APN Legislative Round-Up: December 12, 2014

1.  Bills, Resolutions & Letters
2.  Mideast Elements of the Cromnibus 
3.  Mideast Elements in the Defense Authorization Bill
4.  Members on the Record

 

1. Bills, Resolutions & Letters

(DENOUNCING HAMAS) H. Con. Res. 107:  Introduced 7/16/14 by Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) and having 102 cosponsors, “A concurrent resolution denouncing the use of civilians as human shields by Hamas and other terrorist organizations.”  Passed by the House 7/30 by voice vote; taken up in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee 12/4 and amended (a version of the bill was introduced in the Senate 7/24 by Cruz, R-TX and Gillibrand, D-NY – S. Con. Res. 412 – but garnered no cosponsors and was never considered). On 12/9, the Senate adopted H. Con. Res. 107, as amended, by Unanimous Consent (Cruz’s 12/10 press release touting passage of the measure is here).    On 12/10, the House agreed to the Senate’s amendment, adopting the amended text without objection.  HFAC Chair Royce’s (R-CA) statement on final passage of the measure is here; Ros-Lehtinen’s (R-FL) statement is here.  Cruz’s 12/11 statement on final passage of the measure is here.

(FY15 CROMNIBUS) HR 83: This week, Congress finalized the FY15 Continuing Resolution/Omnibus bill (gleefully nicknamed the “Cromnibus”).  Passage of the measure will prevent a government shutdown while allowing members to avoid having to vote on each individual spending measure.  The Cromnibus preserves most Middle East-related provisions from prior year legislation, in addition to explicitly earmarking funding for Israel and Egypt.  The bill also includes other Middle East-related language, discussed in detail in Section 2, below.

(DEFENSE AUTHORIZATION) HR 3979:  By close of business today (12/12), the Senate should pass the final version of HR 3979, which has become the vehicle for the FY15 Defense Authorization bill (must-pass legislation).  Middle East elements of the bill are covered in detail in Section 3, below.

Letters:

(OPPOSING “SANCTIONS” ON ISRAEL) Meadows et al:  On 12/5, Rep. Meadows (R-NC) and an all-GOP line-up of 47 House colleagues sent a letter to President Obama “demanding clarification on recent reports indicating the Administration is considering imposing sanctions against Israel for constructing homes in East Jerusalem” (as described in Meadows’ press release).  The letter states that “the mere notion that the Administration would unilaterally impose sanctions against Israel is not only unwise, but is extremely worrisome” and slams the Administration for failing to immediately declare the reports false. The letter adds that “at no point in time has Congress given the Administration the authority to sanction Israel” and goes on to threaten: “any attempts to undermine the U.S.’s support of Israel will only further diminish the Administration’s ability to get Congressional support for any potential agreement with Iran.” The reports in question started with this article in Haaretz, which in fact doesn’t use the word “sanctions” even once to describe what the Obama Administration may (or may not) be considering.  That story was picked up and re-framed as a sanctions story, including here (an article that, in contrast to the Haaretz piece, does use the word “sanctions” and focuses on the “gotcha” accusation that the Obama Administration has not sufficiently denied the Haaretz report).  For more, see this report in the JTA.

(UN MUST TAKE ON ANTI-SEMITISM) Murphy et al:  On 12/8, Reps. Murphy (D-FL) Diaz-Balart (R-FL), Deutch (D-FL), and Johnson (R-OH), sent a bipartisan letter, signed by more than 80 House colleagues calling on the UN to take decisive action against the global surge in anti-Semitism. Murphy’s floor statement on the issue is here.

