Apologies for the brief hiatus in the publication of the Round-Up, which was the result of the High Holiday
schedule and travel.
1. Bills & Resolution
2. FY16 NDAA Moves Ahead
3. Looking Back at JCPOA-looza (pronounced “Jac-Po-a-looza”)
4. JCPOA in the Senate – the Filibuster (Faux) Controversy
5. JCPOA on the Hill – Farce in the House
6. JCPOA & Iran on the Hill – What Next?
8. Members on the Record
NOTE: This week APN issued a major new policy statement and launched a new campaign around it, entitled, “Reclaiming U.S. Leadership, Reclaiming Israel’s Future.” Read all about it here.
(GRANDSTANDING ON IRAN) HR 3457 and S. 2086: The “Justice for Victims of Iranian Terrorism Act,” introduced in the House 9/9 by Meehan (R-PA) and picked up and introduced in the Senate 9/28 by Toomey (R-PA). These bills seek to prevent Iran sanctions being lifted (under the JCPOA) until Iran makes good on outstanding judgments in the cases of U.S. victims of Iranian-backed terror. On 9/30, the White House issued a Statement of Policy strongly opposing HR 3457 (and by extension, S. 2086 or anything else like it), noting that the bill would prevent the U.S. from fulfilling its commitments under the JCPOA. The SAP states clearly that the President will veto the bill if it is passed by Congress. On 10/1, the House nonetheless voted to suspend the rules and passed HR 3457 (which by that point had 118 cosponsors, all Republicans) by a vote of 251-173 (all Republicans voted in favor; 10 Democrats voted in favor and 173 voted against). The transcript of the House floor debate is here. For an interesting take, see this article in Roll Call by Sara Shourd, who was held prisoner in Iran: Iran Terrorism Bill Won’t Help U.S. Hostages.
(GRANDSTANDING ON IRAN) Toomey (R-PA) amdt to S. 1372: On 10/1, the Senate Banking Committee marked up S. 1372, the “American Crude Oil Export Equality Act.” This already controversial bill seeks to lift the ban on U.S. exports of crude oil. During the committee markup Sen. Toomey (R-PA) offered an amendment the text of which is similar if not identical to HR 3457 and S. 2086, discussed above. Video of the mark-up is here; Toomey’s grandstanding starts at 54:25 – Kirk (R-IL) and Menendez (D-NJ) both join in. Ranking Member Brown (D-OH) was the sole voice speaking against the amendment, noting that it would, in effect, kill the bill. The amendment was adopted by a vote of 13-9, in effect, yes, killing the bill (it appears Menendez was the only Democrat on the committee to vote in favor). Read more about this here.
(INCREASING IRAN “OVERSIGHT”) S.2119 (text here): The waiting is over! Introduced 10/1 by Cardin (D-MD) and 8 Democratic cosponsors, “A bill to provide for greater congressional oversight of Iran's nuclear program, and for other purposes.” Referred to the Committee on Foreign Relations. Cardin press release touting introduction of the bill is here. For excellent and comprehensive reporting/analysis/background on this bill, see here. J Street has come out in support of S. 2119. For the time being, APN is not taking a position on the legislation.
(GRANDSTANDING ON IRAN) HR 3662: Introduced 10/1 by Russell (R-OK) and 20 cosponsors, “To enhance congressional oversight over the administration of sanctions against certain Iranian terrorism financiers, and for other purposes.” Referred to the Committee on Foreign Affairs and the Committee on Financial Services.
(GRANDSTANDING ON IRAN) H. Res. 454: Introduced 10/1 by Russell (R-OK) and 13 cosponsors, “Expressing the sense of the House of Representatives relating to the exercise of presidential waiver authority of certain sanctions imposed against Iran under United States law.” Referred to the House Committee on Foreign Affairs.
(GRANDSTANDING ON IRAN) HR 3646 and S. 2094: Introduced 9/29 in the House by McCaul (R-TX) and 14 GOP cosponsors, and in the Senate by Cruz (R-TX) and no cosponsors, the “IRGC Terrorist Designation Act.” Referred to the House Committee on the Judiciary and the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, respectively.
