APN Legislative Round-Up: February 14 - March 6, 2015

1.  Bills, Resolutions & Letters
2.  Oversight over Iran Deal vs. Scuttling a Deal – the Fight in the Senate
3.  Members Weigh in on Bibi Speech
4.  Hearings
5. Members on the Record (on things other than Bibi speech)

 

Of note:

APN Press Release 3/3: Following Netanyahu Speech, Give Diplomacy a Chance!
APN Message to Senate 3/2: Reject Unnecessary, Dangerous New Iran Bills
APN 3/2: APN to Netanyahu: Use Congressional Speech to Repair Damage!
APN Action Alert 3/2: Tell Your Senators: Oppose AIPAC-backed Iran Bills (S. 615 & S. 269)
APN 2/27 Brief (shared with Congress): 11 Bogus Arguments Bibi Will Likely Be Making Against an Iran Deal
APN MoveOn.org Petition 2/25: Don’t Let Netanyahu & Friends Abort an Iran Deal

 

1. Bills, Resolutions & Letters

(ABORT IRAN NUCLEAR DEAL)  S. 615 & S. 625:  S. 615 was introduced 2/27 by Corker (R-TN) and 12 cosponsors, the “Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act of 2015” and referred to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.   S. 625, which is largely identical to S. 615, was introduced 3/3 by McConnell (R-KY) and no cosponsors.  See Section 2, below, for an explanation of thwy there are two bills, details of this legislation, as well as a summary of the drama surrounding their progress in the Senate.  NOTE:  S. 615 was one of the lobbying “asks” when more than 10,000 AIPAC conferees went to the Hill to lobby this week in conjunction with AIPAC’s 2015 Washington Policy Conference.   So far, that lobbying has failed to show great success; only a single new cosponsor was added to the bill this week – Paul (R-KY) on 3/3.  APN OPPOSES S. 615/S. 625 and is urging Senators to refuse to support or cosponsor them. 

(IRAN DEAL OVERSIGHT – COMPLIANCE CERTIFICATION + ACTION BY CONGRESS IF IRANIAN VIOLATION) S. 669: Introduced 3/4 by Boxer (D-CA) and 6 cosponsors (all Democrats), the “Iran Congressional Oversight Act of 2015.”  Referred to the Committee on Foreign Relations.  This bill is an apparent effort to offer a constructive alternative to S. 615/S 625.  See Section 2, below, for details.

(IRAN SANCTIONS) S. 269:  AIPAC conference-goers pressed Senators this week to cosponsor S. 269, the pending Kirk-Menendez sanctions bill.  After intense pressure to move that bill at the beginning of the legislative session hit a wall (with Democrats refusing to cooperate), action on the bill is in hold until after March 24th, Obama’s deadline for a political agreement with Iran (for details of the drama surrounding this bill, see previous editions of the Round-Up).  The goal of the lobbying effort this week was to finally break through and secure a “veto-proof” majority in support of the bill.  On 3/4 Kirk (R-IL) issued a press release linking the bill to Netanyahu’s address to Congress the previous day and noting that the bill “now is within striking distance of a veto-proof majority.”  It should be noted that not a single new cosponsor has been added to the bill in the past week (no new Democrats have cosponsored since January 28).

(TRYING TO OUTLAW BOYCOTTS/PRESSURE AGAINST SETTLEMENTS) S. 619:  Introduced 3/2 by Cardin (D-MD) and Portman (R-OH), “to include among the principal trade negotiating objectives of the United States regarding commercial partnerships trade negotiating objectives with respect to discouraging activity that discourages, penalizes, or otherwise limits commercial relations with Israel, and for other purposes.”  Referred to the Committee on Finance.  While text of the bill is not yet in the Congressional Record, this appears to be a Senate version of HR 825, which was examined in detail in the 2/13 edition of the Round-Up.  As discussed in that analysis, while the avowed purpose of that legislation is to fight anti-Israel BDS, in effect the bill is about discouraging and perhaps eventually criminalizing economic pressure targeting settlements and the occupation – as evidenced by the fact that HR 825 is peppered with references not just to Israel but to “Israeli-controlled territories” – code for settlements and the occupation [it is expected that S. 619 will do the same, but as noted, text has not yet been made public].  Portman’s press release about the bill is here.  It is worth noting that Cardin announced the impending introduction of the bill during his address at the opening plenary of AIPAC, on 3/1.

