DC Download: Weekly rewind

(LIN) — Although Congress and the U.S. Supreme Court were on break, this week was packed with plenty of political headlines.

Here’s a look at what you might have missed.

Volkswagen pitching in

On May 2, Volkswagen of America announced a donation of $10 million to help fund the neglected National Mall’s renovation. The National Mall, which runs from the Capitol to the Lincoln Memorial, has been under construction for more than a year with repairs to sidewalks, grass and ponds. Although stimulus money helped pay for some of these projects, federal funding has slowed. Volkswagen of America CEO Jonathan Browning is teaming up with former first lady Laura Bush on a fundraising campaign to improve the National Mall’s appearance.

Red line debacle

On April 30, President Barack Obama held a press conference at the White House, wasting no time taking questions from the crowd as soon as he reached the podium. His first question posed by Ed Henry: “On Syria, you said that the red line was not just about chemical weapons being used but being spread, and it was a game-changer — it seemed cut and dry. And now your administration seems to be suggesting that line is not clear. Do you risk U.S. credibility if you don’t take military action?” Obama responded that they are still looking into if chemical weapons have been used, and by who. This response comes after reports from a White House aide sent in a letter to two U.S. senators saying the intelligence community assessed “with varying degrees of confidence” that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s government had used the chemical agent sarin on a “small scale.” The president did not outline a plan for action in Syria at the press conference.

Cuomo a no-go?

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced last week that he will not run for president in 2016 if former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton decides to run. That’s not stopping him from a book deal, however.  Although the book slated to debut next year doesn’t have a name yet, Cuomo says it will be a memoir of his accomplishments and his views of government. Many speculate this is a way to gain political support for a presidential run, but Cuomo stands beside his resounding words: He’s focused on New York.

More appointments

Obama continues to restock his Cabinet with new appointments this week. On May 1, Obama announced his nominees for Federal Communications Commission Director – former lobbyist and Obama fundraiser Tom Wheeler – and Federal Housing Finance Authority Director –Rep. Melvin Watt D-N.C.

On May 2, longtime fundraiser Penny Prizker (above right) was nominated for the Commerce Secretary position. Deputy National Security Advisor for International Economic Affairs  Michael Froman (above left) was named Obama’s pick for U.S. Trade Representative.


Obama heads south

Obama called for “old stereotypes” to be broken while speaking to an audience of mostly college students May 3 in Mexico City. His message was to help further his immigration initiatives, and to convey that Mexico no longer poses as much of an illegal immigration threat. “The long-term solution to the challenge of illegal immigration is a growing and prosperous Mexico that creates more jobs and opportunities for young people here,” said Obama.

DC Download is a week-in-review featuring the latest news from Capitol Hill published every Friday.

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