(IRAN) H. Res. 445: Introduced 12/12 by Roskam (R-IL) and 3 cosponsors (Green, D-TX; Lipinski D-IL; and McCaul, R-TX), "Urging the P5+1 to only accept a final nuclear agreement with Iran that definitively prevents Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapons capability, ceases Iran's construction of advanced missiles and warheads, suspends Iran's support for terrorist organizations, and reduces human rights violations within Iran." Referred to the House Committee on Foreign Affairs.
(MORE IRAN SANCTIONS, PLEASE!) H. Res. 431: Introduced 12/5 by Scalise (R-LA) and having 55 cosponsors (all GOP, other than Green, D-TX), "Calling on the United States Senate to increase sanctions against Iran." Referred to the Committee on Foreign Affairs, and in addition to the Committees on the Judiciary, Financial Services, Oversight and Government Reform, and Ways and Means.
(ISRAEL QME) HR 1992: Introduced 5/15 by Collins (R-GA) and having 32 cosponsors, the "Israel Qualitative Military Edge Enhancement Act." Passed under suspension of the rules 12/11, by a vote of 399-0; floor statements accompany vote can be found here. Collins press release on last month's subcommittee passage of the bill is available here. Schneider (D-IL) (original cosponsor) statement on passage here. Coverage of the bill when it was introduced is included in the May 17 & 24, 2013 edition of the Round-Up.
(SUPPORT ISRAELI ANNEXATION OF EAST JERUSALEM/GOLAN, MOVE EMBASSY) HR 3629: Introduced 12/2 by Franks (R-AZ) and having 8 cosponsors, the "Israel Sovereignty and Security Recognition Act." The bill calls for the U.S. to recognize Israel's "right to its lands, including the Golan Heights and the city of Jerusalem as the indivisible and eternal capital of the State of Israel," urges the immediate relocation of the U.S. Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem, and strips out the presidential national security waiver authority from the Jerusalem Embassy Act (which would compel the relocation of the embassy). Referred to the House Committee on Foreign Affairs.
(ENHANCE US-ISREAL ENERGY COOPERATION) HR 3677: Introduced 12/9 by Upton (R-MI) and 4 cosponsors, "To amend the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 to improve United States-Israel energy cooperation, and for other purposes." Referred to the Committee on Science, Space, and Technology, as well as the Committee on Foreign Affairs.
(IRAN- ROBERT LEVINSON CASE) S. Res. 312: Introduced 12/9 by Nelson (D-FL) and Rubio (R-FL), "A resolution calling on the government of Iran to fulfill their promises of assistance in this case of Robert Levinson, one of the longest held United States civilians in our Nation's history." Referred to the Committee on Foreign Relations.
(IRANIAN DISSIDENTS IN CAMP LIBERTY) HR 3707: Introduced 12/11 by Rohrabacher (R-CA) and having 16 cosponsors, "To ensure the emergency protection of Iranian dissidents living in Camp Liberty/Hurriya and to provide for their admission as refugees to the United States." Referred to the Committee on Foreign Affairs and the Committee on the Judiciary.
(IRAN) Coats et al: On 11/26 Sen. Coats (R-IN) and 8 fellow Republican senators sent a letter to SFRC Chairman Menendez (D-NJ) and Ranking Member Corker (R-TN) urging them to "use all authorities at your disposal to ensure that the United States is taking all appropriate steps to verify Iran's compliance with this agreement [the Iran interim agreement]."
(IRAN) Feinstein et al: On 12/6 Senators Feinstein (D-CA), Johnson (D-SD), and Levin (D-MI) sent a letter to Director of National Intelligence James Clapper requesting periodic briefings on whether Iran is acting consistent with its obligations under the Geneva interim agreement. They also requested a report by December 12 on the effects, if any, of Congressional action on new sanctions legislation during ongoing negotiations between Iran and the P5+1.
It's been two crazy weeks on the Hill with respect to Iran. As reported in the last Round-Up, Congress entered the Thanksgiving recess with a possible interim deal in Geneva on the horizon, and with a commitment from key senators to move forward with new Iran sanctions immediately after the recess ended. What happened next?
