Legislative Round-Up: May 5, 2017

Produced by the Foundation for Middle East Peace in cooperation with Americans for Peace Now, where the Legislative Round-Up was conceived


1. Bills, Resolutions & Letters
2. FY17 Consolidated Appropriations: Middle East-Related Provisions
3. Hearings
4. On the Record


Bills, Resolutions & Letters

(FY17 Consolidated Approps) HR 244: This bill is now the vehicle for the FY17 Consolidated Appropriations Act. The Act includes extensive funding and provisions related to the Middle East (under both the Defense Appropriations and Foreign Operations Appropriations titles of the Act). These provisions are are detailed in Section 1, below. House explanatory statement is here. On 5/4, AIPAC issued a statement in support of the bill: Critical Pro-Israel Funding Contained in Omnibus Bill

(PRESIDENT ABBAS: TRUMP’S WELCOME DOES NOT MEAN WE DON’T STILL HATE YOU) HR 2390 & S. 1060 Introduced 5/4 in the House by Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), Wilson (R-SC) and Meadows (R-NC), and in the Senate by Cruz (R-TX), To strengthen prohibitions regarding the Palestine Liberation Organization, and for other purposes,” aka, the “PLO Accountability Act.” Referred to the House Committee on Foreign Affairs. Ros-Lehtinen & Cruz issued a joint press release on these bills, here [slamming Palestinian President Abbas and accusing the Palestinians of “relentless and unrepentant hostility toward our close ally Israel.” Bill text is available here. The bill bashes the PLO and Palestinians for a litany of alleged sins, and would amend existing law to force the closure of the PLO mission in Washington, DC if the President cannot certify that the PLO had met a list of conditions, including that the Palestinians are not moving ahead with any action in the UN or ICC; that they are cutting off all payments related to Palestinians who have committed terror attacks; that they have ceased “to engage in a pattern of incitement against or with respect to the United States or Israel,” or that they “have entered into a final negotiated peace agreement with, and have ceased all hostilities against, Israel.” NOTE: Ros-Lehtinen and Cruz introduced similar legislation in 2016.

(US-ISRAEL MILITARY COOPERATION - ARROW) HR 2240: Introduced 4/28 by Gottheimer (D-NJ) and Mast (R-FL), “To authorize the Secretary of Defense to carry out a test of the Arrow 3 missile defense system with the Government of Israel, and for other purposes,” aka, the “U.S.-Israel Joint Missile Defense Act.” Referred to House Foreign Affairs.

(US-ISRAEL COOPERATION – IN SPACE!) HR 1159: Introduced 2/16 by Kilmer (D-WA) and 25 cosponsors, the “United States and Israel Space Cooperation Act.” Referred to the Subcommittee on Space.

(BAD UN!) HR 2232: Introduced 4/28 by Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) and two cosponsors, “To ensure accountability at the United Nations and its specialized agencies and to promote reform and limit anti-Semitism and anti-Israel bias at the United Nations.” Referred to the House Committee on Foreign Affairs. Ros-Lehtinen press release is here.

(US-ISRAEL FRIENDSHIP!) H. Res. 279: Introduced 4/26 by Zeldin (R-NY) and Meng (D-NY), “Recognizing Israeli-American heritage and the contributions of the Israeli-American community to the United States.” Referred to the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. Press release is here.

(IRAN SANCTIONS) HR 2081: Introduced 4/6 by Zeldin (R-NY) and Schweikert (R-AZ), “To amend the Iran Threat Reduction and Syria Human Rights Act of 2012 to modify the requirement to impose sanctions with respect to the provision of specialized financial messaging services to the Central Bank of Iran and other sanctioned Iranian financial institutions, and for other purposes.” Referred 5/1 to the Subcommittee on Immigration and Border Security.

(IRAN SANCTIONS) HR 2185: Introduced 4/27 by Pittenger (R-NC) and Zeldin (R-NY), the “Iran Sanctions Relief Review Act.” Referred to the House Committee on Foreign Affairs.

(IRAN-NORTH KOREA COOPERATION) HR 1644: Introduced 3/21 by Royce (R-CA) and having 23 cosponsors (bipartisan), the “Korean Interdiction and Modernization of Sanctions Act.” Sec. 106 of the bill requires the President to submit an annual report to Congress on cooperation between Iran and North Korea. On 4/28, the bill was discharged from all of the committees to which it had been referred, and placed on the Union Calendar. Royce press release on House passage of the bill is here.

(NO U.S. BANKING FOR IRANIAN DUAL NATIONALS & OTHERS?) HR 10: Introduced 4/26 by Hensarling (R-TX) and having 7 cosponsors (all GOP), the “Financial CHOICE Act of 2017.” Section 511 of the bill would permit the Federal Government to “formally or informally request or order a depository institution to terminate a specific customer account or group of customer accounts or to otherwise restrict or discourage a depository institution from entering into or maintaining a banking relationship with a specific customer or group of customers” if said customer is “(C) is an agency of the government of Iran, North Korea, Syria, or any country listed from time to time on the State Sponsors of Terrorism list” or “(D) is located in, or is subject to the jurisdiction of, any country specified in subparagraph (C)”; or “(E) does business with any entity described in subparagraph (C) or (D), unless the appropriate Federal banking agency determines that the customer or group of customers has used due diligence to avoid doing business with any entity described in subparagraph (C) or (D)…” Referred to the Committees on Financial Services; Agriculture; Ways and Means; Judiciary; Oversight and Government Reform; Transportation and Infrastructure; Rules; Budget; Education and the Workforce. Marked up 5/2, 5/3, and 5/4 in the Financial Services Committee.

(NO U.S. BANKING FOR IRANIANS DUAL NATIONALS & OTHERS?) HR 2133: Introduced 4/2 by Luetkemeyer (R-MO) and 6 all-GOP cosponsors, the “CLEARR Act of 2017.” This Act includes the same Iran-related provisions as HR 10, described above. Referred to the House Committee on Financial Services.