(SENATE GOP WELCOMES BIBI!) S. Res. 76: Introduced 2/12 by Cornyn (R-TX) and 50 GOP colleagues (no Democrats), “A resolution welcoming the Prime Minister of Israel to the United States for his address to a joint session of Congress.”  Passed 2/26 by unanimous consent (still with no Democrats cosponsoring).

(WELCOME BIBI GIFT:  CUT OFF AID TO PA) S. 633: Introduced 3/3 – the same day that Netanyahu addressed Congress and AIPAC conference-goers were on the Hill lobbying in support of suspend off aid to the PA – by Paul (R-KY) and no cosponsors, “A bill to prohibit certain assistance to the Palestinian Authority.  Referred to the Committee on Foreign Relations.  This is not the first time Paul has sought to cut off aid to the Palestinians:  on 1/6 he introduced S. 34, “to prohibit assistance to the Palestinian Authority until it withdraws its request to join the International Criminal Court”; on 7/8/14, he offered  S. Amdt 3477 to S. 2363 (the “Bipartisan Sportsmen's Act of 2014”), seeking to block any/all funding to the Palestinian Authority; on 4/29/14 he introduced S. 2265, seeking to block all aid to the PA.  The difference this time is that AIPAC and the Israeli government are actively pressing Congress and the Obama Administration to suspend aid to the PA , too.

(SUPPORTING ISRAELI-PALESTINIAN PEACE) H. Res. 126:  Introduced 2/25 by Lee (D-CA) and no cosponsors, “A resolution expressing the sense of the House of Representatives regarding United States efforts to promote Israeli-Palestinian peace.”  Referred to the Committee on Foreign Affairs.

(IRAN FREEDOM OF RELIGION) H. Res. 111:  Introduced 2/13 by Pittinger (R-NC) and 3 cosponsors, “A resolution calling on the Government of Iran to immediately release Saeed Abedini and all other individuals detained on account of their religious beliefs.”  Referred to the Committee on Foreign Affairs.

Letters:

(DEAR BIBI: MEET WITH DEMS) Durbin-Feinstein letter On 2/23, Senators Durbin (D-IL) and Feinstein (D-CA) sent a letter to Israel Prime Minister Netanyahu emphasizing the importance of bipartisan support for Israel and denouncing the partisan manner in which Netanyahu had been invited to address Congress on March 3.  The letter invites Netanyahu to “maintain Israel’s dialogue with both political parties in Congress” by inviting him to meet privately with Democratic Senators during his upcoming visit. [Netanyahu declined the invitation on the grounds that it would appear partisan to meet with Democrats separately – seemingly telling the world that he either has no sense of irony or no sense of shame, or both.]

(DON’T FAST-TRACK CORKER BILL) Menendez et al letter: On 3/4, 10 Senate Democrats (most of them cosponsors of S. 615) sent a letter to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell urging him to refrain from fast-tracking S. 615 by bringing it to the floor next week for a vote.  For details of the drama surrounding this fast-tracking effort, see Section 2, below.

(WEIGHING IN ON AN IRAN DEAL)  Royce-Engel letter:  On 3/2, HFAC Chair Royce (R-CA) and Ranking Member Engel (D-NY) began seeking cosigners on a letter to President regarding a potential nuclear deal with Iran.   This letter was one of the lobbying “asks” when more than 10,000 AIPAC conferees went to the Hill to lobby this week in conjunction with AIPAC’s 2015 Washington Policy Conference.  According to Hill staff and insiders, the letter comes after pressure for the House to produce a bipartisan companion version of S. 269 or S. 615 failed.  Rather than go forward with a partisan effort (or a partisan effort with someone like Sherman, D-CA, as a Democratic fig leaf), House leaders opted for this constructive, bipartisan approach.  While some have suggested that the letter lays out red lines for an Iran deal, the actual operative language in the letter is in act quite measured and appears largely to in sync with how the Obama Administration is talking about an agreement.  That language states:  “… Should an agreement with Iran be reached, permanent sanctions relief from congressionally-mandated sanctions would require new legislation.  In reviewing such an agreement, Congress must be convinced that its terms foreclose any pathway to a bomb, and only then will Congress be able to consider permanent sanctions relief.  Resolving the nuclear crisis with Iran remains of grave importance to our nation’s security.  As the Administration continues to negotiate with Iran, we are prepared to evaluate any agreement to determine its long-term impact on the United States and our allies.    We remain hopeful that a diplomatic solution preventing Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon may yet be reached, and we want to work with you to assure such a result.”   Royce’s press release on the letter is here.