 

2.  Mideast Elements of the Cromnibus

The Cromnibus includes significant provisions relating to the Middle East in two sections: Division C, the Department of Defense Appropriations; and Division J, Department of State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs Appropriations.  Bill text is covered in detail, below.  In addition, the Appropriations Committees issued explanatory statements for each section of the bill, akin to joint report language giving greater detail of Congressional intent for the various funding lines.  The explanatory statement accompanying the Defense Appropriations section is here; the explanatory statement accompanying the ForOps section is here.  To review the House and Senate versions of the FY15 ForOps bill (prior to this Cromnibus), including the Reports that accompanied them (laying out in even greater deal appropriators’ intent), see the 6/20/14 edition of the Round-Up.

 

DIVISION C—DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE APPROPRIATIONS ACT, 2015

OPERATION AND MAINTENANCE, DEFENSE-WIDE

Funding for Jordan:  The bill stipulates that “…funds may be used to reimburse the government of Jordan, in such amounts as the Secretary of Defense may determine, to maintain the ability of the Jordanian armed forces to maintain security along the border between Jordan and Syria, upon 15 days prior written notification to the congressional defense committees outlining the amounts reimbursed and the nature of the expenses to be reimbursed…”

Israeli Cooperative Programs

SEC. 8074:  The bill stipulates that under the headings “Procurement, Defense-Wide” and “Research, Development, Test and Evaluation, Defense-Wide”, “$619,814,000 shall be for the Israeli Cooperative Programs”.  This funding is broken down as follows:

- $350,972,000 “shall be for the Secretary of Defense to provide to the Government of Israel 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”

- $137,934,000 “shall be for the Short Range Ballistic Missile Defense (SRBMD) program, including cruise missile defense research and development under the SRBMD program, of which $15,000,000 shall be for 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”

- $74,707,000 “shall be for an upper-tier component to the Israeli Missile Defense Architecture” and

- $56,201,000 “shall be for the Arrow System Improvement Program including development of a long range, ground and airborne, detection suite”

This section further stipulates that “That funds made available under this provision for production of missiles and missile components may be transferred to appropriations available for the procurement of weapons and equipment, to be merged with and to be available for the same time period and the same purposes as the appropriation to which transferred” – in effect meaning that these funds can be used as extra FMF.

 

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

TITLE I -- DEPARTMENT OF STATE AND RELATED AGENCY

Broadcasting Board of Governors, international broadcasting operations: The bill provides $726,657,000, “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, 2015, 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, 2015, to remain available until expended.”

 

TITLE III -- BILATERAL ECONOMIC ASSISTANCE

ECONOMIC SUPPORT FUNDS – ESF (Total: $2,632,529,000)

NOTE:  ESF for Middle East countries is not dealt with in this section of the bill, but left for section 7041 of the bill, dealing with the Middle East as a whole.

MIGRATION AND REFUGEE ASSISTANCE – MRA (Total:  $931,886,000)

The bill stipulates that “$10,000,000 shall be made available for refugees resettling in Israel.”

TITLE IV - INTERNATIONAL SECURITY ASSISTANCE

INTERNATIONAL NARCOTICS CONTROL AND LAW ENFORCEMENT – INCLE

The bill stipulates that “the reporting requirements contained in section 1404 of Public Law 110-252 shall apply to funds made available by this Act, including a description of modifications, if any, to the Palestinian Authority's security strategy…”

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

The bill 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 $28,000,000 shall be made available for a United States contribution to the Multinational Force and Observers mission in the Sinai.”

FOREIGN MILITARY FINANCING – FMF (TOTAL: $5,014,109,000)

NOTE: See discussion of Section 7041, for other all non-Israel Middle East-related FMF provisions, including Egypt and Jordan.

Israel:  The text stipulates that “not less than $3,100,000,000 shall be available for grants only for Israel” and stipulated 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 has 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, and Yemen.

Sec. 7021:  Prohibition on assistance to governments supporting international terrorism:  This provision prohibits the export of lethal military equipment to any foreign government “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 $2,264,986,000 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.”  Part (i) stipulates: “Funds appropriated by this Act that are made available for democracy programs shall be made available to support freedom of religion, including in the Middle East and North Africa regions.”