(GRANDSTANDING ON THE UN) HR
3667: Introduced 10/1 by Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), “To promote transparency, accountability, and reform
within the United Nations system, and for other purposes.”
Referred to the House Committee on Foreign Affairs. Ros-Lehtinen’s press release touting re-introduction of this perennial bill is here. Her 9/29 floor statement announcing her plans to re-introduce the bill is here. As of this writing, text of HR 3667 is not online, but previous versions of the bill provide a good guide of what to expect (including provisions targeting the Palestinians at the UN): HR 3155 (113th Congress); HR 2829 (112th Congress – analysis in the Round-up is here); HR 557 (111th Congress – analysis in the Round-Up here); HR 2712 (110th Congress); and the prototype for all of these bills, HR 2745 (109th Congress – analysis in the Round-Up is here).
(CONCERN FOR IRAQI & SYRIAN MINORITY CIVILIANS) H. Res. 440: Introduced 9/24 by Trott (R-MI) and 7 bipartisan cosponsors, “Calling for urgent international action on behalf of Iraqi and Syrian civilians facing a dire humanitarian crisis and severe persecution because of their faith or ethnicity in the Nineveh Plain region of Iraq and Khabor, Kobane, and Aleppo regions of Syria.” Referred to the House Committee on Foreign Affairs.
(SYRIA REFUGEE CRISIS) S. Res.
268: Introduced 9/24 by Shaheen (D-NH) and 8 cosponsors (all Democrats), “A resolution expressing the
sense of the Senate regarding the Syrian refugee crisis.”
Referred to the Committee on Foreign Relations.
(NO ARMS TO BAHRAIN) HR 3445: Introduced 9/8 by McGovern (D-MA) and two cosponsors, “To prohibit the sale of arms to Bahrain.” Referred to the House Committee on Foreign Affairs.
(TIME FOR SYRIA PEACE TALKS) Himes et al letter: On 7/29 Rep. Himes (D-CT) and 54 House colleagues sent a letter to President Obama calling for international negotiations to bring an end to the conflict in Syria. As stated in the press release announcing the letter, “The timing of the letter, sent during the UN General Assembly, is meant to highlight the need for broad, multilateral cooperation.” Himes’ 9/30 floor statement discussing the letter is here.
On 9/29 the Conference report on HR 1735 was filed (resolving differences between the House and Senate versions of the bill). Middle East-related elements in the House version were discussed in the Round-Up here and here; in the Senate version here and here). On 10/1, the House adopted the conference report by a vote of 270-156 (only 10 Republicans voted against the bill and only 37 Democrats voted in favor). On 10/1, Senate leader McConnell filed cloture on the NDAA conference report, and a vote is expected on Tuesday (10/6).
A quick summary of Middle East-related elements in the conference version of the bill is as follows:
Sec. 1222: Strategy for the Middle East and to counter violent extremism – Requiring the Secretary of Defense and the Secretary of State to jointly submit to Congress by 2/15/16 “a strategy for the Middle East and to counter violent extremism.” The section goes on to lay out a list of specific elements that strategy must include.
Sec. 1225: Matters relating to support for the vetted Syrian opposition – Requiring a report to Congress the on military support the Secretary considers “necessary to provide to recipients of assistance under section 1209 of the Carl Levin and Howard P. ``Buck'' McKeon National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2015 (Public Law 113-291; 128 Stat. 3541) upon their return to Syria to ensure their ability to meet the intended purposes of such assistance.”
Sec. 1226: Support to the Government of Jordan and the Government of Lebanon for border security operations – Authorizing the Secretary of Defense, with the concurrence of the Secretary of State, “to provide support on a reimbursement basis to the Government of Jordan and the Government of Lebanon for purposes of supporting and enhancing efforts of the armed forces of Jordan and the armed forces of Lebanon to increase security and sustain increased security along the border of Jordan and the border of Lebanon with Syria and Iraq.” The provision stipulates that such funding shall not exceed $150,000,000 for either country in any fiscal year. It also stipulates that with respect to Lebanon, such funding “may be used only for the armed forces of Lebanon, and may not be used for or to reimburse Hezbollah or any forces other than the armed forces of Lebanon.”
