Legislative Round-up - June 8, 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. Senate FY19 NDAA
3. Free Speech Watch: Kenneth Marcus Confirmed to Dept. of Education
4. Hearings & Markups
5. On the Record
 

1. Bills & Resolutions, & Letters

(ISRAEL, RIGHT OR RIGHT) H. J. Res. 135: Introduced 6/5 by Zeldin (R-NY) and Gottheimer (D-NJ) and having 7 GOP cosponsors, the “Supporting Israel’s right to defend its borders, and for other purposes.” The resolution in effect codifies the Israeli government’s views regarding Gaza (all problems in Gaza are wholly the fault of Hamas, including Hamas bearing total responsibility for all deaths and injuries by Israel of Palestinians in Gaza). The resolved clauses frame all Israeli actions in Gaza as self-defense against Hamas and suggest that anyone challenging these actions “support the goals of Hamas.” Referred to the Committee on Foreign Affairs. Zeldin-Gottheimer press release is here. The press release notes that Cotton (R-AR) will be introducing a companion Senate measure.
 
(EVERY DAY IS A GOOD DAY TO TARGET UNRWA & PA) HR 6034: Introduced 6/7 by Young (R-IA), Gottheimer (D-NJ), Roskam (R-IL), and Sherman (D-CA), “To require the Secretary of State to submit annual reports reviewing the educational material used by the Palestinian Authority or the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East in the West Bank and Gaza, and for other purposes.” Referred to the House Committee on Foreign Affairs.

($$ FOR ISRAEL, ETC, IN DEFENSE & ENERGY AUTH BILLS) S. 2987: Introduced 6/5 by Inhofe (R-OK), “An original bill to authorize appropriations for fiscal year 2019 for military activities of the Department of Defense, for military construction, and for defense activities of the Department of Energy, to prescribe military personnel strengths for such fiscal year, and for other purposes.” Also on 6/5, the Armed Services Committee released it report on the bill.  This bill was subsequently offered by Inhofe as an amendment in the nature of a substitute to HR 5515, the House NDAA. Details in Section 2, below.
 
(YAY – NATO!) S. RES. 535:  Introduced 6/6 by Durbin (D-IL) and 7 Democratic cosponsors, “A resolution reaffirming the United States commitment to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.” The resolution (among other things) talks about the JCPOA and the damage to NATO done by President Trump’s decision to withdraw from the agreement. Referred to the Committee on Foreign Relations.
 
(NO $$ FOR IRAN HEAVY WATER PURCHASES) HR 5895: Introduced 5/21 by Simpson (R-ID), the “Energy and Water Development and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2019.” On 6/7, the House adopted by Voice Vote an amendment offered to the bill by DeSantis (R-FL), H. Amdt. 748, to prohibits funds from being used to purchase heavy water from Iran. Floor discussion of the amendment is here.
 
Letters
 
(DIRTY OPS AGAINST DEMS?) Cummings-Engel letter to Black Cube: On 5/24, Reps. Cummings (D-MD), Ranking Member of the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, and Engel (D-NY), Ranking Member of the Committee on Foreign Affairs, sent a letter to the founders of the Israeli company “Black Cube,” after reports that the firm was engaged in a “dirty ops” campaign against key officials from the Obama Administration who helped negotiate the Iran nuclear deal. Press release is here.


2. Senate FY19 NDAA

The Senate version of the FY19 NDAA was introduced 6/5 by Inhofe (R-OK) in the form of S. 2987,An original bill to authorize appropriations for fiscal year 2019 for military activities of the Department of Defense, for military construction, and for defense activities of the Department of Energy, to prescribe military personnel strengths for such fiscal year, and for other purposes.” On 6/5, the Armed Services Committee released it report on the bill.  This bill was subsequently offered by Inhofe as an amendment in the nature of a substitute (SA 2282) to HR 5515, the House NDAA (covered in exhaustive – and exhausting – detail in previous Round-Ups).
 
