Legislative Round-Up - June 22, 2018

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

1. Bills, Resolution, & Letters
2. FY19 ForOps - House
3. On the Record
 

1. Blls & Resolutions, & Letters

(FY19 STATE & FOROPS BILL) HR XXXX: This week the House Appropriations Committee marked up the FY19 State & Foreign Operations Appropriations bill – bill text is here; committee report is here. Full details in Section 2, below.
 
(FY19 STATE & FOROPS BILL) S. 3108: Introduced 6/21 by Graham (R-SC), “An original bill making appropriations for the Department of State, foreign operations, and related programs for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2019, and for other purposes.” Committee report on the bill is here. On 6/21, introduced and placed on the legislative calendar. Bill text is here; Committee report is here. Details will be included in an upcoming Round-Up (just could not get it done today – sorry).
 
(FY19 DOD APPROPS BILL) HR 6157: Introduced 6/20 by Granger (R-TX), “Making appropriations for the Department of Defense for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2019, and for other purposes.” Committee report: H. Rept. 115-769. On 6/20, introduced and Placed on the Union Calendar (Note: The Senate Appropriations’ Committee’s Defense Subcommittee is scheduled to mark up its version of this bill on 6/26). Middle East elements in HR 6157:

  • Section 8065 of the bill earmarks $500 million for Israeli Cooperative Programs. Of that amount, $70 million is earmarked for Iron Dome; $187 million is earmarked the Short Range Ballistic Missile Defense (SRBMD) program, of which $50 million is earmarked for co-production activities in the United States and in Israel; $80 million is earmarked for co-production activities of Arrow 3 Upper Tier systems in the United States and in Israel; and $163 million is earmarked for the Arrow System Improvement Program. NOTE: This $500 million in funding is on top of and entirely separate from the more than $3 billion in military aid (in cash) provided to Israel under the Foreign Operations Appropriations bill.
  • Section 8121 stipulates that: “None of the funds made available by this Act may be used to purchase heavy water from Iran.”
  • Under the heading “Operation and Maintenance, Defense-Wide,” the bill stipulates that “funds provided under this heading may be used to support the Government of Jordan, in such amounts as the Secretary of Defense may determine, to enhance the ability of the armed forces of Jordan to increase or sustain security along its borders…”
  • Under the heading “Counter-ISIS Train and Equip Fund” the bill stipulates that, “these funds may be used in such amounts as the Secretary of Defense may determine to enhance the border security of nations adjacent to conflict areas including Jordan, Lebanon, Egypt, and Tunisia resulting from actions of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria.”
  • Section 9011 states that, “Up to $500,000,000 of funds appropriated by this Act for the Defense Security Cooperation Agency in “Operation and Maintenance, Defense-Wide” may be used to provide assistance to the Government of Jordan to support the armed forces of Jordan and to enhance security along its borders.”

(FY19 NDAA) HR 5515: On 6/18, the Senate amended and passed HR 5515, “National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2019,” by a vote of 85-10. The bill now returns to the House for action. Middle East-related matters in the base Senate-passed version of the bill are:

  • Section 1204. Extension and modification of authority to support border security operations of certain foreign countries [relating to Jordan, Lebanon, Egypt, Tunisia, Oman, and Pakistan]
  • Section 1221. Extension of authority to provide assistance to counter the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria.
  • Section 1222. Extension and modification of authority to provide assistance to the vetted Syrian opposition.
  • Section 1223. Extension and modification of authority to support operations and activities of the Office of Security Cooperation in Iraq.
  • Section 1224. Syria Study Group.
  • Section 1225. Modification of annual report on military power of Iran.
  • Section 1263. Sense of Senate on purchase by Turkey of S–400 air defense system.
  • Section 1265. Enhancement of U.S.-Israel defense cooperation (related to provision of more PGMs to Israel, tied to Hamas and Hezbollah threats).
  • Section 1266. Certifications regarding actions by Saudi Arabia in Yemen.
  • Section 1654. Iron Dome short-range rocket defense system and Israeli cooperative missile defense program co-development and co-production (authorizing up to $70 million for Iron Dome, up to $50 million for David’s Sling, and up to $80 million for the Arrow program).
  • Section 1660. Sense of the Senate on allied partnerships for missile defense. 

