Produced by the Foundation for Middle East Peace in cooperation with Americans for Peace Now, where the Legislative Round-Up was conceived. Views and positions expressed here are those of the writer, and do not necessarily represent APN's views and policy positions.
1. Bills, Resolutions, & Letters
(MORE AID FOR US-ISRAEL COOPERATION) S. XXX: On 4/17, Sens. Coons (D-DE) and Cruz (R-TX) announced plans to push for a special appropriation of $12 million “to enhance partnerships between companies in the United States and Israel to develop innovative medical projects aimed at detecting, treating, and curing COVID-19.” The press release announcing the initiative states that “The push is modeled on language in their bipartisan Expanding Medical Partnerships with Israel to Lessen Dependence on China Act.” The initiative was immediately and effusively praised by AIPAC (Twitter thread here) and by the Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish Organizations. Cruz tweet touting the plan is here. AIPAC has already mobilized in support of the funding (even before the bill has been introduced).
(CHALLENGE NATIONS WHICH ATTACK CITIZENS’ FREE SPEECH) Blackburn et al letter: On 4/14, Sen. Blackburn (R-TN) led a letter, co-signed by Cornyn (R-TX), Rubio (R-FL), Loeffler (R-GA) and Ernst (R-IA) to SecState Pompeo and U.S. Representative to the UN Craft “to address the crackdown of free speech in China and in countries across four continents…in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.” Among the countries cited in the letter are Turkey and Egypt. Press release is here.
(IN LIGHT OF COVID, PUSH FOR RELEASE OF US & POLITICAL PRISONERS ABROAD) Murphy-Rubio letter to SecState Pompeo: On 4/10, Sens. Murphy (D-CT) and Rubio (R-FL) led a letter, co-signed by 15 Senate colleagues (bipartisan), urging SecState Pompeo, in the context of the COVID-19 threat, to “strongly press foreign governments to immediately release American citizens unjustly detained abroad, as well as political prisoners, on humanitarian grounds.” The letter specifically notes the detention of Americans held abroad: “Austin Tice in Syria; Salah al-Haidar and Bader al-Ibrahim in Saudi Arabia; Morad Tahbaz and Siamak Namazi in Iran; Reem Mohamed Desouky, Khaled Hassan, and Mohamed Amashahin Egypt; Paul Whelan in Russia; the Citgo 6 in Venezuela; and many others.” Press release is here.
(CLARIFY HUMANITARIAN EXEMPTIONS ON IRAN SANCTIONS *BUT DON’T LIFT SANCTIONS*) Bicameral Dems letter to Mnuchin & Pompeo: On 4/10, Sens. Coons (D-DE) and Casey (D-PA) and Reps. Phillips (D-MN), Raskin (D-MD), and Larsen (D-WA), sent a letter to Treasury Secretary Mnuchin and SecState Pompeo urging them to “take immediate actions to respond to the outbreak of COVID-19 in Iran.” It goes on to state: “We are concerned that lifting sanctions would likely benefit corrupt components of the Iranian government disproportionally over delivering much-needed relief to the Iranian people. At this time, we encourage the Administration to consider alternative actions to help the Iranian people in their fight against COVID-19…” Press release is here.
(RELEASE WEST/BANK GAZA AID TO FIGHT PANDEMIC) Coons-Durbin letter to Trump: On 4/9, Sens. Coons (D-DE), Durbin (D-IL), Kaine (D-VA), Carper (D-DE), King (I-ME), Baldwin (D-WI), and Smith (D-MN) sent a letter to President Trump urging him “to immediately disburse much-needed assistance to the Palestinian people in the West Bank and Gaza. In the face of the COVID-19 pandemic threatening hundreds of thousands of lives in the United States and abroad, we believe these funds are crucial to saving lives and livelihoods in the West Bank, Gaza, Israel, and throughout the region.” Press release is here.
(SUPPORT IMF EMERGENCY FUNDING FOR IRAN) Feinstein letter to Trump: On 4/9, Sen. Feinstein (D-CA) sent a letter to President Trump urging him to support Iran’s request to the IMF for emergency funds to contain this COVID-19. Feinstein Tweet here.
As of this writing there are no hearings on the schedule in either the House or Senate.
Scalise (R-LA) 4/13: HEAT Members Applaud President Trump for Pressuring Saudi Arabia and Russia to Resolve Global Crude Oil Market Manipulation
Olson (R-TX) 4/13: Olson Statement on OPEC Agreement to End Oil Market Manipulation
Graves (R-LA) 4/13: Graves Statement on Historic Oil Global Price War Deal
Murkowski (R-AK) 4/13: Murkowski: OPEC+ Agreement is a Good Step
Sullivan (R-AL) 4/12: Senators Sullivan, Cramer Statements on the Deal to Cut Oil Production
Sullivan (R-AK) 4/11: Sullivan, Cramer in Call with Senior Saudi Officials: Need Action on Decreasing Oil Production
Feinstein (D-CA) 4/10: Feinstein Statement on Saudi Cease-Fire in Yemen
Graham (R-SC) 4/10: Graham on Yemen War Cease Fire
Also see: JTA 4/14: Pro-Israel group warns Israel annexation would damage US-Israel alliance [“While the Trump Administration may well approve of some annexation, we can say for certain that this President will not be running America alone — or indefinitely,’ the letters said. ‘Counting on his support to carry the day suggests a fundamental misreading of American government and politics.’ The letters come the same week that Mellman sent an email to Democratic Majority for Israel PAC supporters claiming partial credit for pushing Bernie Sanders out of the Democratic presidential race, effectively making Joe Biden the Democratic nominee.”]