Washington Update for the Week Ending April 14, 2017

Congress is in the midst of a two-week recess, so things are quiet on Capitol Hill. But the geopolitical developments in Syria, Russia, China, North Korea, and around the world are keeping the White House busy this week:

  • NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg was in Washington this week to meet with President Trump, who, a few weeks ago, memorably proclaimed NATO obsolete and expensive. But in a joint news conference on Wednesday, President Trump declared that NATO is “no longer obsolete” and is an important “bulwark of international peace and security.”
  • The President hosted Chinese President Xi Jinping at his Mar-a-Lago estate last week to talk about North Korea, trade, and other bilateral issues. This week, China seemed to take a harder stance against North Korea, President Trump declared that China is not a currency manipulator, and it turns out that President Trump and President Xi had a moment over dessert where they talked about the Syrian missile strikes.
  • Russia vetoed a U.N. resolution this week that would have condemned the Syrian chemical attacks. Pausing for a moment to remember some context surrounding U.N. assessments of condemnable actions: It turns out that the U.N. condemns Israel for building Jewish houses in Jerusalem, but attacking innocent Syrians with chemical weapons goes unanswered. Unbelievable. Meanwhile, the mainstream media seemed more concerned with the White House spokesman’s clumsy comparison of Bashar al-Assad with Adolf Hitler.
  • Secretary of State Rex Tillerson attended the G-7 meeting in Italy, where Syria was a main point of discussion. Secretary Tillerson then travelled Russia to try to discourage Russian officials, including President Vladimir Putin, from supporting Syrian president Bashar al-Assad. Secretary Tillerson said U.S.-Russia relations are “at a low point.”
  • President Trump seems to be warming to Fed Chair Janet Yellen. This week he said he wouldn’t rule out nominating Yellen for a second term.
  • Attorney General Jeff Sessions travelled to the U.S.-Mexico border in Arizona to declare a revitalization of immigration enforcement.
  • Neil Gorsuch was sworn in as the newest justice of the U.S. Supreme Court.

Brian Williams is the NCPA’s Legislative Director.

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