, Congress, and stakeholders to develop implementation plans “as to how those countries will comply with TPP’s obligations on SPS [sanitary and phytosanitary measures] and other agriculture-related areas” to garner congressional support for the deal.  Subcommittee staff has indicated this hearing is the first of what will be a series of hearings focused on how U.S. trade policies affect specific sectors of the economy.

After speaking with President Obama last Wednesday, Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) said about their ongoing discussion on data protection for biologics:

“Let’s put it this way, this is the first time that [the Administration has] been willing to say they want to meet the needs that I say they’ve got to meet.  They know this isn’t a matter of me being stubborn, this is a matter of getting it done right.”

Congressional Hearings This Week

  • On Tuesday, 21 June, the House Oversight and Government Reform Subcommittee on National Security and Subcommittee on Government Operations is scheduled to hold a joint hearing titled, “Radicalization in the U.S. and the Rise of Terrorism.”
  • On Tuesday, 21 June, the Senate Banking Committee is scheduled to hold a hearing titled, “The Semiannual Monetary Policy Report to the Congress.” Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen is scheduled to testify.
  • On Wednesday, 22 June, the House Financial Services Committee is scheduled to hold a hearing titled, “Monetary Policy and the State of the Economy.” Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen is scheduled to testify.
  • On Wednesday, 22 June, the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Global Human Rights is scheduled to hold a hearing titled, “The President’s Visit to Vietnam: A Missed Opportunity to Advance Human Rights.”
  • On Wednesday, 22 June, the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere is scheduled to hold a hearing titled, “Venezuela’s Crisis: Implications for the Region.”
  • On Thursday, 23 June, the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Asia and the Pacific is scheduled to hold a hearing titled, “U.S. Policy in the Pacific: The Struggle to Maintain Influence.”
  • On Thursday, 23 June, the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittees on Global Human Rights and Emerging Threats is scheduled to hold a joint hearing titled, “Organ Harvesting: An Examination of a Brutal Practice.”
  • On Thursday, 23 June, the House Financial Services Task Force to Investigate Terrorism Financing is scheduled to hold a hearing titled, “The Next Terrorist Financiers: Stopping Them Before They Start.”
  • On Thursday, 23 June, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee is scheduled to hold a hearing titled, “NATO: Reviewing the Agenda and Assessing the Potential Outcomes of the Warsaw Summit.”

Looking Ahead

Washington is expected to focus on the following upcoming events:

  • 20-21 June: 2016 SelectUSA Investment Summit in Washington, D.C.
  • 29 June: North American Leaders Summit in Ottawa, Canada.
  • 7-11 July: President Obama travels to Poland and Spain
  • 8-9 July: NATO Summit in Warsaw, Poland
  • 18-21 July: Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Ohio
  • 25-28 July: Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
  • By 15 October: ITC to publish a Federal Register notice related to MTB petitions