1. Bills, Resolutions & Letters
2. House Takes up FY14 NDAA - Middle East-related Amendments
4. Members on the Record
5. From the Press/Blogs
For those following settlement-related issues:
1. Bills, Resolutions, & Letters
(IRAN ELECTIONS) S. Res. 154: On 6/13 the Senate amended and passed (by unanimous consent) S. Res. 154, "A resolution calling for free and fair elections in Iran, and for other purposes." Amended text is here. Press release touting passage of the measure from original sponsors Hoeven (R-ND) and Blumenthal (D-CT) is available here.
(STUDENT FROM ARAB/MUSLIM WORLD) S. Amdt. 1200 to S. 744: On 6/11 Sen. Paul (R-KY) submitted an amendment to S. 744, the "Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act." The amendment would require, among other things, that foreign students from Arab and Muslim countries (plus a few others) register, undergo interviews with government investigators and background checks, and be subjected to ongoing monitoring. As of this writing the amendment has not been considered.
2. House Takes up FY14 NDAA - Middle East-related Amendments
This week the full House took up HR 1960, the FY14 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). Middle East-related elements of the bill, as amended/adopted in Committee last week, are discussed in detail in last week's Round-Up. On 6/14 the House passed HR 1960, as amended, by a vote of 315-108.
Numerous additional Middle East-related amendments were offered to the bill in the context of floor consideration this week. Many of these amendments were not considered. Of those considered, most were adopted - without debate - as enumerated below. Note that language in quotes is taken from the Rules Committee's summary of the amendment, unless otherwise indicated.
Mideast-Related Amendments to HR 1960, adopted as part of En Blocs (no debate)
An en bloc amendment (Number 2), adopted by Voice Vote, included:
· An amendment offered by Lamborn (R-C) that "Establishes the sense of Congress on the threat posed by Hezbollah. Encourages our European allies to recognize Hezbollah as a terrorist organization."
An en bloc amendment (Number 4), adopted by Voice Vote, included:
· An amendment offered by Conaway (R-TX), that "Makes an authority change to the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961, allowing the U.S. military to provide integrated air-missile defense training/coordination to Gulf Cooperation Council countries."
An en bloc amendment (Number 5), adopted by Voice Vote, included:
· An amendment offered by Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) that "enhances DoD and State Department reporting requirements on the comprehensive plan for United States military assistance and cooperation with Egypt to include a description of the strategic objectives of the United States regarding the provision of U.S. security assistance to the Government of Egypt, a description of vetting and end-use monitoring systems in place by both Egypt and the U.S. for defense articles and training provided by the U.S.--including human rights vetting--and additional requirements" [Note: as reflected in the floor proceedings, this amendment is part of en bloc amendment #6, below, and the Ros-Lehtinen amendment listed below is actually part of en bloc #5. The House Armed Services Committee website's amendment tracker, in contrast, puts them in the order reflected in this Round-Up. As of this writing, it is not clear which version is correct and, regardless of which package each was in, both amendments passed).
An en bloc amendment (Number 6), adopted by Voice Vote, included:
· An amendment offered by Grimm (R-NY) that "expresses condemnation of the government of Iran for its systematic, state-sponsored persecution of the country's Baha'i religious minority"
· An amendment offered by Connolly (D-VA) that "requires that the report authorized by section 1242 of this act include information on how the Egyptian military is supporting the rights of individuals involved in civil society and democratic promotion efforts through nongovernmental organizations"
· An amendment offered by Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) that "authorizes the Secretary of Defense to deploy assets, personnel and resources to the Joint Interagency Task Force South, in coordination with SOUTHCOM, to combat transnational criminal organization, drug trafficking, bulk shipments of narcotics or currency, narco-terrorism, human trafficking and the Iranian presence in SOUTHCOM's AOR"
· An amendment offered by Lamborn (R-CO) that "establishes the sense of Congress on the threat posed to Israel by the sale or transfer of advanced anti-aircraft weapons to Syria"
· An amendment offered by Rigell (R-VA) that "reaffirms Congress' constitutional war powers by clearly stating that nothing in this Act shall be construed to authorize any use of military force"
· An amendment offered by Roskam (R-IL) that "requires the President to submit to the appropriate committees every 90 days a report that identifies that the United States has taken all necessary steps to ensure that Israel possesses and maintains an independent capability to remove existential threats to its security and defend its vital national interests." NOTE: The text of the amendment states that "It is the policy of the United States to take all necessary steps to ensure that Israel possesses and maintains an independent capability to remove existential threats to its security and defend its vital national interests." It goes on to state that "It is the sense of Congress that air refueling tankers and advanced bunker-buster munitions should immediately be transferred to Israel to ensure our democratic ally has an independent capability to remove any existential threat posed by the Iranian nuclear program and defend its vital national interests."
