The Cable

Senate Foreign Relations Committee sneak peek

As Congress comes back in session after summer recess, there’s no shortage of issues on the table. FP spoke with Frederick L. Jones, communications director at the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, for a preview of what’s in store for the Committee Chairman Sen. John Kerry (D-MA) and his peers. First up this Thursday, U.S. ...

As Congress comes back in session after summer recess, there’s no shortage of issues on the table. FP spoke with Frederick L. Jones, communications director at the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, for a preview of what’s in store for the Committee Chairman Sen. John Kerry (D-MA) and his peers.

First up this Thursday, U.S. Ambassador to Baghdad Christopher Hill will testify in a hearing on the situation in Iraq. With Afghanistan taking the media spotlight, "I don’t know if many people are focusing on Iraq, but we still have a huge number of U.S. troops there," Jones said when queried about what to expect in the hearing. Hill may caution his audience from thinking that Iraq is over, "because it’s not."

From there, Jones expects the "blistering pace" of hearings to slow slightly as Senator Kerry focuses on two issues: Afghanistan and climate change. 

"[The chairman] is very concerned [about Afghanistan]," Jones said, "on whether America is finding the most effective solutions to the challenges there and whether they are pursuant to our national-security interests." The committee will also work to pass climate legislation in advance of the Copenhagen talks set for December. (Kerry is set to speak on climate change and national security on Thursday.)

Also a high priority, Jones said, is passing of an aid bill for Pakistan — of which there are currently House (sponsored by Rep. Howard Berman (D-CA)) and Senate versions (sponsored by Senator Kerry and Sen. Richard Lugar (R-Ind.)). Both bills dramatically increase non-military assistance to the country, as the Obama adminstration has pushed for.

Other issues on the table include the U.S. relationship with NATO and confirming further nominees.

Editor’s note: Elizabeth Dickinson is an assistant editor at FP. Posting will be light this week, but we’ll be ramping up our coverage next week when Josh Rogin, FP‘s new staff reporter and The Cable‘s new host, starts in earnest.

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