— President Obama warned congressional Republicans that he would veto a proposed bill that would partially replace upcoming automatic budget cuts and protect military spending at the expense of food stamps, social services block grants to states and the Medicaid health care system for the poor.
— The House Armed Services Committee backed construction of a missile defense site on the East coast, rejecting Pentagon arguments that the facility is unnecessary and Democratic opposition that the nearly $5 billion project is wasteful.
— Sen. Jim Webb (D-VA) wants to close a “loophole” in the administration’s war powers, which he believes could be used to take military action against Syria without congressional approval. “This is not a political issue,” he said. “We would be facing the exact same constitutional challenges no matter the party of the president.”
— Two huge explosions rocked the Syrian capital of Damascus today, killing 70 people and wounding 372, according to the Syrian Ministry of Interior.
— Russia’s new (and former) president Vladimir Putin will not attend the G8 summit at Camp David next week, postponing until June his much-anticipated first meeting with President Obama.
— U.S. counter-terror and intelligence cooperation with the Saudia Arabia grew over the past two years, giving the U.S. human intelligence and reach into places like Yemen, where a mole run by Saudi spies led authorities to foil an “underwear” bomber plot this week.
— FBI Director Robert Mueller urged a House committee yesterday to reinstate controversial 2008 amendements made to a surveillance bill — which expire this year — allowing warrantless searches.
— Bahraini activists set tires on fire and demanded “the immediate release of women prisoners in the regime’s prisons,” asking that all women held in more than year of protests and subsequent brutal crackdown — particularly Zainab al-Khawaja — be set free.