Public Policy Weekly Update: May 6, 2011

Attention this week focused like a laser-beam on U.S. involvement and assistance to Pakistan and Afghanistan. Previously scheduled Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearings (summaries in the document below) provided a platform for senators to question experts on the utility of U.S. efforts in Afghanistan and whether and how our assistance strategy to Pakistan should change. In his opening statement at Thursday’s hearing on Pakistan, SFRC Chairman John Kerry (D-MA) urged thoughtful action with an eye toward the larger, strategic interest the U.S. has in its relationship with Pakistan.

Other members of Congress addressed letters to the administration and issued statements—House Appropriations State, State Foreign Ops Subcommittee Chair Kay Granger (R-TX) wrote to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Wednesday to “express grave concern over funds…being used for direct government-to-government assistance to Pakistan.” House Foreign Affairs Committee Ranking Member Howard Berman (D-CA) was joined by other members in questioning the handling of U.S. military assistance to Pakistan. More hearings on the two countries are scheduled for next week.

Furthermore, the Senate is likely to begin its discussion on the FY2012 budget as early as next Monday. Earlier this week, Senate Budget Committee Chairman Kent Conrad (D-ND) indicated that a markup of the FY2012 budget resolution may occur next week. Meanwhile, Senate Republicans, most notably Budget Committee Ranking Member Jeff Sessions (R-AL), urged Conrad to allow at least a 72-hour review period of the potential FY2012 budget resolution before any markup occurs.