Washington will welcome Prime Minister Narendra Modi of India this week, with President Obama hosting him at the White House.  The U.S. Department of the Treasury designated North Korea as a primary money-laundering jurisdiction last week, imposing additional restrictions on the country’s financial sector.

Congress was in recess last week in observance of the Memorial Day holiday.  Both chambers will be in session this week.  The Senate is expected to vote on a motion to begin floor debate of S. 2943, Fiscal Year (FY) 2017 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA).

India and Washington

On Tuesday, the President will meet with Prime Minister Modi at the White House. The visit will highlight deepening U.S.-India relations in key areas since the President’s visit to New Delhi in January 2015.  The President is expected to discuss progress made on the climate change and clean energy partnership, security and defense cooperation, and economic growth priorities.  Prime Minister Modi is likely to raise the increased U.S. visa fees for H-1B and L-1 categories of non-immigrants and India’s World Trade Organization (WTO) petition that the move is a protectionist one.  The Prime Minister will address a joint meeting of Congress on Wednesday.

Szubin Heads to France, Germany

Acting Under Secretary of the Treasury for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence Adam Szubin will visit Paris, France, and Berlin, Germany, from 7-8 June. He is expected to meet with French and German officials, as well as members of the financial services community. Discussions are expected to focus on: the importance of maintaining sanctions pressure on Russia until it fulfills the provisions of the Minsk Agreements; implementation of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action with Iran; efforts to combat Iran’s support for terrorism and other destabilizing activity; and strengthening countering terrorist financing standards and information sharing.

North Korea – Money Laundering Designation

Last week, the Treasury Department designated North Korea as a jurisdiction of “primary money-laundering concern” under Section 311 of the USA Patriot Act on Wednesday.  This will allow Washington to further limit North Korea’s access to the U.S. financial system.  Under the new designation, non-U.S. banks and other entities are banned from conducting dollar transactions on behalf of North Korea.

TPP – Narrowed Prospect

The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) deal faces increasingly tough rhetoric, especially during the U.S. presidential and congressional election cycle.  U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman and the White House remain optimistic that the 114th Congress will approve the deal before President Barack Obama leaves office in January.  Many in Washington, however, believe TPP has stalled, at least for this year.  The U.S. primary campaigns have focused more on addressing perceived unfair trade practices by other countries, with the public expressing distrust toward further trade liberalization, including the TPP deal.  Members of Congress are echoing the hostility seen in their districts and state, especially those facing re-election.  With a new Congress and Administration in January, many believe neither will have the appetite to address the TPP agreement in 2017.

The Obama Administration will continue to look for a window to introduce TPP implementing legislation yet this year.  Supporters of the deal see the lame-duck session as the best chance for securing congressional approval of the deal.  The White House typically drafts the implementing bill text through informal consultations with various congressional committees, including the House Ways & Means Committee and the Senate Finance Committee.  The draft bill text is then finalized through “mock mark-up” sessions with those committees, providing Members a chance to comment on the draft legislation informally given Trade Promotion Authority guidelines prohibit amendments to the bill.  It is not clear whether the Ways & Means or Finance Committees will schedule mock mark-ups or hold hearings on the deal before the November elections.  Some believe that if the mock mark-ups do not happen before the election, the window for introducing and possibly advancing the TPP implementing bill narrows significantly, making it nearly impossible for any lame-duck consideration of the trade agreement.

National Defense Authorization Act – Senate Debate Expected

The Senate is expected to vote on the motion to begin floor debate of S. 2943 this week. Hundreds of proposed amendments have already been filed.

Congressional Hearings This Week

  • On Tuesday, 7 June, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee is scheduled to hold a hearing titled, “Russian Violations of Borders, Treaties, and Human Rights.”
  • On Wednesday, 8 June, the House Financial Services Taskforce on Terrorism Financing is scheduled to hold a hearing titled, “The Enemy in our Backyard: Examining Terror Funding Streams from South America.”
  • On Wednesday, 8 June, the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on Africa is scheduled to hold a hearing titled, “U.S. Sanctions Policy in Sub-Saharan Africa.”
  • On Thursday, 9 June, the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere is scheduled to hold a hearing titled, “The Impact of Low Oil Prices on Energy Security in the Americas.”
  • On Thursday, 9 June, the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, Subcommittee on Terrorism, Nonproliferation, and Trade & House Armed Services Subcommittee on Emerging Threats and Capabilities is scheduled to hold a joint hearing titled, “Stopping the Money Flow: The War on Terror Finance.”
  • On Thursday, 9 June, the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Asia and the Pacific is scheduled to hold a hearing titled, “Sri Lanka’s Democratic Transition: A New Era for the U.S.-Sri Lanka Relationship.”
  • On Thursday, 9 June, the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Global Health is scheduled to hold a hearing titled, “Leveraging U.S. Funds: The Stunning Global Impact of Nutrition and Supplements During the First 1,000 Days.”
  • On Thursday, 9 June, the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Europe, Eurasia, and Emerging Threats is scheduled to hold a briefing titled, “Examining the President’s FY 2017 Budget Proposal Europe and Eurasia.”

Looking Ahead

Washington is expected to focus on the following upcoming events:

  • 7 June: President Obama hosts Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi
  • 29 June: North American Leaders Summit in Ottawa, Canada.
  • 18-21 July: Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Ohio
  • 25-28 July: Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
  • 8-9 July: NATO Summit in Warsaw, Poland