(IRAN: LET OUR PEOPLE GO!) H. Res. 317: Introduced 5/4 by Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) and 3 cosponsors (bipartisan), “Calling for the unconditional release of United States citizens and legal permanent resident aliens being held for political purposes by the Government of Iran.” Referred to the House Committee on Foreign Affairs. Ros-Lehtinen press release is here.

(CONDEMNING IRAN’S TREATMENT OF BAHA’I) S. Res. 139: Introduced 4/20 by Wyden (D-OR) and three cosponsors, “A resolution condemning the Government of Iran's state-sponsored persecution of its Baha'i minority and its continued violation of the International Covenants on Human Rights.” Referred to the Committee on Foreign Relations. Press release is here.

(CONDEMNING IRAN’S TREATMENT OF BAHA’I) H. Res. 274: Introduced 4/25 by Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) and 7 cosponsors, “Condemning the Government of Iran's state-sponsored persecution of its Baha'i minority and its continued violation of the International Covenants on Human Rights.” Referred to the House Committee on Foreign Affairs. Press release is here.

(US MILITARY SERVING IN SINAI) HR 2138: Introduced 4/25 by McCaul (R-TX), the “Sinai Service Recognition Act,” aka, “A bill to provide that members of the Armed Forces performing services in the Sinai Peninsula of Egypt shall be entitled to tax benefits in the same manner as if such services were performed in a combat zone.” Referred to the House Committee on Ways and Means.

(IRAN AIRLINES – BAD!) S. 1011: Introduced 5/3 by Cornyn (R-TX) and 5 bipartisan cosponsors, the “Mahan Air and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2017.” Referred to the Committee on Foreign Relations. Press release is here.

 

Letters

(DESIGNATE JERUSALEM AS PART OF ISRAEL IN US PASSPORTS!) DeSantis et al letter: On 5/3, Rep. DeSantis (R-FL) and 52 House colleagues (all GOP) sent a letter to Secretary of State Tillerson asking the State Department to allow American citizens born in Jerusalem to designate “Israel” as their place of birth on US passports and other official documents should they so choose. The letter in effect re-litigates the Zivotfsky case, in which the Supreme Court ruled that Congress did not have the power to change U.S. policy regarding Jerusalem. Press release is here.

(NO $$ FOR PALESTINIANS UNTIL STOP FUNDING TERRORISTS) Rubio et al letter: On 5/2, Senators Rubio (R-FL), Cotton (R-AR), and Graham (R-SC) sent a letter to President Trump urging him to press Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas on ending PA laws and practices that reward terrorism. Press release is here.

(JORDANIAN CITIZEN INVOLVED IN TERROR) Zeldin et al letter: On 4/28 Reps. Zeldin (R-NY) Royce (R-CA), Engel (D-NY), Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) and Deutch (D-FL) sent a letter to Jordan’s Ambassador to the United States Dina Kawar, regarding the case of Ahlam Ahmad Al-Tamimi, a Jordanian citizen involved in terrorist acts. The letter notes that since Jordan and the U.S. do not have an extradition treaty in force, the members would like to discuss, “how we can assist in resolving the case.” Press release is here.

(BAD UN!) 100 Senators Letter: On 4/27, Senators Rubio (R-FL) and Coons (D-DE) led a letter, signed by all 100 members of the U.S. Senate, sent to UN Secretary General António Guterres demanding that he counter anti-Israel bias at the United Nations. The letter, which was a centerpiece of the recent AIPAC policy conference, calls for the elimination or reform of UN bodies focused on the Palestinians and denounces the BDS movement as anti-Israel; slams UNESCO; attacks UNRWA; and condemns the UN Human Rights Council. Press release is here. AIPAC’s page featuring the letter is here; AIPAC’s action alert urging people to thank senators for signing the letter is here. On 5/1, Rubio and Coons published an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal entitled, “Every Senator Agrees the U.N. Must Change.”

(KSA ROLE IN YEMEN) Young et al letter: On 4/27, Senator Young (R-IN) and 9 Senate colleagues (bipartisan) sent a letter to the incoming Saudi Ambassador, Prince Khalid bin Salman, to request that his government “take specific steps to ameliorate the humanitarian crisis in Yemen.”

(ISRAEL: BUY OUR HELICOPTERS!) CT/ME delegation letter: On 4/26, Senators Blumenthal (D-CT), Murphy (D-CT), and Collins (R-ME), along with Reps. DeLauro (D-CT), Himes (D-CT), Larson (D-CT), and Esty (D-CT) sent a letter to Israeli Minister of Defense Avigdor Lieberman encouraging the country to consider procuring the CH-53K King Stallion. Press release is here.

(GO AFTER IRAN MORE!) Royce-Mast letter: On 4/25, Reps. Royce (R-CA) and Mast (R-FL) sent a letter to Secretary of State Tillerson and Attorney General Sessions encouraging them to reopen law enforcement cases “unwisely abandoned” by the Obama administration targeting individuals assisting Iran in its pursuit of its nuclear and missile programs. Press release is here.

(WHAT WAS LEGAL BASIS FOR SYRIA STRIKE?) Schiff-Kaine letter: On 4/25, Rep. Schiff (D-CA) and Senator Kaine (D-VA) sent a letter to President Trump asking him to provide “a detailed analysis of the legal precedents and authorities supporting the action in Syria, and in particular an explanation of whether this action expands those precedents for action under Article II. We also ask that you instruct senior officials in the White House, Department of Defense, and Department of State to articulate the Administration’s legal rationales for military action on an ongoing basis to better inform the public and Congress.” Press release is here.

