In the News
– Economy: Initial unemployment claims down
– Capitol Hill: Webb calls for transparency in aid to Pakistan
Economy: Initial unemployment claims down
In the week ending Saturday, May 16, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims was 631,000, a decrease of 12,000 from the previous week’s revised figure of 643,000. The four-week moving average was 628,500, a decrease of 3,500 from the previous week’s revised average of 632,000.
The advance seasonally adjusted insured unemployment rate was 5.0 percent for the week ending May 9, an increase of 0.1 percentage point from the prior week’s unrevised rate of 4.9 percent.
The advance number for seasonally adjusted insured unemployment during the week ending May 9 was 6,662,000, an increase of 75,000 from the preceding week’s revised level of 6,587,000. The four-week moving average was 6,480,500, an increase of 131,000 from the preceding week’s revised average of 6,349,500.
The fiscal year-to-date average for seasonally adjusted insured unemployment for all programs is 5.071 million.
Capitol Hill: Webb calls for transparency in aid to Pakistan
Sen. Jim Webb (D-Va.) on Wednesday introduced a measure calling for accountability and transparency in U.S. assistance to Pakistan in light of mounting concerns over the growth in U.S. support of programs in Pakistan that should address the terrorist threat, the activities of the Taliban, or civilian assistance programs specified in the law.
Webb’s amendment to the Supplemental Appropriations Act of 2009 seeks to ensure that no funds appropriated for assistance to Pakistan are used to support, expand or assist the Government of Pakistan in the development of nuclear weapons. The measure also states that no funds shall be used to support programs that have not been specifically designated and approved in the appropriations bill.
The amendment also requires the President to certify that appropriate accountability measures have been taken, and to report to Congress on those measures within 90 days of enactment of the Supplemental Appropriations Act and every 90 days following.
“This amendment addresses the serious concerns of many in the Senate about the opaque nature of so much assistance now going to Pakistan” said Senator Webb. “While I believe the Administration deserves an opportunity to try to bring greater stability to the region, measurable controls must be put in place to ensure that funding from our own government meets our national objectives.”
In a speech on the Senate floor, Sen. Webb also expressed his concerns regarding the achievability of some of the administration’s strategic objectives in Afghanistan and Pakistan. He noted that the need for strengthened transparency is demonstrated by the inability of America to defend convoys transiting Pakistan to support U.S. coalition forces in Afghanistan, by reports of Taliban affiliations within Pakistani military and intelligence services, and by the reality that Pakistan’s principal security focus is on India rather than on the areas near Afghanistan.
“We should be approaching the expansion of Pakistan’s nuclear capabilities, and its priorities related to the perceived threats not related to our most prominent strategic objectives with enormous concern,” Webb said in his floor speech. “We spend a great deal of time talking about the potential that Iran might acquire nuclear-weapons capability. However, a nuclear-armed Pakistan is far less stable, and that reality needs to be factored into our debate in Congress.”
In a hearing of the Senate Committee on Armed Services, May 14, Sen. Webb asked the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Michael Mullen whether he was aware that Pakistan was increasing its nuclear program. Admiral Mullen replied with one word: “Yes.”
In the same hearing, Sen. Webb asked Secretary of Defense Robert Gates whether the United States was aware of how the $12 billion in aid to Pakistan since 9/11 had been spent, and “what control factors” exist for the expenditure of future money to the country. Secretary Gates admitted that accountability was a problem, but that the review process had been tightened in the past year. Gates then confirmed that Pakistan had the freedom to spend U.S. military reimbursements “pretty much as they liked.”