(MR. SPEAKER: POSTPONE NETANYAHU SPEECH) Ellison et al letter:  On 2/18, 23 Democrats in the House sent a letter to Speaker Boehner (R-OH) urging him to postpone Netanyahu’s address to Congress.  The press release on the letter is here.

(SAUDI HUMAN RIGHTS) Roskam-McGovern letter:  On 3/4, Reps. Roskam (R-IL) and McGovern (D-MA), along with 65 other House members, sent a bipartisan letter to Saudi King Salman bin Abdul-Aziz Al Saud.  The letter expresses condolences on death of the new King’s father, and encourages the new King to “to serve as an advocate for human rights and democratic reforms within your country.”

(GOING AFTER “ONE VOICE”) Cruz-Zeldin letter: On 3/3, Sen. Cruz (R-TX) and Rep. Zeldin (R-NY) sent a 4-page letter to the commissioner of the U.S. Internal Revenue Service asking the IRS to investigate the pro-peace “One Voice” organization for potential violations of its status as a U.S.-registered non-profit organization [a 501(c)(3)], with a laundry list of questions to be answered and documents to be provided.  The letter gives the IRS a deadline of 3/9 to respond.  One might surmise that the apparent rush for a response – Cruz is effectively giving the IRS a grand total of three working days to comply with the letter’s demands – is linked to Israeli elections, which will take place on 3/17.

 

2.  Oversight over an Iran Deal vs. Scuttling a Deal – the Fight in the Senate

 Corker Bill Finally Introduced:  After weeks of rumors (and draft text circulating), on 2/27 Corker (R-TN) finally introduced his long anticipated Iran deal oversight legislation, S. 615. Five of the cosponsors of S. 625 are Democrats, including SFRC ranking member Menendez (D-NJ) – a huge coup for Corker, given that President Obama has promised to veto this legislation if it comes before him (meaning that Corker will need a veto-proof majority to see the bill enacted into law).  Once it was introduced, S. 615 immediately was added to the AIPAC lobbying agenda.

 Brief analysis of the problems with S. 625:  The following is a brief summary of the most glaring issues with S. 615.

 This legislation is unnecessary:  Congress does not need new legislation, now or in the future, to assert its right to have oversight over an Iran agreement.  Implementation of any agreement will require Congress to take action to lift sanctions; if Congress opposes an agreement, it can refuse to do so, or place conditions on any lifting of sanctions.  Should Congress so deeply oppose an agreement that it wants to block its implementation, Congress can assert its will through new sanctions and other measures.

Moving this legislation undermines U.S. negotiators and an agreement:  By moving this legislation at this time, the Senate will be signaling to Iran that the U.S. will not be able to deliver on its side of any agreement.  Rather than convincing Iran to be more forthcoming at the negotiating table, this will likely make Iranian negotiators less forthcoming, as they recognize that any compromises they make will become liabilities for them in the domestic political arena once talks break down or an agreement falls apart.

The legislation includes several problematic and/or “poison pill” provisions:

Sec. 135(2)(a):  This provision mandates that the Administration prepare and submit to Congress a far-reaching “verification assessment” regarding the deal, and that it do so within 5 calendar days of reaching an agreement.  This requirement is simply unrealistic.  There is no possible way that the various U.S. agencies invested in an agreement could responsibly review and assess all aspects of an agreement within such a timeframe; given the far-reaching requirements stipulated in this provision, the idea that a credible report could be produced within this timeframe is fantasy.  This provision signals that Congress is more interested in playing political games with a deal than it is in actually reviewing and understanding a deal’s substance.

Sec. 135(2)(b):  This provision mandates that an agreement – signed by Iran and the P5+1 – may not be implemented for at least 60 days following the transmittal of the verification report to Congress.  During that period Congress will ostensibly review the agreement and the verification assessment and decide what to do with it.  This provision mandates that during this 60-day period, Iran will see no new benefits of an agreement, while the concessions included in an agreement will be publicly picked over and attacked by opponents of a deal – both in the U.S. and Iran – who will seek to publicly re-negotiate a deal that was the result of months of difficult, delicate negotiations. This requirement for a delay (which added to the previous provision means the soonest a deal could be implemented would be 65 days after it was signed) makes it extremely unlikely that Iran would sign on to an agreement.  If an agreement were achieved, this provision virtually guarantees that it would be dead-on-arrival in Congress.  Moreover, this delay requirement appears to be predicated on the assumption that all sides will agree to a two-month extension of the JPOA, including the JPOA’s conditions on Iran’s nuclear program – an assumption that does not appear to have any clear foundation.  Indeed, failure by the U.S. to implement a deal, once signed, will strengthen forces in Iran who will argue that the deal has already been broken, and Iran is no longer bound by what has been agreed, either in the JPOA or a final deal.

