Washington Daybook: Clown Questions

Photograph by Aaron M. Sprecher/Bloomberg

A U.S. military transportation vehicle sits tied to a rail car at the Port of Beaumont upon return from deployment overseas.

The Army plans to slash costs 88 percent to $1.3 million for 400 people to attend this year’s annual professional development conference and exhibition in Washington, which starts today. That figure is more than the $823,000 the General Services Administration spent on a Las Vegas event last year that led to congressional investigations into spending on such things as a clown and a mind reader, resignations of top officials and a cutback in spending on all government conferences.

President Barack Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney will discuss military spending at tonight’s final presidential debate in Boca Raton, Florida. The debate, which focuses on foreign policy, comes as polls show the men are in a virtal tie. Obama and Romney each have 47 percent support in national NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll of likely voters released yesterday. In Florida, the candidates were virtually even in an Oct. 17-18 CNN/ORC International poll.

Foreign policy is also topic A around Washington today, with Sen. Jack Reed, a Rhode Island Democrat, and Paul Eaton, former commanding general of the Coalition Military Assistance Training Team in Iraq, holding a conference call briefing to discuss the debate on foreign policy and national security. TechAmerica is hosting a discussion on sequestration’s impact on non-defense agencies and federal employees in the D.C. metro area.

Iraq’s U.S. Ambassador Jabir Habeb delivers an International Energy Agency presentation on his nation’s energy outlook at the Center for Strategic & International Studies. Iraq is set to more than double oil production to 6.1 million barrels a day by 2020, providing almost half the increase in global supplies this decade. And Boutros Hard, a member of Parliament for the Lebanese Republic, discusses the political situation in Lebanon and Syria at the Aspen Institute.

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