APN Legislative Round-Up: April 15, 2016

1. Bills, Resolutions, & Letters
2. Hearings
3. On the Record

Shameless plug: APN’s Lara Friedman in the New York Times 4/10: Israel’s Unsung Protector: Obama

(NOTE: This article was referenced by Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs Anne Patterson in the HFAC hearing 4/13, at 46:25 in the video)

1. Bills, Resolutions, & Letters

(INTELLIGENCE ON STEROIDS TO MONITOR/ENFORCE JCPOA) HR 4940: Introduced 4/14 by Rep.. Sean Patrick Maloney (D-NY), “To direct the Director of National Intelligence to establish an integration cell to monitor and enforce the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, and for other purposes” (aka, the “JCPOA Intelligence Enforcement Act”). Referred to the House Committee on Intelligence (Permanent Select). Press release touting introduction of the bill is here. According to the press release, “this legislation would require the Director of National Intelligence to establish an intelligence integration cell among relevant intelligence agencies in order to integrate intelligence related to monitoring and enforcement of the JCPOA by: coordinating and synchronizing all collection related to implementation of the JCPOA; integrating early warning systems of intelligence agencies for potential violations of the JCPOA; and identifying intelligence gaps related to JCPOA monitoring. In addition it would encourage U.S. intelligence agencies to establish a joint fusion cell with our Middle Eastern allies which would: combat Iran’s disruptive regional activities including their support for terrorist proxy entities such as Hezbollah; find and disrupt illegal transfers of weapons and materials by Iran and its proxies; and protect the territory of key U.S. regional allies. Lastly, the JCPOA Intelligence Enforcement Act would encourage the Director of National Intelligence to establish U.S.-Israeli intelligence working group focused on enhancing intelligence sharing on: Iranian support for Hezbollah; Iranian weapons smuggling programs; Iran’s ballistic missile and space program; and Iran’s nuclear activities.”

(BLOCK IRAN’S ACCESS TO US FINANCIAL SYSTEM/DOLLARS/SANCTIONS) HR 4898: Introduced 4/11 by Trott (R-MI) and no cosponsors, “To prohibit the Department of the Treasury from issuing licenses to permit offshore dollar clearing outside of the United States financial system for transactions involving or benefitting Iran” (AKA the “No Dollars for Iran Act”). Referred to the House Committee on Financial Services. Trott press release touting introduction of the bill is here.

(FINANCIAL INSTITUTIONS & IRAN) S. 2790: Introduced 4/13 by Cruz (R-TX) and 3 cosponsors, “to provide requirements for the appropriate Federal banking agencies when requesting or ordering a depository institution to terminate a specific customer account, to provide for additional requirements related to subpoenas issued under the Financial Institutions Reform, Recovery, and Enforcement Act of 1989, and for other purposes.” Referred to the Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs. Text of the bill is available here.  The legislation specifically deals with “a specific customer or group of customers is, or is acting as a conduit for, an entity which…is an agency of the Government of Iran, North Korea, Syria, or any country listed from time to time on the state sponsor of terrorism list…”

(LIMIT US MUNITIONS TO KSA) S. J. Res. 32: Introduced 4/13 by Murphy (D-CT) and Paul (R-KY), “A joint resolution to provide limitations on the transfer of certain United States munitions from the United States to Saudi Arabia.”  Referred to the Committee on Foreign Relations. Press release touting introduction of the resolution is here.


(ISRAEL-PALESTINE PEACE “TENETS”) Lowey/Granger AIPAC letter: Since late March, the Lowey-Granger letter laying out six (relatively) non-controversial “tenets” for U.S. policy regarding Israeli-Palestinian peace efforts has been circulating for signatures. The letter was notably one of AIPAC’s only concrete “asks” during its recent Washington policy conference. The letter includes a call for the U.S. to veto “one-sided” UN Security Council resolutions (bearing in mind that “one-sided” in these matters is in the eye of the beholder). The letter closed with 394 signers (linked letter includes signers). APN did not take a position on the letter. J Street’s statement on the letter is here.