- Mixed response from Congress. That news was met with loud condemnations and rejections from some in Congress (mainly Republicans), and with cautious welcome by others (mainly Democrats). For examples, see Section 3, below.
- Speculation/Gossip. Subsequently, speculation started to grow regarding Senate actions on new sanctions, and potential House action (a bill or resolution) laying down red lines for any Iran deal or in support of new sanctions. This period also saw a frenzy of often contradictory media reports to the effect that such legislation was imminent and certain, dead in the water, back on life support, etc... Note: There were just too many articles on Iran/Congress during this period to even attempt to gather them together for this Round-Up. This coverage can easily be accessed through a simple online search.
- Lobbying. The ensuing days were the scene of energetic activism, both in favor of such Congressional actions (reportedly by Netanyahu and various Jewish groups, including the RJC, the ADL's Abe Foxman, and the Israel Project), and against such Congressional actions (by the Obama Administration, including in meeting with House members and in Congressional hearings, and various outside groups, including APN. Other groups mobilizing activists on the issue include: Berim, Credo, FCNL, J Street, Just Foreign Policy, MoveOn, Peace Action West, and Win Without War).
- Door closes on NDAA option. As reported at length in the last edition of the Round-Up, many believed that the annual National Defense Authorization Act (the NDAA) was the best and most likely vehicle for Senate action on new Iran sanctions this year. On 12/9, House and Senate negotiators reached a compromise on the NDAA (Senate summary here; House explanatory notes here - both includes details of what the final version includes related to Iran, Israel, etc...). In doing so, they closed off the possibility of an Iran-related amendment being added to the bill, thus shutting down one of the ways that the Senate could have moved expeditiously to pass new Iran sanctions. The compromise NDAA was passed by the House on 12/12.
- Door closes on Senate Banking Committee option (for now). On 12/10, Senate Banking Committee Chairman Johnson (D-SD) stated that he would not move new sanctions legislation through his committee this year. On 12/12, during a hearing in his committee on the issue, he explicitly endorsed a "pause" in any new sanctions efforts (a pause implicitly endorsed by Ranking Member Crapo, R-ID, as well). In doing so, the door shut on the other main route for the Senate to move immediately on new Iran sanctions.
- Door closes on major House action (for now). In the House, Hoyer (D-MD) defied the expectations of many by ultimately refusing to back (also here) an Iran resolution being pushed by Cantor (R-VA). Lacking this support, Cantor did not introduce the legislation. The House is now in recess until next year, meaning additional House action on Iran will not happen this year. It is worth noting that, to the extent that House members did take action targeting the Obama Administration's Iran efforts, their actions demonstrated how marginal their positions were. On 12/5, Scalise (R-LA) introduced a resolution (H. Res. 431) urging the Senate to pass sanctions previously passed by an overwhelming majority of the House. That same majority of the House, however, did not support Scalise's effort, despite Dear Colleague letters exhorting them to do so. As of this writing, Scalise's resolution has attracted only 55 cosponsors (all but one of whom are Republicans). Likewise, on 12/12, Roskam (R-IL) introduced H. Res. 445, a resolution that looks a lot like what many expected to come from Cantor this week. That resolution, however, has only three cosponsors.
In sum, while the Senate will still be in session for another week, it looks like any major action in Congress to threaten the Iran interim deal will have to wait until next year.
House and Senate members had a lot to say about the Iran interim deal, and for/against new sanctions - whether in press releases, op-eds, media appearances, or in the Congressional Record. Overall, opinion appeared to break pretty cleanly along party lines. There are far too many examples to cover everything in the Round-Up, but below are some examples, taken mainly from the Congressional Record and press releases issued by members' offices. In addition, FCNL has posted this helpful compendium of statements by members of both chambers in support of the deal.
Senate (note: this list omits statements made on the Senate floor on 12/12; since the Senate was in session overnight, the Senate Record for 12/12 is not yet available).
