[UPDATED 5/13 to reflect new info about pro-settlement language in the Senate version of the Customs bill - S. 1269 - see Section 2, below, for details].
APN maintains strong relationships with Members of Congress, congressional staff, and Executive Branch officials. A non-partisan organization . with a non-partisan mission, APN supplies timely information, analysis, expertise and education, providing a pro-Israel, pro-peace, American Jewish perspective on issues and legislation related to Israel and the quest for Middle East peace and, security. APN also engages in advocacy, directly and through its nationwide Action Network, to promote pro-Israel/pro-peace legislation and policy
APN publishes the Legislative Round-Up -- the most comprehensive resource available anywhere on Middle East-related developments on Capitol Hill -- every Friday when Congress is in session. APN also hosts policy briefings on Capitol Hill and brings experts to meet with policy makers to maintain a steady flow of balanced information from the region.
APN today issued the following statement regarding the Senate Foreign Relations Committee’s passage of S. 615, amended:
APN has long opposed and continues to oppose any initiative in Congress that could undermine ongoing Iran negotiations or threaten the achievement and implementation of an agreement that could prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons. We have also long pointed out that even without a single new piece of legislation, the kind of substantial, long-term sanctions relief that will be central to the success of any Iran nuclear deal cannot be achieved without the active support and cooperation of Congress – giving Congress an automatic and critical role in overseeing and implementing any Iran deal.
This week the Senate is dealing with S. Con. Res. 11. "An original concurrent resolution setting forth the congressional budget for the United States Government for fiscal year 2016 and setting forth the appropriate budgetary levels for fiscal years 2017 through 2025." This annual exercise is nicknamed a “vote-a-rama,” with members permitted to offer as many amendments as they like on pretty much any topic, so long as they append the magic words at the end of every amendment: “provided that such legislation would not increase the deficit over either the period of the total of fiscal years 2016 through 2020 or the period of the total of fiscal years 2016 through 2025.”
In past years, we have not seen a lot of Middle East provisions offered to the annual budget resolution – possibly because Senators prefer to attach Middle East-related amendments to binding, must-pass legislation like the Foreign Operations Appropriations bill, or the Defense Authorization bill; or because there were stricter rules governing amendments; or just maybe because at no time in recent memory has the Senate (or some of its members) behaved in such a reckless and at times nutty-as-a squirrel-turd manner as is the case today.
In this context, it comes as no surprise to see lots of Middle East-related amendments being offered to S. Con. Res. 11. Below is a summary of these amendments – it will be updated if more are submitted. It should be kept in mind that some/most/all of these may never be voted on and that in any case, they are non-binding; however, they are important nonetheless as statements of congressional intent and as efforts to corner members into taking a more consequential vote on binding legislation later.
Yesterday saw the publication of an open letter, signed by 47 Republican Senators and addressed to the leaders of Iran, with a simple message: any agreement you make with U.S. President Barack Obama over your nuclear program will not be worth the paper it’s written on; we can block it now or kill it once Obama is out of office. Bloomberg journalist Josh Rogin, who broke the story, stated unequivocally that the letter is meant “to discourage the Iranian regime from signing a deal.” The letter was spearheaded by Sen. Cotton (R-AR), who has long made clear his opposition to any Iran negotiations; signers include including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY).