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.
- New FMEP Webinar – Feb 11 – ” The IHRA Definition & the Fight Against Antisemitism – Opportunities and Struggles for Progressive Jews, featuring Corey Balsam, National Coordinator for Canada’s Independent Jewish Voices, writer and filmmaker Rebecca Pierce, and Dr. Barry Trachtenberg, professor and scholar of modern European and American Jewry — all in discussion with FMEP President Lara Friedman.
- New FMEP Occupied Thoughts podcasts: Except for Palestine: The Limits of Progressive Politics – Marc Lamont Hill & Mitchell Plitnick with Peter Beinart; and “Think Big in the Middle East” – James Zogby with Peter Beinart
*Brought to you in cooperation with Americans for Peace Now, where the Round-Up was born!
(IRAN SANCTIONS) HR 733: Introduced 2/2 by Steil (R-WI) and four GOP cosponsors, “To authorize the Secretary of the Treasury to require special measures for domestic financial institutions in connection with INSTEX, and for other purposes,” aka, the “Stop Evasion of Iran Sanctions Act.” As noted in Steil’s press release, the bill “prevents those trying to avoid U.S. sanctions against the Iranian regime by using a loophole known as INSTEX.” The bill was previously introduced in 2020 (HR 6015). Referred to the Committee on Financial Services.
(TARGETING IRAN) HR 819: Introduced 2/4 by Kustoff (R-TN) and Gottheimer (D-NJ), “To require a report on oligarchs and parastatal entities of Iran, and for other purposes.” Referred to the Committee on Foreign Affairs, and the Committee on Financial Services. Also see: Kustoff Tweetannouncing the bill; Kustoff press release – “Kustoff Re-introduces the Stop Corrupt Iranian Oligarchs and Entities Act”; Gottheimer press release is here.
(REJECTING THE JCPOA) S. Res. 31 (pdf): Introduced 2/3 by Scott (R-FL), Cramer (R-ND) and Ernst (R-IA), “A resolution expressing the Senate’s opposition to the current, ineffective JCPOA.” Referred to the Committee on Foreign Relations. Scott press release is here.
(US-ISRAEL COOPERATION ON PTSD) S. 221 & HR 852: Introduced 2/4 in the Senate by Moran (R-KS) and Menendez (D-NJ) and 2 other cosponsors; and in the House by Waltz (R-FL), Luria (D-VA), and 4 other cosponsors, “A bill to direct the Secretary of Defense to carry out a grant program to increase cooperation on post-traumatic stress disorder research between the United States and Israel.” Referred to the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations and the House Committee on Armed Services, respectively. Also see: Luria press release and Tweet; Waltz press release and Tweet; Moran press release. In last Congress, this was HR 5605 & S. 4838
(SENATE AMENDMENT-PA-LOOZA/VOTE-A-RAMA) S. Con, Res. 5: This week the Senate took up S. Con. Res. 5, “A concurrent resolution setting forth the congressional budget for the United States Government for fiscal year 2021 and setting forth the appropriate budgetary levels for fiscal years 2022 through 2030.” This bill always attracts a ton of non-germane, grandstanding amendments, and this year was now different, as Senate Republicans – newly installed as the minority party – introduced loads of amendments intended to score points at the expense of Senate Democrats (by the end a total of 889 amendments were offered – the Republican Policy Committee has a tracker here – links in it sadly don’t seem to work). These include a plethora of amendments related to (yep, you guessed it) – Israel and Iran. Of these, only one was considered/passed — but make no mistake, the rest are useful hints of what is likely to come. See Section 2, below, for details of amendments.
(HOLD SAUDI ARABIA ACCOUNTABLE) Wyden/Merkley letter to Blinken: On 2/3 Sens. Wyden (D-OR) and Merkley (D-OR) sent a letter to SecState Blinken urging the Biden administration to hold the Saudi Arabian government accountable for helping Saudi nationals accused of crimes flee the United States to avoid trial. They write: “We urge you to do what the Trump administration would not: impose consequences on the Saudis for their indefensible behavior. We also urge you to seek a waiver of any relevant immunity for Saudi officials who engage in this type of activity so that they may be prosecuted to the fullest extent of U.S. law.” Press release is here.
(GRANDSTANDING RE: JERUSALEM) House GOP letter to Blinken: On 2/3, Rep. Biggs (R-AZ) led a letter, signed by 97 House colleagues, urging SecState Blinken to oppose any effort to to move the US Embassy in Jerusalem back to Tel Aviv [note: the Biden Admin has already made clear it won’t consider moving the embassy back]. Press release is here; many cosigners published tweets/press releases celebrating their proud defense of Jerusalem and Israel with this letter — check Twitter and member websites to find them (many are listed on Biggs’ press release).
(REINSTATE SANCTIONS AGAINST ISRAEL BILLIONAIRE) Meeks et al letter to Yellen: On 2/3, Reps Meeks (D-NY), Bass (D-NY) and Himes (D-CT) sent a letter to Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, urging her to reinstate sanctions [lifted by Trump in his final days in office] against Israeli billionaire Dan Gertler, who is “credibly linked to corruption in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).” Press release is here.