(US-ISRAEL AGRICUTURAL COOPERATION) S. 3042: Introduced 6/11 by Roberts (R-KS), the “Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018.” On 6.18, the bill was reported out of Committee and placed on the Senate calendar. During Committee consideration, a new section was inserted, Sec. 7120, “Binational Agricultural Research and Development,” or “BARD.” The section amends current law to create a “BARD fund” to fund activities, “to promote and support agricultural research and development that are of mutual benefit to the United States and Israel.”
 
Letters
 
(BLACKLIST IRAN FROM WORLD FINANCIAL SYSTEM) Portman-Royce letter: On June 21, Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations Chairman Portman (R-OH) and House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Royce (R-CA) sent a letter to Treasury Secretary Mnuchin urging that: “When the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) meets next week, we urge you to use the influence of the United States to keep Iran on the FATF’s blacklist and reimpose FATF counter-measures to protect the international financial system from the regime’s money laundering and terrorist financing.” Portman press release is here; Royce press release is here; Free Beacon article is here.
 
2. FY19 ForOps - House

On 6/20, the House Appropriations Committee marked up and passed the FY 2019 State and Foreign Operations Appropriations bill. Video of the markup is here. Bill text is here; summary of adopted amendments is here; committee report is here. Middle East details of the bill are as follows:
 
TITLE I — DEPARTMENT OF STATE AND RELATED AGENCY
Broadcasting Board of Governors, international broadcasting operations: Perennial language providing $797,986,000 “to carry out international communication activities, and to make and supervise grants for radio and television broadcasting to the Middle East.”
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, 2019, 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 note), all interest and earnings accruing to the Israeli Arab Scholarship Fund on or before September 30, 2019, to remain available until expended.”
 
TITLE III — BILATERAL ECONOMIC ASSISTANCE
ECONOMIC SUPPORT FUNDS – ESF (Total: $2,518,654,000)
Details for ESF for Middle East countries are laid out in section 7041 of the bill, discussed below.
 
MIGRATION AND REFUGEE ASSISTANCE – MRA (Total: $996,766,000]
The bill stipulates that, “$5,000,000 shall be made available for refugees resettling in Israel.”
 
The report notes:
Minority communities.—Conflict and instability in the Middle East and Africa intensify the challenges facing minority ethnic and religious communities, including Christian populations. The Committee directs the Secretary of State to ensure that eligible individuals and families from such communities have access to humanitarian assistance and resettlement services.
Resettlement in Israel.—The Committee recommendation includes not less than $5,000,000 for refugees from the former Soviet Union, Eastern Europe, and other refugees resettling in Israel, which is the same as the request and similar to language carried in prior years.
Syrian refugee assistance.—The Committee encourages the Secretary of State to ensure that senior level Department leadership is dedicated to addressing the diplomatic and assistance needs of Syrian refugees, especially refugees of special humanitarian concern, and to the development and implementation of other appropriate policies and programs concerning Syrian refugees, other refugees in the region, internally displaced persons and people of humanitarian concern in Syria.
 
 
TITLE IV – INTERNATIONAL SECURITY ASSISTANCE
 
NONPROLIFERATION, ANTI-TERRORISM, DEMINING AND RELATED PROGRAMS – NADR
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 $31,000,000 shall be made available for a United States contribution to the Multinational Force and Observers mission in the Sinai.”
 
FOREIGN MILITARY FINANCING – FMF (TOTAL: $6,361,342,000]
See Section 7041, below, for details of FMF provisions for all Near East countries except Israel. Israel alone is dealt with in this section, with the text earmarking, “not less than $3,300,000,000 shall be available for grants only for Israel which shall be disbursed within 30 days of enactment of this Act.” The text includes perennial stipulation that “…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 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 amount 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 and wherever 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.
 
In addition, the report accompanying the bill states: “The Committee continues to provide unwavering support for Israel’s security, including maintaining its Qualitative Military Edge, by providing $3,300,000,000, which is an increase of $200,000,000 from fiscal year 2018 and reflects full funding for the first year of the new 10-year Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the United States and Israel. The Committee notes with concern that growing instability and violence in the Middle East, as well as Iran’s expanded presence in the region, represent an increasing threat to Israel. Assistance is intended to ensure Israel is able to defend itself against a wide range of conventional and unconventional threats. In addition, section 7034 of this Act includes an extension of authority for loan guarantees to Israel.”
 