Sec. 135(2)(c):  This provision grants Congress authority to approve/disapprove of a deal.  Given that this deal is not a treaty, Congress has no constitutional authority or responsibility to approve or disapprove of a deal.  Given that implementation of this deal will require Congressional action to remove or suspend sanctions, Congress has authority to facilitate or impede implementation of this deal, without any new legislation.  That being said, this provision seeks to dramatically expand Congressional authority over an Iran deal, by in effect legislating away any Presidential authority to grant sanctions relief in the event that Congress disapproves of a deal.  In short, with one “notwithstanding any other provision of law” clause, this provision erases all Presidential waiver authority and flexibility that exists in current sanctions law, and appears to seek even to block relief granted through Executive Orders – an effort that is constitutionally questionable.

Sec. 135(2)(d):  This provision lays out the details of required Congressional oversight in the event that a deal is permitted to go forward (i.e., Congress either approves a deal or does nothing within the mandated 60-day review period), in the form of regular reports by the Administration to Congress.  The drafters of this legislation elected to not limit required reporting strictly to the nuclear issue, but instead included the issue of terrorism.  As a result, based on the requirements of this provision, U.S. implementation of an Iran nuclear agreement would be predicted not only on Iran’s complete compliance with its obligations under a nuclear deal, but also on certification that Iran is not supporting or engaged in terrorism against the U.S. or U.S. persons anywhere in the world.  Clearly, nobody would argue against pressing Iran to cease support for terrorism.  This provision, however, suggests that after years of declaring Iran’s nuclear program an existential threat that must be addressed, Congress is looking for pretexts to scuttle that deal.

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McConnell Tries to Fast-Track Corker:  On 3/3, just two hours after Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu addressed Congress and urged Congress to block an Iran deal (and while thousands of AIPAC conference-goers were on the Hill lobbying members of the House and Senate), Senate Majority Leader McConnell (R-KY) surprised everyone with a decision to fast-track S. 615 by beginning the process of taking the bill directly to the Senate floor for a vote (circumventing SFRC consideration/markup).  To do this, he introduced S. 625, which is substantively identical to S. 615 (but, since it has not been referred to the SFRC, can be brought directly to the floor).  Taking to the Senate floor 3/3 to announce his plan, McConnell directly connected the fast-tracking to Netanyahu’s speech.  (For more on GOP enthusiasm to act on Iran in the wake of the Netanyahu speech, see: Congress races to act on Iran after Bibi's speech, 3/3, from Al-Monitor).

Democrats Cry Foul, Push Back:  McConnell’s effort sparked outrage from Menendez, who called out the Senate leader on the Senate floor for partisan game-playing and promised to vote against the bill if McConnell proceeded as planned.  Menendez noted that when he backed the Corker bill it was on the understanding that the legislation would go through the normal committee process.  That process, notably, would take at least a little time and make it unlikely that the bill would even be considered for final passage before March 24rd, the deadline President Obama has set for achieving a political framework agreement with Iran.  On 3/4, other Democratic cosponsors followed suit, sending a letter to McConnell (led by Menendez) urging him to hold off on the measure until after March 24.  On 3/4 , McConnell continued with his effort, with a motion to proceed on the measure and defended plans to bring the bill to a vote next week. Subsequently, facing a filibuster from Senate Democrats [, McConnell agreed to postpone the vote until after March 24.  It is not clear at this point of McConnell genuinely believe Democrats would ever go along with this, or if this entire episode was simply grandstanding by the GOP leader to bolster the case that Republicans are more pro-Israel/tough-on-Iran than Democrats…  For more on this still ongoing drama, see reporting here, here, here, and here.

