Legislative Round-Up: May 4, 2018

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 & Markups
  3. On the Record

Shameless plug: Curious about what a Trump plan for Israeli-Palestinian peace might entail? He’s already issued the blueprint - read my analysis here.

1. Bills & Resolutions

(NEW IRAN SANCTIONS) HR 4744: Introduced 1/9/18 by McCaul (R-TX) and having 46 cosponsors, the “Iran Human Rights and Hostage-Taking Accountability Act,” aka, “To impose additional sanctions with respect to serious human rights abuses of the Government of Iran, and for other purposes,” aka the “Iran Accountable on Human Rights and Hostage-Taking Act.  Passed by the House on 4/26 by a roll call vote of 410-2. Floor consideration is here. McCaul press release on passage of the bill is here. Other statements: Hurd (R-TX), Barletta (R-PA), Rosen (D-NV)

(NEW REPORT ON SANCTIONABLE IRAN BEHAVIOR) HR 5612: Introduced 4/25 by Lipinski (D-IL) and Roskam (R-IL) and having one cosponsor, the “Iranian Military and Terror Financing Reporting Act.” Referred to the House Committee on Foreign Affairs. Statements: Lipinski (D-IL)

(NO ASSISTANCE TO ASSAD) HR 4681: Introduced 12/19/17 by Engel (D-NY), Kinzinger (R-IL), Royce (R-CA) and Boyle (D-PA), and currently have 25 total cosponsors, the “No Assistance for Assad Act.” Passed by the House 4/24 by a voice vote. Floor statements: Boyle (D-PA), Royce (R-CA), Engel (D-NY), Poe (R-TX)


(SUSTAIN US FORCES IN SYRIA) Graham-Coons et al letter: On 4/27, Senators Graham (R-SC), Coons (D-DE), Rubio (R-FL), Masto (D-NV), and Nelson (D-FL) sent a letter to President Trump warning him against a swift withdrawal of U.S. forces from Syria. Press release is here.

(ACCESS TO GAZA FOR MOCs) Pocan-Kildee-Johnson letter: On 4/25, Reps. Pocan (D-WI), Kildee (D-MI), and Johnson (D-GA) sent a letter to Israel’s Ambassador to the U.S., Ron Dermer, calling on Israel to allow Members of Congress to enter Gaza. The Members are requesting permission to visit the area to oversee the appropriate and effective use of U.S. taxpayer dollars allocated to humanitarian aid for Palestinians living in Gaza. Press release is here.

(SANCTION IRAN!) MacArthur-Gottheimer et al letter: On 4/25, Reps. MacArthur (R-NJ) and Gottheimer (D-NJ) led a letter – co-signed by Crist (D-FL), King (R-NY), Gallagher (R-WI), Bishop (R-MI), and Wilson (R-SC) – condemning the JCPOA as “gravely flawed,” noting that they write, “with particular concern regarding the danger it poses to Israel, our closest friend and ally in the region,” and urging Trump to immediately impose sanctions related to Iran’s ballistic missile program. The letter states that if Trump decides to remain a party to the JCPA, there should be additional sanctions on the ballistic missile program; if the US drops the JCPOA, the letter urges Trump to “work with the international community to impose sanctions on these missiles as soon as possible.”

(FREE AMCITS HELD BY IRAN) Lieu-McCaul et al letter: On 4/23, Reps. Lieu (D-CA), McCaul (R-TX), Ros-Lehtinen (D-FL) and Deutch (D-FL) led a letter, signed by 46 House members, requesting answers from Acting Secretary of State John Sullivan on the Trump Administration’s efforts to secure the release of American citizens and permanent U.S. residents currently held by Iran’s government. Press release is here.


2. Hearings & Markups

May 9, 2018: The House Committee on Foreign Affairs will hold a markup of several bills, including HR 5141, “To make improvements to certain defense and security assistance provisions and to authorize assistance for Israel, and for other purposes.” As noted in the March 9 edition of the Round-Up, this bill – introduced in conjunction with AIPAC’s 2018 policy conference, reads like a comprehensive AIPAC & IDF wish list of everything – short of mutual defense pact, or maybe a seat for Israel in the Cabinet – raising the question (if it passes into law): what will be left to ask for in next year’s AIPAC conference? The mind reels. Both HR 5141 and this bill and its Senate companion, S. 2497, are listed as lobbying priorities on AIPAC’s website.

May 8, 2018: The House Committee on Foreign Affairs will hold a hearing entitled, “Confronting the Iranian Challenge.” Witnesses will be: Lincoln Bloomfield

(Former Assistant Secretary of State for Political-Military Affairs); Stephen Rademaker (Former Assistant Secretary of State for Arms Control and for International Security and Nonproliferation); and Jane Harman (Woodrow Wilson Center & Former Member of Congress).

April 26, 2018: The House Committee on Foreign Affairs’ Subcommittees on the Middle East and North Africa and on Terrorism, Nonproliferation and Trade held a hearing entitled, “Grading Counterterrorism Cooperation with the GCC States.” Witnesses were: Katherine Bauer, WINEP (testimony); David Andrew Weinberg, ADL (testimony); and Leanne Erdberg, U.S. Institute of Peace (testimony). Video of the hearing is here.


3. On the Record

Crowley (D-NY) 5/3: Statement Condemning Palestinian President Abbas’ Remarks on the Holocaust

Gillibrand (D-NY) 5/2: Statement On Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’s Reported Comments On The Holocaust

Nadler (D-NY) 5/1: Statement denouncing “BDS campaign” at New York University

Cotton (R-AR) 4/30: Statement on Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu’s Speech on Iran

Cruz (R-TX) 4/30: Statement Regarding Prime Minister Netanyahu’s Presentation on Iran’s Nuclear Program

Kaine (D-VA) 4/27: Statement On Heightened Tension And Violence Along Gaza-Israel Border

Poe (R-TX) 4/27: Floor statement, “Counterterrorism Cooperation with GCC States”

Mast (R-FL) 4/27:  Holding Evil Regimes Accountable

Hill (R-AR) 4/26: Calling for passage of H.R.  1677, the Caesar Syria Civilian Protection Act of 2017

House Dems on Gaza 4/26: Statement released by Yarmuth (D-KY), Schakowsky (D-IL), Price (D-NC), Doggett (D-TV), Blumenauer (D-OR), Lee (D-CA), Cohen (D-TN), Welch (D-VT), Connolly (D-VA), and Lowenthal (D-CA): “We are deeply concerned by the violence and the tragic loss of life along the border of Gaza. As strong supporters of Israel and advocates for a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, we respect Israel’s right to defend itself. However, short of a threat to human life, we call on the Israeli Defense Forces to immediately stop using deadly force against unarmed protestors. Likewise, we respect the Palestinians who are advocating for change through peaceful means. However, we call on the Palestinian demonstrators to renounce the violence and inflammatory rhetoric expressed by Hamas. With demonstrations expected to last into May, we urge both Israelis and Palestinians to refrain from any actions that would further escalate tensions and cause further bloodshed. Both the Israelis and Palestinians have a right to a just, safe, and secure future, which can only be achieved through diplomacy—not military action.”

Cohen (D-TN) 4/24: Praising Azerbaijan for its relationship with Israel

Zeldin (R-NY) 4/24: Fate of Iran Nuclear Deal in Iran’s Hands

Cole (R-OK) 4/23: Addressing Syria

Leahy (D-VT) 4/20: Leahy Statement On The Need For A Strateg