(FIRST STRIKE AT IRAN DEAL) H. Res. 367: Introduced 7/16 by Roskam (R-IL) and having 165 cosponsors, “Expressing the sense of the House of Representatives in disapproval of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action agreed to by the P5+1 and Iran on July 14, 2015.” Referred to the House Committee on Foreign Affairs. Some observations:
(1) This resolution puts to rest the notion that, at least for 166 members of the House (so far), there is any actual interest in reviewing the deal. Why? Because they decided to introduce/cosponsor this resolution of disapproval BEFORE the Obama Administration has even submitted the full details of the agreement – as required by Congress, in legislation that all of these 165 members voted for (that legislation, HR 1191, passed by a vote of 415-0 in the House). In essence, they are stating publicly that they aren’t interested in the details of the deal – no matter what it contains (including in classified annexes) they reject it.
(2) The 166 House members who have signed on to this bill are all GOP – underscoring the degree to which this deal is a partisan issue. Certainly some House Democrats have expressed concerns or uneasiness with the deal, but even they are waiting to actually review the deal before pronouncing a final position.
(3) This resolution is unlikely to be the actual legislative vehicle of disapproval that moves forward in the House, given both the fact that it was introduced by a relatively junior member of the GOP House leadership and that it was introduced before there was even a pretense of the House reviewing the deal.
(MOVE EMBASSY TO JERUSALEM!) H. Con. Res. 62: Introduced 7/14 by Blackburn (R-TN) and 19 cosponsors, “Expressing the sense of Congress that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel and therefore, consistent with the location of other United States embassies, the United States embassy in Israel should be located in Jerusalem.” Referred to the House Committee on Foreign Affairs. Blackburn’s statement on the introduction of the resolution is here. This latest version of this perennial bit of Congressional theater comes on the heels of the Supreme Court’s ruling against another a previous effort by Congress to mandate – through a sort of legislative side-door – a shift in U.S. law to recognize Jerusalem as (wholly) a city of Israel. Perhaps in a pretense of deference to that ruling, H. Con. Res. 62 includes a whereas clause stating: “Whereas this sense of Congress has no bearing on the final status of Jerusalem as the United States is not a party to the Israel-Palestinian conflict.” That whereas clause, of course, rings not so much hollow as insincere bordering on snarky, given the longstanding efforts of Congress to use U.S. law to make sure that Jerusalem is recognized and will forever be recognized as the eternal, undivided capital of Israel, and ONLY of Israel – eg: 114th Congress: HR 114, S. 117; 113th Congress: H. Con. Res. 48; HR 2846; S. 604, HR 252, HR 104, S. Amdt. 552; HR 3629; 112th Congress: S. 1622; H. Res. 291; HR 1006; H. Con. Res. 5; S. Amdt. 1137; HR 2583; etc… ad infintum (or at least it feels that way).
(US-JORDAN DEFENSE COOPERATION) HR 907: Introduced 2/12 by Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) and having 13 cosponsors, the “United States-Jordan Defense Cooperation Act of 2015.” Passed in the House under suspension of the rules 7/7, by voice vote, and referred to the Senate.
(US-JORDAN DEFENSE COOPERATION) S. 1789: Introduced 7/16 by Rubio (R-FL), “A bill to improve defense cooperation between the United States and the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan.” Referred to the Committee on Foreign Relations. It is not clear what purpose is served by Rubio’s introducing what appears to be the exact same bill separately in the Senate, rather than having the SFRC move ahead with the already-passed House version, other than continuing the tradition of competition between the House and Senate for ownership over legislation.
FY16 FOROPS – SENATE VERSION) S. 1725: Introduced (reported out of committee) 7/9 by Graham (R-SC), the “Department of State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs Appropriations Act, 2016.” Report language is here. Placed on the Senate Legislative Calendar. For full details, see section 2, below.