Rockefeller (D-WV) 12/11: Strong floor statement urging Senate to not undermine Iran interim deal
Coats (R-IN) 12/6: Column criticizing the deal, calling for Congressional oversight
Cruz (R-TX) 12/5: Slamming U.S. negotiators for not raising imprisonment of Pastor Saeed Abedini during Iran talks
Corker (R-TN) 12/3: Press release, "Corker Hears Saudi Concerns on Syria and Iran"Inhofe (R-OK) 12/1: Citing Netanyahu, insisting on no sanctions relief until total Iranian capitulation, and suggesting more sanctions now
Tester (D-MO) 11/27: Supporting the deal
Boozman (R-AR) 11/26: Criticizing the deal, endorsing Corker bill for new sanctions and red lines
Harkin (D-IA) 11/25: Lauding the deal as a diplomatic breakthrough and first step
Toomey (R-PA) 11/25: Criticizing the deal, calling for new sanctions
Collins (R-ME) 11/25: Expressing concerns about the deal
Moran (R-KS) 11/25: Expressing concerns about the deal, pushing for new sanctions
Vitter (R-LA) 11/25: Slamming deal and supporting new sanctions
Boxer (D-CA) 11/25: Expressing disappointment at negative reaction to deal from GOP Senators, noting that "No one should underestimate the enormity of this breakthrough" and "The Administration has left every option on the table should this agreement falter, but we should work as hard as possible across party lines to support a diplomatic solution."
Rockefeller (D-WV) 11/25: "...this deal is the best path forward to prevent Iran from developing a nuclear weapon without the use of military force, and I fully support it."
Leahy (D-VT) 11/25: Not taking a position until he gets further info...
Reid (D-NV) 11/25: Deal is an "important first step"
Portman (R-OH) 11/24: Expressing concerns about the deal
Kaine (D-VA) 11/24: "...This deal could bring us closer to a world less threatened by weapons of mass destruction. We should now press forward to do even more in pursuit of peace."
Cruz (R-TX) 11/24: Citing Netanyahu to slam deal as "an historic mistake"
Coons (D-DE) 11/24: Cautiously welcoming the deal, pushing for new sanctions
Whitehouse (D-RI) 11/24: "This agreement has the potential to change the trajectory of events in the Middle East. It is only an opening step...With proper follow-up, however, this could mark an historic turning point toward a more peaceful world. I commend Secretary Kerry and the President."
Levin (D-MI) 11/24: Supporting the interim deal
Ayotte (R-NH) 11/24: Expressing concerns about the deal, pushing for new sanctions
McCain (R-AZ) 11/24: Expressing concerns about the deal, pushing for new sanctions
Blumenthal (D-CT) 11/24: Expressing reservations about the deal, pushing for new sanctions
Murphy (D-CT) 11/24:Welcoming the Iran interim agreement "a wise and necessary first step"
Feinstein (D-CA) 11/23: Welcoming the Iran interim agreement as a "giant step forward" and opposing new sanctions that would undermine it
Rubio (R-FL) 11/23: Blasting Iran interim deal, calling for increased Iran sanctions
Price (D-NC) 12/12: Urging colleagues "to support the interim nuclear agreement and oppose any attempt to undermine our country's diplomacy."
Blumenauer (D-OR) 12/12: Welcoming news that House won't be pursuing new Iran legislation ("This is a unique moment in history. I am pleased that it looks like the House might not screw it up.")
Ellison (D-MN) 12/12: Strong statement opposing any Congressional effort that could undermine the ongoing diplomacy with Iran
Welch (D-VT) 12/12: Questioning the wisdom of Congressional action that undermines diplomatic efforts and international consensus on Iran
Doggett (D-TX) 12/12: Commending Secretary Kerry and Ambassador Wendy Sherman for their Iran efforts, and endorsing diplomacy
Grimm (R-NY) and Hunter (R-CA) 12/11: Reps. Grimm, Hunter Criticize Secretary Kerry for Abandoning American Hostages in Iran Nuclear Deal; Call for Congressional Action
Rubio (R-FL) 12/11: "Look at the Middle East, where Iran proceeds full speed ahead with weaponizing, towards creating a nuclear weapon and the impact that would have--and not just on arming the one country in the world that most uses terrorism as a tool of statecraft. We had testimony today from the administration. No country in the world uses terrorism more than Iran does, and they are going to get a nuclear weapon. It won't just be Iran getting a nuclear weapon. If Iran gets a weapon, so will Saudi Arabia and potentially Turkey..."
Blumenauer (D-OR) 12/11: Floor statement: "Give diplomacy [with Iran] a chance to succeed"
Cook (R-CA) 12/10: Press release regarding Iran hearing expressing concern over Iran deal
McCaul (R-TX) 12/10: Expressing disappointment that the Senate won't pursue new Iran sanctions at this time
Messer (R-IN) 12/10: Raising Hitler/Munich comparison for Iran deal and agreeing with Netanyahu on Iran
Perry (R-PA) 12/5: Calling the Iran interim agreement "a bad deal"
Price (D-NC) 12/5: Oped in Charlotte Observer "Iran: An opportunity we must pursue"
Coffman (R-CO) 12/4: Floor statement: The interim agreement with Iran is a bad deal
Jenkins (R-KS) 12/4: Opposing the interim agreement with Iran
Roskam (R-IL), Sherman (D-CA), Hudson (R-NC), Lamborn (R-CO), Davis (R-IL), Franks (R-AZ), Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), Weber (R-TX), Walorski (R-IN), Bachmann (R-MN), Lipinski (D-IL), 12/4: Special Order speeches opposing interim Iran deal, criticizing Obama Administration, & supporting new sanctions (Bachmann also taking the opportunity to bash Israeli-Palestinian peace efforts)
Gohmert (R-TX) 12/3: Don't repeat North Korea mistake with Iran
Poe (R-TX) 12/2: Raising Nazi appeasement analogy to oppose the interim agreement with Iran ("Iran left Geneva with a smile, pockets of money, and fewer sanctions. The United States got the promise that Iran will be nice and not nuke its neighbors. Oh, what a deal.")
Collins (R-GA) & Schneider (D-IL), 12/2: Floor discussion expressing solidarity with Israel in its criticisms of Iran deal (Collins: "Tonight we rise, and I rise bipartisanly tonight, to talk about this because I want the people of Israel and I want the American people who are great friends of Israel to be assured that there are plenty of Members of Congress committed to this alliance, I am proud to be one of them...")
Reed (R-NY) 12/2: Expressing "strong opposition, serious concern for president's Iran deal"
Westmoreland (R-GA) 11/26: Slamming the Iran interim deal, attacking Obama as naïve, and agreeing with Netanyahu that the deal is "an historic mistake" and makes the world "a more dangerous place."
Kingston (R-GA) 11/26: statement - "Kingston Blasts Iran Nuclear Deal, Pushes Stronger Sanctions," quoting Netanyahu and accusing Obama of turning his back on Israel.
Grimm (R-NY) 11/26: "No Upside, No Honor' in Iran Deal," deal is "a victory for Iran, a slap in the face to our allies in the Middle East, especially Israel, and a dangerous, naive mistake for the US and the rest of the free world."
Price (D-NC) 11/26: Welcoming interim deal as an important first step, opposing Congressional actions that "could fracture the international coalition that produced this initial agreement and thus actually weaken the Administration's leverage as it pursues a broader deal"
Weber (R-TX) 11/26: statement - Weber Calls Deal with Iran One-Sided
Stutzman (R-IN) 11/26: Agreeing with Netanyahu that the deal is an historic mistake, says it "puts Israel in a box."