Sec. 7034: Special Provisions:  Part (m) of this section, entitled “Crowd Control Items” states the funds appropriated by this Act “should not be used [note: soft prohibition, not the same as “shall 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 (r) of this section, entitled “Loan Guarantees and Enterprise Funds,” permits ESF funding to “be made available for the costs…of loan guarantees for Jordan, Ukraine, and Tunisia, which are authorized to be provided…”  Part (r) also stipulates that ESF funds may be made available “to establish and operate one or more enterprise funds for Egypt and Tunisia,” subject to various conditions. 

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,

Sec. 7036: Palestinian statehood:  Perennial provision barring assistance to a Palestinian state that does not meet a series of conditions (includes 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.  Also bars any finding 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.”

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.”  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

 a. Egypt: 

Overall condition on aid:  This section states that U.S. funding for the Government of Egypt “may only be made available 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 stipulates that “up to $150,000,000 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 at not-for-profit institutions for Egyptian students with high financial need: Provided, That such funds may also be made available for democracy programs: Provided further, That such funds shall be made available for a demonstration project to combat hepatitis C, on a cost matching basis from sources other than the United States Government.” 

The section also stipulates that notwithstanding any other provision of law, “funds made available under the heading ‘‘Economic Support Fund’’ in this Act and prior Acts making appropriations for the Department of State, foreign operations, and related programs for assistance for Egypt may be made available for education and economic growth programs, subject to prior consultation with the appropriate congressional committees.”  It 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 significant and consistent steps to stabilize the economy and implement economic reforms.”  It also requires the Secretary of State to withhold from funding for Egypt an amount “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.’’ This section also stipulates that no convictions in this case against U.S. citizens or permanent residents shall be considered valid under U.S. law.

FMF:  Subject to conditions (discussed below), 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.  The text stipulates that if Egypt fails to meet specified conditions in this section, funds may still be used “at the minimum rate necessary to continue existing contracts…except that defense articles and services from such contracts shall not be delivered” until these conditions are met.   

It also states that “not later than 30 days after enactment of this Act, the Secretary of State shall submit a report to the Committees on Appropriations describing any defense articles withheld from delivery to Egypt as of the date of enactment of this Act” and “not later than 90 days after enactment of this Act, the Secretary shall consult with the Committees on Appropriations on plans to restructure military assistance for Egypt, including cash flow financing.”

The text also states that notwithstanding any other restrictions on aid to Egypt,” funds made available for assistance for Egypt in this Act and prior Acts making appropriations for the Department of State, foreign operations, and related programs may be made available for counterterrorism, border security, and nonproliferation programs in Egypt, and for development activities in the Sinai, if the Secretary of State certifies and reports to the appropriate congressional committees that to do so is important to the national security interest of the United States.”

Conditions on FY15 Funds:  Part 6 of this lengthy section states that except as provided for in the preceding paragraphs, ESF, IMET (International Military Education and Training), and FMF funding for Government of Egypt may be made available notwithstanding any provision of law restricting assistance for Egypt as follows: 

(A) up to $725,850,000 may be made available only if the Secretary of State certifies to the Committees on Appropriations that the Government of Egypt--

(i) has held free and fair presidential and parliamentary elections;

(ii) is implementing laws or policies to govern democratically and protect the rights of individuals;

(iii) is implementing reforms that protect freedoms of expression, association, and peaceful assembly, including the ability of civil society organizations and the media to function without interference;

(iv) it taking consistent steps to protect and advance the rights of women and religious minorities;

(v) is providing detainees with due process of law;

(vi) is conducting credible investigations and prosecutions of the use of excessive force by security forces; and

(vii) has released American citizens who the Secretary of State determines to political prisoners and dismissed all charges against them”.

The text further stipulates that the Secretary of State may provide assistance to Egypt even if these requirements are not met, “if the Secretary, after consultation with the Committees on Appropriations, certifies and reports to such Committees that it is important to the national security interest of the United States to provide such assistance.”