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 provision (which caused Congress and the Obama Administration a headache over Egypt funding) 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 (g) of this provision 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): Iran, Iraq, Lebanon, Libya, Syria, 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 $2,400,000,000 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 “Office of International Religious Freedom, Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, Department of State, 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) provides funding “to support transitional justice, reconciliation, and reintegration programs for vulnerable and persecuted religious minorities, including in the Middle East and North Africa regions
 
Sec. 7034: Special Provisions
Part (k)(8) extends the existing loan guarantee program for Israel through September 30, 2023.
Part (m), entitled “Loan Guarantees,” permits funding to “be made available for the costs…of loan guarantees for Egypt, Jordan, Iraq, Tunisia, and Ukraine, which are authorized to be provided…”
 
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 does it define “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.
 
****IMPORTANT: NEW REPORT LANGUAGE REQUIRES US TO IMPOSE A BDS/BOYCOTT SCREEN ON USAID RECPIENTS*****. The report language accompanying the bill states: “…The Committee is concerned about international efforts to stigmatize and isolate Israel through the boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) movement. The Committee directs, as part of the annual report to Congress on the Arab League Boycott of Israel, that the President add information about the BDS campaign, covering companies, international organizations, countries, and other organizations, including state investment vehicles, that are involved in promoting the movement, as well as specific steps the Department of State has taken and expects to take to discourage or end politically-motivated efforts to boycott, divest from, or sanction Israel or Israeli entities. The Committee further directs the Secretary of State and USAID Administrator to strengthen policies and procedures to ensure organizations supported through funding are not participants in such efforts. ****(underlined text is new)
 
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 provision barring U.S. funds for establishing any diplomatic mission to the Palestinians in Jerusalem. [NOTE: If reporting in a right-wing media outlet is accurate, this largely forgotten provision could throw a wrench into Trump Admin plans – “The American plan is expected to include pressing Israel to relinquish its sovereignty over four eastern Jerusalem neighborhoods, as well as the establishment of a US consulate in eastern 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” (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.”
 
The formulation in this legislation is designed to make it difficult for the U.S. engage any kind of Palestinian power-sharing government that results from any Fatah-Hamas reconciliation, or some other arrangements that lead to a national unity government or a mutually-agreed technocratic government (indeed, the text of the subsection evolved in recent years in response to Palestinian efforts to achieve such governments). 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.” The latter 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.” Also, “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.”
 
As a reminder: 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
This section consolidates aid provisions for the entire Middle East, except for Israel.
 
Sec. 7041 (a). Egypt
 Overall conditions on aid: This bill stipulates that funds appropriated by this Act that are available for assistance for Egypt “may be made available notwithstanding any other provision of law restricting assistance for Egypt, except for section 620M of the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961, and may only be made available for assistance for the Government of Egypt if the Secretary of State certifies and reports to the Committees on Appropriations that such government 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 earmarks for Egypt not less than $150 million in ESF and requires the Secretary of State to withhold from Egypt’s ESF, “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 reports 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 earmarks up to $1,300,000,000 in FMF for Egypt, to remain available until September 30, 2019 (and stipulates that these funds may be transferred to the interest bearing account - a benefit granted to Egypt years ago by Congress to try to create some symmetry with Israel’s early disbursal provision), without any conditions.
 
Note: Section 620M of the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961 states that “No assistance shall be furnished under this Act or the Arms Export Control Act to any unit of the security forces of a foreign country if the Secretary of State has credible information that such unit has committed a gross violation of human rights.” It adds that this prohibition “shall not apply if the Secretary determines and reports to the Committee on Foreign Relations of the Senate, the Committee on Foreign Affairs of the House of Representatives, and the Committees on Appropriations that the government of such country is taking effective steps to bring the responsible members of the security forces unit to justice.” Given certain events in Egypt in recent months (perhaps most glaringly the torture/murder of an Italian graduate student), inclusion of this reference is important.
 
The funding tables contained in the report accompanying the bill breaks down funding for Egypt as follows: ESF: $150 million; INCLE: $2 million; NADR: $3 million; IMET: $1.8 million; FMF: $1.3 billion (Total: $1,456,800,000)
 
The Report includes extensive language regarding Egypt, including requiring a report related to relations with North Korea, steps taken to resolve claims related to the “incident” between Egyptian security forces and US and Mexican nationals, reiteration of requirement for Egypt to take “consistent steps to stabilize the economy and implement market-based reforms, directing that not less than $35 million of Egypt’s ESF go to higher education programs, and encouraging USAID to implement programs that assist orphans and vulnerable children in Egypt, “including children from religious diverse populations.”
 