Middle East-related matters in the base Senate bill are:

  • Sec. 1204. Extension and modification of authority to support border security operations of certain foreign countries [relating to Jordan, Lebanon, Egypt, Tunisia, Oman, and Pakistan]
  • Sec. 1221. Extension of authority to provide assistance to counter the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria.
  • Sec. 1222. Extension and modification of authority to provide assistance to the vetted Syrian opposition.
  • Sec. 1223. Extension and modification of authority to support operations and activities of the Office of Security Cooperation in Iraq.
  • Sec. 1224. Syria Study Group.
  • Sec. 1225. Modification of annual report on military power of Iran.Sec. 1265. Enhancement of U.S.-Israel defense cooperation (related to provision of more PGMs to Israel, tied to Hamas and Hezbollah threats).
  • Sec. 1266. Certifications regarding actions by Saudi Arabia in Yemen.
  • Sec. 1654. Iron Dome short-range rocket defense system and Israeli cooperative missile defense program co-development and co-production (authorizing up to $70 million for Iron Dome, up to $50 million for David’s Sling, and up to $80 million for the Arrow program). 

Amendments (Submitted)
 
- Perdue (R-GA) submitted an amendment (SA 2378) to the Inhofe amendment, seeking to insert into the bill “Sec. 1226. Imposition of sanctions with respect to certain militias in Iraq that are backed by the government of Iran.”
 
- Gardner (R-CO) submitted an amendment (SA 2431) to the Inhofe amendment, seeking to insert into the bill “Sec. 12__. Report on the capabilities and activities of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria and other violent extremist groups in Southeast Asia.”
 
- Hatch (R-UT) submitted an amendment (SA 2433) to the Inhofe amendment, seeking to insert into the bill a new section entitled, “Continued Support for the Iranian People Act of 2018.
 
- Hatch (R-UT) submitted an amendment (SA 2434) to the Inhofe amendment, seeking to insert into the bill a new section entitled, the “Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps Economic Exclusion Act.” This new, lengthy section would impose new sanctions on Iran.
 
- Whitehouse (D-RI) submitted an amendment (SA 2456) to the Inhofe amendment, seeking to insert into the bill the “United States-Israel Cybersecurity Cooperation Enhancement Act of 2018.
 
- Menendez (D-NJ) offered an amendment (SA 2498) to the Inhofe amendment, seeking to add language authorizing and stipulating terms for $3.3 billion in FMF for Israel. (This is odd because the $3.3 billion in FMF is part of the annual Foreign Operations Appropriations bill, and authorization of it belongs on a bill authorizing Foreign Operations spending, not military spending – something that Menendez, as the senior Democrat on the Foreign Relations Committee, knows).
 
- Gardner (R-CO) submitted an amendment (SA 2538) to the Inhofe amendment, seeking to insert into the bill “Sec. 1066. Mandatory sanctions with respect to Iran relating to significant activities undermining United States cybersecurity.”
 
- Donnelly (D-IN) submitted an amendment (SA 2541) to the Inhofe amendment, seeking to insert into the bill, “Sec. 1226. Review of reinstatement of united states sanctions imposed with respect to Iran and waived pursuant to joint comprehensive plan of action.”
 
- Warren (D-MA) submitted an amendment (SA 2551) to the Inhofe amendment, seeking to insert into the bill, “Sec. 12__.  Reports on mid-air refueling of aircraft of the Saudi-led coalition conducting operations in Yemen.”
 
- Kaine (D-VA) submitted an amendment (SA 2556) to the Inhofe amendment, seeking to insert into the bill, “Title XVII--Authorization for Use of Military Force.” This amendment would replace the Iraq AUMF and replace it with a terrifyingly broad new AUMF giving the president nearly unfettered power to wage war over the next 5 years (so long as he can tie it to fighting terror). .For related analysis (tied to Kaine’s stand-alone version of the AUMF, S. J. Res. 59) , see this Twitter thread.
 

  1. Free Speech Watch: Kenneth Marcus Confirmed to Dept. of Education

On June 7, the Senate voted to confirm Kenneth Marcus to the position of Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights, Department of Education, by a party-line vote of 50-46. Speaking in opposition to Marcus on the Senate floor were: Booker (D-NJ), Sanders (I-VT), Duckworth (D-IL) and Murray (D-WA).
 
None of those speaking against Marcus raised the issue of his support for quashing free speech on campuses (and support for quashing free speech more broadly) in order to insulate Israel from criticism for its policies and actions. However, one defender noted that Marcus’s nomination was supported by “Hillel International, the
largest Jewish campus organization in the world…” Immediately after the vote, the American Jewish Committee tweeted out its fulsome congratulations. Full floor consideration is here.
 
To understand the serious Israel-related free speech concerns (actually, alarms) Marcus’s confirmation raises, see these resource pages Americans for Peace Now and the Arab American Institute (among others).