(NO UN ACTION ON IRAN DEAL UNTIL CONGRESS DISAPPROVES!) Corker-Cardin letter and Royce-McCaul letter: Some Members of Congress (and particularly opponents of the Iran deal) are in a lather over the fact that the United Nations will apparently take action to approve the Iran deal next week – before the U.S. Congress has used its self-allotted 60 days to review the deal (and almost certainly disapprove of it, sparking a presidential veto, which Congress will then try, and almost certainly fail, to override, at which point the U.S. side of the deal will go ahead). This is the message sent to President Obama 7/16 in two letters, one from the Chairman and Ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and another from the Chairman of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs and the Chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee. In essence, both letters suggest that Obama should block UN action on the agreement until the U.S. Congress is done trying to kill the deal – regardless of the fact that UN sanctions (like sanctions on Iran imposed by other nations) are not under the jurisdiction of the U.S. Congress and the lifting/retaining of these sanctions is not for Congress to decide. The Corker-Cardin press release is here; Royce-McCaul press release is here.
(BLOCK APPOINTEES IF UN ACTS ON IRAN DEAL) Cruz letter: On 7/16, Cruz (R-TX) sent his own letter to Obama regarding UN action on the Iran deal. In the letter, Cruz threatens Obama: "I ask that you provide written assurances that you will take all necessary steps to block any UN Security Council resolution approving the JCPOA until the statutory timeline for Congressional review has run its course. Until you provide such assurances, I intend to block all nominees for the Department of State and hold any legislation that reauthorizes funds for the Department of State." The Hill report on the letter is here, and notes, "Cruz's pledge to block State Department officials or funding isn't a new threat for the administration. As a White House official quickly pointed out, Cruz in 2013 threatened to block nominees until Obama nominated an inspector general for the department; in 2014, Cruz threatened to block nominees until the administration answered his questions about a ban on U.S. flights to Israel; and earlier this year, Cruz wanted to cut the department's budget for every 30 days a human rights report was delayed."
(SAVE SUSIYA) Eshoo letter: This week, Rep. Eshoo (D-CA) is circulating a letter urging Secretary of State Kerry to intervene to stop the demolition of the Palestinian village of Susiya in the West Bank, which could take place as early as next week. As background, the Israeli human rights group Btselem notes that “…the demolition policy applied by the Israeli authorities in Area C, of which the planned demolition of Susiya forms part, is not based on considerations of planning, building, law and order. Rather, it constitutes the cynical manipulation of planning laws in order to restrict the presence of the Palestinian population and to expand the settlement enterprise. If the demolition is executed, this will create irreversible damage and immense suffering for the residents of Susiya. Meanwhile, the residents of the adjacent [settlement] outposts, which were also built without building permits or outline plans, will continue to enjoy the support of the authorities and connection to water and electricity services, without facing threats to demolish their homes.” For more background see: Rabbis for Human Rights - The struggle against the forced displacement of Susya to Area A.
On 7/9, the Senate Appropriations Committee reported out of committee its version of the FY16 State and Foreign Operations Appropriations bill, S. 1725, along with a report laying out further details of the Committee’s intent. This followed a ForOps subcommittee markup of the bill on 7/7, and a full committee markup on 7/9. For details of the House version of this legislation, see the 6/5/15 edition of the Round-Up. Middle East-related elements in the Senate bill (and report) are as detailed below.
TITLE I -- DEPARTMENT OF STATE AND RELATED AGENCY
Broadcasting Board of Governors, international broadcasting operations
The bill provides $728,257,000 (compared to $726,657,000 in FY15), “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.” (same as FY16)
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: 1,991,070,000, compared to $2,632,529,000 in FY15)
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, same as FY15)
The bill stipulates that “$10,000,000 shall be made available for refugees resettling in Israel.” (Same as FY15).
TITLE IV - INTERNATIONAL SECURITY ASSISTANCE
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 $35,000,000 (F15 - $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: $4,543,934,000;FY15 - $5,014,109,000)
(See discussion of Section 7041, below, for other all non-Israel Middle East-related FMF provisions.)
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 after the removal of the Morsi government. 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 (FY15 - $2,308,517,000) for democracy programs, (as defined later in this provision), and sub-earmarks “not less than $409,316,000 for the Near East region.” Part (d) states that “With respect to the provision of assistance for democracy programs in this Act, the organizations implementing such assistance, the specific nature of that assistance, and the participants in such programs shall not be subject to the prior approval by the government of any foreign country.”