Sec. 7041 (b) Iran
 This section states that funding in the bill (under Diplomatic Programs, ESF, and NADR) shall be used by the Secretary of State to: “(A) to 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 United Nations Security Council Resolutions or to efforts that Advance Iran’s nuclear program; (C) to support the implementation and enforcement of sanctions against Iran for support of nuclear weapons development, terrorism, human rights abuses, and ballistic missile and weapons proliferation; and (D) for democracy programs in support for the Iranian people, to be administered by the Assistant Secretary for Near Eastern Affairs, Department of State, in consultation with the Assistant Secretary for Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, Department of State.” It also states that the terms and conditions of paragraph (2) of section 7041(c) in division I of PL 112-74 shall remain in effect. These are:
 
(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).
 
Finally, this section requires the Secretary of State to submit two reports to Congress:
(A) the semi-annual report required by section 135 of the Atomic Energy Act of 1954 (42 U.S.C. 2160e(d)(4)), as added by section 2 of the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act of 2015.
(B) Not later than 180 days after the enactment of this Act, 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 providing significant support for 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…
 
The report language accompanying the bill notes that, “The Committee is deeply concerned about the nuclear ambitions of Iran and the resulting threat to the United States and our allies. The Committee recommendation continues the conditions and reporting requirements from the prior year related to Iran’s adherence to United Nations Security Council resolutions and other matters related to sanctions on Iranian entities.”MThe report also notes that, “For the purposes of the report required by subsection (b)(3)(B), the term ‘international community’ shall mean the UN, the PRC, France, Germany, the Russian Federation, the United Kingdom, and the European Union.”
 
Sec. 7041 (c) Iraq
 This section stipulates that funds may be made available for assistance to Iraq “to promote governance and security, and for stabilization programs, including in the Kurdistan Region…” The section states that no funds in this Act may be used “to enter into a permanent basing rights agreement between the United States and Iraq.”
 
Sec. 7041 (d) Jordan
 The bill states: “Of the funds appropriated by this Act under titles III and IV, not less than $1,525,000,000 shall be made available for assistance for Jordan, of which not less not than $1,082,400,000 shall be made available under the heading ‘Economic Support Fund’, of which not less than $745,100,000 shall be made available for budget support for the Government of Jordan; and not less than $425,000,000 shall be made available under the heading ‘Foreign Military Financing Program’”.
 
The report notes that the Committee, “The Committee recommendation strongly supports Jordan by providing not less than $1,525,000,000 to meet economic and security needs and to address the extraordinary strain on Jordan from unrest in the region as the country continues to host significant numbers of refugees.”
 
The funding table in the report accompanying the bill breaks down funding for Jordan as follows: ESF – $1,082.5 billion; NADR – $13.6 million; IMET – $4 million; FMF – $425 million (Total: $1.525 billion).
 
The Report goes on to note that: “The Committee notes the importance of the relationship with the Kingdom of Jordan and the strong leadership that Jordan continues to play in advancing peace and stability in the region and in the ongoing campaign to defeat ISIS. The United States should continue to support critical economic aid and to provide the assistance needed to ensure Jordan’s success in coalition operations, including to strengthen Jordan’s borders with Iraq and Syria. The Committee supports the goals and objectives of establishing an Enterprise Fund for Jordan, consistent with H.R. 2646 as passed by the House of Representatives on February 5, 2018. Funds may be made available for such purpose from funds under Economic Support Fund, in addition to amounts designated under this heading.”
 
Sec. 7041 (e) Lebanon
 This bill text continues the prohibition on 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 (8 U.S.C. 1189).”
 
It 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.”
 
And it provides that FMF for Lebanon “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…”
 
The report that Lebanon language has been modified from the prior year by deleting language making ESF available “notwithstanding a certain provision of law.”
 