(b) Iran: This section states the terms and conditions of paragraphs (1) and (2) of section 7041(c) in division I of PL 112-74 shall remain in effect.  These are:

(1) It is the policy of the United States to seek to prevent Iran from achieving the capability to produce or otherwise manufacture nuclear weapons, including by supporting international diplomatic efforts to halt Iran's uranium enrichment program, and the President should fully implement and enforce the Iran Sanctions Act of 1996, as amended (Public Law 104-172) as a means of encouraging foreign governments to require state-owned and private entities to cease all investment in, and support of, Iran's energy sector and all exports of refined petroleum products to Iran.

(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).

It also states that the reporting requirements in section 7043(c) in division F of PL 111–117 shall  continue in effect during fiscal year 2015 as if part of this Act.  These are:

(1) The Secretary of State shall submit to the Committees on Appropriations, not later than 90 days after the date of enactment of this Act and the end of each 90-day period thereafter until September 30, 2010, a report on the status of the bilateral and multilateral efforts aimed at curtailing the pursuit by Iran of nuclear weapons technology.

(2) The Secretary of State, in consultation with the Secretary of the Treasury, shall submit to the Committees on Appropriations, not later than 180 days after the date of enactment of this Act, a report on the status of bilateral United States and multilateral sanctions against Iran and actions taken by the United States and the international community to enforce sanctions against Iran: Provided, That such       report may be submitted in classified form if necessary and shall include the following [long list of required reporting items].

In addition, the bill requires the Secretary of State to “submit to the appropriate congressional committees, not later than 30 days after enactment of this Act and at the end of each 30-day period thereafter until September 30, 2015, a report on the implementation of the Joint Plan of Action between the P5+1 and the Government of Iran concluded on November 24, 2013, and any extension of or successor to that agreement: Provided, That the report shall include the information required in House Report 113–499 and Senate Report 113–195, and may be submitted in classified form if necessary.”

Under House Report 113-499, such report must “include an assessment of the following: (1) Iran's compliance with its commitments under the Joint Plan of Action; (2) any significant change in its nuclear program and of the estimated breakout time needed to secure the minimum amount of fissile material required for a nuclear explosive device; (3) any significant change in Iran's ballistic missile development and acquisition programs, including warheads and other delivery vehicles; and (4) the adequacy of existing inspection and verification measures to detect Iran's ability to engage in clandestine activities, including acquiring nuclear-related material, equipment, or technology from foreign sources, and any actions required to improve such measures.”

Under Senate Report 113-195, such report must “on the interim agreement relating to Iran's nuclear program, including any successor to such agreement, including: verification that Iran is complying with such agreement; an assessment of the overall state of Iran's nuclear program and projected breakout time for Iran to have the necessary fuel for one weapon; an assessment of existing inspection and verification measures to detect Iran's ability to cheat on such agreement (including by acquiring nuclear capabilities from abroad); any plans considered or steps taken by the administration and the international community to improve such inspection and verification measures; and steps taken by the United States to strengthen the security of allies in the region.”

(d) Jordan: This section earmarks “not less than $1,000,000,000” in ESF and FMF for Jordan [it does not earmark specific amounts for either ESF or FMF]. 

(e) Lebanon:  This section states 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.”  It also stipulates that ESF for Lebanon may be made available “notwithstanding section 1224 of Public Law 107–228.”  Section 1224 of Public Law 107–228 bars aid to Lebanon unless the President certifies that “(1) the armed forces of Lebanon have been deployed to the internationally recognized border between Lebanon and Israel; and (2) the Government of Lebanon is effectively asserting its authority in the area in which such armed forces have been deployed.”

In addition, 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.

(f) Libya:  This section bars any assistance to the Government of Libya unless the Secretary of State certifies 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.” It stipulates that this ban on aid does not apply to “funds made available for the purpose of protecting United States Government personnel or facilities.”  The section also sets out other conditions and reporting requirements.

