Legislative Round-up: October 12, 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

(PALESTINIAN PARTNERSHIP FUND) S. 3549: Introduced 10/4 by Coons (D-DE), Graham (R-SC), Kaine (D-VA), and Gardner (R-CO), the “Palestinian Partnership Fund Act of 2018.” Referred to the Committee on Foreign Relations. Coons press release is here; Kaine press release is here. [House companion version was introduced 10/12, HR 7060, by Fortenberry, R-NE, and Lowey, D-NY – not yet in the Congressional Record & not press releases/statements yet].

(HIZBALLAH BILLS) H.R. 3342: Introduced in the House 7/20/17 by Gallagher (R-WI) and having 26 cosponsors, the “Sanctioning Hizballah's Illicit Use of Civilians as Defenseless Shields Act.” Passed by the House 10/25/17 by voice vote; passed by the Senate 10/11/18 with an amendment by Unanimous Consent.

(SANCTIONS ON HIZBALLAH) S. 1595: Introduced 7/20/17 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 – amended - under suspension of the rules, by a voice vote. On 10/11, the Senate passed the House version of the text by Unanimous Consent.

(NO AID TO KSA UNLESS KHASHOGGI IS ALIVE & WELL) S. 3590: Introduced 10/11 by Paul (R-KY) and no cosponsors, “A bill to prohibit military aid to Saudi Arabia until the Secretary of State determines that Jamal Khashoggi is alive and free.” Referred to the Committee on Foreign Relations. Paul press release is here.

(DISAPPROVING OF MILITARY EXPORTS TO BAHRAIN) S. J. Res. 65:  Introduced 10/10 by Paul (R-KY) and no cosponsors, “A joint resolution relating to the disapproval of the proposed export to the Government of the Kingdom of Bahrain of certain defense articles and services.” Referred to the Committee on Foreign Relations.

(IRAQ/SYRIA GENOCIDE) HR 390:  Introduced 1/10/17 by Smith (R-NJ) and having 47 cosponsors (40 GOP, 7 Dem), the “Iraq and Syria Genocide Emergency Relief and Accountability Act of 2017.” Passed in the House by voice vote 6/6/18; passed in the Senate with an amendment by Unanimous Consent on 10/11/18.

Letters

(TRIGGERING GLOBAL MAGNITSKY INVESTIGATION INTO KHASHOGGI DISAPPEARANCE) Menendez-Corker-Leahy-Graham letter: On 10/10, the ranking member and chair of the SFRC, Menendez (D-NJ) and Corker (R-TN), along with the ranking member and chair of the Appropriations Committee’s Subcommittee on State and Foreign operations, Leahy (D-VT) and Graham (R-SC), and 18 other senators (bipartisan) sent a letter to President Trump triggering an investigation and Global Magnitsky sanctions determination regarding the disappearance of Jamal Khashoggi. The letter notes, “The Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act requires the President, upon receipt of a request from the Chairman and Ranking Member of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, to determine whether a foreign person is responsible for an extrajudicial killing, torture, or other gross violation of internationally recognized human rights against an individual exercising freedom of expression, and report to the Committee within 120 days with a determination and a decision on the imposition of sanctions on that foreign person or persons.” Press releases: Menendez (D-NJ), Corker (R-TN), Leahy (D-VT), Graham (R-SC), Rubio (R-FL), Young (R-IN), Gardner (R-CO), Risch (R-IN)

(QUESTIONING POMPEO’S YEMEN CERTIFICATION: Young-Shaheen et al letter: On 10/10, Senators Young (R-IN), Shaheen (D-NH), Collins (R-ME), Coons (D-DE), Moran (R-KS) and Merkley (D-OR) sent a letter to SecState Pompeo expressing concerns related to the Secretary’s certification last month that the governments of Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates have taken demonstrable actions to reduce the risk of harm to civilians.  Young press release is here; Murphy press release is here.

(INVESTIGATE KHASHOGGI DISAPPEARANCE) Connolly-Kaine-Warner letter: On 10/9 Rep. Connolly (D-VA) and Sen. Kaine (D-VA) led a bipartisan, bicameral letter to President Trump urging him to personally raise the issue of Virginia resident Jamal Khashoggi’s disappearance and welfare with the governments of Saudi Arabia and Turkey, and to offer U.S. support to any independent investigation into his disappearance. Kaine press release is here; Warner press release is here; Raskin press release (announcing becoming a co-signer) is here.

(PROVIDE DOCUMENTATION JUSTIFYING CONTINUED US INVOLVEMENT IN YEMENI CIVIL WAR) DeFazio, Lee, Jones letter: On 10/4, Reps, DeFazio (D-OR), Lee (D-CA), and Jones (R-NC) led a letter, cosigned by more than 50 colleagues, to SecState Pompeo, demanding that he provide all documents justifying his decision to certify that the Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) coalition is making demonstrable efforts to reduce civilian casualties in Yemen’s civil war. Press release is here.

 (WHY REDIRECTING SYRIA STABILIZATION $$?) Booker-Shaheen letter: On 10/3 Senators Booker (D-NJ) and Shaheen (D-NH) sent a letter to President Trump questioning his administration’s recent decision to redirect $230 million in funding for stabilization efforts in Syria. Press release is here.

 

2. Hearings

October 10: The Senate Committee on Homeland Security & Governmental Affairs held a hearing entitled, “Threats to the Homeland.” Witnesses were: Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen (Testimony); FBI Director Christopher Wray (Testimony); and Acting Director of the National Counterterrorism Center Russell (Testimony – including a section “Iran, Lebanese Hizballah , and other Shia Extremist Groups). Video of the hearing is here.

 

3. On the Record

Democrats Doubling, Triping, & Quadrupling Down on Unwavering, Unconditional Support for Israel as a Non-Partisan Issue (following 10/7 NYT article, “A New Wave of Democrats Tests the Party’s Blanket Support for Israel”)

Jeffries (D-NY) 10/11: Tweet, “Saudi Arabia is out of control. Syria in chaos, run by a chemical weapons butcher. Iran remains an oppressive theocracy. We must stand with Israel, our close friend and ally, and the only democracy in the eye of a storm

Suozzi (D-NY) 10/11: Twitter thread reiterating support for Israel and noting “We cannot allow partisanship to infect and influence support for our allies.”

Hasting (D-FL) 10/11: Tweet: “Commitment to the U.S.-Israel relationship, whether it is mutual security cooperation or partnerships in agriculture, academia, or science, must remain bipartisan. I speak often of my support for Israel, and will continue working to strengthen our friendship in the coming year.”

Frankel (D-FL) 10/11: Tweet, “Let's be very clear: Democrats are committed to the safety & security of our greatest friend & ally, #Israel. Our support is unwavering, and can never become a partisan issue. There is too much at stake for our national security & stability in the region.”

Gottheimer (D-NJ) 10/10: Tweet, “Israel must not become a political football, especially as our strongest ally in the region. Both Democrats and Republicans must maintain a united, bipartisan front of support for Israel. It’s key to America’s national security.”

Schneider (D-IL) 10/10: Tweet, “The strength of the US-Israel relationship lies in the broad bipartisan support for our close ally. My Democratic colleagues and I are committed to protecting our partnership with Israel, and I will continue to always advocate for further cooperation between our two nations.”

Cicilline (D-RI) 10/10: Tweet, “Strong support continues from House Democrats for our ally and friend, Israel. This enduring friendship is based upon our shared values of equality, justice, democratic governance, and universal human rights.”

Kilmer (D-WA) 10/10: Tweet, “America's partnership with Israel extends to space where together we study climate change, create new tech, & inspire kids to learn the STEM subjects. I’m pleased the House recently passed my bipartisan plan to formalize the space partnership between our nations.”

Menendez (D-NJ) 10/10: Floor statement citing Congressional support for Israel, closing with: “Our relationship with Israel is rooted in this bipartisanship. We are stronger for it, and so is Israel. It is disappointing to see some try to drive a political wedge in this historical support. Those who would try to use Israel or support for the U.S.-Israel relationship as a political football are not helping this relationship, nor are they helping promote either American or Israeli security. Along with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle, I will continue to be a vocal advocate for a robust U.S.-Israel relationship rooted in strong bipartisan support.”

Hoyer (D-MD) 10/9: Tweet, “Democrats in the House of Representatives are overwhelmingly committed to the security of and partnership with our ally, Israel. That will never change.”