 

FY17 Consolidated Appropriations: Middle East-related provisions

This week Congress completed action on the FY17 Consolidated Appropriations Act, HR 244, which was sent to the President on 5/4. The Act includes extensive funding and provisions related to the Middle East (under both the Defense Appropriations and Foreign Operations Appropriations titles of the Act). These provisions are as follows:

DIVISION C—DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE APPROPRIATIONS ACT

SEC. 8072. Earmarks $600,735,000 for Israeli Cooperative Programs, sub-earmarked as follows:

  • $62,000,000 “for the procurement of the Iron Dome defense system to counter short-range rocket threats, subject to the U.S.-Israel Iron Dome Procurement Agreement, as amended”;
  • $266,511,000 for the Short Range Ballistic Missile Defense (SRBMD) program, “including cruise missile defense research and development under the SRBMD program, of which $150,000,000 shall be for co-production activities of SRBMD missiles in the United States and in Israel to meet Israel’s defense requirements consistent with each nation’s laws, regulations and procedures, of which not more than $90,000,000, subject to previously established transfer procedures, may be obligated or expended until establishment of a U.S.-Israeli co-production agreement for SRBMD”;
  • $204,893,000 for an “upper-tier component to the Israeli Missile Defense Architecture, of which $120,000,000 shall be for co- production activities of Arrow 3 Upper Tier missiles in the United States and in Israel to meet Israel’s defense requirements consistent with each nation’s laws, regulations, and procedures, of which not more than $70,000,000 subject to previously established transfer procedures, may be obligated or expended until establishment of a U.S.-Israeli co-production agreement for Arrow 3 Upper Tier; and
  • $67,331,000 for the Arrow System Improvement Program “including development of a long range, ground and airborne, detection suite.”

DIVISION J—DEPARTMENT OF STATE, FOREIGN OPERATIONS, AND RELATED PROGRAMS APPROPRIATIONS ACT, 2017

TITLE I -- DEPARTMENT OF STATE AND RELATED AGENCY

Broadcasting Board of Governors, international broadcasting operations: Perennial language providing $772,108,000: “to carry out international communication activities, and to make and supervise grants for radio and television broadcasting to the Middle East.” Provided that (among other things), “the BBG shall notify the Committees on Appropriations within 15 days of any determination by the Board that any of its broadcast entities, including its grantee organizations, provides an open platform for international terrorists or those who support international terrorism, or is in violation of the principles and standards set forth in subsections (a) and (b) of section 303 of the United States International Broadcasting Act of 1994 (22 U.S.C. 6202) or the entity's journalistic code of ethics.”

Center for Middle Eastern-Western Dialogue Trust Fund: Perennial provision stating: “For necessary expenses of the Center for Middle Eastern-Western Dialogue Trust Fund, as authorized by section 633 of the Departments of Commerce, Justice, and State, the Judiciary, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2004 (22 U.S.C. 2078), the total amount of the interest and earnings accruing to such Fund on or before September 30, 2017, to remain available until expended.”

Israeli Arab Scholarship Program: Perennial provision stating: “For necessary expenses of the Israeli Arab Scholarship Program, as authorized by section 214 of the Foreign Relations Authorization Act, Fiscal Years 1992 and 1993 (22 U.S.C. 2452), all interest and earnings accruing to the Israeli Arab Scholarship Fund on or before September 30, 2017, to remain available until expended.”

TITLE III -- BILATERAL ECONOMIC ASSISTANCE

ECONOMIC SUPPORT FUNDS – ESF (Total: $1,041,761,000)
Details for ESF for Middle East countries are laid out in section 7041 of the bill, discussed below.

MIGRATION AND REFUGEE ASSISTANCE – MRA (Total: $912,802,000]
The bill stipulates that “$7,500,000 shall be made available for refugees resettling in Israel.”

TITLE IV - INTERNATIONAL SECURITY ASSISTANCE

NONPROLIFERATION, ANTI-TERRORISM, DEMINING AND RELATED PROGRAMS – NADR

The bill includes new language regarding funding for the IAEA, conditioning U.S. voluntary contributions to the IAEA on: “The Secretary of State shall inform the appropriate congressional committees of information regarding any separate arrangements relating to the ‘Road-map for the Clarification of Past and Present Outstanding Issues Regarding Iran’s Nuclear Program’ between the IAEA and the Islamic Republic of Iran, in classified form if necessary, if such information becomes known to the Department of State.” This section also includes a perennial stipulation that “…funds appropriated under this heading may be made available for the IAEA unless the Secretary of State determines that Israel is being denied its right to participate in the activities of that Agency.”

PEACEKEEPING OPERATIONS – PKO
The bill stipulates that “…not less than $34,500,000 shall be made available for a United States contribution to the Multinational Force and Observers mission in the Sinai.”

FOREIGN MILITARY FINANCING – FMF (TOTAL: $4,785,805,000]
NOTE: See discussion under Title VII (Section 7041), for details of FMF for all Middle East countries except Israel.

Israel: The text earmarks “not less than $3,100,000,000 shall be available for grants only for Israel.” It also includes the perennial stipulations that “…funds appropriated under this heading for assistance for Israel shall be disbursed within 30 days of enactment of this Act” and “…to the extent that the Government of Israel requests that funds be used for such purposes, grants made available for Israel under this heading shall, as agreed by the United States and Israel, be available for advanced weapons systems, of which not less than $815,300,000 shall be available for the procurement in Israel of defense articles and defense services, including research and development.”

NOTE: As highlighted previously in the Round-Up, these little-remarked stipulations – early disbursal and permission for (not less than) almost $1 billion of FMF to be spent inside Israel – are unique to Israel’s aid program. Both significantly increase the value of the assistance to Israel – and the cost of the assistance to the U.S. In all other cases, FMF is obligated and disbursed by the U.S. on an as-used basis, meaning that the U.S. either keeps the money in the U.S. Treasury until it is needed (where it earns interest) or if the money is not in the U.S. Treasury, the U.S. does not have to borrow it until it is needed (meaning less interest paid). In the case of Israel, the entire $3.1 billion is handed over in a lump sum within 30 days of the law passing, meaning that Israel can bank the money and earn interest on it (which it can spend however it likes). In addition, in all other cases, FMF must be spent inside the U.S. (unless a specific exemption is granted). The logic behind this is that FMF is not just a “gift” to a foreign country but is actually a form of investment in the U.S. economy. In Israel’s case, however, almost $1 billion of FMF may be used in Israel or other countries, rather than for the benefit of U.S. industry.

