Legislative Round-up: March 13, 2020

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


(NO US WAR ON IRAN W/O CONGRESS OK) S. J. Res. 68: Introduced 1/9 by Kaine (D-VA) and having 30 bipartisan cosponsors, “A joint resolution to direct the removal of United States Armed Forces from hostilities against the Islamic Republic of Iran that have not been authorized by Congress.” Passed in the Senate 2/13 by vote of 55-45; passed in the House 3/11 by a mostly partly-line vote of 227-186 (6 Democrats voted “no,” 6 Republicans and one Independent voted “yes”). Floor debate is here and here; floor debate on the rule to bring the resolution to the floor is here. Kaine statement on passage of the resolution is here. [Many House members issued statements for/against the resolution - check members’ websites to see what particular members did/didn’t say).


(SUPPORTING THE IRANIAN PEOPLE) S. Res. 539: Introduced 3/11 by Cardin (D-MD), Shaheen (D-NH), Kaine (D-VA), and Rosen (D-NV), “A resolution supporting the rights of the people of Iran to determine their future, condemning the Iranian regime for its crackdown on legitimate protests, and for other purposes.” Referred to the Committee on Foreign Relations. Cardin press release is here.


(SANCTIONS ON IRAN) HR 6243: Introduced 3/12 by Huizenga (R-MI) and no cosponsors, “To prohibit the Secretary of the Treasury from authorizing financial services by United States financial institutions to the government of Iran, and for other purposes.” Referred to the House Committee on Financial Services.


(STOP ARMING HUMAN RIGHTS ABUSERS) HR 5880: Introduced 2/12 by Omar (D-MN) and having no cosponsors, the “Stop Arming Human Rights Abusers Act.”  On 3/10, referred to the Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, and Homeland Security. NOTE: Despite the fact that nobody in Congress is going to come out saying they support actively arming human nations that regularly violate human rights, it is clear that this bill will go nowhere, given the fact that few in Congress have any serious interest or willingness to scrutinize U.S. support for a range of aid recipients and arms purchasers, including many in the Middle East (including, of course, Israel).


(US SHOULD JOIN ICC) H. Res. 855: Introduced 2/12 by Omar (D-MN) and no cosponsors, “Expressing the sense of the House of Representatives that the United States should ratify the Rome Statute and join the International Criminal Court.”  On 3/10, Referred to the Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, and Homeland Security. NOTE: This resolution is clearly introduced to make a point about support for the rules based international world order and the idea that no nation should consider itself exempt from international law -- the former under outright assault in the Trump era, and the rejections of the latter (when it comes to applying the law to the U.S. or Israel) being a point of commonality between the Trump Administration and its predecessors, with the support of Congress.


(TARGETING DOMESTIC TERRORISM) HR 5602: Introduced 1/14/20 by Schneider (D-IL) and 108 all-Democratic cosponsors, the “Domestic Terrorism Prevention Act of 2020.” On 3/11, ordered to be reported out of the Armed Services Committee by a vote of 24-2. NOTE: This legislation includes provisions focused on hate crimes -- an element that should raise some concern given ongoing efforts to define add antisemitism into hate crimes legislation, using a definition of the term that includes criticism of Israel and anti-Zionism.


  1. Hearings


3/12: The House Appropriations Committee’s Subcommittee on State and Foreign Operations held its “Public Witness Day” on 3/12. Video is here. During the hearing, AIPAC’s Howard Kohr made the case for continued robust U.S. funding for Israel (statement)


3/12: The Senate Armed Services Committee held a hearing entitled “United States Central Command.” The sole witness was General Kenneth F. McKenzie, Jr., USMC, Commander, United States Central Command (statement). In his statement Gen. McKenzie talks at length about Iran. Also see Inhofe (R-OK) press release: ICYMI: SASC Chairman Inhofe Questions General McKenzie at CENTCOM Hearing (which focuses a great deal on Iran). Video of the hearing is here.


3/12: The House Armed Services Committee’s Subcommittee on Strategic Forces held a hearing entitled, “FY21 Priorities for Missile Defense and Missile Defeat Programs.” Witnesses were: Gen. Terrence O’Shaughnessy, Commander, U.S. Northern Command and North American Aerospace Defense Command (statement); Vice Adm. Jon Hill, Director, Missile Defense Agency (statement); Lt. Gen. Daniel Karbler, Commanding General, U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command (statement); Rob Soofer, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Nuclear and Missile Defense Policy (statement); and Cristina Chaplain, Director, Contracting and National Security Acquisitions Team, GAO (statement). 


3/11: The Senate Foreign Relations Committee held a hearing entitled, “Nine Years of Brutality: Assad's Campaign Against the Syrian People.” Witnesses were: Syrian Military Defector “Caesar” (statement); Omar Alshogre, Director of Detainee Issues, Syrian Emergency Task Force (statement): and Raed Al Saleh, Head of the Syria Civil Defence, aka, White Helmets (statement). Risch (R-ID) opening statement is here; Menendez (D-NJ) opening statement is here; Young (R-IN) statement is here. Video of the hearing is here.


3/11: The House Foreign Affairs Committee’s Subcommittee on the Middle East, North Africa, and International Terrorism held a hearing entitled, “The Crisis in Idlib.” Witnesses were: Dana Stroul, WINEP (statement); Hardin Lang, Refugees International (statement); and Jennifer Cafarella, Institute for the Study of War (statement). Video of the hearing is here.


3/10: The House Armed Services Committee held a hearing entitled, “National Security Challenges and U.S. Military Activities in the Greater Middle East and Africa.” Witnesses were: Kathryn Wheelbarger, “Performing the Duties of” Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs (statement); Gen. Kenneth McKenzie Jr., USMC, Commander, U.S. Central Command (statement); and Gen. Stephen Townsend, Commander, U.S. Africa Command (statement). Video (live and archived) of the hearing is here. Smith (D-WA) opening statement is here.


  1. On the Record

Engel (D-NY) 3/12: Engel Statement on Strikes in Iraq

Engel (D-NY) 3/11: Engel Statement On Trump Administration’s Stonewalling On Iran

Scalise (R-LA) 3/6: Scalise Applauds Tulane University Designation As U.S.-Israel Center of Excellence

Spano (R-FL) 3/6: Congressman Spano Stands with Israel; Attends Annual AIPAC Leadership Reception