This week Washington sighed in relief after down-to-the-wire talks between President Joe Biden and House Speaker Kevin McCarthy reached a breakthrough, but not without a few wails of protest.
The US House of Representatives voted on Wednesday to advance a bill that would raise the nation's $31.4 trillion debt ceiling days before a potential default. The Fiscal Responsibility Act of 2023 will go to the Senate after a 314-117 House vote, and White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said Mr Biden expects the bill to be on his desk by the June 5 deadline.
"This budget agreement is a bipartisan compromise. Neither side got everything it wanted. That’s the responsibility of governing," Mr Biden said.
The bill's top line is that it would keep non-defence spending roughly flat in the 2024 fiscal year and increase it by 1 per cent the following year, as well as suspend the debt limit until January 2025 – past the next presidential election.
In the world of Washington foreign policy, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee held a subcommittee hearing on the Biden administration's FY2024 budget proposal for the Middle East. Also, the Treasury department sanctioned two Syrian exchange firms on Tuesday, accusing them of helping President Bashar Al Assad's regime thwart sanctions. And, first lady Jill Biden this week departed for Amman, Jordan for the wedding of Crown Prince Hussein, himself a graduate from Washington's Georgetown University.
Outside the DC beltway: Opening statements began on Tuesday in the federal trial of the 2018 anti-Semitic shooting at a Pittsburgh Synagogue. Robert Bowers has pleaded not guilty to 63 federal charges after killing 11 worshippers at the Tree of Life synagogue, and could face the death penalty if convicted. He faces 11 charges each of obstruction of free exercise of religion resulting in death and hate crimes resulting in death, among others.
The View From DC is rarely a calm one, but it is always fascinating. Want to know more? Keep scrolling.
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EYE ON 2024
Former vice president Mike Pence to announce presidential campaign, reports say
|FILE - Former Vice President Mike Pence speaks to local residents during a meet and greet, Tuesday, May 23, 2023, in Des Moines, Iowa. In the coming weeks, at least four additional candidates are expected to launch their own campaigns for the White House, including Pence who is expected to launch his campaign next month. (AP Photo / Charlie Neibergall, File)|
Former US vice president Mike Pence and former New Jersey governor Chris Christie are expected to join the Republican field for the 2024 US presidential election next week, outlets reported on Wednesday.
Mr Pence, who served under Donald Trump, is planning to launch his presidential campaign at a rally in the battleground state of Iowa, NBC News and the Des Moines Register reported.
He will announce his run at the June 7 event in Des Moines, along with a campaign video.
Mr Pence will have a challenge in separating himself from Mr Trump, who had an outsized presence nationally during their work together.
Mr Trump is also leading the campaign field, with Florida Governor Ron DeSantis in second place.
Mr Trump has criticised Mr Pence for not defending him in the violent pro-Trump insurrection at the US Capitol on January 6, 2021.
What is Washington talking about?
|First lady Jill Biden is greeted by 2023 International Women of Courage Award winner Hadeel Aziz on arrival in Amman, Jordan. Credit: Twitter @FLOTUS|
Senate Foreign Relations Committee presses Assistant Secretary Leaf about Shireen Abu Akleh At a Wednesday subcommittee hearing on the Biden administration's FY2024 budget request for the Middle East region, Assistant Secretary for Near Eastern Affairs Barbara Leaf apologised for a delay in a report on the Israeli killing of Palestinian-American journalist Shireen Abu Akleh last year. Democratic Senator Chris Van Hollen demanded that he see an updated report on her killing by Friday of this week. “I'm a dear friend of the Foreign Service, but I can tell you I am at the end of my rope in terms of a simple request for a report,” Mr Van Hollen said.
The National's Hussein Ibish unpacks Turkey Election at Middle East Institute The National's weekly columnist Hussein Ibish will on Thursday help to unpack the “serious consequences” of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's victory in national elections. The Middle East Institute discussion features Mr Ibish and other Washington-based regional experts, tackling questions like: Will Erdogan continue his detente with his former Arab and Gulf foes should he win re-election? Will he prioritise relations with the West above ties with Turkey’s Middle Eastern neighbours? And how do Arab and Gulf capitals view these pivotal elections?
Jill Biden travels to Jordan for royal wedding First lady Jill Biden is now in Amman to attend the wedding of Crown Prince Hussein and Rajwa Al Seif. Ms Biden will continue her travel to Egypt, Morocco, and Portugal. The first lady will use her trip, her first to the region with that title, to “promote empowerment for women and young people,” the White House said. Washington's Climate Envoy John Kerry will also be attending the royal wedding.
“Leave them alone. Let them do this when they’re ready,”
– Gen John Allen, former head of US forces in Afghanistan, warned that Ukraine’s western allies risk a “suboptimal outcome” if they pressure Kyiv into launching its much-anticipated counter-offensive against Russia too soon. Read the full interview with The National.
Spotlight: Palestinian chefs proudly tout their heritage as US attitudes change
|A spiced beef pastry, or a lahm bi ajeen manoushe, coming out of the oven at Z&Z bakery in Rockville, Maryland. The National|
In recent years, restaurants in the Washington area and beyond have been opening up, decked with Palestinian decor and mementos, offering Arabic menus and serving traditional, as well as more modern Palestinian-inspired cooking. Many are seeing great success.
The proud Palestinian vibe marks something of a sea change in the US, where chefs and restaurant owners had long hesitated to serve or identify their food as Palestinian.
The fraught politics of the seemingly never-ending conflict between Israel and the Palestinians, they say, made them wary of identifying as Palestinian, as it felt like a risk to their livelihoods. Many simply called their food Mediterranean, or Levantine.
But business owners say there is a marked shift happening in American society, and Palestinian food is seeing an unprecedented popularity, propelled by food shows on television and on social media, as well as by a growing political support for the Palestinian cause.
“People are ready for it, the average person today is exposed to so much more food than 20 years ago, who maybe only knew what was on their street or what they grew up eating,” Danny Dubbaneh the co-owner of Z&Z, told the National.
“Every culture has had their wave, and I think Palestinian food is starting to have its moment and we're hoping that that continues,” Mr Dubbaneh said.
Read the full story
ONLY IN AMERICA
Nasa briefs public on UFO study before releasing final report
|Roswell, New Mexico is the site of the world's most famous purported alien crash. AP|
A panel formed by Nasa last year to study “unidentified anomalous phenomena”, or UAPs, the US government's preferred term for UFOs, briefed the public on Wednesday ahead of a July report.
Several people on the 16-member team have been subjected to “online abuse” due to the subject of the study, which Nasa's Dan Evans said detracts from the scientific process.
“It’s precisely this rigorous, evidence-based approach that allows one to separate the fact from fiction,” Mr Evans said.
The panel was formed in June 2022 to examine UAPs after the Pentagon released videos of mysterious objects in the sky.
Nasa warned the public to not jump to any conclusions about aliens.
“There is no evidence UAPs are extraterrestrial in origin,” the agency said.
Read the full story