TITLE VII - GENERAL PROVISIONS

Sec. 7007: Prohibition against direct funding for certain countries
This is perennial bill language banning aid to Cuba, North Korea, Iran, and Syria, extending to loans, credits, insurance, and guarantees of the Export-Import Bank or its agents.

Sec. 7008: Coups d’état
This is the section that previously caused Congress and the Obama Administration a headache over Egypt funding. It states: “None of the funds appropriated or otherwise made available pursuant to titles III through VI of this Act shall be obligated or expended to finance directly any assistance to the government of any country whose duly elected head of government is deposed by military coup d’état or decree or, after the date of enactment of this Act, a coup d’état or decree in which the military plays a decisive role.” It also states that “assistance may be resumed to such government if the Secretary of State certifies and reports to the appropriate congressional committees that subsequent to the termination of assistance a democratically elected government has taken office” and that the prohibition in this section “shall not apply to assistance to promote democratic elections or public participation in democratic processes.”

Sec. 7013: Prohibition on taxation of assistance
This is a perennial provision barring taxation of U.S. assistance. While this provision appears generic, the only recipient explicitly identified is the West Bank and Gaza. This reflects the genesis of the provision - the allegation in a previous year that the Palestinian Authority (PA) was taxing U.S. assistance provided to NGOs (and recall that under existing law direct aid to the PA is prohibited), thereby indirectly benefiting from US assistance designed specifically to bypass the PA.

Sec. 7015: Notification Requirements
Part (f) of this section states that no funds appropriated under titles III through VI of this Act (pretty much all funds in the bill) may be obligated or expended for assistance to a laundry list of countries, “except as provided through regular notification procedures of the Committees on Appropriations.” From the Middle East the list includes (this year): Bahrain, Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Lebanon, Libya, Syria, Uzbekistan, and Yemen

Sec. 7021: Prohibition on assistance to governments supporting international terrorism
This provision prohibits funding to any country “which provides lethal military equipment to a country the government of which the Secretary of State has determined supports international terrorism…” and prohibits bilateral assistance to any country supports international terrorism, gives sanctuary to terrorist, or is controlled by a terrorist organization. The section includes national security waivers for both restrictions.

Sec. 7032: Democracy Programs
Part (a) of this section earmarks not less than $2,308,517,000 for democracy programs, (as defined later in this provision). Part (e) states that funding and programs under this section “shall not be subject to the prior approval by the government of any foreign country.”

Sec. 7033: International Religious Freedom
Part (a) provides funding for “the Office of the Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom, and the Special Envoy to Promote Religious Freedom of Religious Minorities in the Near East and South Central Asia, as authorized in the Near East and South Central Asia Religious Freedom Act of 2014 (Public Law 113–161).” Part b(4)(A) requires the Secretary of State, “after consultation with relevant central governments in the Middle East and North Africa regions” to submit to Congress “a plan for transitional justice, reconciliation, and reintegration programs for vulnerable and persecuted religious minorities in such regions…” Part (b)4(B) earmarks not less than $5 million in ESF for the implementation of that plan.

Sec. 7034: Special Provisions
Part (b)(2) stipulates that “Funds appropriated by this Act should not be used for tear gas, small arms, light weapons, ammunition, or other items for crowd control purposes for foreign security forces that use excessive force to repress peaceful expression, association, or assembly in countries undergoing democratic transition.”

Part (0) of this section, entitled “Loan Guarantees and Enterprise Funds,” permits funding to “be made available for the costs…of loan guarantees for Jordan, Ukraine, Iraq, and Tunisia” and “to establish and operate one or more enterprise funds for Egypt and Tunisia…”

Sec. 7035: Arab league boycott of Israel
Perennial Sense of Congress opposing the Arab League boycott of Israel, and the secondary boycott of American firms that have commercial ties with Israel. It is worth noting that this longstanding feature of U.S. law focuses squarely on the Arab Boycott of Israel (nowhere defining “Israel” to mean “Israel and territories controlled by Israel,” as is happening today in the context of various pieces of legislation adopted or under consideration at the State and Federal level).

Sec. 7036: Palestinian statehood
Perennial provision barring assistance to a Palestinian state that does not meet a series of conditions (includes perennial Presidential waiver authority).

Sec. 7037: Restrictions concerning the Palestinian Authority
Perennial bill language barring U.S. funds for establishing any diplomatic mission to the Palestinians in Jerusalem.

Sec. 7038: Prohibition on assistance to the Palestinian Broadcasting Corporation
Perennial bill language barring any U.S. assistance to the PBC. 

Sec. 7039: Assistance for the West Bank and Gaza
Perennial section laying out far-reaching restrictions and conditions, as well as vetting, oversight and audit requirements, for U.S. assistance programs (carried out through non-governmental organizations) in the West Bank and Gaza.

Sec. 7040: Limitation on Assistance for the Palestinian Authority
Perennial bill language banning U.S. assistance to the Palestinian Authority, along with Presidential waiver authority. The section also includes a perennial subsection entitled “Prohibition to Hamas and the Palestine Liberation Organization” (in effect lumping together a U.S.-designated Foreign Terrorist Organization, with the internationally recognized representative of the Palestinian people that is NOT on the list of U.S.-designated FTO since that list was first published in 1997). This subsection bars funding to the PLO and for salaries of PA personnel in Gaza or for Hamas or any entity “effectively controlled by Hamas, any power-sharing government of which Hamas is a member, or that results from an agreement with Hamas and over which Hamas exercises undue influence..”