An en bloc amendment (Number 7), adopted by Voice Vote, included:
· An amendment offered by Schneider (D-IL) that "that adds an additional requirement to the annual report on Iran that requires an analysis of how sanctions are impacting Iran's Threat Network"
· An amendment offered by Schneider (D-IL) that "expands the findings section of the bill to express the sense of Congress that the President should use all diplomatic means to limit the transfer of arms from Russia, Lebanon, and Iran to the Assad regime"
· An amendment offered by Ellison (D-MN) that "prohibits the authorization of Defense Department funds for tear gas and other riot control items to Middle East and North African countries undergoing democratic transition unless the Secretary of Defense certifies to the appropriate Congressional committees that the security forces of such countries are not using excessive force to repress peaceful, lawful and organized dissent." NOTE: This provision would not apply to Israel's use of tear gas in West Bank, since Israel is not a country "undergoing a transition to democracy in the Middle East."
· An amendment offered by Welch (D-VT) that "requires the Department of Defense to submit to Congress a report on measures to monitor and ensure that U.S. financial assistance to the Afghan National Security Forces is not used to purchase fuel from Iran in violation of U.S. sanctions"
· An amendment offered by Gosar (R-AZ) that states that "Congress fully supports Israel's lawful exercise of self-defense, including actions to halt regional aggression"
· An amendment offered by Walorksi (R-IN) Walorski amendment that "expresses the sense of Congress in support of fully implementing U.S. and international sanctions on Iran" NOTE: This amendment is essentially the text of S. Res. 65, added to the NDAA.
· An amendment offered by Fortenberry (R-NE) that "directs the Secretary of Defense to establish a strategy to modernize the Cooperative Threat Reduction Program in order to prevent the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and related materials in the Middle East and North Africa region"
· An amendment offered by Franks (R-AZ) that "establishes the sense of Congress that the paramount security concern of the United States is the ongoing and illegal nuclear weapons programs of the Islamic Republic of Iran and the Democratic People's Republic of Korea"
An en bloc amendment (Number 8), adopted by Voice Vote, included:
· An amendment offered by Conyers (D-MI) and a bipartisan group of cosponsors, that "Clarifies that nothing in the bill shall be construed as authorizing the use of force against Iran."
Mideast-Related Amendments to HR 1960, Adopted by Roll Call Vote
· An amendment offered by Walorski (R-IN), that "Prohibits the Secretary of Defense from using any funds authorized to the department for the transfer or release of Guantanamo detainees to Yemen."
· An Amendment offered by DeLauro (D-CT) and a bipartisan group of cosponsors, that "Prohibits the Defense Department from continuing to purchase equipment from the Russian arms dealer Rosoboronexport unless the Secretary of Defense certifies that the firm is cooperating with a Defense Contract Audit Agency audit, not delivering S-300 missile defense batteries to Syria, and that no new contracts have been signed by the firm with Syria since January 1, 2013. Provides a national security waiver with a requirement that the Secretary justify the waiver in a report to Congress 30 days prior to the purchase of any equipment from Rosoboronexport."
Mideast-Related Amendments to HR 1960, Defeated on Roll Call vote
· An amendment offered by Gibson (R-NY) that sought "to strike section 1251, Sense of Congress on the Conflict in Syria" was defeated by a vote of 123-301. Floor debate around that amendment was interesting, with Gibson essentially making the (seemingly reasonable) case that language that appears to be endorsing action by the President of the United States to implement regime change in Syria, and implicitly endorsing military assistance to the Syrian opposition, merits "a broader discussion with a separate resolution if somebody wants to move forward with regard to action in Syria..." Another House member, Garamendi (D-CA), noted, "Ten minutes, 10 minutes on a matter that could very easily suck the United States into another war in the Middle East. We need time. We need to debate this. We need to understand all the ramifications of this. The language in this particular section is really serious language. It's far more than has been stated on the floor. Put it aside, step back, take our time, understand what all the ramifications are."
Mideast-Related Amendments to HR 1960, Withdrawn from Consideration
· An amendment offered by Buchanan (R-FL) that "Prohibits the sale, lease, transfer, retransfer, or delivery of F-16 aircraft, M1 tanks, or certain other defense articles or services to Egypt."