Boxer Alternative Finally Introduced:   After weeks of rumors (and draft text kept very close-hold), on 3/4 Boxer (D-CA) finally introduced S. 669, widely viewed as an effort to offer a responsible alternative to the S. 615.  While rumors had indicated that the bill would be bipartisan, in the end the cosponsors are all Democrats, which, regrettably, significantly reduces the chances of the bill successfully competing with S. 615. However, if the Obama Administration makes clear that it would not veto S. 669, which is quite possible, then the chances of this bill becoming a vehicle for Congressional oversight of an Iran deal may improve, at least slightly.  For further reporting on the Boxer bill see here and here.  As described in Boxer’s press release, the bill:

  • Requires the President to report to Congress at least once every 90 days on Iranian compliance with the Joint Plan of Action or any successor deal, and that the report be accompanied by an unclassified certification by the President, in consultation with the Director of National Intelligence, of whether Iran has complied with or violated such deal;
  • Sets up an expedited process for Congress to vote on legislation to reinstate waived or suspended sanctions and prohibit transfers of assets to Iran if the President certifies to Congress that Iran has violated a deal. The expedited process would not be subject to a filibuster;
  • Sets up a process to expedite consideration of legislation that is determined to be necessary by the Majority Leader, after consultation with the Minority Leader, to further respond to a violation by Iran of a nuclear deal during the 30-day period after which the President certifies to Congress that Iran has violated a deal. Under this process, a motion to proceed to consider additional action against Iran would not be debatable.
  • Reaffirms the constitutional role of Congress in repealing congressionally mandated sanctions if, in the context of a final deal, the U.S. commits to lifting such sanctions.

 

3.  Members Weigh in on Bibi Speech

The media has covered – exhaustively and exhaustingly – the story of Netanyahu’s visit to Congress and the controversy of who would or would attend.  As most observers may have already guessed, a huge number of Members of Congress (House and Senate) felt the need to go on the record about the speech.  Below are statements from the Congressional Record and member websites for the period immediate before and after the speech.  These lists are NOT exhaustive by any means, leaving out statements on Facebook, Twitter, and in the media (and probably missing a few in the Record and on website – the volume is, frankly overwhelming).  They nonetheless offer a good sense of the political dynamics on the Hill surrounding this mess.

Welcoming Bibi/Standing with Bibi

Senate:  Ayotte (R-NH) 3/3;  Barrasso (R-WY) 3/2; Blumenthal (D-CT) 3/3; Boozman (R-AR) 3/2; Boozman (R-AR) 3/3; Burr (R-NC) 3/3; Casey (D-PA) 2/27; Cassidy (R-LA) 3/3; Cochran (R-MI) 3/3; Coats (R-IN) 3/3; Corker (R-TN) 3/3; Cornyn (R-TX) 2/26;  Cornyn (R-TX) 3/4; Cotton (R-AR) 3/3; Daines (R-MO) 3/3; Ernst (R-IA) 3/3; Fischer (R-NE) 3/3;  Gardner (R-CO) 3/3; Hatch (R-UT) 3/2; Hoeven (R-ND) 3/3; Inhofe (R-OK) 3/3; Johnson (R-WI) 2/27; Manchin (D-WV) 3/3; McConnell (R-KY) 3/2; Kirk (R-IL) 2/18; Kirk (R-IL) 3/3; Lankford (R-OK) 3/3; Paul (R-KY) 3/3; Perdue (R-GA) 2/20; Perdue (R-GA) 3/3; Portman (R-OH) 3/3; Reid (D-NV) 3/3; Rounds (R-SD) 3/3; Rubio (R-FL) 3/3;  Scott (R-SC) 3/3; Sullivan (R-AR) 3/3; Thune (R-SD) 3/3; Tillis (R-NC) 3/3; Toomey (R-PA) 3/3; Vitter (R-LA) 3/2; Wicker (R-MS) 3/3; Hatch (R-UT), Boozman (R-AR), Barrasso (R-WY) 3/2; Hoeven (R-ND), Graham (R-SC), Cotton (R-AR), Ayotte (R-NH) 3/3