This formulation is designed to make it difficult for the U.S. engage any Palestinian power-sharing government that might results from a future Fatah-Hamas reconciliation, or some other arrangements that leads to a national unity government or a mutually-agreed technocratic government. Finally, the section does includes language of past bills stipulating that the prohibition does not apply if the President “certifies and reports to the Committees on Appropriations that such government, including all of its ministers or such equivalent, has publicly accepted and is complying with the principles contained in section 620K(b)(1) (A) and (B) of the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961, as amended.” It also includes the proviso that, “the President may exercise the authority in section 620K(e) of the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961, as added by the Palestine Anti-Terrorism Act of 2006 (Public Law 109-446) with respect to this subsection.”

For the sake of completeness, Section 620K(b)(1)(A) and (B) of the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961, as amended, reads as follows:

(b) Certification.--A certification described in subsection (a) is a certification transmitted by the President to Congress that contains a determination of the President that--

 (1) no ministry, agency, or instrumentality of the Palestinian Authority is effectively controlled by Hamas, unless the Hamas-controlled Palestinian Authority has--

(A) publicly acknowledged the Jewish state of Israel's right to exist; and

(B) committed itself and is adhering to all previous agreements and understandings with the United States Government, with the Government of Israel, and with the international community, including agreements and understandings pursuant to the Performance-Based Roadmap to a Permanent Two-State Solution to the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict (commonly referred to as the `Roadmap').

And 620K(e) reads as follows:

(e) National Security Waiver.--

(1) In general.--Subject to paragraph (2), the President may waive subsection (a) with respect to-

(A) the administrative and personal security costs of the Office of the President of the Palestinian Authority;

(B) the activities of the President of the Palestinian Authority to fulfill his or her duties as President, including to maintain control of the management and security of border crossings, to foster the Middle East peace process, and to promote democracy and the rule of law; and

(C) assistance for the judiciary branch of the Palestinian Authority and other entities.

(2) Certification.--The President may only exercise the waiver authority under paragraph (1) after--

(A) consulting with, and submitting a written policy justification to, the appropriate congressional committees; and

(B) certifying to the appropriate congressional committees that--

(i) it is in the national security interest of the United States to provide assistance otherwise prohibited under subsection (a); and

(ii) the individual or entity for which assistance is proposed to be provided is not a member of, or effectively controlled by (as the case may be), Hamas or any other foreign terrorist organization.

(3) Report.—Not later than 10 days after exercising the waiver authority under paragraph (1), the President shall submit to the appropriate congressional committees a report describing how the funds provided pursuant to such waiver will be spent and detailing the accounting procedures that are in place to ensure proper oversight and accountability.

(4) Treatment of certification as notification of program change.--For purposes of this subsection, the certification required under paragraph (2)(B) shall be deemed to be a notification under section 634A and shall be considered in accordance with the procedures applicable to notifications submitted pursuant to that section.

Sec. 7041: Middle East and North Africa

Sec. 7041 (a). Egypt
Overarching conditions on aid: This section stipulates that funding to Egypt is conditioned on the Secretary of State certifying that the government of Egypt is: “(A) sustaining the strategic relationship with the United States; and (B) meeting its obligations under the 1979 Egypt-Israel Peace Treaty.”

ESF: The bill stipulates that “up to $112,500,000 may be made available for assistance for Egypt”

of which “not less than $35,000,000 should be made available for higher education programs including not less than $10,000,000 for scholarships for Egyptian students with high financial need to attend not-for-profit institutions of higher education…” It also notes that “such funds may also be made available for democracy programs and for development programs in the Sinai.” The text also notes that such funds “may not be made available for cash transfer assistance or budget support unless the Secretary of State certifies to the appropriate congressional committees that the Government of Egypt is taking consistent and effective steps to stabilize the economy and implement market-based economic reforms.”

WITHOLDING: The text stipulates that the Secretary of State shall withhold from ESF for Egypt “an amount of such funds that the Secretary determines to be equivalent to that expended by the United States Government for bail, and by nongovernmental organizations for legal and court fees, associated with democracy-related trials in Egypt until the Secretary certifies and ports to the Committees on Appropriations that the Government of Egypt has dismissed the convictions issued by the Cairo Criminal Court on June 4, 2013, in ‘Public Prosecution Case No. 1110 for the Year 2012.’”

FMF: The bill allocates “up to $1,300,000,000” in FMF for Egypt, and includes the longstanding provision allowing the funds to be transferred to an interest bearing account in the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. This section stipulates that 15% of FMF for Egypt shall be withheld until the Secretary of State certifies that Egypt is taking effective steps to: “(i) advance democracy and human rights in Egypt, including to govern democratically and protect religious minorities and the rights of women, which are in addition to steps taken during the previous calendar year for such purposes; (ii) implement reforms that protect freedoms of expression, association, and peaceful assembly, including the ability of civil society organizations and the media to function without interference; (iii) release political prisoners and provide detainees with due process of law; (iv) hold Egyptian security forces accountable, including officers credibly alleged to have violated human rights; and (v) provide regular access for United States officials to monitor such assistance in areas where the assistance is used.” This section also includes language granting the President the authority to waive this condition on FMF for Egypt if he determines that doing so is important to the national security interests of the United States.

OVERSIGHT: The text includes various oversight and reporting requirements.