Sec. 7033: International Religious Freedom
Part (d) of this section, “Genocide Determination” states that “Not later than 90 days after enactment of this Act, the Secretary of State, in consultation with the heads of other relevant United States Government agencies and representatives from United States civil society, shall submit to the appropriate congressional committees determinations on whether the ongoing violence against Christians in the Middle East by Islamic extremists or against the Rohingya people in Burma by Buddhist extremists constitutes genocide, as defined in section 1091 of title 18, United States Code: Provided, That if the Secretary of State makes a determination that such violence constitutes genocide, the Secretary shall concurrently submit to the appropriate congressional committees a strategy for addressing such genocide.”
Sec. 7034: Special Provisions
Part (b)(2), entitled “Crowd Control Items,” states that “Funds appropriated by this Act should not be used for tear gas, small arms, light weapons, ammunition, or other items for crowd control purposes for foreign security forces that use excessive force to repress peaceful expression, association, or assembly in countries undergoing democratic transition.”
Part (o)(1), entitled “Loan Guarantees and Enterprise Fund,” 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 (o)(2), entitled “Enterprise Funds,” stipulates that ESF funds may be made available “to establish and operate one or more enterprise funds for Egypt and Tunisia, notwithstanding any other provision of law, and following consultation with the Committees on Appropriations” 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 [same as FY15 version adopted into law] 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 be made available for education and economic growth programs notwithstanding any provision of law restricting assistance for Egypt, and following prior consultation with the Committees on Appropriations: Provided further, That such funds may not be made available for cash transfer assistance or budget support unless the Secretary of State certifies and reports to the appropriate congressional committees that the Government of Egypt is taking consistent and effective steps to stabilize the economy and implement market-based economic reforms.”
The section also stipulates that, “The Secretary of State shall withhold from obligation 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 allocates “up to $1,300,000,000,” to remain available until September 30, 2017, in FMF for Egypt, to made available (and transferred to an interest bearing account in the Federal Reserve Bank of New York) if the Secretary of State certifies and reports to the Committees on Appropriations that the Government of Egypt meets then following conditions:
(1) “is taking effective steps to advance democracy and human rights in Egypt, including to govern democratically and protect religious minorities and the rights of women, which are in addition to steps taken during the previous calendar year for such purposes”;
(2) “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”;
(3) “has released all political prisoners and is providing detainees with due process of law”; and
(4) “is conducting credible investigations and prosecutions of the use of excessive force by security forces”.
This section stipulates that this conditionality on FMF does not apply “to funds appropriated by this Act under such heading for counterterrorism, border security, and nonproliferation programs for Egypt, and for development programs in the Sinai, which may be made available notwithstanding any provision of law restricting assistance for Egypt.” In addition, the section includes waiver authority, according to which the Secretary of State may waive the certification requirement discussed above, as well as “any provision of law restricting assistance for Egypt” if the Secretary of State “determines and reports to the Committees on Appropriations that to do so is important to the national security interest of the United States, and submits a report to such Committees containing a detailed justification for the use of such waiver and the reasons why any of the [certification] requirements…cannot be met.”
Finally, this section requires the Secretary of State to “take all practicable steps to ensure that mechanisms are in place for monitoring, oversight, and control of funds made available by this subsection for assistance for Egypt”. The text also notes that notwithstanding anything in this section, “section 620M of the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961 shall apply to funds made available by this subsection for assistance for Egypt.” The latter refers to the so-called Leahy Law, which bars U.S. military assistance “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 to foreign military units that violate human rights.”
In addition, the report accompanying the bill states:
- “…While the Committee shares the Government of Egypt's assessments regarding the threats posed by Islamic extremists in neighboring countries and the Sinai, the Committee remains concerned with the status of democracy, human rights, and the rule of law in Egypt. The Committee appreciates efforts by the Departments of State and Defense to update bilateral relations with Egypt, and expects that respect for human rights and the rule of law remain part of the strategic dialogue.
- “The Committee notes that section 7041(a)(4) of the act requires the Secretary of State to take all practicable steps to ensure that mechanisms are in place for monitoring, oversight, and control of assistance for Egypt, and emphasizes that section 620M of the FAA applies to funds made available by the act for the Egyptian security forces.
- “Not later than 90 days after enactment of the act, the Secretary of State, in consultation with the USAID Administrator, shall submit to the Committees a report on the hepatitis C pilot program initiated in fiscal year 2015, including the goals and benchmarks established in consultation with the Government of Egypt, the anticipated number of recipients, efforts to coordinate such program with other U.S. Government agencies, and the annual expenditure of the Government of Egypt on programs to combat hepatitis C.”
