Legislative Round-Up: December 8, 2017

Produced by the Foundation for Middle East Peace in cooperation with Americans for Peace Now, where the Legislative Round-Up was conceived

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

Note: Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you know that the big news on the Middle East front this week was President Trump’s “Jerusalem Proclamation,” recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and announcing the start of the process to move the U.S. embassy in Israel to Jerusalem. There have been tons of excellent (and not-so-excellent) articles on the issue. Shameless plug here for two from me:

Huffington Post 12/6: Making America’s Mideast Policy Great Again?

Times of Israel 12/6: Reflections on the Death of the Peace Process

1. Bills, Resolutions, & Letters

(CUT OFF PA AID/LABEL PA BODY THAT SUPPORTS TERROR) HR 1164: Introduced 2/16 by Lamborn (R-CO) and having 169 cosponsors (of which 14 are Democrats), the “Taylor Force Act.” Passed in the House by voice vote (no roll call) on 12/5 (exactly one day before President Trump officially recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, and 11 days after the Trump administration downgraded the status of the PLO mission in the United States). On 12/7 the bill was received in the Senate (the Senate Foreign Relations Committee also already passed a free-standing version, S. 1697, on 9/7/17; the Senate then included a version of the bill in S. 1780, its FY18 ForOps bill, discussed in the 9/8/17 issue of the Round-Up). This bill seeks to cut off most funding to the Palestinian Authority unless the PA ceases providing funding to families of those imprisoned and killed by Israel. For background on why the arguments behind the bil make no sense, see here. IMPORTANT: This legislation will implicitly label the PA as a body that supports terrorism if the PA does not cut off the targeted funding. This is single most important thing about this bill. Once this passes into law (which at this point appears inevitable), it will open the door for calls for the U.S. to apply anti-terror laws to the PA – likely the real objective of many of those who pushed this issue from the start. Floor consideration of the bill is here, featuring statements in support from Royce (R-CA), Engel (D-NY), Lamborn (R-CO), Deutch (D-FL), Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL – calling for a total cut-off in assistance, no exceptions), Gottheimer (D-NJ – who used his support of the bill to launch a vicious and factually incorrect attack on HR 4391, which raises concerns about Israel’s treatment of Palestinian minors under occupation), Smith (R-NJ), Frankel (D-FL), Zeldin (R-NY). Other members issued statements, including: Diaz-Balart (R-FL); Desjarlais (R-TN); Roskam (R-IL); Ryan (R-WI); Walorski (R-IN); Faso (R-NY); Barletta (R-PA); Pearce (R-NM); McCaul (R-TX); Hoyer (D-MD); Donovan (R-NY); LaMalfa (R-CA) and Brown (D-MD).

(IRAN SANCTIONS) HR 4591: Introduced 12/7 by Kinzinger (R-IL) and 14 cosponsors (including 2 Democrats), “To impose sanctions with respect to Iranian persons that threaten the peace or stability of Iraq or the Government of Iraq.” Referred to the Committee on Foreign Affairs, and the Committee on the Judiciary.

(IRAN SANCTIONS) HR 4324:  Introduced 11/9 by Rogers (R-TX) and having 12 all-GOP cosponsors, the “Strengthening Oversight of Iran's Access to Finance Act.” On 12/7, HR 4324 was reported out of the Financial Services Committee with a report and placed on the Union Calendar.

(IRAN SANCTIONS) HR 1638: Introduced 3/20 by Poliquin (R-ME) and having no cosponsors, the “Iranian Leadership Asset Transparency Act.” On 12/7, HR 1638 was reported out of the Financial Services Committee (amended) with a report and placed on the Union Calendar.

(IRAN IN ARGENTINA) S. Res. 354: Introduced 12/7 by Rubio (R-FL) and Menendez “A resolution expressing the sense of the Senate regarding the courageous work and life of Argentinian prosecutor Alberto Nisman, and calling for a swift and transparent investigation into his tragic death in Buenos Aires on January 18, 2015.” Text is Congressional Record, here. Referred to the Committee on Foreign Relations. Rubio-Menendez press release is here.

(CONDEMNING IRAN’S TREATMENT OF BAHA’I) S. Res. 139: Introduced 4/25 by Wyden (D-OR) and having 31 bipartisan cosponsors, “A resolution condemning the Government of Iran's state-sponsored persecution of its Baha'i minority and its continued violation of the International Covenants on Human Rights.” On 12/05 the Committee on Foreign Relations reported S. Res. 139 to be reported out with amendments.

(YEMEN SANCTIONS) HR 4603: Introduced 12/7 by Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) and four all-GOP cosponsors, “To provide for the continuation in effect of sanctions with respect to Yemen, and for other purposes.” Referred to the Committee on Foreign Affairs, and the Committee on the Judiciary.


2. Hearings

12/14: The House Foreign Affairs Committee will hold a mark-up that includes HR 2646, “To reauthorize the United States-Jordan Defense Cooperation Act of 2015, and for other purposes” aka the United States-Jordan Defense Cooperation Extension Act.


3. On the Record

NOTE: This week, many, many, many members of Congress weighed in on Trump’s “Proclamation” recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and announcing the start of moving the US Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem. If you want to see what specific members said about the Proclamation, check their websites.

Budd (R-NC) 12/7: “…we have the right to enforce our choices through immigration laws. We should stop sanctuary cities and enforce sanctions against those who hire illegal labor. We should build President Trump's border wall, a policy that has worked unbelievably well in Israel…”

Gohmert (R-TX) 12/1: “President Trump doesn't want to have to send so many precious American lives to stand around the border protecting us. Why should they, when, in so many places, all we need is to build a wall and have it enforced the way Israel enforces its wall…their fence is monitored 24/7, and nobody comes across without them noticing and having people on the spot before the person can actually get across. We could do that. If Israel can do that, we could do that.”

Schiff (D-CA) 12/1: Intel Committee Ranking Member Schiff Statement on Flynn Plea