 
Sec. 7041 (f) Libya
 This section bards funding for the central government of Libyan “unless the Secretary of State certifies and reports to the Committees on Appropriations that such government 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 (g) Morocco
 This section stipulates that “Funds appropriated under title III of this Act that are made available for assistance for Morocco shall also be made available for assistance for any region or territory administered by Morocco, including the Western Sahara…
 
The funding table in the report accompanying the bill breaks down funding for Morocco as follows: ESF – $20 million; INCLE – $5 million; NADR – $2.5 million; IMET – $2 million; and FMF – $10 million (Total: $39.5 million); accompanying report language focuses on Western Sahara.
 
Sec. 7041 (h) Refugee Assistance in North Africa
This subsection stipulates that “The Secretary of State, in consultation with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and the Executive Director of the World Food Programme, shall take all practicable steps to strengthen monitoring of the delivery of humanitarian assistance provided for refugees in North Africa, including the establishment of registration systems where they do not exist and any other efforts to ensure that all vulnerable refugees are receiving such assistance.”
 
Sec. 7041 (i) Stabilization and Recovery Assistance
This subsection earmarks not less than $205 million from ESF, INCLE, NADR, PKO and FMF for “stabilization and recovery assistance for areas liberated from, at risk from, or under the control of, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, other terrorist organizations, or violent extremist organizations in the Middle East and Africa, including for assistance for vulnerable ethnic and religious minority communities affected by conflict…” It also earmarks not less than $5 million in INCLE ” to promote accountability in Iraq and Syria for genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes…”
 
 Sec. 7041 (j) Syria
This bill text states that [an unspecified amount of] non-lethal assistance may be made available to Syria “to address the needs of civilians affected by conflict in Syria” and for programs that satisfy a list of goals laid out in the text. Except with respect to humanitarian assistance, none of these funds “should” be used “in areas controlled by a government led by Bashar al-Assad or associated forces” and none may be used for a project or activity that “supports or otherwise legitimizes the Government of Iran, foreign terrorist organizations… or a proxy of Iran in Syria.” The section also lays out a requirements that the Secretary of State submit an updated to the comprehensive strategy required under division K of PL113-76, and lays out requirements regarding monitoring, oversight, consultation, and notifictation.
 
The funding table in the report accompanying the bill breaks down funding for Syria as follows: ESF – $120 million; INCLE – $10 million; NADR – $25 million; PKO - $15 million; and FMF – $25 million (Total: $205 million); accompanying report language focuses on Western Sahara. Accompanying text lays out various concerns including related to displace civilians and refugees.
 
Sec. 7041 (k) Tunisia
This subsection states: “Of the funds appropriated under titles III and IV of this Act, not less than $ 205,400,000 shall be made available for assistance for Tunisia.
 
The funding table in the report accompanying the bill breaks down funding for Tunisia as follows: ESF – $79 million; INCLE – $13 million; NADR – $6.1 million; IMET – $2.3 million; FMF – $105 million (total: $205.4 million)
 
Sec. 7041 (l) 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. Part 2(A) bars 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 (ICC) judicially authorized investigation, or actively support such an investigation, that subjects Israeli nationals to an investigation for alleged crimes against Palestinians.”
 
*****NOTE – WAIVER REMOVED****** In previous ForOps laws, Congress provided the Secretary of State the authority to waive the ban on assistance to the PA in the case where the Palestinians gain status at the UN if he “certifies to the Committees on Appropriations that to do so is in the national security interest of the United States, and submits a report to such Committees detailing how the waiver and the continuation of assistance would assist in furthering Middle East peace.” In this new House ForOps language, this waiver has been DELETED. (No such waiver was provided in past years if the Palestinians go to the ICC, and none is provided here).
 
The deletion of this waiver makes clear that the text here was not just cut-and-pasted from previous years, but deliberately amended to be even tougher on the PA. This makes the next paras – part 2(B)– even more bizarre.
 
Closing the PLO office: 2(B): These paras limit the President’s ability to waive longstanding legislation barring the PLO from having any representation in the United States. 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). In recent years Congress moved to make such waiver contingent on the President certifying that the Palestinians have not, after the date of enactment of this Act, “obtained in the United Nations or any specialized agency thereof the same standing as member states or full membership as a state outside an agreement negotiated between Israel and the Palestinians” or “initiated or actively supported an ICC investigation against Israeli nationals for alleged crimes against Palestinians.
 
If the president cannot make that two-part certification, the law in recent years has granted the President the authority to still waive the closure, but he must wait at least 90 days, during which, according to law, it seems the PLO office has to be shut down, and then he may waive the law, 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.”
 