(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).
This section also earmarks not less than $32,000,000 “for democracy programs for Iran: Provided, That such funds shall be the responsibility of 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.”
In addition, this section stipulates 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].
Finally, this section 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, 2016, 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, which may be submitted in classified form if necessary.”
In addition, the report accompanying the bill includes a lengthy section on Iran, including significant additional reporting requirements, as follows:
- “The Committee remains concerned with the nuclear ambitions of the Government of Iran and recognizes that an increase in Iranian influence in the Middle East and South Asia will have significant repercussions on the security and stability of key allies. As with Russia and the PRC, the rise of Iran creates a regional challenge for the U.S. which will require the following to peacefully address: deft diplomacy; additional military and foreign assistance for states in the region, including Israel and Jordan; increased direct foreign investment; and coherent counter influence programs. Section 7041(b) of the act continues provisions regarding Iran similar to the prior fiscal year.
- “The Committee is concerned with Pastor Saeed Abedini who remains imprisoned in Iran, and urges the Secretary of State to seek Pastor Abedini's release and to keep the Committee informed of his health and welfare.
- “The Committee directs the Secretary of State to submit a report to the appropriate congressional committees not later than 180 days after enactment of the act detailing the steps taken by the Secretary and the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations to implement section 415 of the Iran Threat Reduction and Syria Human Rights Act of 2012 (Public Law 112-158).
- “The Committee directs the Secretary of State to submit a report to the appropriate congressional committees not later than 90 days after enactment of the act and every 90 days thereafter until September 30, 2016 detailing Iran's current financial support for promoting terrorism and regional instability, including the financial institutions facilitating Iran's support, and any significant changes in such support between reporting periods.
- “Not later than 180 days after the enactment of the act, the Secretary of State, in consultation with the Secretary of the Treasury, shall submit a report to the appropriate congressional committees on the status of bilateral U.S. and multilateral sanctions against Iran and actions taken by the U.S. and the international community to enforce such sanctions, including for proliferation, terrorism, and human rights violations. The report should include: a list of all sanctions; details on any foreign entity the Secretary of State believes may have violated such sanctions; a description of the actions taken by the U.S. to investigate sanctions violations; and a description of efforts to strengthen and enforce such sanctions.
- “The Committee directs the Secretary of State, in consultation with the Secretary of the Treasury and the Director of National Intelligence, to submit a report to the appropriate congressional committees, not later than 120 days after enactment of the act and every 120 days thereafter until September 30, 2016, detailing, to the extent known: the monetary value of any direct or indirect forms of sanctions relief that Iran has received since the Joint Plan of Action first entered into effect; how Iran has used funds made available through sanctions relief; whether any such funds have facilitated the ability of Iran to provide support to terrorist organizations (including Hamas, Hezbollah, and Palestinian Islamic Jihad) or to the regime of Bashar al-Assad in Syria; and the extent to which any senior officials of the Government of Iran have diverted any funds from sanctions relief into their personal accounts. The report shall be submitted in unclassified form, but may include a classified annex.”
(b) Iraq: Not covered in the Round-Up.
(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], “consistent with the Memorandum of Understanding on Strategic Partnership between the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan and the United States, signed on March 2, 2015.”
- additional funds appropriated by this Act “shall be made available for programs to implement the Jordan Response Plan 2015 for the Syria Crisis, including assistance for host communities in Jordan” and requires the Secretary of State to submit a report to Congress not later than 180 days after enactment of this Act “describing the United States and other donor contributions to such Plan.”
- in addition, not less than $75,000,000 in ESF for Jordan (on top of the $1,000,000,000 already mentioned), of which “not less than $204,000,000 shall be made available for budget support for the Government of Jordan.”
- an additional $100,000,000 (on top of the other funding already mentioned) “for water sector support for Jordan.” The report accompanying the bill notes that this funding “is intended as a U.S. contribution for the initial phase of the Red Sea-Dead Sea water project, pending completion of relevant studies and assessments. The Committee recognizes the importance of this project to Jordan's development, as well as regional cooperation between Jordan, Israel, and the Palestinians.”
(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 purpose” (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.”
