On the second day of his Middle East trip, President Barack Obama heads to the West Bank for meetings with Palestinian leaders. Obama will hold a working lunch with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, followed by a news conference. Obama has said he is not bringing any new initiatives to revive Israeli-Palestinian peace talks, and expectations for a breakthrough are low.
Earlier Thursday, in a stark reminder of the region's volatility, militants fired two rockets into southern Israel from Gaza. Obama was miles away in Jerusalem at the time. He is not planning to visit Gaza during his trip.
Also on Obama's agenda today is a visit to the Israel Museum to view the Dead Sea Scrolls and a technology exposition. Later, after returning from the West Bank, the president will deliver a speech at the Jerusalem International Convention Center and attend a state dinner at President Shimon Peres's residence, where he will become the first sitting U.S. president to receive the Israeli Presidential Medal of Distinction.
Also Thursday, the House is expected to vote on — and pass — Republican Paul Ryan's budget proposal promising sharp spending cuts; the Senate Natural Resources Committee considers the nomination of Sally Jewell to be the Secretary of the Interior; and Vice President Joe Biden travels to New York to speak at the annual Irish America Hall of Fame Luncheon.
And then there is this: Today is the third anniversary of the House passing President Obama's landmark health care reform bill, by 219 votes to 212, with no Republican backing.