Week ahead: Obama, Putin to talk Syria at G8 summit

The news rankled Russia, which has been one of Assad’s biggest backers and has resisted efforts from the U.S. and others to press for action in Syria.

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On Friday, Russia was dismissive of the U.S. evidence that Assad’s forces had used chemical weapons.

At the G8 summit, Obama will also have to defend the revelations of the National Security Agency’s phone and Internet surveillance programs that were disclosed two weeks ago.

The European Union sent Attorney General Eric Holder a letter expressing “serious concern” with the PRISM program, which collects data from companies like Yahoo, Google and Facebook.

Ben Rhodes, White House deputy national security adviser, said Friday that Obama would explain to European leaders the “importance of these programs in terms of our counterterrorism programs” and that ending the surveillance would “remove a tool that is essential to our shared security.”

On Capitol Hill, things will slow down considerably following a flurry of legislative activity this past week.

The House passed the defense authorization bill Friday, less than 24 hours after the Senate Armed Services Committee passed its version of the bill. The House Appropriations Committee also cleared the defense appropriations bill to be considered on the House floor.

Now the defense bills are in a holding pattern. For the authorization bill, the House will wait for the Senate to bring the bill to the floor — a process that was delayed until November the past two years.

House Armed Services Committee Chairman Buck McKeon (R-Calif.) said in a statement Friday that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) should immediately bring the bill to the floor because of the sexual assault provisions included.

The appropriations bill will likely come to the House floor soon, but its fate in the Senate remains hazy.

The Senate Appropriations Committee will mark up its military construction and veterans affairs bill in subcommittee on Tuesday. The Defense subpanel will hold a hearing on the F-35 program on Wednesday, where the service chiefs of the Navy and Air Force will testify.

There are a few defense- and foreign policy-related hearings in the House this week.

The House Foreign Affairs Committee is holding a hearing on Iran’s presidential elections on Tuesday, and the House Veterans’ Affairs panel is examining the post-decision appeals process for veterans disability claims.