Sec. 1227: Sense of Congress on the security and protection of Iranian dissidents living in Camp Liberty, Iraq – Expresses the sense of Congress that the U.S. should: “take prompt and appropriate steps in accordance with international agreements to promote the physical security and protection of residents of Camp Liberty, Iraq”; urge the government of Iraq to ensure the needs of residents of the camp; oppose extradition of camp residents to Iran; assist international efforts to implement “a plan to provide for the safe, secure, and permanent relocation of Camp Liberty residents”; and assist the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees “in expediting the ongoing resettlement of all residents of Camp Liberty to safe locations outside Iraq.”
Sec. 1231: Modification and extension of annual report on the military power of Iran – Adding a section on Iranian cyber capabilities to an existing required report on the military power of Iran.
Sec. 1232: Sense of Congress on the Government of Iran's malign activities – Sense of Congress that Iran is engaged in malign activities and that Iran's malign activities that “justify continued pressure by the United States” and that the U.S. “should continue to enhance the region's security architecture, build our partners' capacity to respond to external aggression, increase the interoperability of our respective military forces, and continue to better integrate their advanced capabilities.”
Sec. 1233: Report on military-to-military engagements with Iran – Requires a report not later than one year after the enactment of this act detailing: “any military-to-military engagements conducted by the Armed Forces or Department of Defense civilians with representatives of the military or paramilitary forces (including the IRGC Quds Force) of the Islamic Republic of Iran during the one-year period ending on the date of the submission of the report” and “any policy changes to such military-to-military engagements with the armed forces of Iran.”
Sec. 1234: Security guarantees to countries in the Middle East – Requires a report to Congress (not later than 120 days after the date of the enactment of this Act) summarizing “any agreement, in effect as of the date that is 15 days before the date of the submittal of the report, that provides security commitments by the United States to any country in the Middle East, including the member countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council.” In addition, requires the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff to provide the Secretary of Defense with “an analysis of the United States military force structure and posture required to meet any current agreement that provides security commitments in the Middle East, including to member countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council.” The provision stipulates that this analysis shall be included in the previously stipulated report to Congress, “together with such additional views as the Secretary considers appropriate.”
Sec. 1235: Rule of construction – Provision stating simply that “Nothing in this Act shall be construed as authorizing the use of force against Iran.”
Sec. 1278: Briefing on the sale of certain fighter aircraft to Qatar – reporting requires, among other things, “A description of the assumptions regarding the impact of the items sold to Qatar pursuant to the sale on the preservation by Israel of a qualitative military edge.”
Sec. 1279: United States-Israel anti-tunnel cooperation – authorizes the establishment of a joint anti-tunnel program, funded up to a level of $25 million annually, contingent on matching funds provided by Israel.
Sec. 1678: Availability of funds for Iron Dome short-range rocket defense system – Earmarks up to $41,400,000 in FY16 for the Iron Dome short-range rocket defense.
Sec. 1679: Israeli cooperative missile defense program co-development and co-production – Earmarks up to $150,000,000 to be provided to the Government of Israel to procure the David's Sling Weapon System, and up to not more than $15,000,000 to be provided to the Government of Israel for the Arrow 3 Upper Tier Interceptor Program.
3. Looking Back at JCPOA-Looza (pronounced “Jac-Po-a-Looza”)
As everyone is no doubt aware (except for those who have been living under rocks), JCPOA-Looza was the main event in Washington (and to some extent across the country) during August and through early September. Throughout the August recess, opponents of the JCPOA (led by AIPAC) and supporters of the JCPOA (led by Obama Administration officials and a loose coalition of progressive groups, including APN) worked tirelessly – in TV and print ads, online and on social media, in op-ed pages, in town hall meetings, in meetings with community groups, and in meetings with members of Congress and staff – to convince the American public and members of Congress to side with them on the Iran deal. It should be noted that this advocacy focused almost exclusively on Democrats in Congress, since virtually every GOP member in both the House and Senate came out early and clearly in opposition to the JCPOA (many before the ink was even dry on the agreement).