The fact that ForOps drafters left this section unchanged is odd (to say the least). It should be recalled that in November 2017, the Trump Administration declared that it could not make the certification to Congress that is required, by law, in order to keep the PLO mission open. Since then, the mission has remained….open. It is not a stretch to suggest that had such a situation occurred under Obama, Congress would have thrown a bipartisan fit and, in all likelihood, challenged the Obama Admin in court. Under Trump, there has been virtually zero push-back from Congress for this violation of Congressional will and the law (except for Ros-Lehtinen, R-FL, who has gently pressed the issue), and the relevant ForOps language has been left as-is. Fun, right?
 
Penalize PA for Funding Families of Prisoners: Part 3 of this section requires the Secretary of State to reduce ESF for the PA “by an amount the Secretary determines is equivalent to the amount expended by the Palestinian Authority, the Palestine Liberation Organization, and any successor or affiliated organizations with such entities for payments to individuals and the families of such individuals who are imprisoned for acts of terrorism or who died committing such acts during the previous calendar year.” This language remains in place, despite the fact that the Taylor Force Act is now the law of the land, separate from the ForOps bill. [Cuz nobody ever wants to be the one who removes language sticking it to the Palestinians, even if that language has been overtaken by events].
 
Security report: Part 4 states that “The reporting requirements contained in section 1404 of the Supplemental Appropriations Act, 2008 (Public Law 110-252) shall apply to funds made available by this Act, including a description of modifications, if any, to the security strategy of the Palestinian Authority.”
 
As a reminder, Section 1404 of PL 110-252 states: “Not later than 90 days after the date of enactment of this Act and 180 days thereafter, the Secretary of State shall submit to the Committees on Appropriations a report on assistance provided by the United States for the training of Palestinian security forces, including detailed descriptions of the training, curriculum, and equipment provided; an assessment of the training and the performance of forces after training has been completed; and a description of the assistance that has been pledged and provided to Palestinian security forces by other donors: Provided, That not later than 90 days after the date of enactment of this Act, the Secretary of State shall report to the Committees on Appropriations, in classified form if necessary, on the security strategy of the Palestinian Authority.”
 
Incitement report: Part 5 of this section (added for the first time in the FY18 ForOps law – truly, this section get longer and longer every year), requires that, “Not later than 90 days after enactment of this Act, the Secretary of State shall submit a report to the appropriate congressional committees detailing steps taken by the Palestinian Authority to counter incitement of violence against Israelis and to promote peace and coexistence with Israel.”
 
NOTE: Nowhere in the bill or the Report is there any mention of the ongoing Gaza humanitarian crisis. It is as if there is nothing happening at all that is worth mentioning. The report language accompanying the bill notes: “The Committee recommendation continues prior year restrictions on assistance for the Palestinian Authority (PA), including prohibiting funds if there is a Palestinian government formed through an agreement with Hamas, or if the PA is not acting to counter incitement of violence against Israelis. The bill also includes a requirement to reduce any funding by an amount equivalent to that expended by the PA, Palestine Liberation Organization, or any affiliated organization, as payments to prisoners who committed acts of terrorism. As a result of these conditions, no economic assistance has been provided directly to the PA since fiscal year 2013, and funds provided for other programs in the West Bank and Gaza have been significantly reduced.”
 
Separately, the Report notes that, “The Committee understands the Administration is conducting a comprehensive review of assistance for the West Bank and Gaza. Not later than 30 days after enactment of this Act, the Secretary of State is directed to provide the Committees on Appropriations a report detailing the status of, and any conclusions produced by, this review.”
 
Sec. 7041 MISSING (Yemen)
Neither the bill nor the Report even mention the war on Yemen. The Report does relate to the humanitarian crisis in Yemen, but in terms that seem to suggest it is the result of some unknown natural disaster. The Report notes, “The Committee remains concerned about the significant humanitarian needs in Yemen and the lack of consistent access to allow relief to be provided in Yemen. Not later than 45 days after enactment of this Act, the Secretary of State, in consultation with the USAID Administrator, shall submit a report to the Committees on Appropriations that addresses delivery of humanitarian assistance, including access for humanitarian organizations to deliver assistance; the capacity of Yemeni ports to receive commercial and humanitarian goods; and the conditions required to transition from humanitarian assistance to longer-term development assistance. The Committee also recognizes the importance of fuel to alleviating the humanitarian crisis and urges the Secretary of State to press for access, including for food and fuel, into all Red Sea Ports, which are critical lifelines for the Yemeni population.”
 