· An amendment offered by Buchanan (R-FL) that "Prohibits any funds made available to any federal department or agency from being used to provide assistance to Egypt."
Mideast-Related Amendments to HR 1960, Not Considered
· An amendment offered by Conyers (D-MI) and 3 bipartisan cosponsors, that "Prevents funds authorized in the Act from being used to deploy, establish, or maintain the presence of Members of the Armed Forces or private security contractors on the ground in Syria unless the purpose of the presence is to rescue a Member of the Armed Forces from imminent danger."
June 18: House Foreign Affairs Committee's Subcommittee on the Middle East and North Africa will hold a hearing entitled: "Elections in Iran: The Regime Cementing its Control." Witnesses will be Alireza Nader (RAND), Suzanne Maloney (Brookings), and Karim Sadjadpour (Carnegie Endowment for International Peace)
June 13: The Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe held a hearing in the Senate entitled "Fleeing to Live: Syrian Refugees in the OSCE Region." Witnesses were Anne C. Richard, (Assistant Secretary of State for Population, Refugees and Migration), Michel Gabaudan (Refugees International), Jana Mason (UNHCR) and Yasser Bittar (Coalition for a Democratic Syria. Webcast of the hearing is available here.
June 12: The House Foreign Affairs Committee's Subcommittee on the Middle East and North Africa held a hearing entitled, "American NGOs Under Attack in Morsi's Egypt." Witnesses were Lorne Craner (IRI - full text of statement), Charles Dunne (Freedom House - full text of statement), Joyce Barnathan (International Center for Journalists - full text of statement) and Ken Wollack (NDI - full text of statement). Chair Ros-Lehtinen's (R-FL) opening statement is available here.
4. Members on the Record
Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) 6/14: "As We Await the Election Results, It Is Clear the People of Iran are the Losers and Supreme Leader Khamenei the Victor"
Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) 6/14: With chemical weapons allegations, Syrian conundrum shifts
Engel (D-NY) 6/13: Statement on Syria Using Chemical Weapons Against Its Own People
Cruz (R-TX) 6/13: "The people of Iran head to the polls to make a false choice"
Sen. Paul (R-TX) 6/13: Speech to Faith and Freedom Coalition making the case against U.S. aid to Arab/Muslim world ("These countries are not our true allies and no amount of money will make them so. They are not allies of Israel and I fear one day our money and military arms that we have paid for will be used against Israel.")
Royce (R-CA) 6/13: Statement on White House Confirmation of the Use of Chemical Weapons in Syria
McCain (R-AZ) and Graham (R-SC) 6/13: Colloquy on Syria (in favor of NFZ and arming opposition, and arguing that failure to do so is a threat to Israel)
McCain (R-AZ) and Graham (R-SC) 6/13: Statement on Syria
Cruz (R-TX) 6/13: Floor speech on Iran elections (noting, among other things, that "that Prime Minister Netanyahu recently expressed fears of 'another Holocaust' from Tehran" and winding up by seemingly comparing the Iran to the Former Soviet Union, and Iranians to residents of East Germany (quoting Reagan).
Sen. Levin (D-MI) 6/12: Floor speech regarding Amir Hekmati, who is imprisoned in Iran
Casey (D-PA) 6/12: Floor speech on article submitted for the record on Syria/Iran/Saudi Arabia
Cassidy (R-LA) 6/12: Regarding Pastor Saeed Abedini, imprisoned in Iran
Portman (R-OH) 6/10: Portman Cosponsors Resolution Calling for a Free and Fair Presidential Election in Iran
Engel (D-NY) 6/10: Statement on Reports that the Obama Administration is Moving Towards Providing Weapons to the Syrian Opposition
Corker (R-TN) 6/10: Corker Urges President Obama to Provide Weapons & Training to Vetted Syrian Opposition Groups to Help Shift Balance toward Moderates
McCain (R-AZ) 6/8: Statement Concerning the Grave Situation In Syria
5. From the Press/Blogs
Jerusalem Post 6/13: Sounding the alarm on Iran's human rights violations (by Sen. Kirk, R-IL, and Canadian MP Irwin Colter)
CFR 6/13: The Lengthening List of Iran Sanctions
Minuteman News 6/12: Legislator (Virginia Foxx) promotes U.S.-Israel relationship
USA Today 6/11: Time for U.S. action in Syria: Column by Rep. Rogers (R-MI)
Haaretz 6/10: U.S. Congress committee endorses $488 million aid to Israel
NIAC 6/10: Congress Considers Iran Policy Amid Latest Wave of Executive Sanctions