Archive for August 10, 2010
$600 Million to Secure U.S.-Mexican Border
The U.S. House of Representatives has passed a $600 million border security bill that wil pay for about 1,500 law enforcement agents and two more unmanned aircraft to patrol the U.S. border with Mexico. The measure is similar to one passed by the Senate last week and must be approved by the Senate when it returns from its August break. At least two Arizona lawmakers facing tough re-election bids this fall want the Senate to come back into session to pass the bill. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid wants to do just that, an aide says. The legislation will be funded, in part, by raising the visa fees for temporary skilled workers – mostly from India. That has been widely criticized by Indian information technology companies.
Gates Plans Pentagon Cutbacks
Defense Secretary Robert Gates says he wants to avoid a sharp drop in the Pentagon’s budget after the wartime build-up for Iraq and Afghanistan. To skip the decades-old trend of sharp wartime increases and steep peacetime declines, Gates is looking for ways to cut the Pentagon’s spending by $100 million over the next five years. To find those savings, Gates is proposing cutting the number of generals, admirals and high-ranking civilians serving at the Pentagon. But he also wants to eliminate the Joint Forces Command, which is based in Norfolk, Va. Joint Forces Command trains personnel from the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps to work together on specific missions and also makes sure there is compatibility in communications and other equipment before a joint operation. It employs about 5,000 people in the Norfolk area and Virginia politicians as well as deficit hawks and military interests defenders were quick to criticize Gates and the Obama administration’s priorities. Gates says the changes are needed to patch up the military after nearly a decade of constant war and overseas deployment and to prepare for future conflicts.
Kiss and Make Up (Sort of)
The government of Colombia and Venezuela may not be Best Friends Forever but they are at least talking again. Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has restored diplomatic relations with his neighbor to the West. Chavez, angered — and perhaps a little nervous — about Colombia’s closer ties with the U.S., broke diplomatic relations with Bogota two weeks ago when then-President Alvaro Uribe accused Chavez of harboring Colombia’s FARC rebels in Venezuela. Now Colombia has a new president, Juan Manuel Santos, who sat down with Chavez this week to begin hashing out their problems.