(g) Morocco:  This section stipulates that “funds appropriated under title III of this Act shall be made available for assistance for the Western Sahara.”  It further states that “Funds appropriated by this Act under the heading ‘‘Foreign Military Financing Program’’ that are available for assistance for Morocco may only be used for the purposes requested in the Congressional Budget Justification, Foreign Operations, Fiscal Year 2015.”

(h) Syria:  This section states permits “Funds appropriated under title III of this Act and prior Acts making appropriations for the Department of State, foreign operations, and related programs may be made available notwithstanding any other provision of law for non-lethal assistance for programs to address the needs of civilians affected by conflict in Syria, and for programs that seek to— (A) establish governance in Syria that is representative, inclusive, and accountable; (B) expand the role of women in negotiations to end the violence and in any political transition in Syria; (C) develop and implement political processes that are democratic, transparent, and adhere to the rule of law; (D) further the legitimacy of the Syrian opposition through cross-border programs; (E) develop civil society and an independent media in Syria; (F) promote economic development in Syria; (G) document, investigate, and prosecute human rights violations in Syria, including through transitional justice programs and support for nongovernmental organizations; (H) counter extremist ideologies; and (I) assist Syrian refugees whose education has been interrupted by the ongoing conflict to complete higher education requirements at regional academic institutions.”

The bill also requires that “Prior to the obligation of funds appropriated by this Act and made available for assistance for Syria, the Secretary of State shall take all practicable steps to ensure that mechanisms are in place for monitoring, oversight, and control of such assistance inside Syria: Provided, That the Secretary of State shall promptly inform the appropriate congressional committees of each significant instance in which assistance provided pursuant to the authority of this subsection has been compromised, to include the type and amount of assistance affected, a description of the incident and parties involved, and an explanation of the Department of State's response.” 

(i) 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:  Part 2 lays out further limitations on U.S. funding for the Palestinian Authority – stipulations that appear to be mistakenly placed in this section, which is about the West Bank/Gaza aid program through NGOs, not PA funding, which is dealt with at length in Sec. 7040 of this bill, as discussed above.  In any case, 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 judicially authorized investigation, or actively support such an investigation, that subjects Israeli nationals to an investigation for alleged crimes against Palestinians.” This section provides 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.”  No waiver is provided if the Palestinians go to the ICC.

Kicking the PLO Office Out of the U.S.:  Part 2(B) limits the President’s ability to waive longstanding (and entirely 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 last year’s, makes such waiver contingent on the President certifying that “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.”  If the president cannot make that 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.”  This requirement was originally added to the Senate version of the FY15 ForOps bill during the full committee markup, as an amendment offered by Graham (R-SC) and Kirk (R-IL), adopted by unanimous voice vote.

(j) Yemen:  The bill stipulates that “None of the funds appropriated by this Act for assistance for Yemen may be made available for the Armed Forces of Yemen if such forces are controlled by a foreign terrorist organization, as designated pursuant to section 219 of the Immigration and Nationality Act.”

Sec. 7048: United Nations:  Part (a) of this section deals with Transparency and Accountability at the UN. Part (b) states 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.  The section also permits the Secretary of State to waive this ban if it is in the national interest of the United States.  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, provided that “the Secretary of State shall report to the Committees on Appropriations not later than September 30, 2015, 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) lays out reporting requirements relating to UNRWA, as follows:

 “The Secretary of State shall submit a report in writing to the Committees on Appropriations not less than 45 days after enactment of this Act on whether the United Nations Relief and Works Agency is— (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.”