Sec. 7041 (b) Iran
This section states that funding in the bill (under Diplomatic and Consular Programs, ESF, and NADR) shall be used by the Secretary of State to: “(A) support the United States policy to prevent Iran from achieving the capability to produce or otherwise obtain a nuclear weapon; (B) to support an expeditious response to any violation of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action or United Nations Security Council Resolution 2231; (C) to support the implementation and enforcement of sanctions against Iran for support of terrorism, human rights abuses, and ballistic missile and weapons proliferation; and (D) for democracy programs for Iran…” This section also states the terms and conditions of paragraph (2) of section 7041(c) in division I of PL 112-74 shall remain in effect. This section of law states:

(2) None of the funds appropriated or otherwise made available in this Act under the heading ``Export-Import Bank of the United States'' may be used by the Export-Import Bank of the United States to provide any new financing (including loans, guarantees, other credits, insurance, and reinsurance) to any person that is subject to sanctions under paragraph (2) or (3) of section 5(a) of the Iran Sanctions Act of 1996 (Public Law 104-172).

In addition, the bill requires the Secretary of State to submit three reports to Congress:

(1)“the semi-annual report required by section 2 of the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act of 2015 (42 U.S.C. 2160e(d)(4))”;

(2) a report “on the status of the implementation and enforcement of bilateral United States and multilateral sanctions against Iran and actions taken by the United States and the international community to enforce such sanctions against Iran: Provided That the report shall also include any entities involved in the development of a ballistic missile by the Government of Iran after October 1, 2015, including shipping and financing, and note whether such entities are currently under United States sanctions,” to be submitted to Congress not later than 180 days after the date of enactment of this Act.

(3) the report on Iran “contained in section 7041(b)(3)(C) of S. 3117, the Department of State, Foreign Operations, and Related Pro grams Appropriations Act, 2017…” That bill text states that “Not later than 30 days after the date of enactment of this Act, the Secretary of State, in consultation with the Secretary of the Treasury, shall submit to Congress a report that includes, with respect to a transfer to Iran of $1,700,000,000 that was overseen by the Department of the Treasury and announced on January 17, 2016—(i) a description of the means of transfer of the funds; (ii) the name and location of each financial institution the funds passed through or were withdrawn from; (iii) a description of the currency denominations used in the transfer and the method of transfer, including third-party and third-country facilitators; (iv) the name and location of each financial institution holding the funds as of the date of the report; (v) the date on which the Department of the Treasury was granted the authority to process the transfer; (vi) an assessment and determination of whether the $1,300,000,000 paid in interest, which is in addition to the $400,000,000 amount initially in dispute, is a normal amount for an arbitration panel to award; and (vii) a determination of whether the Department of the Treasury was involved in the international arbitration relating to the release of any United States citizens formerly held prisoner in Iran.”

Sec. 7041 (c) Iraq

The Round-Up doesn’t cover Iraq.

Sec. 7041 (d) Israel

This section states that, “Title II of the Security Assistance Appropriations Act, 2017 (division B of Public Law 114– 254), under the heading ‘Foreign Military Financing Program’, is amended by inserting after ‘Middle East’ and before the colon the following, ‘, of which $75,000,000 [out of $200,000,000 provided in this section] shall be made available for grants only for Israel in fiscal year 2017’ [NOTE: This section of law provided $200,000,000 for assistance for countries in Africa, Europe and Eurasia, and the Middle East; with this amendment, nearly 40% of those funds will go to Israel, in addition to the $3.1 billion in FMF provided elsewhere in this bill]: Provided, That amounts that were previously designated by the Congress for Overseas Contingency Operations/Global War on Terrorism pursuant to section 251(b)(2)(A)(ii) of the Balanced Budget and Emergency Deficit Control Act of 1985 are designated by the Congress for Overseas Contingency Operations/Global War on Terrorism pursuant to section 251(b)(2)(A)(ii) of such Act.”

Sec. 7041 (e) Jordan
This section earmarks “not less than $ 1,279,950,000” in ESF and FMF for Jordan. The text does not earmark specific amounts for either ESF or FMF, but states that of this total, “not less than $475,000,000 shall be for budget support for the Government of Jordan.” It also states that “Funds appropriated by this Act shall be made available for programs to implement the Jordan Compact Action Plan and the Jordan Response Plan for the Syria Crisis 2016–2018, including assistance for host communities in Jordan.”

Sec. 7041 (f) Lebanon
This section bars funding “for the Lebanese Internal Security Forces (ISF) or the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) if the ISF or the LAF is controlled by a foreign terrorist organization, as designated pursuant to section 219 of the Immigration and Nationality Act.” It also stipulates that INCLE and FMF funding “may be made available for programs and equipment for the ISF and the LAF to address security and stability requirements in areas affected by the conflict in Syria, following consultation with the appropriate congressional committees.”

ESF: The bill states that “Funds appropriated by this Act under the heading ‘‘Economic Support Fund’’ that are available for assistance for Lebanon may be made available notwithstanding section 1224 of the Foreign Relations Authorization Act, Fiscal Year 2003 (Public Law 107–228; 22 U.S.C. 2346 note)”

FMF: The bill states that FMF “may be made available only to professionalize the LAF and to strengthen border security and combat terrorism, including training and equipping the LAF to secure Lebanon's borders, interdicting arms shipments, preventing the use of Lebanon as a safe haven for terrorist groups, and to implement United Nations Security Council Resolution 1701.” It also prohibits the obligation of assistance to the LAF until “the Secretary of State submits to the Committees on Appropriations a detailed spend plan, including actions to be taken to ensure equipment provided to the LAF is only used for the intended purposes” (noting that this plan is in addition to other notification requirements). The bill also stipulates that any notification of funding “shall include any funds specifically intended for lethal military equipment.

Sec. 7041 (g) Libya

This section permits funding for Libya for programs “to strengthen governing institutions and civil society, improve border security, and promote democracy and stability in Libya, and for activities to address the humanitarian needs of the people of Libya.” It also permits funding for “explosive ordnance disposal programs in areas liberated from extremist organizations in Libya.” The section also lays out conditions on some of this funding, including the Secretary of State certifying that the Government of Libya is “cooperating with United States Government efforts to investigate and bring to justice those responsible for the attack on United States personnel and facilities in Benghazi, Libya in September 2012.”