House:  Aderholt (R-AL) 3/3; Allen (R-GA) 3/3; Babin (R-TX) 3/3; Barletta (R-PA) 3/3; Bishop (R-MI) 3/3; Blackburn (R-TN) 3/3; Blackburn (R-TN) 3/3 (video);  Boehner (R-OH) 2/26; Boehner (R-OH) 3/2; Boehner (R-OH) 3/3; Bost (R-IL) 3/3; Boustany (R-LA) 3/3;  Boyle (D-PA) & Costello (R-PA) 3/3; Brady (R-TX) 3/3; Bridenstine (R-OK) 3/3; Brooks (R-AL) 3/3; Brooks (R-IN) 3/3; Buchanan (R-FL) 3/3; Buck (R-CO) 3/3; Byrne (R-AL) 3/2; Byrne (R-AL) 3/3; Calvert (R-CA) 3/3; Carter (R-GA) 3/3; Coffman (R-CO) 3/3; Cole (R-OK) 3/3; Collins (R-NY) 3/3; Comstock (R-CA) 3/3; Cook (R-CA) 3/3; Costa (D-CA) 3/3; Cramer (R-ND) 3/3; Curbelo (R-FL) 3/3; Davis (R-IL) 3/3; Denham (R-CA) 3/3; DeSantis (R-FL) 3/3; Deutch (D-FL) 3/3; Duffy (R-WI) 3/3; Duncan (R-SC) 3/4; Emmer (R-MN) 3/3; Ellmers (R-NC) 3/3; Engel (D-NY) 3/3; Fitzpatrick (R-PA) 3/3; Forbes (R-VA) 3/2; Foxx (R-NC) 3/4; Gibbs (R-OH) 3/3; Gohmert (R-TX) 3/2; Gosar (R-AZ) 3/3; Granger (R-TX) 3/3; Graves (R-LA) 2/23; Graves (R-MS) 3/3; Grotham (R-WI) 3/3; Guinta (R-NH) 3/3; Hardy (R-NV) 3/3; Harper (R-MS) 3/3; Hice (R-GA) 3/3; Hill (R-AR) 3/3; Hoyer (D-MD) 3/3; Huizenga (R-MI) 3/3; Hultgren (R-IL) 3/3; Hurd (R-TX) 3/5; Johnson (R-OH) 3/3; Jolly (R-FL) 3/2; Jordan (R-OH) 3/3; Kelly (R-PA) 3/3; King (R-IA) 3/3; Kline (R-MN) 3/3; LaMalfa (R-CA) 3/3; Latta (R-OH) 3/3; Loudermilk (R-GA) 3/3; Lowey (D-NY) 3/3; Luetkemeyer (R-MS) 3/3; Marchant (R-TX) 3/3; Marino (R-PA) 3/3; McCarthy (R-CA) 3/3;  McCaul (R-TX) 3/3; McCaul (R-TX) 3/3;  McKinley (R-WV) 3/3;  McSally (R-AZ) 3/3; Meadows (R-NC) 3/3; Meehan (R-PA) 3/3; Messer (R-IN) 3/3; Messer (R-IN) 2/25; Miller (R-FL) 3/3; Miller (R-MI) 3/3; Mooney (R-WV) 3/2; Neugeberger (R-TX) 3/3; Palazzo (R-MS) 3/2; Paulsen (R-MN) 3/3; Pittinger (R-NC) 2/17; Poe (R-TX) 3/2 (“The Lone Star State of the Middle East” – seriously); Poliquin (R-ME) 3/3; Pompeo (R-KS) 3/3; Ratcliffe (R-TX) 3/3; Republican Israel Caucus (oped in the Hill) 3/3; Roe (R-TN) 2/20; Rogers (R-KY) 3/3; Rohrabacher (R-CA) (and calling for Boehner to invite Egypt’s al-Sisi to address Congress, too) 3/4; Rooney (R-FL) 3/3; Roskam (R-IL) 3/3; Ross (R-FL) 3/3; Rothfus (R-PA) 3/3;  Rouzer (R-NC) 3/3; Royce (R-CA) 3/2; Royce (R-CA) 3/3; Ryan (R-WI) 3/3; Salmon (R-AZ) 3/3; Scalise (R-LA) 3/3; Sherman (D-CA) 3/3 (taking on Pelosi for her reaction); Shimkus (R-IL) 3/3; Shuster (R-PA) 3/3; Sires (D-NJ) 3/3; Smith (R-NJ) 3/2; Smith (R-NJ) 3/3; Smith (R-TX) 3/3; Stefanik (R-NY) 3/3; Stewart (R-UT) 3/3; Stewart (R-UT), Ross (R-FL), Williams (R-TX), Pittinger (R-NC), MacArthur (R-NJ) 3/2; Stivers (R-OH) 3/3; Stutzman (R-IN) 3/4; Takano (D-CA) 3/3; Tiberi (R-OH) 3/3; Tipton (R-CO) 3/3; Trott (R-MI) 3/3; Turner (R-OH) 3/3; Wagner (R-MO) 3/3; Walberg (R-MI) 3/3; Wasserman Schultz (D-FL) 3/3; Weber (R-TX) 3/3; Westerman (R-AR) 3/3; Wilson (R-SC) 3/4; Wilson (R-SC) 3/3; Womack (R-AR) 3/3; Zeldin (R-NY) 3/3; Zinke (R-MO) 3/3

