A Victory in the Senate (Possibly Two!)

IranMap186x140Last month, we asked you to take action on an AIPAC-backed resolution, S. Res. 65. We were concerned that this resolution, if passed in its original form, could become a "backdoor to war" with Iran, giving a green light for Israeli military action against Iran that would almost certainly compel the U.S. to join the fight.

AIPAC-backed resolutions are often brought directly to the floor for a vote, without any committee consideration. To prevent this happening, we asked you to contact your senators and urge them to demand a serious deliberation process, including committee consideration during which concerns about S. Res. 65 could be addressed through amendments.

And you did. Thousands of you took action on S. Res. 65. And your senators heard you.

This afternoon, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee (SFRC) held a meeting - known as a "mark-up" -to deal with S. Res. 65. During this mark-up, the SFRC amended S. Res. 65 to close the "back door to war." The new language still articulates support for Israel if it takes military action in self-defense against Iran, but qualifies this support in several important ways. First, it refers to "legitimate" self-defense, making clear that the U.S. will judge what is and is not genuinely an act of self-defense. Second, it explicitly narrows the scope of what would qualify as a legitimate act of self-defense to one taken against "Iran's nuclear weapons program," as opposed to any Iranian targets. And third, it makes clear that support for Israel in such a case must be in accordance with U.S. law, including constitutional requirements for Congressional authorization of use of force before committing the U.S. to any military action.

These are critically important changes to S. Res. 65 that would not have happened without your activism.

SFRC leaders - in particular Senator Corker (R-TN), who introduced the amendment, and Senator Menendez (D-NJ), who as chairman of the SFRC was instrumental in getting this language adopted - deserve real credit for dealing seriously and substantively with our very reasonable objections to S. Res. 65. Likewise, you - the activists who reached out to your senators to raise the alarm about this resolution - deserve enormous credit. You took action on an issue of tremendous importance, and you scored an undeniable victory for responsible policymaking. Today's victory is proof that APN's work, together with your activism, can make a real difference. While this resolution is still not perfect, it is far better, and far less dangerous, than it would have been.

In addition, you may have seen recent reports about growing opposition to a provision in another Senate bill, S. 462. That provision would grant Israel special status as one of a short list of countries whose citizens do not need a tourist visa to visit the United States, and would exempt Israel from U.S. law requiring that such countries reciprocate with free travel for U.S. citizens. This controversial provision in S. 462 was first highlighted and explained by APN in our weekly Legislative Round-Up back in early March, when S. 462 was first introduced, as part of our analysis of the problems with S. 462 (our Round-Up is included as part of the Weekly Update that you should be receiving - if not, you can sign up to receive ithere). We are gratified that our reporting and analysis on S. 462 empowered and mobilized members of Congress, the media, and activists to take up the issue.