Sec. 7041 (h) Morocco
This section stipulates that funds appropriated under title III of this Act for assistance to Morocco “shall be made available for assistance for the Western Sahara.” It also lays out conditions and restrictions related to FMF for Morocco.

Sec. 7041 (i) Refugee Assistance for North Africa

This section states that, “Not later than 45 days after enactment of this Act, the Secretary of State, after consultation with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and the Executive Director of the World Food Programme, shall submit a report to the Committees on Appropriations describing steps taken to strengthen monitoring of the delivery of humanitarian assistance provided for refugees in North Africa, including any steps taken to ensure that all vulnerable refugees are receiving such assistance.”

Sec. 7041 (j) Syria
This section permits the provision of non-lethal assistance to Syria, for programs that seek to promote a laundry list of priorities and goals. It also lays out requirements for consultation, monitoring, and oversight of assistance to Syria.

Sec. 7041 (i) Tunisia
This section states simply that, “Of the funds appropriated under titles III and IV of this Act, not less than $165,400,000 shall be made available for assistance for Tunisia.”

Sec. 7041 (j) West Bank and Gaza
General: Part 1 of this section requires that prior to the obligation of any funds for the West Bank and Gaza, the Secretary of State shall report to Congress that the purpose of such assistance is to: (A) advance Middle East peace; (B) improve security in the region; (C) continue support for transparent and accountable government institutions; (D) promote a private sector economy; or (E) address urgent humanitarian needs.

Palestinians at the UN/ICC: Part 2 lays out further limitations on U.S. funding for the Palestinian Authority, barring any funding for the PA if “the Palestinians obtain the same standing as member states or full membership as a state in the United Nations or any specialized agency thereof outside an agreement negotiated between Israel and the Palestinians” or if “the Palestinians initiate an International Criminal Court judicially authorized investigation, or actively support such an investigation, that subjects Israeli nationals to an investigation for alleged crimes against Palestinians.” The text provides the president the authority to waive the ban on assistance in the first case in the interests of national security, but not in the second.

Kicking the PLO Office Out of the U.S.: Part 2(B) limits the President’s ability to waive longstanding (and anachronistic) law barring the PLO from having any representation in the United States. Where for decades Congress granted the President a “clean” national security or national interests waiver of that prohibition (contained in section 1003 of Public Law 100-204), this bill, like those of the past few years, makes such waiver conditional on the President being able to certify that the Palestinians have not gained membership in any UN agency and have not initiated or “actively supported” an ICC investigation against Israeli nationals “for alleged crimes against Palestinians.” In the event the president cannot make the required certification, he must wait at least 90 days (during which, presumably, the PLO office has to be shut down), and then he may waive the law requiring him to kick the PLO out of the U.S. – but only for a limited period of time, and only if he can certify that “the Palestinians have entered into direct and meaningful negotiations with Israel [a requirement whose fulfillment is not wholly under the Palestinians’ control].”

No Funding for Families of Prisoners: Part 3 of this section requires the Secretary of State to “reduce the amount of assistance made available by this Act under the heading `Economic Support Fund' for the Palestinian Authority by an amount the Secretary determines is equivalent to the amount expended by the Palestinian Authority as payments for acts of terrorism by individuals who are imprisoned after being fairly tried and convicted for acts of terrorism and by individuals who died committing acts of terrorism during the previous calendar year.”

Reports: Part 4 stipulates that “The reporting requirements contained in section 1404 of the Supplemental Appropriations Act, 2008 (Public Law 110-252) [requiring a report on training programs and equipment for Palestinian security forces] shall apply to funds made available by this Act, including a description of modifications, if any, to the security strategy of the Palestinian Authority.” Part 5 stipulates that “Not later than 90 days after enactment of this Act, the Secretary of State shall submit a report to the Committees on Appropriations detailing steps taken by the Palestinian Authority to counter incitement of violence against Israelis and to promote peace and coexistence with Israel.”

Sec. 7048: United Nations
Part (a) of this now perennial section deals with Transparency and Accountability at the UN.

Part (b) prohibits funding for anything having to do with any agency, body, or commission associated with the UN presided over by a country that the Secretary of State has determined, according to U.S. law, has repeatedly provided support for acts of international terrorism. Does not include any waiver authority.

Part (c) prohibits U.S. funding to the United Nations Human Rights Council unless the Secretary of State reports that participation in the Council is in the national interest of the United States and that “the Council is taking significant steps to remove Israel as a permanent agenda item.” Such report “shall include a description of the national security interest served and the steps taken to remove Israel as a permanent agenda item.” In addition, the section requires that “shall report to the Committees on Appropriations not later than September 30, 2017, on the resolutions considered in the United Nations Human Rights Council during the previous 12 months, and on steps taken to remove Israel as a permanent agenda item.”

Part (d) states that none MRA funds may be made available as a contribution to UNRWA “until the Secretary of State certifies and reports to the Committees on Appropriations” that UNRWA is meeting a laundry list of requirements/conditions.

Part (g) requires reporting to Congress on any U.S. contributions to international organizations that are withheld due to any provision of law [for example, U.S. funding to UNESCO, barred because UNESCO admitted the Palestinians as full members].

Sec. 7054: Landmines and Cluster Munitions
Perennial language barring military assistance, expert licenses, or sale of cluster munitions and cluster munitions technology unless the submunitions involved “do not result in more than 1 percent unexploded ordnance” and the applicable assistance/sale agreement “specifies that the cluster munitions will only be used against clearly defined military targets and will not be used where civilians are known to be present or in areas normally inhabited by civilians” or “such assistance, license, sale, or transfer is for the purpose of demilitarizing or permanently disposing of such cluster munitions.”