Much ink (real and virtual) has been expended documenting what happened – who won, who lost, how, and why. In the end, the numbers tell the most important story: Out of the 44 Democrats and 2 Independents in the Senate (the latter of whom caucus with the Democrats), 42 came out in support the JCPOA and voted against what was, in effect, the resolution of disapproval in the Senate (discussed below). In the House, out of 188 Democrats, 162 voted in support of the JCPOA. These striking levels of support for the deal – 91% of Senate Democrats/Independents and 86% of House Democrats, despite massive pressure to oppose – disclose some important facts about this battle for the Iran deal:
Facts matter. Given the stakes – both political
and national security-related – it is clear that Democrats took their decision on the JCPOA extremely
seriously. Looking at the thoughtful, unusually substantive (and often lengthy) statements many Democrats
issued articulating their reasons for supporting the JCPOA, it is evident that these decisions were grounded in
deep deliberations, personal research, soul-searching, and extensive consultations with experts on arms
control, national security, and nuclear programs. In the end, based on a responsible study of the facts,
the overwhelming majority of Democrats in both the House and Senate concluded that supporting the JCPOA was the
right thing to do, and that the argument that a “better deal” could be reached after rejecting the JCPOA was
fantasy. Many members specifically referenced the vote on the Iraq War (Congressional action that
unleashed a new era of instability in the Middle East that continues to this day) in explaining how seriously
they take the decision on the JCPOA. Excerpts and links to Members’ statements in support of the JCPOA are
Validators matter. A tremendous numbers of high-level
validators came out, on their own or in groups, in support of the JCPOA. These included former top U.S.
military officials, nuclear experts, former senior diplomats & national security figures, former members of
Congress from both parties, and leading political figures from U.S. allies. They also included former top
Israeli national security figures and leading voices from Iran’s human rights and pro-democracy community. They
included, too, rabbis from across the country. These varied voices offered sober, pragmatic arguments in
support of the agreement and in many cases offered slam-dunk, powerful counterpoints to arguments offered by
anti-deal advocates (backed by a much shorter and less impressive list of validators, offering much weaker,
more ideological arguments). Many of these pro-deal validator statements were explicitly cited by members of
Congress in their statements of support for the deal. Our page of links to major validator statements is
here; our page of excerpts and links to
Israeli validator statements is here.
- Constituents Count. Opponents of the JCPOA enjoyed funding many magnitudes greater than that of JCPOA supporters. However, all their funding and efforts could not change the fact that across the country, large numbers of politically engaged, well-informed voters supported the JCPOA and came out to urge their elected officials to do the same. Local activists met with members and staff, attended town hall meetings, held rallies, wrote op-eds and letters to the editors – and they flooded members’ offices with calls and emails. Efforts by opponents of the deal to create an anti-deal “wall of sound” in Congressional offices simply failed.
- Bibi and AIPAC don’t define pro-Israel for Democrats. The majority of Democrats in Congress rejected the false, zero-sum logic Netanyahu and AIPAC sought to force on them – logic that painted this Iran battle as a choice between standing with President Obama and standing with Israel. Among the Democrats supporting the JCPOA, in both the House and Senate, are some of the staunchest supporters of Israel in Congress. And it is not by accident that virtually every member who issued a statement of support for the JCPOA included in that statement expression of solidarity with and concern for Israel.
- TAKE NOTE: AIPAC is not all-powerful: The battle over approval/disapproval of the Iran deal is AIPAC’s biggest and most public defeat in Congress in memory, if not in history. But where some are reporting this as some sort of historic aberration, the fact is that failing to get its legislative initiatives adopted by Congress has been a trend with AIPAC in recent years.
- The 2/28/14 edition of the Round-Up covered the full or partial defeat of all of AIPAC’s major 2013 Hill initiatives (which spread into 2014): S. Res. 65, aka the “backdoor to war” resolution, which passed only after being significantly watered down by the Senate; S. 462 and HR 938, aka the “best-allies-with-benefits” bills that hit a roadblock due to AIPAC’s overreach in trying to force Israel into the Visa Waiver Program; it took AIPAC 18 months and two policy conferences to get the measure passed, and then only after the Visa Waiver section had been stripped down to non-binding language; and HR 850, a new Iran sanctions bill that passed the House and died in the Senate.
- In 2014, there was the AIPAC-led battle – which AIPAC lost – to pass S. 1881, sanctions that would have almost certainly derailed the diplomatic effort that gave birth, eventually, to the JCPOA, discussed in the Round-Up here (the media headlines from February 2014 also tell the story: The Daily Beast 2/11: How AIPAC Botched Its Biggest Fight in Years; The Forward 2/7: AIPAC Caves on Iran Sanctions Push; JTA 2/6: Reversing course, AIPAC says now is not the time for new sanctions; New York Times 2/3: Potent Pro-Israel Group Finds Its Momentum Blunted).
- Earlier in 2015 there was the battle over the Corker bill, which was clearly intended to be a major roadblock to any agreement with Iran and was a key ask in this year’s AIPAC policy conference. That bill failed to attract widespread Senate support in its original form, and only moved when it was amended to such an extent that ultimately the Obama Administration supported it.
- AIPAC’s other key ask in this year’s policy conference was S. 269 – another Kirk (R-IL)-Menendez (D-NJ) Iran bill intended to be a roadblock to an Iran deal. This bill went nowhere.
- Indeed, AIPAC’s only recent achievement has been sneaking pro-settlement language into the Trade Promotion bill – a feat that seemed to backfire when it forced the Obama Administration to issue statement of unprecedented directness and clarity with respect to its complete rejection of any efforts to conflate Israel and settlements.
4. JCPOA in the Senate – the Filibuster (Faux) Controversy
Congress returned to Washington in September, and the first thing on the agenda was the JCPOA, with plans in both the House and Senate to move ahead with resolutions of disapproval, as provided for under the Corker bill (S. 625). And then things got messy.
In the Senate, controversy over action on a resolution of disapproval arose immediately, when it became clear that Sen. Majority Leader McConnell (R-KY) planned to break with Senate procedure and pass the anti-JCPOA resolution by a simple majority, despite the fact that the 60-vote threshold for major legislation has long been 'the way the Senate operates'. With respect to the Iran deal oversight legislation, Sen. Cardin (D-MD), an original cosponsor of the Corker bill – and one of only four Senate Democrats opposing the deal – stated that “It was clear in talking to the architects of this legislation that they always anticipated there would be a 60-vote threshold for the passage of this resolution in the United States Senate.” Indeed, back in March, Sen. Cotton (R-AR) – in his infamous anti-deal letter to Iran's leaders, co-signed by 46 Senate Republicans – made a point of explaining that “because of procedural rules” a vote on the deal would require “a three-fifths vote in the Senate,” as opposed to a simple majority [to bolster his case that the Senate would not vote to pass any deal]. In April, both Sen. Coons (D-DE) and Sen. Kaine (D-VA) made clear that a resolution of approval or disapproval under the Corker bill would require a 60-vote threshold. Neither Coons’ nor Kaine’s statement was contradicted by Iran deal opponents in the Senate, most likely because those opponents failed to anticipate that Democratic support for the Iran deal would be so strong as to threaten their ability to reach the 60-vote threshold.
It was in this context that the Senate voted on 9/10 on a motion to end debate (cloture) on the JCPOA in order to proceed to a vote on a resolution of disapproval. Notably, a cloture vote cannot pass without at least 60 votes – the standard that should have been in force for a disapproval resolution. For this reason, the cloture vote became, in effect, the “up-or-down vote” on the resolution of disapproval, with 40 Senate Democrats and 2 Independent voting “no” on cloture, and, by extension, defeating resolution of disapproval.
Opponents of the JCPOA sought to portray the Senate Democrats’ action as a filibuster. Such a characterization glosses over the GOP’s effort to ease passage of a resolution of disapproval by requiring a lower threshold of vote than the one required for other important legislation. It likewise glosses over the fact that this effort to change the rules represented a clear violation of the understandings under which Democrats voted for the Corker bill in the first place.
Finally, calling this move a filibuster hides the fact that this entire effort to give special, easier treatment to the resolution of disapproval had nothing to do with wanting a full debate and due consideration of the JCPOA in the Senate. It was already evident that a resolution of disapproval had zero chance of becoming law (there being sufficient pro-deal votes in the Senate to uphold a presidential veto). This being the case, the effort to ease passage of the resolution was, in short, about one thing only: political point-scoring – at the expense not simply of President Obama, but at the expense of U.S. leadership and credibility in the world, and at the expense of further harm to vital U.S. interests around the globe, including the U.S.-Israel relationship.
5. JCPOA on the Hill – Farce in the House
September started with the assumption by everyone, including House GOP leadership, that the House would pass a straightforward resolution of disapproval of the JCPOA. And with no 3/5 threshold to contend with, this indeed seemed pretty straightforward. But it was not to be. Echoing past internal GOP battles (and portending future internal GOP battles), House speaker Boehner (R-OH) found himself blocked by a handful of hardline members in what was quickly dubbed another “Tortilla Coast” gambit (see here for some history of this term). Their plan, which at first seemed like it was going to go nowhere, was subsequently adopted and implemented 100% by Boehner. That plan started with completely discarding the resolution of disapproval and instead passing three pieces of grandstanding, point-scoring legislation, as summarized in the 9/11/15 edition of the Round-Up:
- (Obama is Breaking the Law and Must be Stopped!”) H. Res. 411: Introduced 9/9 by Pompeo (R-KS) and Zeldin (R-NY), “Finding that the President has not complied with section 2 of the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act of 2015.” On 9/10, passed by the House by a party-line vote of 243 - 186 (Roll no. 492).
- (Let’s Turn the Tables with an Approval vote!) HR 3461: Introduced 9/9 by Boehner (R-OH), “To approve the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, signed at Vienna on July 14, 2015, relating to the nuclear program of Iran.” The measure was brought to a vote on 9/11 (almost certainly the symbolism of that date was not accidental). Unsurprisingly, all GOP members voted against HR 3461. However, perhaps surprising some opponents of the JCPOA, 162 Democrats voted in favor of the measure – far more than had previously come out in support and far more than are require to sustain a presidential veto. Only 25 Democrats voted against the measure (roll call vote is here.)
- (No Iran Sanctions Relief Under Obama-- & we don’t need to give a reason) HR 3460: Introduced 9/9 by Roskam (R-IL), “To suspend until January 21, 2017, the authority of the President to waive, suspend, reduce, provide relief from, or otherwise limit the application of sanctions pursuant to an agreement related to the nuclear program of Iran.” This bill would bar any sanctions relief under the JCPOA until after the inauguration of the next president of the United States (you can fill in the rest…). HR 3460 was passed by the House 9/11 (again, the symbolism of voting on this date was almost certainly not accidental) by a vote of 247 to 186 – with all GOP members voting in favor, and all but 2 Democrats opposing.
6. JCPOA & Iran on the Hill – What Next?
On September 17, the clock ran out on the Corker bill’s 60-day review period, meaning that the Obama Administration could from that point go ahead with suspension of some nuclear-related sanctions on Iran, in the context of implementation of the JCPOA.
But it became clear immediately (and predictably) that this would not be the end of JCPOA-related legislative initiatives in Congress. To the contrary. It seems like every day new measures are introduced designed to undermine or block implementation of the JCPOA, or to create an atmosphere hostile to the agreement’s success (as evidenced by the list in Section 1, above). The President has made clear that he will veto legislation that he believes “prevents the successful implementation of the JCPOA” – but that doesn’t mean opponents of the bill will not continue both to grandstand on the issue with new legislation or to try to find ways to corner the Administration (for example, but attaching Iran-related language to legislation Democrats and/or the Administration badly want to pass. Stay tuned.
10/8: The House Foreign Affairs Committee’s Subcommittee on the Middle East and North Africa will hold a hearing entitled, “Examining the Syrian Humanitarian Crisis from the Ground (Part I).” Scheduled witnesses are: Bernice Romero, Save the Children; Mark Smith, World Vision; David Ray, Cooperative for Assistance and Relief Everywhere; and Andrea Koppel, Mercy Corps.
10/6: The Senate Foreign Relations Committee will hold a hearing entitled, “The U.S. Role and Strategy in the Middle East: Yemen and the Countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council.” Scheduled witnesses are: Mary Beth Long, Founder and Chief Executive Officer, Metis Solutions; and Stephen Seche, Executive Vice President, The Arab Gulf States Institute.