Sherman (D-CA) 11/26: Blasting element in interim deal that will allow repair of Iranian aircraft
Bilirakis (R-FL) 11/26: Expressing concerns about the Iran interim deal
Olson (R-TX) 11/26: Opposing Iran deal, calling for more sanctions
Peters (D-MI) 11/26: Statement supporting Iran interim deal
McCarthy (D-NY) 11/26: Not embracing, but not opposing, interim deal
Poe (R-TX) 11/25: Comparing deal to Chamberlain appeasement of Hitler
Yoho (R-FL) 11/25: Statement welcoming interim deal
Pittinger (R-NC) 11/25: Blasting the deal, citing Netanyahu
Gosar (R-AZ) 11/25: Blasting Iran interim deal, blasting Obama for "caving" to Iran, and noting, "I stand with Israel and its right to self-defense. That is why I continue to push for passage of H.Res.98, which reaffirms Israel's right to protect itself."
Schiff (D-CA) 11/25: Iran deal is a "positive step forward in the diplomatic effort to roll back Iran's nuclear program"
Hensarling (R-TX) 11/25: Blasting the Iran interim agreement as "dangerous" - "This agreement is all too heavy on the trust and light on the verification."
Garrett (R-NJ) 11/25: Expressing dismay over Iran interim deal
Pascrell (D-NJ) 11/25: Cautiously welcoming Iran interim deal
Williams (R-TX) 11/25: Statement blasting Iran interim deal ("What a diplomatic disaster. Israel should have been at the negotiating table, and President Obama should never put our national security at risk for an empty promise that Iran will end its nuclear program..."
Roskam (R-IL) 11/25: Statement opposing deal, pushing for new sanctions.
Moran (D-VA) 11/25: Expressing strong support for Iran interim deal
DeSantis (R-FL) 11/25: Rejecting Iran interim deal as a bad deal, calling for new sanctions
Fitzpatrick (R-PA) 11/25: Statement - "Iran Agreement is Questionable Policy"; expressing commitment to Israel
Coffman (R-CO) 11/25: Press Release - Coffman to Oppose Weakening Sanctions
McCollum (D-MN) 11/25: Statement strong supporting Iran interim agreement
Hunter (R-CA) 11/25: Oped in USA Today - Iran deal's details are cause for alarm
Holding (R-GA) 11/25: Opposing Iran interim agreement
Engel (D-NY) 11/25: Statement cautiously supporting Iran interim agreement
Wasserman Schultz (D-FL) 11/25: Statement applauding Iran interim deal as "successful diplomacy"
Van Hollen (D-MD) 11/24: Statement welcoming Iran interim deal as "important first step"
Schakowsky (D-IL) 11/24: "Yesterday's deal is an important step toward preventing Iran from developing nuclear weapons capability, and a major win for U.S. national security."
Lowey (D-NY) 11/24: Statement welcoming Iran interim deal as first step.
Pompeo (R-KS) 11/24: Oppsing Iran deal as a "major step backwards for American's national security, and noting, "Promising the Iranians that they can keep their nuclear weapons [???] is not a foreign policy. It's surrender."
Meeks (D-NY) 11/24: Statement supporting Iran interim deal
Scalise (R-LA) 11/24: Statement blasting Iran deal, calling for more sanctions, & quoting Netanyahu (and referencing recent meeting with Netanyahu)
Cicilline (D-RI) 11/24: Calling interim deal a "positive step"
Collins (R-NY) 11/24: Opposing deal, arguing it endangers Israel, & calling for more sanctions
Franks (R-AZ) 11/24: statement - Iran Agreement is the "Definition of a Bad Deal," places Israel in the most untenable of positions."
Sherman (D-CA) 11/24: statement in effect opposing Iran deal and calling for more sanctions
Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) 11/24: "Interim Nuclear Deal With Iran Leaves Much to Be Desired; We Should Remain Skeptical and Pressure Tehran to Dismantle Its Entire Nuclear Program"
Cotton (R-AR) 11/24: "With this agreement, the United States has suffered an unmitigated, humiliating defeat and Iran has won a total victory..." (and raising Hitler/Munich comparison).