(IRAN VISA FOR ANTI-JCPOA MOCs) Pompeo-LoBiondo-Zeldin letter: On 4/12, Reps. Pompeo (R-KS), LoBiondo (R-NJ), and Zeldin (R-NY) sent a letter yesterday to Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Zarif, requesting a response on their visa applications to Iran, which they submitted more than two months ago. Press release here.

(PUNISH IRAN FOR BALLISTIC MISSILE TESTS) Delaney Dear Colleague: On 4/7 Rep. Delaney (D-MD) circulated a Dear Colleague seeking cosponsors of HR 4342, which he introduced on 1/7 (and which currently has 19 bipartisan cosponsors), entitled the “Iran Ballistic Missile Prevention and Sanctions Act of 2016.” The Dear Colleague notes that “we cannot, and must not, turn a blind eye to Iran’s non-nuclear violations. We must hold Iran to the highest of standards, which includes responding strongly to violations of U.N. resolutions. While the U.N. embargoes on conventional weapons and ballistic weapons will be lifted in the JCPOA, the Administration has said time and time again that the U.S. will keep our non-nuclear penalties, including sanctions due to terrorism, human rights violations, and ballistic missiles. While the sanctions announced by the White House is a promising step in holding Iran accountable for its ballistic missile testing, Congress must actively pursue legislation to further ensure Iran does not have access to ballistic missiles and advanced conventional weapons. That is why I have introduced the Iran Ballistic Missile Prevention and Sanctions Act…


2. Hearings

4/19: The House Foreign Affairs Committee’s Subcommittee on Terrorism, Nonproliferation, and Trade and Subcommittee on the Middle East and North Africa will hold a joint hearing entitled [I kid you not], “Israel Imperiled: Threats to the Jewish State.” Scheduled witnesses are: Michael Rubin (AEI), Johnathan Schanzer (FDD), David Makovsky (WINEP) and Tamara Cofman Wittes (Brookings).

4/19: The Senate Banking Committee will hold a hearing entitled, “Understanding the Role of Sanctions Under the Iran Deal.” Scheduled witnesses are: Mark Dubowitz (FDD), Matthew Levitt (WINEP), Michael Elleman IISS), and Elizabeth Rosenberg (CNAS).

 4/19: The Helsinki Commission will hold a hearing on Capitol Hill entitled, “Anticipating and Preventing Deadly Attacks on European Jewish Communities.” Scheduled witnesses are:  Rabbi Andrew Baker (AJC and OSCE); Jonathan Biermann (Belgian Jewish community); John Farmer (Rutgers University); and Paul Goldenberg (Secure Community Network).

4/14: The House Armed Services Committee Subcommittee on Strategic Forces held a hearing entitled, “The Missile Defeat Posture and Strategy of the United States—The FY17 President's Budget Request.” Witnesses were: Rear Admiral Edward Cashman, Director, Joint Integrated Air and Missile Defense Organization (testimony); Admiral Bill Gortney, Commander, North American Aerospace Defense Command, U.S. Northern Command (testimony – note Iran section); Brian Mckeon, Principal Deputy Under Secretary of Defense for Policy, (testimony - note Iran section); Barry Pike, Program Executive Officer, Missiles and Space, U.S. Army (testimony); and Vice Admiral James Syring, Director, Missile Defense Agency (testimony - note Iran section). Chairman Rogers’ (R-AL) opening remarks are here, including criticism of the JCPOA. Video of the hearing is here.

4/13: The House Foreign Affairs Committee’s Subcommittee on the Middle East and North Africa will held a hearing entitled, “Assessing President Obama’s Middle East and North Africa FY 2017 Budget Request.” Witnesses were: Anne W. Patterson, Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs (testimony); and Paige Alexander, Assistant USAID Administrator for the Middle East (testimony). Video of the hearing is here. Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) opening statement: “Obama’s Budget Request Doesn’t Match U.S. Strategic Security, Humanitarian, and Governance Objectives for Middle East and North Africa.” Royce (R-CA) press release highlighting his Q&A during the hearing is here, entitled, “Chairman Royce to Obama Admin: Stop Palestinian Authority’s Pay-to-Slay Stipends” [suggesting that PA is in effect paying Palestinians to attack Israelis, and that this is a primary cause of violence].

4/13: The Senate Appropriations Committee held a hearing on the FY2017 Missile Defense Agency Budget Request.  The sole witness was Vice Admiral James D. Syring, Director of the United States Missile Defense Agency (testimony). Chairman Cochran’s (R-MS) opening statement is here. Video of the hearing is here. U.S.-Israel missile defense cooperation was the first question raised by Durbin (D-IL) in the Q&A portion of the hearing (starting at 29:26 in the video), with Durbin highlighting the significant increase in US funding for Israeli cooperative programs (while the rest of the budget remains relatively flat). This was followed up by Blunt (R-MO), who suggested that the Obama Admin is cutting back its commitment to Israel’s missile defense programs and that this is inconsistent with the mission of the Missile Defense Agency (starting at 54:20 in the video – with strong answers from Syring).

4/13: The Senate Armed Services Committee’s Subcommittee on Strategic Forces held a hearing entitled, “Ballistic Missile Defense Policies and Programs.” Witnesses were: Brian McKeon, Principal Deputy Under Secretary of Defense for Policy (Testimony – note Iran section); Admiral William  Gortney, USN Commander, U.S. Northern Command and Commander, North American Aerospace Defense Command (Testimony - note Iran section); Vice Admiral James D. Syring, USN Director, Missile Defense Agency (Testimony - note Iran section); and Lt. Gen.  David L. Mann, Commanding General, U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command / Army Forces Strategic Command and Joint Functional Component Command for Integrated Missile Defense (Testimony). Video of the hearing is here.


3. On the Record

Reid (D-NV) 4/14: Reid Statement on Palestinian Effort to Gain Recognition Through United Nations Security Council Resolution [excerpt: “The United States has previously opposed these types of biased resolutions, and I urge the Obama Administration to oppose and veto any attempt to pass such a resolution at the United Nations Security Council.”]

Kirk (R-IL) 4/14: Kirk Statement on Reports a German Bank with Illinois Ties May Be Facilitating Anti-Israel BDS Accounts

Flake (R-AZ) 4/12: Making pitching his amendment (S. Amdt. 3556) to HR 636 to fix the new Visa Waiver Program requirements so as not to turn U.S. dual nationals of certain countries into second-class citizens

Ryan (R-WI) 4/12: Video on his visit to Middle East, opening with narrative "ISIS and other extremists are intent on expanding their reach – in the Middle East, but also the West. That means we must strengthen our relationships and increase cooperation with our regional allies and partners. This has brought me and a bipartisan senior delegation of House members to the Middle East.” Notably, that narrative played over footage of Ryan in ISRAEL.

Purdue (R-GA) 4/13: Floor speech criticizing the Obama Admin on Iran and attacking the JCPOA

Lankford (R-OK) 4/13: Floor speech pitching (among other things) for his Iran resolution, S .Res. 414

Cornyn (R-TX) 4/13: Pitching his amendment (S. Amdt. 3654) to HR 636 regarding Iran’s Mahan Air

Coons (D-DE) and Blumenthal (D-CT) colloquy 4/13: Raising concerns about Russia’s refusal to condemn Iran’s recent “bad behavior”

Klobuchar (D-MN) 4/13: Agreeing with Coons/Blumenthal colloquy and pitching for the Iran Policy Oversight Act (S 2119), reauthorization of the Iran Sanctions Act, and increased aid to Israel under the new MOU being negotiated

Franks (R-AZ) 4/13: On “Trent’s Blog,” post focused on threat of EMP attack by Iran and other Iran threats, slamming Obama Admin’s record on missile defense

Sullivan (R-AK) 4/11: Plugging his new bill, the Iran Financial System Access Limitation Act of 2016 (S. 2757)

Cole (R-OK) 4/11: Blogpost on his website “Caving In, Again” bashing the JCPOA and the Obama Admin on Iran

Lankford (R-OK) 4/10: Plugging his new bill, the Iran Financial System Access Limitation Act of 2016 (S. 2757) in the Tulsa World

Royce (R-CA) 4/9: Royce Delegation Returns to U.S. After Meetings in Middle East & North Africa