The report accompanying the bill notes:
- “Section 7041(e) of the act conditions assistance for Lebanon in a manner similar to the prior fiscal year. Section 7081 of the act is intended to help alleviate economic and social burdens caused by significant refugee populations from Syria.
- “The Committee notes that sections 620A and 620G of the FAA restrict assistance to any country the Secretary of State determines has repeatedly supported acts of international terrorism and require the withholding of assistance to the government of any country that provides assistance to such country so determined by the Secretary, respectively. Hezbollah has been designated a foreign terrorist organization [FTO] pursuant to section 219 of the Immigration and Nationality Act (Public Law 82-814), as amended, since 1997. The Committee again expects that no funds made available by the act will directly or indirectly benefit or otherwise legitimize Hezbollah, including within the Government of Lebanon, or any other FTO operating in Lebanon.
- “The Committee recommends that of the funds appropriated under the ESF heading for assistance for Lebanon, not less than $12,000,000 be made available for scholarships for students in Lebanon with high financial need to attend not-for-profit educational institutions in Lebanon that meet standards comparable to those required for U.S. accreditation. The institutions and students are encouraged to pay as much of the cost of the education as possible in order to share the commitment to the future of Lebanon and to maximize the number of students assisted. All students, including graduates of public and private secondary schools, should be eligible for scholarships based on needs, academic record, and potential to contribute to the long-term political, economic, and social development of Lebanon.”
(f) Libya: This section earmarks $20,000,000 “for assistance for Libya for programs to strengthen governing institutions, improve border security, and promote democracy and stability in Libya, and for activities to address the humanitarian needs of the people of Libya.” It goes on to stipulate that none of these funds may be used for assistance to Libya unless the Secretary of State reports to Congress that the government of Libya “is cooperating with United States Government efforts to investigate and bring to justice those responsible for the attack on United States personnel and facilities in Benghazi, Libya in September 2012.” The text notes that this limitation shall not apply to funds made available for the purpose of protecting United States Government personnel or facilities. It also notes that, “The limitation on the uses of funds in section 7041(f)(2) of the Department of State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs Appropriations Act, 2014 (division K of Public Law 113-76) shall apply to funds appropriated by this Act that are made available for assistance for Libya.” Finally, it requires that prior to the initial obligation of funds for Libya under this Act, “the Secretary of State shall certify and report to the Committees on Appropriations that all practicable steps have been taken to ensure that mechanisms are in place for monitoring, oversight, and control of funds made available by this subsection for assistance for Libya.”
(g) Morocco: This section stipulates that “funds appropriated under title III of this Act shall be made available for assistance for the Western Sahara” and that “not later than 90 days after enactment of this Act and prior to the obligation of such funds the Secretary of State, in consultation with the Administrator of the United States Agency for International Development, shall consult with the Committees on Appropriations on the proposed uses of such funds.” 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 2016.”
(h) Syria: This section stipulates that not less than $175,000 of funds appropriated by this act under ESF, INCLE, and PKO “shall 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; (I) assist Syrian refugees whose education has been interrupted by the ongoing conflict to complete higher education requirements at regional academic institutions; and (J) assist vulnerable populations in Syria and in neighboring countries.
It also requires that funds appropriated for assistance for Syria under this section “shall be made available for a program to strengthen the capability of Syrian diaspora-led organizations and local Syrian civil society organizations to address the immediate and long-term needs of the Syrian people inside Syria in a manner that supports the sustainability of such organizations in implementing Syrian-led humanitarian and development programs and the comprehensive strategy required in section 7041(i)(3) of the Department of State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs Appropriations Act, 2014 (division K of Public Law 113-76): Provided further, That not later than 30 days after enactment of this Act, and prior to the initial obligation of funds, the Secretary of State shall submit an update to such strategy to the Committees on Appropriations, in classified form if necessary.”
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 response.”
Finally, the bill requires that “Funds made available pursuant to this subsection may only be made available following consultation with the appropriate congressional committees.”