On Disappeared Saudi Journalist Jamal Khashoggi

Durbin (D-IL) 10/11: Floor speech on freedom of speech, citing disappearance of Jamal Khashoggi

Connolly (D-VA) 10/11: Op-ed in the Hill, “Justice for Jamal” [“…This incident demands a robust, independent investigation with U.S. leadership and full international cooperation, including diplomatic, intelligence community and FBI support. The bipartisan effort in the Senate to force a presidential review of possible human rights violations consistent with the Magnitsky Act is an example of how Congress must lead if the administration won’t.]

Flake (R-AZ) 10/11: Floor statement decrying language that incites oppression, violence [“…We are in an era in which the authoritarian impulse is reasserting itself, to challenge free people and free societies, everywhere. We cannot give language to authoritarians, language that is used against their own people. And now, with the apparent brutal murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, some of those real enemies of freedom seem to have taken license to eliminate a man that their regime viewed as a threat. Mr. President, we need to know exactly what happened in that Saudi Consulate in Turkey earlier this month. Put bluntly, we cannot do business as usual with the Saudi Government if they directed or were complicit in the murder of Jamal Khashoggi…”]

Reed (D-RI) 10/11: Reed Calls for U.S. to Step Up Probe into Whereabouts of Saudi Journalist Jamal Khashoggi

Sanders (I-VT) 10/11: Video, “Where is Disappeared Saudi Journalist Jamal Khashoggi?”

Krishnamoorthi (D-IL) 10/11: “Congressman Krishnamoorthi Calls On Trump Administration To Provide Congress With Intelligence On Saudi Plot Against Jamal Khashoggi And Jared Kushner’s Communications With The Prince Who Ordered It”

Lowey (D-NY) 10/10: Lowey: Trump Admin. “Must Demand Answers” on Jamal Khashoggi

Hoyer (D-MD) 10/10: Hoyer Statement on the Disappearance of Jamal Khashoggi

Coons (D-DE) and Tillis (R-NC) 10/9: Sens. Coons, Tillis call on Saudis to investigate disappearance of Jamal Khashoggi

Other Issues

Sanders (I-VT) 10/9: Sanders delivered a major foreign policy speech at SAIS, observing as a starting point that, “With the exception of immediate and dramatic crises, however, foreign policy is not something that usually gets a whole lot of attention or debate. In fact, some political analysts have suggested that by and large we have a one-party foreign policy, where the basic elements of our approach are not often debated or challenged.” Sanders went on to observe that, “It’s also hard to imagine that Israel’s Netanyahu government would have taken a number of steps – including passing the recent ‘Nation State law,’ which essentially codifies the second-class status of Israel’s non-Jewish citizens, aggressively undermining the longstanding goal of a two-state solution, and ignoring the economic catastrophe in Gaza -- if Netanyahu wasn’t confident that Trump would support him.” He also noted, with respect to the rise of authoritarians, “They are in close contact with each other, share tactics and, as in the case of European and American right-wing movements, even share some of the same funders. For example, the Mercer family, supporters of the infamous Cambridge Analytica, have also been key backers of Donald Trump and of Breitbart news, which operates in Europe, the United States and Israel to advance the same anti-immigrant, anti-Muslim agenda. Sheldon Adelson gives generously to the Republican Party and right-wing causes in both the United States and Israel, promoting a shared agenda of intolerance and bigotry in both countries.”

Poe (R-TX) 10/9: Floor statement, “Iran is Making a Mockery of International Law”

Wilson (R-SC) 10/9: Statement on Amb Nikki Haley (praising her “phenomenal job…promoting fairness for Israel; consistently pushing for Russian sanctions; standing up to the murderous regime in Iran; and supporting the U.S. withdrawal from the United Nations Human Rights Council, which wastes U.S. tax dollars by unfairly targeting Israel.

Diaz-Balart (R-FL) 10/9: Praising Amb Nikki Haley, “…She brought much needed moral clarity to an institution that sorely lacks it, and stood up for allies such as Israel while condemning brutal regimes in places such as Iran, Cuba, and Venezuela.”

Warren (D-MA) and Khanna (D-CA) 10/8: CNN op-ed – “End US complicity in Yemen's humanitarian disaster

Cruz (R-TX) 10/7: Tweet, “Last month a Palestinian terrorist murdered Ari Fuld, an American-Israeli. Palestinian leaders said the terrorist became eligible for salaries & benefits, a reward & incentive. Today a terrorist murdered 2 Israelis—the incitement & atrocities must end. —>”

 

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