Sec. 7048: United Nations
No $$ for agencies headed by bad guys: Part (b) of this section prohibits funding expenses for expenses for any US delegation to 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, “supports international terrorism.” It also bars contributions to 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, is a government that “has repeatedly provided support for acts of international terrorism.”
 
*****IMPORTANT NOTE – WAIVER DELETED***** In the past this section permitted the Secretary of State to waive this ban if it is in the national interest of the United States to do so. That waiver has disappeared.
 
Pressure on UN Human Rights Council (over Israel): Part (c) permits funding for the United Nations Human Rights Council only if the Secretary determines and reports to Congress that “participation in the Council is in the national interest of the United States and that the Council is taking significant [used to say “credible”] steps to remove Israel as a permanent agenda item…”, including in that report “a description of the national interest served and a description of steps taken to remove Israel as a permanent agenda item.” NEW: This section now also requires the withholding of funds from US contribution to the UN’s Regular Budget “the United States proportionate share of the total annual amount of the United Nations Regular Budget funding for the United Nations Human Rights Council” until such determination and report are made. The Secretary of State must also report to Congress “not later than September 30, 2019, 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….”
 
Note: The report accompanying the bill reiterates deep concerns about the UNHRC and for the second year in a row specific concern about passage by the UNHRC of resolution A/HRC/31/L.39, “which is counterproductive to achieving peace between Israel and the Palestinians. The Committee does not expect the United States to participate in the implementation of this resolution [which – gasp – calls on states to differentiate between Israel and settlements] and directs the Secretary of State to urge the UNHRC and other countries to do the same. The Committee directs the Secretary to work with the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights to minimize the impact of the compilation of the database called for under that resolution [a database of businesses active in settlements].
 
Pressure on UNRWA: Part (d) bars funding to UNRWA until the Secretary of State certifies and reports to the Committees on Appropriations, in writing, that UNRWA is meeting a list of conditions:
 
“(1) utilizing Operations Support Officers in the West Bank, Gaza, and other fields of operation to inspect UNRWA installations and reporting any inappropriate use;
“(2) acting promptly to address any staff or beneficiary violation of its own policies (including the policies on neutrality and impartiality of employees) and the legal requirements under section 301(c) of the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961;
“(3) implementing procedures to maintain the neutrality of its facilities, including implementing a no-weapons policy, and conducting regular inspections of its installations, to ensure they are only used for humanitarian or other appropriate purposes;
“(4) taking necessary and appropriate measures to ensure it is operating in compliance with the conditions of section 301(c) of the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961 and continuing regular reporting to the Department of State on actions it has taken to ensure conformance with such conditions;
“(5) taking steps to ensure the content of all educational materials currently taught in UNRWA-administered schools and summer camps is consistent with the values of human rights, dignity, and tolerance and does not induce incitement;
“(6) not engaging in operations with financial institutions or related entities in violation of relevant United States law, and is taking steps to improve the financial transparency of the organization; and
“(7) in compliance with the United Nations Board of Auditors’ biennial audit requirements and is implementing in a timely fashion the Board’s recommendations.
 
Report language accompanying the bill states:
 
United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) accountability.—The Committee recommendation includes language in section 7048(d) of this Act prohibiting funds appropriated under this heading from being made available to UNRWA until the Secretary of State determines and reports to the Committees on Appropriations that UNRWA is meeting the conditions enumerated in that section.
 
The Committee directs that in reviewing whether UNRWA is meeting the requirements of section 7048(d)(2), the Secretary of State shall ensure that UNRWA’s employment policies prohibit staff from being members of militant political parties or a Foreign Terrorist Organization designated pursuant to section 219 of the Immigration and Nationality Act, including members of Hamas.
 