Schneider (D-IL) 11/24: Not directly rejecting interim deal, but stating that "Iran must completely abandon its nuclear weapons programs before receiving sanctions relief," and urging more sanctions now
Messer (R-IN) 11/24: Opposing Iran interim agreement
Salmon (R-AZ) 11/24: Expressing "deep concerns" about Iran interim deal
Royce (R-CA) 11/23: Expressing, in non-bombastic terms, concerns about Iran interim deal
Lee (D-CA) 11/23: Welcoming interim deal as a "triumph for diplomacy," urging Congress to op pose any new sanctions that could undermine negotiations."
Kildee (D-MI) 11/23: "Today's agreement with Iran regarding its nuclear program, albeit short-term, is potential progress"
Adam Smith (D-WA) 11/23: Applauding deal as a "positive step in the right direction"
Deutch (D-FL) 11/23: Not expressing support for Iran deal, but not opposing it, either
McKeon (R-CA) 11/22: Opposing Iran agreement
12/12: The Senate Banking Committee held a hearing entitled, "Assessing the P5+1 Interim Nuclear Agreement with Iran: Administration Perspectives." Video of the full hearing is available here. Witnesses at the hearing were: Wendy Sherman, Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs (testimony) and David Cohen, Under Secretary of Treasury for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence (testimony). Chairman Johnson (D-SD) opening statement here; Ranking member Crapo (R-ID) statement here.
12/12: The House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health, Global Human Rights, and International Organizations, along with the Subcommittee on the Middle East and North Africa, held a joint hearing entitled "Iran's Persecution of American Pastor Abedini Worsens." Smith (R-NJ) statement here; Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) statement here. Video of the hearing is available here. Witnesses were: Katrina Swett, U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (statement); Naghmeh Abedini, Wife of Pastor Saeed Abedini (statement); Jordan Sekulow, American Center for Law and Justice (statement); and Daniel Calingaert, Freedom House (statement).
12/10: The House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health, Global Human Rights, and International Organizations, along with the Subcommittee on the Middle East and North Africa, held a joint hearing entitled "Human Rights Abuses in Egypt". Video of the hearing is available here. Chairman Smith (R-NJ) opening statement here. Witnesses were: Zuhdi Jasser, U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom ( statement); Bishop Angaelos, Coptic Orthodox Church in the (statement); Samuel Tadros, Hudson Institute (statement); Morad Abou-Sabe, Rutgers University (statement); and Tad Stahnke, Human Rights First (statement).
12/10: The House Committee on Foreign Affairs held a hearing entitled "The Iran Nuclear Deal: Does It Further U.S. National Security?" The sole witness was Secretary of State John Kerry (prepared testimony here). Chairman Royce (R-CA) opening statement is here; Engel (D-NY) opening statement here; Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) opening statement here (says deal "threatens our closest ally, the democratic Jewish State of Israel"). Video of the hearing is available here.
12/4: The House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on the Middle East and North Africa held a hearing entitled, "Transition at a Crossroads: Tunisia Three Years After the Revolution." Video of the hearing is available here. Chairwoman Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) opening statement here. Witnesses were: Scott Mastic, IRI (statement); Les Campbell, NDI ( statement); and Bill Sweeney, IFES (statement).
Gohmert (R-TX) 12/12: Rambling end-of-session speech touching on Egypt, Muslim Brotherhood, Iran, etc...
Wolf (R-VA) 12/5: Floor statement on religious repression, including in Egypt and Iran
Gohmert (R-TX) 12/5: "If there is a God, as I know with all my heart there is, if the God that had his protective hand on Israel--until Israel stopped honoring the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob--if that God exists, as I know in my heart he does, then how long will he continue to have a hand of protection on a nation that has, in the last 2 years, repeatedly betrayed and stabbed Israel in the back, taken whatever actions it could to prevent Israel from defending itself, and in this last act of ignorance, in trying to negotiate with Iranian terrorist leaders who want the little Satan, Israel, wiped off the map--they made that very clear--who want the great Satan, the United States, wiped out the map."
Bentivolio (R-MI) 12/4: Continued support for the Organization of the Islamic Conference