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
Super Tuesday is a term generally reserved for presidential primaries, but next Tuesday (May 16) could almost qualify with a slate of high-profile hearings scheduled on Capitol Hill coupled with some key elections outside the Beltway.
Amid ongoing turmoil at Los Angeles-based lender PacWest following the recent seizure and sale of First Republic Bank and the standoff over raising the debt limit, Tuesday’s appearance by former top executives of failed Silicon Valley Bank and Signature Bank before the Senate Banking Committee will be a must-watch event for anyone interested in the world of finance. Later that afternoon, China-watchers will be glued to a Senate Appropriations Committee hearing on the US-China relationship featuring Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo after the White House revealed yesterday that an unannounced meeting between National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan and top Chinese official Wang Yi had taken place in Vienna.
For those interested in technology, meanwhile, there’s a Senate Judiciary subcommittee hearing on AI oversight featuring OpenAI CEO Sam Altman, who is testifying for the first time before Congress. The hearing, which will also feature testimony from IBM vice president Christina Montgomery, comes amid a surge in interest in the potential and dangers of tools such as OpenAI’s ChatGPT as competitors rush bring their products to market.
Away from Washington, there are some interesting elections scheduled in Kentucky, Philadelphia, and Jacksonville on Tuesday, all closely watched in the run-up to 2024.
In Kentucky, it’s the Republican gubernatorial primary to choose who will face Democratic incumbent Andy Beshear in November. The leading Republicans in what has been an increasingly acrimonious race are the state’s Attorney General Daniel Cameron, a close ally of Mitch McConnell, and Kelly Kraft, who served as US Ambassador to the UN under Donald Trump.
In Philadelphia, there’s a Democratic primary in the city’s mayoral race, with the winner likely to go on to win November’s general given Philly’s overwhelming Democratic tilt. Of the eight Democrats looking to become the city’s 100th mayor, five are viewed as frontrunners, with former City Controller Rebecca Rhynhart just ahead in a recent poll. But the race looks tight, and progressives including Senator Bernie Sanders and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez have thrown their support behind former City Council member Helen Gym, hoping for a repeat of Brandon Johnson’s surprise win in Chicago.
Lastly, there’s interest in the mayoral runoff in Jacksonville between Democrat Donna Deegan and Ron DeSantis-endorsed Republican candidate Daniel Davis. The River City is currently the most populous to be run by a Republican, in the form of term-limited Mayor Lenny Curry, and Florida Democrats are hoping a win in Jacksonville could reenergize the party following last year’s crushing midterms.
For only the fourth time in its 74-year history, the Council of Europe will gather leaders for a summit in Reykjavík on Tuesday and Wednesday (May 16-17). The meeting of Europe’s oldest intergovernmental organization is focused on ensuring ‘accountability for the crimes committed by the Russian armed forces in Ukraine’, including by setting set up a register for those who have suffered damages and harm due to the invasion. The summit comes at an awkward moment for UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, who has not announced whether he plans to attend but would be expected to under normal circumstances. His flagship Illegal Migration Bill has been criticized by the Council of Europe’s top human rights official, while further amendments introduced last month would give ministers powers to ignore decisions from the European Court on Human Rights related to removals.
Ukraine is also top of the agenda as G7 leaders converge on the Japanese city of Hiroshima for their three-day annual summit from Friday to Sunday (May 19-21). Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy is slated to address the gathering via video, while Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida has invited several non-G7 leaders to attend in person, including India’s Narendra Modi, South Korea’s Yoon Suk-yeol, Brazil’s Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva and Australia’s Anthony Albanese. Beyond the conflict in Ukraine, participants are set to discuss a host of other issues of global concern, including China’s growing influence in the Indo-Pacific region, non-proliferation, global economic issues and food security.
Meanwhile, at the annual Arab League Summit taking place in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, on Friday (May 19), all eyes will be on Syria’s Bashar al-Assad, who is expected to attend following a decision earlier this month to end Syria’s 12-year suspension from the bloc over its brutal crackdown on protests. Assad’s attendance at the pan-Arab summit, while a symbolically important recognition of his regime’s grip on power, is unlikely to result in any immediate tangible changes. Several Arab countries have already made moves towards reestablishing diplomatic ties with Damascus, while Syria is unlikely to benefit financially until it resolves outstanding demands to find a political settlement to the civil war, make progress in combating drug trafficking, and facilitate the return of refugees.