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. 7060: Sector Allocations:  Part (b) of this section, “Countering Violent Extremism,” states that “Funds appropriated by titles I, III, and IV of this Act may be made available for programs to reduce support for foreign terrorist organizations (FTOs), as designated pursuant to section 219 of the Immigration and Nationality Act, through messaging campaigns to damage their appeal; programs for potential supporters of violent extremism; counter radicalization and rehabilitation programs in prisons; job training and social reintegration for former supporters of FTOs; law enforcement training programs; and capacity building for civil society organizations to combat radicalization in local communities: Provided, That for purposes of this subsection the term `countering violent extremism' shall be defined as non-coercive interventions aimed directly at reducing public support for FTOs...”

Part (f) of this section, “Reconciliation Programs,” earmarks not less than $26 million from ESF and Development Assistance funds “to support people-to-people reconciliation programs which bring together individuals of different ethnic, religious, and political backgrounds from areas of civil strife and war…”  Note: While the bill text does not earmark any funds specifically for the Middle East, the explanatory language accompanying the bill earmarks $10 million for Middle East reconciliation programs.

Sec. 7068: Commercial Leasing of Defense Articles:  Perennial provision: “Notwithstanding any other provision of law, and subject to the regular notification procedures of the Committees on Appropriations, the authority of section 23(a) of the Arms Export Control Act may be used to provide 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 (other than helicopters and other types of aircraft having possible civilian application), if the President determines that there are compelling foreign policy or national security reasons for those defense articles being provided by commercial lease rather than by government-to-government sale under such Act.”

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, Colombia, Egypt, Haiti, Iraq, Lebanon, Libya, Mexico, Pakistan, the West Bank and Gaza, and Yemen…”

 

3.  Mideast Elements in the Defense Authorization Bill

By close of business today (12/12), the Senate should pass HR 3979,  as adopted by the House, which has become the FY15 Defense Authorization bill.  Middle East elements of the bill are covered in detail below. 

One additional note:  On 12/10 Sen. Rubio (R-FL) introduced an amendment to the bill (not considered) seeking to add a lengthy new section entitled “Palestinian and United Nations Anti-Terrorism Act of 2014''” (text here).  The amendment sought to, among other things, re-define existing legislation to bar any U.S. dealings with a Palestinian reconciliation government, even if it meets current conditions as articulated by Congress in law; cut funding for the UN in an amount equal to what is spent out of UN dues on the UN Human Rights Council; put new conditions on funding for UNRWA; and take funds withheld from the PA, UNRWA, or the UN and transfer them to the Government of Israel “for the Iron Dome missile defense system and other missile defense programs” or for “underground warfare training and technology and assistance to identify and deter tunneling from Palestinian-controlled territories into Israel.”

The Middle East in HR 3979

 

-- SEC. 1209: AUTHORITY TO PROVIDE ASSISTANCE TO THE VETTED SYRIAN OPPOSITION.  This section does exactly what the title suggests…

-- SEC. 1271: REPORTS ON NUCLEAR PROGRAM OF IRAN.  This section requires the President without 30 days of this Act becoming law to report to Congress on the interim agreement relating to the nuclear program of Iran. Such report must include:  “(1) verification of whether Iran is complying with such agreement; and (2) an assessment of the overall state of the nuclear program of Iran.”  This section also requires that “If the interim agreement described in subsection (a) is renewed or if a comprehensive and final agreement is entered into regarding the nuclear program of Iran, by not later than 90 days after such renewal or final agreement being entered into, and every 180 days thereafter, the President shall submit to the appropriate congressional committees a report on such renewed or final agreement. Such report shall include the matters described in paragraphs (1) and (2) of subsection (a).”

-- SEC. 1277: EXTENSION OF ANNUAL REPORTS ON THE MILITARY POWER OF IRAN.  “Section 1245(d) of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2010 (Public Law 111-84; 123 Stat. 2544) is amended by striking `December 31 2014' and inserting `December 31, 2016'.” [See Public Law 111-84 for lengthy list of the report’s requirements].

-- SEC. 1279: RULE OF CONSTRUCTION.  “Nothing in this Act shall be construed as authorizing the use of force against Iran.” (WHEW!)