4. Hearings

June 14: The House Foreign Affairs Committee’ will hold a hearing entitled, “Democracy Promotion in a Challenging World.”  Scheduled witnesses are: Carl Gershman, National Endowment for Democracy; Daniel Twining, International Republican Institute; and Kenneth Wollack, National Democratic Institute.
 
June 13: The House Foreign Affairs Committee’s Subcommittee on the Middle East and North Africa will hold a hearing entitled, “The Middle East and North Africa: Ensuring Resources Match Objectives.”  Scheduled witnesses are: David Satterfield, acting Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs; and Maria Longi, Senior Deputy Assistant USAID Administrator in the Bureau for the Middle East.
 
June 6: The House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform’s Subcommittee on National Security held a hearing entitled, “Protecting America from a Bad Deal - Ending U.S. Participation in the Nuclear Agreement with Iran.” Witnesses (4 out of 5 of which are longtime opponents of the JCPOA) were: Richard Goldberg, FDD (statement); David Albright, FDD (statement); Michael Pregent, Hudson Institute (statement); Michel Rubin, AEI (statement); and Jim Walsh, MIT (statement). Video is here. And congratulations, House Committee on Oversight & Reform, for holding another all-male, all-white panel.
 

5. On the Record

Loudermilk (R-GA) 6/8: Rep. Loudermilk: Obama Administration Allowed Iran Access to the American Financial System
Schakowsky (D-IL) 6/7: Schakowsky statement on the planned demolition of Khan al-Ahmar
Cruz (R-TX) 6/7: Sen. Cruz Delivers Remarks at Faith and Freedom Coalition’s ‘Road to Majority’ Conference [including on Jerusalem and JCPOA)
Roe (R-TN) 6/7: 500 Days of Accomplishments Under President Trump (inc Jerusalem embassy move)
Royce (R-CA) 6/6: Royce on New Report Detailing Obama Efforts to Give Iran Access to Dollar
Portman (R-OH) 6/6: Floor statement suggesting Obama Admin secret agreement as part of the JCPOA to give Iran access to US financial markets, and arguing  “how
important the U.S. financial system is to global finance markets, and it gives us a substantial amount of leverage in negotiations. We should choose to use it.” Also here, here, here, and here).
Cruz (R-TX) 6/6: Sen. Cruz Responds to Reports of Obama Administration Secretly Authorizing Iranian Access to U.S. Financial System.
Durbin (D-IL) 6/6: Floor statement (among other things) condemning Trump’s withdrawal from the JCPOA.
Rooney (R-FL) 6/6: Rooney Cosponsors Legislation Advancing U.S.-Israel International Security Partnership
Gohmert (R-TX) 6/1: Interviewed by Rush Limbaugh about whole range of issues, including Iran & Israel – predictably nutty.
Schiff (D-CA) 6/1: Schiff Statement on Recent Terror Attacks by Hamas and Humanitarian Crisis in Gaza
Lamborn (R-CO) and Zeldin (R-NY) 6/4: Co-Chairs of the GOP Israel Caucus Praise Guatemalan Embassy Move
Booker (D-NJ) 6/4: Booker Travels to Turkey, Afghanistan, Lebanon to Talk Regional Security, Stability
Lowey (D-NY) 6/1: Lowey Statement on Ambassador Friedman’s Divisive, “Dangerous” Comment
Hoyer (D-MD) 6/1: Press release: “Hoyer: Israel Is Not and Must Not Be a Partisan Issue”
Cardin (D-MD) 6/1: Cardin Calls Friedman’s Politicized Comments about Support for Israel Wrong, Insensitive
Schakowsky (D-IL) 6/1: Schakowsky statement on Ambassador Friedman's comments
Coons (D-DE) 5/31: Senator Coons responds to Ambassador Friedman’s claim that ‘Republicans support Israel more than Democrats’
Levin (D-MD) 5/31: Levin Statement on U.S. Ambassador Friedman’s Comments
Engel (D-NY)  5/31: Engel Statement On Ambassador Friedman’s Comments
Inhofe (R-OK) 5/31: Inhofe Leads Delegation to Kuwait and Afghanistan
Hoyer (D-MD) 5/30: Statement on the Rocket Attacks from Gaza Against Israel
Engel (D-NY) 5/30: Engel statement on rocket attacks on Israel
Hastings (D-FL) 5/30: FB post re: rocket attacks on Israel
Vargas (R-CA) 5/30: Statement on Rocket Attacks from Gaza Against Israel

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