Sec. 7068: Commercial Leasing of Defense Articles
Perennial provision permitting “financing to Israel, Egypt, and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), and major non-NATO allies for the procurement by leasing (including leasing with an option to purchase) of defense articles from United States commercial suppliers, not including Major Defense Equipment…”

Sec. 7076 (b): Spend Plans
Prior to the initial obligation of funds, the Secretary of State shall submit to the Committees on Appropriations a detailed spend plan for funds made available by this Act, for— (A) assistance for Afghanistan, Iraq, Lebanon, Pakistan, and the West Bank and Gaza …”

 

Hearings

5/3: The House Committee on Foreign Affairs held a full Committee markup on several bills, including HR 1677, the “Caesar Syria Civilian Protection Act of 2017,” which was ordered reported, amended. Video of the markup is here. Chairman Royce’s (R-CA) statement on Committee passage of the bill is here.

4/27: The House Committee on Foreign Affairs held a full committee hearing entitled, “Syria After the Missile Strikes: Policy Options.” Witnesses were: Michael Singh, WINEP (statement); Charles Lister, MEI (statement); and Dafna Rand, NDU (statement). Chairman Royce’s (R-CA) opening statement is here. Full video of the hearing is here. Royce statement announcing the hearing is here.

4/25: The Senate Foreign Relations Committee held a hearing entitled, “The Crisis in Libya: Next Steps and U.S. Policy Options.” Witnesses were Frederic Wehrey, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace (testimony) and Deborah Jones, US Ambassador to Libya 2013-2015 (testimony). Video of the hearing is here.

4/25: The Senate Committee on Appropriations’ Subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs, held a hearing entitled, “Hearing to Review United States Assistance for Egypt.” Witnesses were: Elliott Abrams, CFR (testimony); Michele Dunne, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace (testimony); and Tom Malinowski, former Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor (testimony). Video of the hearing is here.

 

On the Record

Wicker (R-MS) 5/4: “I wish to express my concerns about the outcome of the April 16 constitutional referendum in Turkey…The United States and Turkey need a solid foundation for enduring cooperation to tackle regional instability, terrorism, migration, and other challenges. The future of this partnership is difficult to imagine in the midst of a prolonged state of emergency, wide-scale purges, and weakened democratic institutions.”

King (R-IA) 5/3: King Introduces Seven Amendments to the Omnibus Spending Bill (including amdt to defund the JCPOA)

Paulsen (R-MN) 5/3: New Details on Iran Deal Prisoner Swap

Green (D-TX) 5/3: “I rise today to honor the Jewish people and their long-standing struggle to build and expand their country.” [Emphasis added. Cuz, well, wow.]

5/2 - Happy Israel Independence Day! Cardin (D-MD), Crowley (D-NY), Deutch (D-FL), Hastings (D-FL), Kelly (D-IL), Lamborn (R-CO), Meng (D-NY), Paulsen (R-MN), Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), Wasserman-Shultz (D-FL)

Deutch (D-FL) 5/2: Rep. Deutch Denounces Biased UNESCO Resolution on Jerusalem

Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) 5/2: In Phone Call With UN Secretary General, Ros-Lehtinen Expresses Concern Over UNESCO Anti-Israel Agenda, Urges Greater Effort Toward UN Reform

Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) 5/2: Ros-Lehtinen Commends Funding of Foreign Policy Priorities in Middle East and Latin America

Johnson (D-TX) 5/2: Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson Hosted A World of Women for World Peace Conference [this year’s conference addressed the Israel-Palestine peace process and promoted a discussion of new ideas for a lasting solution to the conflict. “I believe a two state solution is necessary in settling the conflict between Israel and Palestine,” said Congresswoman Johnson.]

Cruz (R-TX) 5/2: Sen. Cruz: Texas Proudly Stands With Israel; Commends Governor Abbott and Texas legislature for enacting anti-BDS legislation into law

Wilson (R-SC) 5/1: Appreciating Captain Taylor Force [demanding that the Abbas end “financial rewards for terrorists”]

Royce (R-CA) 5/1: Hamas is Not Changing

Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) and Cruz (R-TX) 4/30: Sen. Cruz and Rep. Ros-Lehtinen: It is Long Past Time for Members of UNESCO to Stop Being Complicit in This Intentional Campaign to Delegitimize Israel

Gohmert (R-TX) 4/28: And another floor rant, including suggesting that in 1979 President Carter should have gone to war against Iran

Woodall (R-GA) 4/27: Touting the GOP’s accomplishments in the first 100 days, including sanctioning 25 Iranian entities (and then attacking the Obama Admin on Iran)

Cardin (D-MD) 4/27: 70th Anniversary Of The ``Exodus 1947''’s Arrival In Haifa

DeSantis (R-FL) 4/27: DeSantis Launches Israel Victory Caucus [for details see the 4/21 edition of the Round-Up]

Gottheimer (D-NJ) 4/27: Testimony during hearing on FY18 NDAA (focused entirely on assistance to Israel)

Gohmert (R-TX) 4/27: Another meandering floor rant that, among other things, accuses Obama officials of helping “supporters of terrorism in Iran.” (“They go over and they give the largest supporter of terrorism in the world massive amounts of cash. By massive, I mean pallets of cash and checks; however you may want it. There is no telling. They may have sent some gold or platinum. Who knows? Plutonium…”)

Poe (R-TX) 4/26: Israeli Holocaust Remembrance Day

Taylor (R-VA) 4/26: Holocaust Remembrance And The 69th Anniversary Of The State of Israel

LaHood R-IL) 4/26: Slamming the Iran nuclear deal and the Obama Admin for making it

Zeldin (R-NY) 4/25: Congressman Zeldin Statement on Politico Report re: President Obama and Iran

Leahy (D-VT) 4/24: Welcoming Amb. Nikki Haley’s op-ed on human rights

Royce (R-CA) 4/24: Chairman Royce Applauds Administration’s New Syria Sanctions

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