Legislative Round-up: April 26, 2019

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

Shameless Plug: Last week’s Round-Up included details of letters sent to the Department of Education demanding answers and retribution for an academic conference held by UNC & Duke, dealing with Gaza. Since then, media reports continued to breathlessly repeat and even escalate the charges made in the letters - underscoring the need for someone to set the record straight. Which I did, in an April 24 op-ed: Why So Much Fuss about a Conference in North Carolina?

1. Bills, Resolutions, & Letters

(TWO STATES OR BUST!) H. Res. 326: Introduced 4/25 by Lowenthal (D-CA), Bass (D-CA) and Connolly (D-VA), “Expressing the sense of the House of Representatives regarding United States efforts to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict through a negotiated two-state solution.” Referred to the House Committee on Foreign Affairs. Among other things, the resolution states that, “a United States proposal that fails to expressly endorse a two-state solution as its objective, that expressly or tacitly encourages unilateral annexation of territory, or is otherwise inconsistent with the broadly held consensus positions for resolving the conflict’s final status issues as reflected in previous United States proposals is likely to put a peaceful end to the conflict further out of reach.

(PREVENTING WAR WITH IRAN) HR 2354: Introduced 4/25 by Eshoo (D-CA) and Thompson (D-CA), “Prevention of Unconstitutional War with Iran Act of 2019.”  Referred to the Committee on Foreign Affairs, and the Committee on Armed Services.



(LET THEIR PEOPLE VISIT - MORE EASILY!) Meng-Mast Letter: On 4/23, Reps. Meng (D-NY) and Mast (R-FL) led a bipartisan letter, cosigned by 73 members of Congress, urging Acting Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan to expand the Global Entry Program to include Israeli travelers. Not mentioning the benefits it would bring to Israelis, the letter argues that “Israel’s full participation in this program would grow the U.S. economy, strengthen national security at each of our borders, and and increase opportunities for people-to-people exchange, which bolsters our already unique bilateral relationship.” Perhaps not coincidentally, this letter was sent just a week before a new visa program for Israelis becomes active. As noted on the website of the US embassy in Israel, “The U.S. Embassy in Israel is pleased to announce the implementation of the U.S. E-2 Investor Visa for Israeli nationals, beginning May 1. The E-2 visa is a temporary (nonimmigrant) visa that can be used to develop, direct, or provide specialized skills to an enterprise in which the owner has invested a substantial amount of capital. With the implementation of this visa, Israeli investors now have the opportunity to invest in the U.S. economy and send qualified employees to the United States. Likewise, U.S. citizens will be eligible to apply for visas to invest in Israel.” In parallel, this week the Embassy of Israel in the United States announced that “Effective May 1, 2019, Israel will permit US citizens, including vital workers on their behalf & their families, to temporarily reside & work in Israel with the purpose of managing & developing business ventures.” Time will tell if these new arrangements apply for all Israelis/Americans, or if in practice Palestinian citizens of Israel and Palestinian- and Arab-Americans find themselves unable to enjoy these great benefits of the U.S.-Israel bilateral relationship. Press release is here. NOTE: This is not the same as the Visa Waiver Program that at various times has been brought up as another benefit that ought to be granted to Israelis.


2. Hearings

5/15: The House Financial Services Committee will hold a hearing entitled, “Assessing the Use of Sanctions in Addressing National Security and Foreign Policy Challenges.” No further details are available at this time.

4/30: The House Foreign Affairs Committee’s Subcommittee on the Middle East, North Africa, and International Terrorism will hold a hearing entitled, “Examining the Global Terrorism Landscape.” Witnesses (so far) are: Ali Soufan, the Soufan Group; Vidhya Ramalingam, Moonshot CVE; and Bill Roggio, FDD.


3. On the Record

Cruz (R-TX) 4/25: Statement in Response to Reports of Significantly Reduced Pressure on Iran

Gabbard (D-HI) 4/23: Rep. Tulsi Gabbard: Trump’s Iran Sanctions Increase Tensions, Escalating His March to War Against Iran

Romney (R-UT) and Murphy (D-CT) 4/23: Press releases announcing joint travel to Middle East ("including Israel and Jordan")

Menendez (D-NJ) 4/22: In Athens, Senator Menendez Lays out Strategy for Security and Energy Partnership in the Eastern Mediterranean (promoting S. 1102, the "Eastern Mediterranean Security and Energy Partnership Act of 2019"

Lieu (D-CA) and Allen (R-GA) 4/22: Press releases announcing joint introduction of "Bipartisan Resolution in Support of U.S.-Israel Economic Relationship" (H. Res. 324)

Kustoff (R-TN) 4/22: Kustoff Applauds Full Sanctions on Iranian Oil

McCaul (R-TX) 4/22: McCaul Applauds Administration’s Action to Deprive Iran of Oil Export Revenue

Cheney (R-WY) 4/22: Cheney Applauds President Trump’s Decision to Zero Out Iranian Oil Exports

Kramer (R-ND) 4/22: Senator Kevin Cramer on Not Reissuing SRE’s for Iran ["I agree with President Trump’s decision and firmly stand with his administration as the United States works to effectively eliminate Iran’s ability to fund terrorism.”]

Markey (D-MA) 4/22: Senator Markey Opposes Trump Administration’s Decision to End Sanctions Waivers for Countries Importing Iranian Oil

Cruz (R-TX) 4/22: I Applaud President Trump and His Administration for Announcing End of Oil Waivers for Iran

Rubio (R-FL) 4/22: Rubio Praises Administration's Decision to End Waivers for Iranian Oil Sanctions

Cotton (R-AR) 4/22: "The world pays a steep price for Iranian oil, which funds Iran's military aggression and terrorist proxies. Pressure on the Iranian regime was a necessary decision and I commend the leadership of Secretary Pompeo in the efforts to shift oil reliance from Iran."

Cruz (R-TX) 4/19: "Statement to Recognize the Sanctity of Passover" [note: In his statement, Cruz takes it upon himself to correct the traditional Passover statement/aspiration, dating to at least the 15th century CE, "L'shana haba'ah b'Yerushalayim" - which means, "next year in Jerusalem." Cruz apparently thinks that for hundreds of years Jews have been expressing the wrong aspiration, amending it to say: "Next year in Jerusalem, Israel's eternal, undivided, and indivisible capital." Shame on all of us silly Jews who have been saying it wrong for all these years! Maybe Bibi, when he officially takes on the title of King of the Jews, can decree that this expanded statement will replace the old, broken one - part of Making Israel Great[er] Again!]

Peters (D-CA) 4/19: Tweet, “Cutting USAID in this region abandons U.S. leadership and hurts our goal to advance Israeli-Palestinian peace. This will only embolden extremist organizations and hurt those already suffering” with a link to this article

Fischer (R-NE) 4/19: Tweet, “Fantastic oped by @AvivEzra in @JournalStarNews on trade ties between #Nebraska & Israel - was proud to work to open the market for NE beef to Israel for the 1st time in over a decade & look forward to continuing our good partnership.” With link to this article.