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White House emergency spending requests are taking a back seat to a debate about whether to use a wrap-up fiscal 2015 spending package to block executive actions on immigration.
On Thursday on Capitol Hill, the House Armed Services Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations is holding a hearing on the Department of Defense’s Excess Property Program. Also known as the “1033 program,” it was originally created to allow for the office to transfer excess Department of Defense property to law enforcement agencies across the United States. This program has been under intense scrutiny since this summer’s situation in Ferguson, Mo., when millions of Americans witnessed pictures and videos of police officers there wearing military style fatigues, carrying weapons and operating large armored vehicles.
For many years, we have defended Jews in what are now the 15 independent states of the former Soviet Union and Eastern Europe.
It is more than simply unfortunate that Western policymakers look at Iran and appear to see only what they want to see. They heap praise on progress in the nuclear negotiations without looking at the actual content. They tune into televised smiles and reasonable-sounding public statements from the Rouhani administration and tune out the bombastic threats, insults and anti-Western rhetoric that invariably accompanies them. They push for large-scale rapprochement with Iran on the apparent assumption that its crimes will disappear if we somehow pretend they don’t exist.
The Republican triumphs in the November elections put the job of writing next year’s Senate defense policy bill in the hands of a leading critic of the Obama administration’s national security strategy and an aggressive watchdog over Pentagon weapons procurement policies.
Leaders of the House and Senate Armed Services committees will get to work this week negotiating the most contentious differences between their versions of the annual defense authorization bill, with a to-do list that includes resolving policy on the military’s detention center at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, and determining the fate of the Air Force’s venerable A-10 Warthog aircraft, Navy cruisers and Army National Guard attack aviation.
The 2014 midterm elections were a rejection of the policies of President Barack Obama. And the Republican takeover of the Senate is a repudiation of the gridlock in Congress symbolized by the bare-knuckles tactics of outgoing Majority Leader Harry Reid.
The governor of Louisiana, Bobby Jindal, announced last week that people who have traveled to Liberia, Sierra Leone or Guinea in the past 21 days, regardless of any known exposure to anyone infected with Ebola, are not welcome in the state, lest they be “confined to [their] room.” This follows poorly thought out quarantines issued by Governors Andrew Cuomo of New York and Chris Christie of New Jersey. The shortsightedness of these policies is now getting the media attention it deserves. These policies, based on fear and politics and not science, reinforce the growing global perception that the U.S. approach to the Ebola crisis is full of contradiction and inconsistencies.
In Europe, America is viewed as the epicenter of global politics, which is why many nations strive to build with it special rapport. They frequently hire lobbyists who waste state lawmakers’ time, talking them into actions that send misleading foreign-policy signals overseas — when it is Congress that actually answers for U.S. foreign policy. Thus, amid today’s geopolitical crises, including Syria and Ukraine, Congress must pay greater attention to state-level lobbying to ensure that America’s foreign policy is seen as inviolable.
With the advent of the few Ebola cases that have emerged in the U.S., Americans and the global community can and should turn their attention to the plight of fragile health care infrastructure in poor countries. This outbreak is a stark reminder that our own health and prosperity is directly linked to that of the developing world. Foreign aid is a catalyst for building healthier families and communities — and in turn, helping our own.
In 2010, congressional Republicans campaigned in the midterm elections on a promise to end earmarks — the direction of appropriated dollars to specific projects, typically in a lawmaker’s district. Proponents of the ban championed it as a step towards fiscal discipline. In reality, the ban has come at the expense of America’s small businesses and our national security, and it coincides with an historic period of legislative inertia. It’s time to restore earmarks.
Until Iran stops dragging its feet on the P5+1 negotiations, the debate over Congress’s role in suspending the current sanctions is a moot point (Congressional Hawks Weaken an Iran Nuclear Deal, Roll Call, Oct. 23). So far, Iran’s strategy of hiding behind diplomatic niceties while using the delay to enrich uranium at a breakneck pace to get ahead of any potential “deal” has been obvious. Independent experts estimate Iran already has 10 times the enriched uranium it would need to build a nuclear warhead, and has the centrifuge capacity to fuel a new bomb every 2 months.
Although Congress has publicly fretted over the threat of infectious disease pandemics, there have been few legislative attempts in the last two decades to address such health emergencies, leaving lawmakers with a limited set of policy options as they try to contain the Ebola outbreak.
Late last November, when the U.S., its P5+1 partners, and Iran agreed to curbs on Iran’s nuclear program in exchange for limited sanctions relief, Congress responded with draft legislation imposing new sanctions. This threatened to spoil the first break in the decade-old nuclear dispute with Iran and return the parties to the path of confrontation. It was only after significant White House outreach on Capitol Hill that the bill was defeated and negotiations allowed to proceed.
Recently there has been discussion over whether the United States should enter into a free trade agreement with the European Union known as the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership. There are several major issues with TTIP that make it not in the interest of the United States to enter into the agreement.
Try, for a moment, to imagine the world today without the United States oil boom. If the picture seems dire, you’ll know you’re on the right track.
In the past month, Reps. Hank Johnson, D-Ga., and Raúl R. Labrador, R-Idaho, introduced the Stop Militarizing Law Enforcement Act in the House, accompanied by Sen. Tom Coburn’s, R-Okla., version in the Senate. This swift, bipartisan action is just in time, because the American police officer appears to have transformed into a soldier.
News media are jammed with reports of epidemics, terrorists, and armed conflicts that threaten our warfighters and allies abroad. Just as alarming, our homeland has never been more vulnerable to attack by advanced weaponry now in the hands of potential enemies.
As the world’s leaders gather at the United Nations, they will take the opportunity to discuss issues of extremism that are currently ravaging many countries around the world. While these issues clearly have every right to be on the world’s stage, another danger is rising in the shadows of extremism.
Though Ahmed Godane, the leader of the Somalian terrorist group al-Shabab, was killed in a U.S. airstrike earlier this month, Ugandan authorities uncovered a 19-person al-Shabab cell armed with explosives just last week. What action can the United States take against African terrorist groups that advances American security, protects U.S. service members, and fits within budgetary constraints? One approach suggested by Rep.Peter A. Defazio, D-Ore., might surprise you: Protect Africa’s elephants with the Targeted Use of Sanctions for Killing Elephants in their Range, or TUSKER, Act.