The report accompanying the bill notes:
- “Section 7041(h) of the act continues directives and requirements regarding the provision of non-lethal assistance for Syria, and monitoring and oversight of such assistance, in a manner similar to the prior fiscal year. The provision also provides that funds shall be made available for a new program to build the capacity of Syrian diaspora-led organizations and local Syrian civil society to address the immediate and long-term needs of the Syrian people inside Syria in a manner that supports both the sustainability of such organizations and the goals and objectives of the comprehensive Syrian strategy required in section 7041(i)(3) of the Department of State, Foreign Operations and Related Programs Appropriations Act, 2014 (division K of Public Law 113-76). The Committee intends that this program empower such organizations by establishing the underpinnings necessary for a more direct relationship with the Department of State and USAID, including greater authority in decisionmaking on the uses of such funds. The Committee recognizes that Syrian civil society must have a central role in the establishment of a post-crisis Syrian state that is stable and secure, and that will not pose a threat to the region.
- “The Committee directs the Department of State and USAID, in cooperation with relevant U.N. agencies and organizations, to include mental health and psychosocial support services as a core component in programs addressing the needs of Syrian refugees, to be implemented according to Inter-Agency Standing Committee Guidelines on Mental Health and Psychosocial Support in Emergency Settings.
- “Not later than 30 days after enactment of the act, and prior to the obligation of funds made available for assistance for Syria, the Secretary of State shall submit to the appropriate congressional committees an update to the strategy required in section 7041(i)(3) of division K of Public Law 113-76.”
(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 & ICC: Part 2 lays out further limitations on U.S. funding for the Palestinian Authority (stipulations that continue 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 (ICC) 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), in recent years Congress has 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.”
**********NEW*********This year, in addition, the Senate language requires the President to certify that the Palestinians have not, after the date of enactment of this Act, “taken any action with respect to the ICC that is intended to influence a determination by the ICC to initiate a judicially authorized investigation, or to actively support such an investigation, that subjects Israeli nationals to an investigation for alleged crimes against Palestinians.”
If the president cannot make that two-part 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.” It also requires the Secretary to report to Congress “on the amount reduced for fiscal year 2016 prior to the obligation of funds for the Palestinian Authority.”
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) permits funding for the United Nations Human Rights Council only if the Secretary reports to Congress that “participation in the Council is in the national interest of the United States and that the Council is taking 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” as well as reporting to Congress “not later than September 30, 2016, 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 (UNRWA) 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 (f) 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 bill notes that “The Committee recognizes the important role of the United States Security Coordinator in Jerusalem, and requests that the Coordinator consults with the Committee in the event significant programmatic changes are made or delays occur.”
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 (a)(3) states that “For purposes of funds appropriated under title III of this Act, the term `democracy programs' in section 7032(c) of this Act shall also include programs to rescue scholars, and fellowships, scholarships, and exchanges in the Middle East and North Africa for academic professionals and university students from countries in such region, subject to the regular notification procedures of the Committees on Appropriations.”
Part (h) states that “Of the funds appropriated by this Act under the headings `Economic Support Fund' and `Development Assistance', not less than $26,000,000 shall be made available 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…” The report accompanying the bill notes, “The Committee recommends not less than $26,000,000 under this heading and the DA heading for reconciliation programs and activities which bring together and facilitate direct communication between individuals of different ethnic, religious and political backgrounds in countries affected by civil strife and war, including in the Middle East and North Africa. Funds should be leveraged to obtain contributions from other donors and governments to the maximum extent practicable.”
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
This section stipulates, among other things, that “Prior to the initial obligation of funds, the Secretary of State or Administrator of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), as appropriate, shall submit to the Committees on Appropriations a detailed spend plan for funds made available by this Act, for…assistance for Afghanistan, Colombia, Egypt, Haiti, Iraq, Lebanon, Libya, Mexico, Pakistan, the West Bank and Gaza, and Yemen…”
Sec. 7078: Global Internet Freedom
Part (b)(2) of this section stipulates that funds made available in this section shall be “made available to the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, Department of State for programs to implement the May 2011, International Strategy for Cyberspace and the comprehensive strategy to promote Internet freedom and access to information in Iran, as required by section 414 of the Iran Threat Reduction and Syria Human Rights Act of 2012 (22 U.S.C. 8754)…”
Sec. 7081: Countries Impacted by Significant Refugee Populations or Internally Displaced Persons
This section stipulates that funds appropriated by this Act under the headings `Development Assistance' and `Economic Support Fund' “shall be made available for programs to assist significant populations of internally displaced persons or refugees in countries in conflict: Provided, That such funds shall be made available for programs to leverage increased assistance from donors other than the United States Government for central governments and local communities in such countries: Provided further, That the purposes of such assistance shall include activities to--(1) expand and improve host government social services and basic infrastructure to accommodate the needs of such populations and persons; (2) alleviate the social and economic strains placed on host communities; and (3) improve coordination of such assistance in a more effective and sustainable manner.” The section also lays out reporting requirements associated with such funding.
