Mid-Term Elections Recap

Last Tuesday, Republicans secured control of the U.S. Senate – 52 seats, with some races yet-to-be-determined and could result in further gains.  Squire Patton Boggs produced a 2014 Mid-Term Congressional Elections Analysis, which summarizes some of the implications of a Republican-controlled 114thCongress on the Obama Administration’s international and domestic policies.

President Barack Obama held a press conference on Wednesday, acknowledging that Republicans had “a good night” but maintaining that the U.S. electorate has spoken on their desire to see both parties work together to address their concerns. With respect to pressing issues facing Congress next week, the President said the following priorities remain: (1) passing additional funding to contain Ebola and prepare all 50 states to address any new travel-related cases; (2) Congressional authorization to use military force against ISIL/ISIS; and (3) funding the federal government for the remainder of Fiscal Year (FY) 2015. On Friday, President Obama hosted the Republican and Democratic Congressional leadership to “chart a path forward.” The meeting also addressed the fight against ISIL and needed Congressional funding and authorities. This Wednesday, 12 November, the 113th Congress convenes and the “lame-duck” session commences.

Iraq/Syria

Last Friday, the Pentagon confirmed President Barack Obama authorized the deployment to Iraq of up to 1,500 additional U.S. personnel to expand the advise and assist (non-combat) mission and initiate a comprehensive training effort for Iraqi forces. House Armed Services Committee Chair Howard “Buck” McKeon (R-California) issued a statement Friday morning in anticipation President Obama would shortly transmit a request for additional funding to combat ISIL in Iraq and Syria. He requested the President reconsider his strategy and clearly explain how any additional funding supports “a new direction.” The President shared with Congressional leaders over lunch on Friday that he would submit a request for $5.6 billion for the fight against ISIL. This Thursday, the House Armed Services Committee will hold a hearing on the U.S. strategy and campaign against ISIL.

Ebola

With U.S. troops deployed to West Africa to help contain the Ebola outbreak, Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey issued a controlled monitoring policy last Friday that applies to U.S. service members returning from the affected countries to the continental United States. Civilian employees and contractors are instructed to follow Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines.