Barack Obama

Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) introduced last week the Strategy and Effectiveness of Foreign Policy and Assistance Act of 2009 (H.R. 2387), a bill to require the use of long-term strategies for United States national security, diplomacy, and foreign assistance and the full use of performance-based budgeting for foreign assistance programs, projects, and activities.

At a May 13 hearing, Ms. Ros-Lehtinen, the ranking Republican on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, challenged Deputy Secretary of State for Management and Resources Jack Lew over funding increases proposed for State in President Obama’s FY 2010 budget submission.  The bill provides the following the rationale for the legislation:

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In order to set a tone of budget responsibility and transparency, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton enhanced her leadership team by adding a second deputy security responsible for Management and Resources. The man appointed to that role, former director of the Office of Management and Budget Jack Lew, testified at two hearings on Capitol Hill today, first in front of the House Subcommittee for State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs, and later at the House Committee on Foreign Affairs. The purpose of Lew’s appearance before these committees was to discuss the principles and priorities that underlie President Obama’s FY 2010 international affairs budget request.

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The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) released the Obama Administration’s full account-level budget today. The administration’s request for Department of State educational and cultural exchange programs in FY 2010 is $633 million. This request is an increase of $95 million, or 17.7 per cent, over the estimated budget authority for FY 2009 of $538 million.

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The Department of State circulated the following message and fact sheet on smart power and the Obama Administration's foreign policy goals this morning:

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Writing in the Washington Post yesterday, Jim Hoagland commented on the Obama Administration’s use of the Internet and social networking for diplomatic purposes:

Establishing direct strategic presidential communication with the populations of other countries -- especially other countries ruled by hostile governments -- is a top foreign policy priority for the new administration…

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President Obama signed the Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act (also known as the Serve America Act, or S.277) yesterday afternoon at the charter SEED School of Washington, DC. The bill is a “landmark” and would greatly expand the nation's volunteer corps and start new programs to expand innovative social programs, help small charities get management advice, and make volunteerism more effective, according to the Chronicle of Philanthropy.

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Secretary of State Hillary Clinton tackled a broad range of issues this morning—from Cuba to Gaza to Pakistan to China, from climate change to rogue regimes to terrorism to disease—at a hearing of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, “New Beginnings: Foreign Policy Priorities in the Obama Administration.” The hearing marked Secretary Clinton’s first appearance before Congress as Secretary of State.

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Robert M. Shireman, president of the California-based Institute for College Access and Success and a consultant to the Department of Education for the past several months, was named Deputy Under Secretary of Education, the Chronicle of Higher Education reported today:

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Congressional Quarterly reported today that applications for FY 2010 H-1B visas have slowed in comparison to previous years. Each April 1, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) begins accepting applications for H-1B visas, a category of immigrant visas reserved for skilled workers and good for six years—65,000 are available for each fiscal year, with an additional 20,000 reserved for applicants with a master’s degree or more from a U.S. college or university.

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President Obama held a roundtable yesterday with 100 university students (both Turkish and international exchange students) at the Tophane Cultural Center in Istanbul, Turkey. The President’s remarks included mentions of international educational exchanges, both between the United States and Turkey and in general:

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