9/29: The Senate Foreign Relations Committee held a hearing entitled, “The U.S. Role and Strategy in the Middle East: The Humanitarian Crisis.” Witnesses were: Michel Gabaudan, Refugees International (statement); Nancy Lindborg, USIP (statement); and David Miliband, International Rescue Committee (statement). Video of the hearing is available here.
9/29: The House Foreign Affairs Committee’s Subcommittee on Terrorism, Nonproliferation, and Trade held a hearing entitled, “U.S. Counterterrorism Efforts in Syria: A Winning Strategy?” Witnesses were: General (Retired) Jack Keane, Institute for the Study of War (statement); Thomas Joscelyn, FDD (statement); and Daniel Benjamin, Former Coordinator for Counterterrorism, U.S. Department of State (statement). Video of the hearing is here.
9/28: The Senate Foreign Relations Committee held a CLOSED briefing entitled, “Migration Crisis in Middle East/Europe.” Briefers were: Simon Henshaw, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State in the Bureau of Population, Migration and Refugees; Barbara Strack, Chief of Refugee Affairs, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, Department of Homeland Security; and Maria Cancian, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Policy Administration for Children and Families, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
9/17: The House Foreign Affairs Committee’s Subcommittee on the Middle East and North Africa held a hearing entitled, “Major Beneficiaries of the Iran Deal: IRGC and Hezbollah.” Witnesses were: Emanuele Ottolenghi, FDD (statement and Appendix I & Appendix II to statement); Matthew Levitt, WINEP (statement); and Suzanne Maloney, Brookings (statement). Chair Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) opening statement is here; Video of the hearing is here.
9/16: The Senate Foreign Relations Committee held a hearing entitled, “The U.S. Role and Strategy in the Middle East: Syria, Iraq, and the Fight Against ISIS.” Witnesses were: Kimberly Kagan, Institute for the Study of War (statement); Brian Katulis, Center for American Progress (statement); and Michael Bowers, Mercy Corps (statement).
9/10: The House Armed Services Committee held a hearing entitled, “The Obama Administration’s Deal with Iran: Implications for Missile Defense and Nonproliferation.” Witnesses were: Frank Klotz, Administrator, National Nuclear Security Administration (statement); Robert Scher, Assistant Secretary of Defense for Strategy, Plans, and Capabilities (statement); Christopher Almont, Senior Defense Intelligence Expert, Defense Intelligence Agency (statement); Major General Steven Shepro, Joint Staff (no statement); and Vice Admiral James Syring, Director, Missile Defense Agency (no statement).
Loretta Sanchez (D-CA) 10/1: Statement on the growing humanitarian crisis in Syria
Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) 9/30: Press release - At UN General Assembly, Abu Mazen Confirms What Was Already Known: Palestinian Authority Has No Intention to Honor International Obligations, Reach Peace with Israel
Lowey (D-NY) 9/30: Slamming Abbas for his UN speech
Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) 9/30: Slamming the UN for raising the Palestinian flag, which allows the Palestinians, “to continue with their scheme to achieve unilateral statehood without having to honor their obligations to reach a peaceful settlement through direct negotiations with Israel.”
Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) 9/30: Calling for the immediate suspension of aid to the PA following President Abbas’ UN speech, and reiterating her determination to cut off US funding to any UN agencies the Palestinians join.
Kinzinger (R-IL) 9/30: Floor statement slamming Russia’s attacks on Syria
Jackson-Lee (D-TX) 9/29: Floor statement arguing that Syria’s Bashar al Assad has to go (message to Putin).
Baldwin (D-WI) 9/28: On the JCPOA, with focus on support for additional military assistance to Israel
Gohmert (R-TX) 9/28: Expressing concern for Christians under attack in the Middle East today, and seguing into a rant against the JCPOA (insisting that it is a treaty that must be ratified by Congress), the UN for its treatment of Israel, implying that 9/11 was the fault of the Clinton Administration (“the planning of 9-11-2001 happened during the Clinton administration on President Clinton's watch”), and slamming Muslims who we keep trying to help and who reward us with more attacks, etc…