A look ahead at the key events leading the news agenda next week, from the team at Foresight News. Delivered to your inbox on Fridays.
Leading the week
Mounting tensions between Joe Biden and Congressional Republicans over federal spending amid a looming debt limit deadline will come to a head of sorts next week when President Biden releases his budget on Thursday (March 9). President Biden has used a series of recent speeches, including his State of the Union address, to accuse Republicans of planning cuts to Social Security and Medicare and of taking the economy hostage by threatening to refuse to raise the debt ceiling if they don’t get their way. Republicans, of course, counter that it is out-of-control spending that is putting the economy at risk, setting up a bitter game of high-brinksmanship over the coming the weeks and months. Hearings on the budget proposal are slated to begin the following week.
Ahead of those, there’s plenty going on next week on Capitol Hill. Fed Chair Jerome Powell appears before the Senate Banking Committee on Tuesday (March 7) and then the House Financial Services Committee on Wednesday (March 8) where his every word will be parsed for indications on the Fed’s plans for rates. Wednesday will also see the first hearing of the Republican-controlled Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Pandemic into the origins of COVID-19, with FBI Director Christopher Wray’s recent apparent endorsement of the so-called ‘lab leak’ theory likely to be raised during proceedings.
Tensions with China will also likely feature prominently when the Senate Intelligence Committee hears from Wray alongside the heads of all the major US intelligence agencies for its annual hearing on worldwide threats, also taking place Wednesday, with Russia and Iran also likely receiving attention. Last, but by no means least, the Senate Environment Committee is due to hold its first hearing into last month’s derailment in East Palestine on Thursday with train operator Norfolk Southern’s CEO Alan Shaw listed among witnesses. This comes after the company prompted fury after refusing to send representatives to a town hall meeting in East Palestine following the toxic spill, citing a ‘growing physical threat’ to its employees were they to have attended.
The biggest names in the film industry gather in Hollywood for one of the most important nights on the entertainment industry calendar as Jimmy Kimmel hosts this year’s Oscars on Sunday (March 12). The hotly-tipped Everything Everywhere All at Once swept up at the SAG Awards, which shares voters with the Academy Awards, with Michelle Yeoh, Ke Huy Quan, and Jamie Lee Curtis all winning in their respective categories and upsetting favorites such as Cate Blanchet for Best Actress in Tár. Austin Butler (for Elvis) and Brandon Fraser (for The Whale) are favorites to claim the Best Actor award, but the category also features Colin Farrell for his performance in The Banshees of Inisherin; the Irish film was overlooked at the SAGs but could still enjoy a successful Oscars with nominations in nine different categories. A rumored performance by Rihanna could up the glam factor on the night significantly, while organizers will hope to avoid any semblance of controversy after last year’s notorious slap incident.
With July’s NATO Summit in Lithuania coming into focus, Sweden, Finland and Turkey will hold their latest round of negotiations on the Nordic countries’ bids to become fully-fledged NATO members on Thursday (March 9). The talks come amid continued chatter that Turkey could sign off on Finland’s membership while leaving Sweden’s bid pending amid ongoing tensions between Ankara and Stockholm, exacerbated by anti-Turkish protests in Stockholm earlier this year. As it happens, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg begins a two-day visit to Sweden on Tuesday (March 7) with a meeting and joint press conference with Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson where the subject is likely to feature prominently. Finnish lawmakers, meanwhile, passed legislation this week paving the way for them to join the alliance, prompting further speculation that previous vows of a joint accession could be abandoned. Meanwhile Turkey’s upcoming presidential elections, still planned for May 14 despite the devastating earthquakes viewed as damaging President Erdogan’s prospects, have added an extra incentive for Erdogan to drag out the dispute and portray himself as a bulwark protecting Turkish interests in the face of external pressure.
British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak travels to France on Friday (March 10) for a summit with President Emmanuel Macron billed as an opportunity to reset a relationship that has become increasingly frosty in recent years. The post-Brexit dynamic between the two nations has been dominated by rows over fishing rights and migrant crossings, with recent Conservative Party leadership contests throwing up the odd minor diplomatic incident for good measure. The Prime Minister’s first meeting with Macron at the COP27 summit last November immediately set the bar for Anglo-French relations higher than during the premiership of his predecessor Liz Truss, though there’s been no major test to the pair’s fledgling bromance in the intervening months. The announcement on Monday of the so-called Windsor Framework agreement between the UK and EU on post-Brexit arrangements in Northern Ireland has been welcomed by Macron, though the publication of Sunak’s hotly-anticipated small boats legislation, potentially in the days leading up to the summit, could upset the balance again. Speaking of Windsor, Friday’s meeting comes ahead of the state visit by King Charles to France towards the end of the month, another indication of the UK’s desire to re-establish an entente cordiale with a key ally.