 -- SEC. 1661: AVAILABILITY OF FUNDS FOR IRON DOME SHORT-RANGE ROCKET DEFENSE SYSTEM.  This section authorizes that “not more than $350,972,000 may be provided to the Government of Israel to procure the Iron Dome short-range rocket defense system as specified in the funding table in section 4102, including for co-production of Iron Dome parts and components in the United States by industry of the United States.”  It also stipulates conditions on this authorization.

-- Sec. 1664:  STUDY ON TESTING PROGRAM OF GROUND-BASED MIDCOURSE MISSILE DEFENSE SYSTEM. The bill directs the study to include: “(1) An assessment of whether the testing program described in subsection (a) has established, as of the date of the study, that the ground-based midcourse missile defense system has a high probability of performing reliably and effectively against limited missile threats from North Korea and Iran under realistic operational conditions, including an explanation of the degree of confidence supporting such assessment.” AND “(2) An assessment of whether the currently planned testing program, if implemented, is sufficient to establish reasonable confidence that the ground-based midcourse missile defense system has a high probability of performing reliably and effectively under realistic operational conditions against current and plausible near- and medium-term limited ballistic missile threats from North Korea and Iran.” AND “(3) Any recommendations for improvements that could be made to the testing program to-- (A) achieve reasonable confidence that the system would be reliable and effective under realistic operational conditions; or (B) improve test and cost efficiencies.”

-- SEC. 1665:  SENSE OF CONGRESS AND REPORT ON HOMELAND BALLISTIC MISSILE DEFENSE.  The required report must include, “A detailed description of the current assessment of the threat to the United Sates from limited ballistic missile attack (whether accidental, unauthorized, or deliberate), particularly from countries such as North Korea and Iran, and an assessment of the projected future threat through 2023, including a discussion of confidence levels and uncertainties in such threat assessment.”    It must also include, “A detailed description of the options to improve the homeland ballistic missile defense capability that would respond to the emergence of a long-range ballistic missile threat from Iran…”

-- SEC. 1666 – SENSE OF CONGRESS AND REPORT ON REGIONAL BALLISTIC MISSILE DEFENSE.  This section focuses on the threat posed to the U.S. and its allies by the “regional ballistic missile capabilities of countries such as Iran and North Korea.”  Among other things, it states that “the United States should continue efforts to improve regional missile defense capabilities in the Middle East, including its close cooperation with Israel and its efforts with countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council, in order to improve regional security against the growing regional missile capabilities of Iran.”  The required report must include, “(2) A detailed description of the status of efforts to improve the regional missile defense capabilities of the United States and the countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council in the Middle East against regional missile threats from Iran, including the progress made toward, and benefits of, multilateral cooperation and data sharing among the countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council with respect to multilateral integrated air and missile defense against threats from Iran.”

 

4.  Members on the Record

Poe (R-TX) 12/10: In praise of and support for Iran’s “freedom fighters” – the MEK

Baldwin (D-WI) 12/10: Calling for Action to Prevent International Violence and Discrimination against Women; Highlighting discriminatory national laws in Iran and the recent spate of heinous acid attacks against Iranian women

Olson (R-TX) 12/9:  Olson condemns possible sanctions on close ally Israel

Tipton (R-CO) 12/9: Supporting new sanctions on Iran immediately (HR 850)

Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) 12/9:  Blasting Castro (including for making common cause against US with Iran)

Rigell (R-VA) 12/8: In praise of the passage of S. 2673, the U.S.-Israel “best-allies-with-benefits” bill.

Hastings (D-FL) 12/8: Supporting continued Iran talks, but with skepticism, and calling for Congressional say in any further sanctions relief

Royce (R-CA) 12/8: Chairman Royce Statement on News of Iran Nuclear Cheating

Kirk (R-IL) 12/5: Statement on News Reports that the Administration is Considering Sanctions on Israel

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