Expressing Some Degree of Concern or Criticism about Bibi’s Speech and/or Explaining Attendance/Non-Attendance

House:  Beatty (D-OH) 3/3; Bera (D-CA) 3/3; Blumenauer (D-OR) undated; Blumenauer (D-OR) 3/4 ; Capuano (D-MA) 3/4;  Clark (D-MA) 2/26; Cohen (D-TN) 2/24; Cohen (D-TN) 2/27; Conyers (D-NY) 3/3; Connolly (D-VA) 3/2; DeGette (D-CO) 3/3; DeLauro (D-CT) 3/3; Dingell (D-MI) 3/3; Duckworth (D-IL) 3/3; Durbin (D-OH) 3/3; Farr (D-CA) 3/3; Fattah (D-PA) 3/2; Fudge (D-OH) 2/27; Kildee (D-MI) 3/2; Lee (D-CA) 3/3; McCollum (D-MN) 3/3; McDermott (D- WA) 3/4; McGovern (D-MA) 2/26; McNerney (D-CA) 3/2; Meeks (D-NY) 3/3; Payne (D-NJ) 3/2; Pelosi (D-CA) 3/3; Pelosi (D-CA) 3/3; Pingree (D-ME) 3/3; Richmond (D-LA) 2/23; Schakowsky (D-IL) 2/15; Sewell (D-AL) 3/3; Takai (D-HI) 3/3; Watson Coleman (D-NJ) 3/2

 Senate: Coons (D-DE) 3/3; Durbin (D-IL) 3/3; King (I-ME) 3/3; Leahy (D-VT) 3/3; Sanders (I-VT) 3/3

 

4.  Hearings

3/3: The House Armed Services Committee held a hearing entitled, “The President's Proposed Authorization for Use of Military Force Against ISIL and U.S. Policy, Strategy, and Posture in the Greater Middle East.”  Witnesses were Christine Wormuth, Undersecretary of Defense for Policy [statement] and General Lloyd Austin, Commander of U.S. CENTCOM [statement].

2/26: The House Foreign Affairs Committee’s Subcommittees on Africa, Global Health, Global Human Rights, and International Organizations & on the Middle East and North Africa held a joint hearing entitled, “The Shame of Iranian Human Rights.”  Witnesses were:   Shayan Arya, Central Committee Member, Constitutionalist Party of Iran (Liberal Democrat) [statement]; Mohsen Sazegara, President, Research Institute on Contemporary Iran [statement]; and  Anthony Vance, Director, U.S. Baha’i Office of Public Affairs [statement].  Video is available here: Part 1, Part 2.

2/25: The House Appropriations Committee held a hearing to examine the FY16 budget for the Department of State.  The sole witness was Secretary of State Kerry [statement].  The hearing Q&A covered a range of foreign policy issues, including related to the Middle East and Iran negotiations.  Video of the hearing is here.

 

5. Members on the Record (on issues other than Bibi visit)

Stutzman (R-IN) 3/5: “…If Iran wants to be considered a legitimate power, they should stop arming and aiding terror groups, and open up their political system to prove to the world they are committed to freedom and peace. They can start by releasing all political prisoners, including Washington Post reporter Jason Rezaian who has been unjustly imprisoned for over 200 days. These steps should be taken before the U.S. continues negotiating any nuclear deal.”

Bass (D-CA) 3/3: Statement condemning last weekend’s New York Times ad attacking National Security Advisor Susan Rice

Smith (R-NJ) 2/27: The Shame of Iranian Human Rights

Wilson (R-SC) 2/25: Bashing Obama’s foreign policy, “In Syria, the President's strategy has set the stage for Daesh to expand. In Iraq, his failure to achieve a status of forces agreement has led to instability. The attack on Libya has led to a failed state. The pitiful negotiations with Iran puts America at risk. His claimed success in Yemen has proven inaccurate.”

 

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