The report accompanying the bill notes: “Section 7081 of the act is a new general provision that requires the Secretary of State to submit a report on ways to expand access by local communities and central governments in middle income countries to additional development assistance and IFI financing for the purposes of alleviating economic and social burdens caused by significant internally displaced person [IDP] and refugee populations. The Committee recognizes such burdens imposed on Jordan by the crises in Syria, Iraq, and West Bank and Gaza.”
7/23: The Senate Foreign Relations Committee will hold hearings (open and closed sessions) to examine Iran nuclear agreement review. Witnesses will reportedly by Secretary of State Kerry, Secretary of Energy Moniz, and Secretary of Treasure Lew.
7/22: The House Financial Services Task Force on Terrorism Financing will hold a hearing entitled, “The Iran Nuclear Deal and its Impact on Terrorism Financing.” No further details are available as of this writing.
7/22: The House Committee on Foreign Affairs’ Subcommittee on the Middle East and North Africa will hold a hearing entitled, “Promoting U.S. Commerce in the Middle East and North Africa.” Scheduled witnesses are Elizabeth Richard, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary, Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs, Department of State; and Scott Nathan, Special Representative for Commercial and Business Affairs, Bureau of Economic and Business Affairs, Department of State.
7/14: The House Committee on Foreign Affairs held a hearing entitled, “Implications of a Nuclear Agreement with Iran (Part II).” Witnesses were: former Senator Joe Lieberman, FDD (no written statement); General Michael V. Hayden (Ret.), Chertoff Group (statement); R. Nicholas Burns, Harvard University (statement); and Ray Takeyh, CFR (statement).
7/9: The House Committee on Foreign Affairs held a hearing entitled, “Implications of a Nuclear Agreement with Iran (Part I).” Witnesses were: Steve Rademaker, Bipartisan Policy Center (statement); Michael Doran, Hudson Institute (statement); Michael Makovsky, JINSA (statement); and Kenneth M. Pollack, Brookings Institution [the token non-knee-jerk-anti-Iran-diplomacy voice] (statement). Video of the hearing is here – Part 1, Part 2.
7/9: The House Committee on Foreign Affairs’ Subcommittee on the Middle East and North Africa held a hearing entitled, “The Gulf Cooperation Council Camp David Summit: Any Results?” Witnesses were: Michael Eisenstadt, WINEP (statement); J. Matthew McInnis, AEI (statement); David Andrew Weinberg, FDD (statement); and Kenneth Katzman, Congressional Research Service (statement) (the token non-ideological witness). Video of the hearing is here.
Virtually every member of Congress has made (and continues to make) statements – in the Congressional Record, in press release, in media appearances, on Twitter – about the 7/14 Iran nuclear deal. There is simply no way to cover them all here. What can be said, briefly, is that statements from GOP members of Congress are, for the most part, negative; statements from Democrats in Congress are for the most part positive (some very positive, some more cautiously so), with many Democrats in essence saying they are hopeful but are (reasonably) withholding final judgment until they have had time to review the deal.
A simple Google search of a specific Member of Congress’ name + “Iran Deal” will clarify where most members stand at this time.
Of course, people aren’t just interested in where members stand, but on what this means for the future of a deal – a deal that at some point in the next 60 days or so will be voted on (and almost certainly disapproved of) by Congress. And as everyone now knows (if only people cared so much about the intricacies of law-making the rest of the time!), the real question is whether opponents of the deal – led prominently by AIPAC and the government of Israel – can get enough support in Congress to overturn a presidential veto of that resolution of disapproval. Virtually all Hill observers, of all political stripes, agree that the answer is almost certainly no, but AIPAC and Netanyahu (and CUFI and others) are fighting on. To follow this unfolding drama in (somewhat) real time, check out the Washington Post’s Senate “Whip Count” and the Hill’s Senate “Whip List” (bearing in mind that these lists reflect best guesses about what a Senator will ultimately do; even the most black-and-white statement issued today does not commit a Senator to vote a certain way next month).