In addition to the pre-obligation determination and report required by section 7048(d) of this Act, the Secretary of State shall, not later than 45 days after enactment of this Act, submit to the appropriate congressional committees a report on United States policy concerning UNRWA, including funding plans, reforms needed by UNRWA to improve accountability and sustainability of services, and changes in United States policy towards UNRWA. In developing such a report, the Secretary shall also include an assessment of the following: (1) the current definition of Palestinian refugees that is used by UNRWA, how that definition corresponds with, or differs from, the standard practice used by UNHCR, other UN agencies, and the United States Government, and whether such definition furthers the prospects for lasting peace in the region and the sustainability of UNRWA’s operations; (2) any reforms that have been, or are planned to be, submitted to the UN or to UNRWA and whether such reforms are a condition for future funding; (3) UNRWA’s commitment and capacity to ensure (i) financial transparency, efficiency, and oversight of services and (ii) that UNRWA staff, facilities, and materials are not utilized for political purposes or terrorist activities; (4) alternatives for assisting Palestinians in need outside of the UNRWA framework; and (5) the impact of changes to United States policy towards, and funding for, UNRWA on United States national security and regional stability in the Middle East and North Africa. The strategy shall be submitted in unclassified form, but may include a classified annex.
 
Pressure on UNESCO & Other UN Agencies (over Israel): 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].
 
In addition, the Report accompanying the states, as it did last year: “The Committee remains concerned with continued anti-Israel bias at the UN and strongly endorses the Department of State’s withholding of a proportionate share of the costs to such UN entities deemed to be anti-Israeli. Pursuant to Public Law 98-164, as amended, the Committee notes that in fiscal year 2016 the Secretary of State withheld funding to the following: the Division for Palestinian Rights in the Department of Political Affairs; the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People; and the Special Committee to Investigate Israeli Practices Affecting the Human Rights of the Palestinian People and Other Arabs of the Occupied Territories. The Committee supports this action and directs the Department to include a description of any anti- Israel activities of these entities in the annual report submitted pursuant to section 4(a) of Public Law 79-264 on United States participation in the UN.”
 
Sec. 7049: Law Enforcement and Security
Part (b)(4) is a perennial provision providing for financing of commercial leasing of defense articles to Israel, Egypt, and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), and major non-NATO allies.
Part (c)(2) lays out limitations related to landmines and cluster munitions.
 
Sec. 7066: Prohibition on Use of Torture
“None of the funds made available in this Act may be used to support or justify the use of torture, cruel, or inhumane treatment by any official or contract employee of the United States Government.”
 
Sec. 7070 (b): Spend Plans
This paragraph notes that: “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 …”
 
Other report language
Lebanon scholarships.—The Committee recommendation includes not less than $12,000,000 for scholarships for Lebanese students with high financial need to attend not-for-profit educational institutions in Lebanon that meet standards comparable to those required for American accreditation…”
Middle East Partnership Initiative (MEPI).—The Committee supports continued funding for MEPI and directs that within such funds $20,000,000 be made available for the MEPI scholarship program (same as last year).
Middle East Regional Cooperation Program:The Committee includes $5,000,000 for the Middle East Regional Cooperation Program, which is the same as the fiscal year 2017 level.”
Near East Regional Democracy: “The Committee includes $32,000,000 for the Near East Regional Democracy program, which is the same as the fiscal year 2017 enacted level. The Committee expects a portion of the funds provided above the request to be used to support programs to increase the participation of women in politics, including as candidates in elections, and in consultation with diaspora communities in the United States.”
Scholarship program for refugees in Lebanon.—The Committee recommendation includes $5,000,000 to continue the university scholarship pilot program for refugees in Lebanon…
Reconciliation programs: The Committee recommendation “provides $30,000,000 under this heading and Economic Support Fund to support people-to-people reconciliation programs that bring together individuals of different ethnic, religious, and political backgrounds from areas of civil strife and war, of which $12,000,000 shall be for reconciliation activities between Israelis and Palestinians. Funds shall be awarded through a competitive grant process…”
Middle East Partnership Initiative (MEPI) scholarship program: “The Committee includes $12,000,000 to continue the MEPI scholarship program.”

  1. On the Record

Meeks (D-NY) 6/21: Rep. Meeks Statement on US Withdrawal from UNHRC
Hyde-Smith (R-MS): Hyde-Smith Throws Support Behind Effort To Enhance U.S.-Israel Security Alliance (S. 2497)
Barletta (R-PA) 6/20: Barletta Statement on U.S. Withdrawal from UNHRC
Engel (D-NY) 6/19: Engel Statement on Planned U.S. Withdrawal from the UN Human Rights Council
Ciciline (D-RI) 6/19: Cicilline Statement on U.S. Withdrawal from UNHRC

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