Legislative Round-up: September 28, 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
  3. On the Record

1. Bills, Resolutions & Letters

(MORE NEW IRAN SANCTIONS) S. 3516: Introduced 9/26 by Hatch (R-UT) and 8 cosponsors (7 GOP, plus Heitkamp, D-ND), “A bill to impose additional sanctions with respect to Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps, and for other purposes,” aka, “The IRGC Economic Exclusion Act.” Referred to the Committee on Foreign Relation. Hatch et al press release is here, citing three validators: Alireza Nader, CEO of New Iran; Sandra Hagee Parker, Chairwoman, Christians United for Israel Action Fund; and Mark Dubowitz, CEO, Foundation for Defense of Democracies. Similar Heller (R-NV) press release is here.

(SUPPORTING US-ISRAEL DEFENSE PACT) H. Con. Res. 139: Introduced 9/26 by Conaway (R-TX) and Green (D-TX), “Expressing the policy of the United States to pursue and enter into a military treaty alliance of extended deterrence with the State of Israel.” Referred to the House Committee on Foreign Affairs.

(NO US ATTACK ON IRAN) S. 3517: Introduced 9/26 by Udall (D-NM) and 7 cosponsors (6D, 1I). “A bill to limit the use of funds for kinetic military operations in or against Iran.” Referred to the Committee on Foreign Relations. Udall press release is here.

(SANCTIONS ON HIZBALLAH) S. 1595: Introduced 7/20 by Rubio (R-FL) and Shaheen (D-NH), and passed by the Senate on 10/5/17, “To amend the Hizballah International Financing Prevention Act of 2015 to impose additional sanctions with respect to Hizballah, and for other purposes,” aka, the “Hizballah International Financing Prevention Amendments Act of 2017.” On 9/25, passed by the House under suspension of the rules, by a voice vote. Floor consideration is here. [Note: The House version of this bill, HR 3329, was passed by the House 10/25/17 under suspension of the rules, by voice vote]. HFAC press release is here.

(ENDING US MILITARY ENGAGEMENT IN YEMEN) H. Con. Res. 138: Introduced 9/16 by Khanna (D-CA) and 26 cosponsors (24 Democrats, 2 Republicans, “Directing the President pursuant to section 5(c) of the War Powers Resolution to remove United States Armed Forces from hostilities in the Republic of Yemen that have not been authorized by Congress.” Referred to the House Committee on Foreign Affairs. Khanna (D-CA) press release is here. Engel statement on the resolution is here. Gabbard (D-HI) press release is here. Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC) press release is here.

(HONORING ANWAR SADAT) HR 754: Introduced 1/31 by Stewart (R-UT) and having 291 cosponsors, the “Anwar Sadat Centennial Celebration Act.” On 9/26, HR 754 was passed by the House by a voice vote under suspension of the rules. Floor consideration is here.

(SYRIA STUDY GROUP) HR 302: This bill, originally entitled the “Sports Medicine Licensure Clarity Act of 2017,” was first passed by the House back on 1/9/17 (at that time, the title reflected the content of the bill). On 9/6, the Senate passed HR 302 with an amendment in the nature of a substitute and sent it back to the House (still dealing with the same substance). On 9/26, the House took up HR 302 again on the floor, and amended it again – this time changing the title (to: the “FAA Reauthorization Act of 2018”) and turning what had been a short and simple bill into a massive bill consisting of 10 separate divisions (each division representing, in effect, an entirely separate piece of legislation – Division A remaining the Sports Medicine substance, Division B the FAA Reauthorization, and Divisions C-I covering a range of other matters). Notably (for the purposes of the Round-Up), Division D of the bill is entitled, “Syria Study Group” and would be law establish such a group, composed of members appointed by specified Congressional committees and leaders, with leadership designated by specified Congressional leaders. The group would have the duty to “conduct a review on the current United States military and diplomatic strategy with respect to the conflict in Syria that includes a review of current United States objectives in Syria and the desired end state in Syria.” Further details are specified in the text. [Floor action on HR 302, including text of the House amendment, is here].

Other measures moved this week (also detailed below, under “Hearings”):

  • (NEW IRAN SANCTIONS) HR 4591: To impose sanctions with respect to Iranian persons that threaten the peace or stability of Iraq or the Government of Iraq – reported out of the House Foreign Affairs Committee with an amendment in the nature of a substitute.
  • (SYRIA & IRAN SANCTIONS) HR 1677: Introduced 3/22 by Engel (D-NY) and passed by the House on 5/17/17, the “Caesar Syria Civilian Protection Act of 2017.” On 9/26, this bill was reported out of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee with an amendment in the nature of a substitute. Engel’s statement on the Senate’s action is here.
  • (TARGETING HAMAS/HEZBOLLAH USE OF “HUMAN SHIELDS”) 3257: Introduced 7/24 by Cruz (R-TX) and having 14 cosponsors (11R, 3D), the “STOP Using Human Shields Act.” ****NOTE: The Senate Foreign Relations Committee adopted an amendment in the nature of a substitute that turns this into a completely different bill. The original bill raised serious concerns (for details, see previous reporting in the Round-Up, as well as this Twitter thread, tweeted before it was apparent that the Committee had so changed the bill). The bill, as amended and reported out by the Committee, now amounts, in effect, to sanctions that can be applied to Hamas and Hezbollah members, and those acting on their behalf, who use human shields. Given that the U.S. already has far-reaching sanctions on members of US-designated Foreign Terrorist Organizations and those working with them, it is not clear at this point how these sanctions are not redundant. Cruz press release is here.

Letters

(LIFT WAIVER OF IRAN SANCTIONS) Roskam et al letter: On 9/21, Rep. Roskam (R-IL), and 8 fellow GOP members of Congress sent a letter to President Trump urging the Administration to lift waivers on sanctions of the Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting (IRIB).

(FULLY TREAT JERUSALEM AS CAPITAL OF ISRAEL!) Zeldin et al letter: On 9/17, Rep. Zeldin (R-NY) and 55 House colleagues sent a letter to President Trump urging that the “State Department should faithfully implement the administration’s policy, by recognizing all areas within the current municipal boundaries of Jerusalem as ‘Jerusalem, Israel’, supporting Jerusalem as the Capital of Israel both de jure and de facto.” Press release is here.

 

2. Hearings

October 2: The Senate Foreign Relations Committee will hold a hearing entitled, “Russia's Role in Syria and the Broader Middle East.” Scheduled witnesses are James Jeffrey, Special Representative for Syria Engagement for the Department of State; and Robert Karam, Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs, Department of Defense.

September 27: The House Foreign Affairs Committee’s Subcommittee on the Middle East and North Africa held a hearing entitled, “U.S. Policy Toward Syria (Part I).” Witnesses were: Hanin Ghaddar, WINEP [statement]; Nicholas Heras, CNAS [statement]; and Mona Yacoubian, USIP [statement]. Video of the hearing is here.

September 27: The House Foreign Affairs Committee held a markup of a number of measures, including HR 4591, “To impose sanctions with respect to Iranian persons that threaten the peace or stability of Iraq or the Government of Iraq.” Video of the markup is here.  The bill was ordered to be reported out of Committee with an amendment in the nature of a substitute.

September 26: The Senate Foreign Relations Committee held a markup of a number of measures, including: HR 1677, “the Caesar Syria Civilian Protection Act of 2017” (reported out of Committee with an amendment in the nature of a substitute) and S. 3257, “the STOP Using Human Shields Act” (reported out of committee with an amendment in the nature of a substitute that turns this into a completely different bill).

September 26: The House Armed Services Committee’s Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations held a hearing entitled, “U.S. Strategy in Syria.” Witnesses were: Brig. Gen. Scott Benedict, Deputy Director J5, Middle East (Strategic Plans and Policy), Joint Staff (no written statement) and Robert Karam, Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs, Department of Defense (statement). Video is here.

September 26: The House Foreign Affairs Committee’s Subcommittee on Terrorism, Nonproliferation, and Trade held a hearing entitled, “Countering Iranian Proxies in Iraq.” Witnesses were: Behnam Ben Taleblu, FDD [statement]; Kimberly Kagan, Institute for the Study of War [statement]; Michael Pregent, Hudson Institute [statement]; and Barbara Leaf, WINEP [statement]. Video is here.

September 26: The House Financial Services Committee held a hearing entitled “Administration Goals for Major Sanctions Programs [including Iran sanctions].” The sole witness was The Honorable Marshall Billingslea, Assistant Secretary for Terrorist Financing, U.S. Department of the Treasury (statement). The Committee press release on the hearing is here; video of the hearing is here.

 

3. On the Record

Rokita (R-IN) 9/27: floor statement, “Acknowledge Jerusalem As True Capital of Israel”

Feinstein (D-CA), Sanders (I-VT), Schakowsky (D-IL) and Yarmuth (D-KY) 9/26: Members of Congress to Netanyahu: Don’t Demolish West Bank Village statement on Khan al-Ahmar

Feinstein (D-CA) 9/25: Feinstein: President’s Iran Policy is Failing

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