(ISRAEL, COVID VACCINE & THE PALESTINIANS) Bowman letter to Israeli CG in NYC: On 2/1, Rep. Bowman (D-NY) sent a letter (posted on Twitter) to Israeli Consul General in New York Israel Nitzan stating that he was “heartened to read that the Israeli government has recently agreed to transfer 5,000 doses of the vaccine to Palestinians to immunize front-line medical workers, but the entire population in the West Bank and Gaza must also be covered.” The accompanying tweet states: “Every single human being has the right to be protected from the global enemy of COVID-19. This week, I wrote to the Israeli Acting Consul General Israel Nitzan about distributing the vaccine to Palestinians, and I’m looking forward to meeting with him soon.”
The letter comes on the heels of last week’s adventure, when Bowman tweeted and then (after howls of outrage from defenders of Israel) deleted a comment stating “Netanyahu must ensure that both Israelis and Palestinians have access to the Covid vaccine. This cruelty is another reminder of why the occupation must end,” linked to Tweet by IfNotNow to Haaretz article – “Democratic Lawmakers Slam Israel for Not Vaccinating Palestinians in Occupied West Bank. Rep. Newman (D-IL) re-tweeted Bowman’s letter, noting “COVID-19 does not see or care about nationality, borders, or religion. I stand with @RepBowman in ensuring that every effort is being taken so that Israelis and Palestinians have equitable access to vaccines.”
Israeli Consul General Nitzan responded to Bowman on Twitter: “Thank you @RepBowman for your sincere letter. I believe the situation is more complex & I see it differently, but I appreciate the opportunity for an open conversation about your concerns. I look forward to a meaningful relationship based on mutual respect.” That tweet included a link to Nitzan’s 2/1 article making the case that accusations that Israel has an obligation to provide vaccines to Palestinains is “cynical propaganda” against Israel.
Also see: Haaretz 2/3: U.S. Democrats ‘Heartened’ by Israel’s Vaccine Delivery to Palestinians, Urge Further Cooperation; Middle East Eye 2/3: Covid-19: Jamaal Bowman calls on Israel to vaccinate Palestinians
As noted above, on Feb. 4-5, the Senate took up on the Senate floor S. Con, Res. 5, “A concurrent resolution setting forth the congressional budget for the United States Government for fiscal year 2021 and setting forth the appropriate budgetary levels for fiscal years 2022 through 2030.” This bill always attracts a ton of non-germane, grandstanding amendments. This year was no different, as Senate Republicans – newly installed as the minority party – introduced loads of amendments intended to score points at the expense of Senate Democrats. By the time the amendment period closed, a total of 889 amendments had been offered (the Republican Policy Committee has a tracker here – links in it, sadly, don’t seem to work).
The introduced amendments include a plethora of amendments related to — yep, you guessed it – Israel and Iran. Of these, only one was considered/passed — but make no mistake, the rest are useful hints of what is likely to come. See Section 2, below, for details of amendments.
IMPORTANT NOTE: As of this writing, the Congressional Record for February 4 has still not been published (in all likelihood because the Senate was in session all night finishing up with this very bill). As a result, text is available for only amendments submitted on February 3 (1-47 are here, 48-546 are here). Below are details of Middle East-related amendments from those first 546, plus some information gleaned from the RPC tracking document related to the remaining 343 amendments. Stay tuned for next week’s Round-Up for additional details.
- (JERUSALEM EMBASSY) SA 786 – Inhofe (R-OK) and 20 GOP cosponsors: “The Chairman of the Committee on the Budget of the Senate may revise the allocations of a committee or committees, aggregates, and other appropriate levels in this resolution, and make adjustments to the pay-as-you-go ledger, for one or more bills, joint resolutions, amendments, amendments between the Houses, motions, or conference reports relating to the United States Embassy in Jerusalem, Israel, maintaining its current location, in Jerusalem, and level of operations, which may include current funding levels and security, by the amounts provided in such legislations for those purposes, provided that such legislation or those purposes, provided that such legislation would not increase the deficit over either the period of the total of fiscal years 2021 through 2025 or the period of the total fiscal years 2021 through 2030.” Passed by a vote of 97-3, with the only “no” votes coming from Sanders (I-VT), Warren (D-MA) and Carper (D-DE). As a reminder, the Biden Administration has not only NOT suggested it would move the embassy out of Jerusalem, but has gone so far as to state explicitly this will NOT happen.Which proves that from the point of view of Congress – on a bipartisan basis – grandstanding on Jerusalem continues to be viewed as good politics. Also see: reporting in Israel Hayom, Times of Israel; gloating tweets from Inhofe and Cramer (R-ND); celebratory press releasefrom sponsors.
- (TARGETING IRAN) SA 38, offered by Hagerty (R-TN) providing for a “deficit-neutral reserve fund relating to enforcing non-nuclear-related pressure against the Islamic Republic of Iran.” [“relating to enforcing non-nuclear-related pressure against the Islamic Republic of Iran for its activities related to terrorism, Lebanese Hizballah, the regime of Bashar al-Assad in Syria, narcotrafficking, missile proliferation, and serious human rights abuses and corruption…”]
- (TARGETING IRAN) SA 39, offered by Hagerty (R-TN) providing for a “deficit-neutral reserve fund relating to countering the Islamic Republic of Iran’s destabilizing actions in the Middle East.”
- (JERUSALEM EMBASSY) SA 40, offered by Hagerty (R-TN) providing for a “deficit-neutral reserve fund relating to ensuring that the United States takes measures to ensuring that the United States maintains its embassy in Jerusalem.”
- (ABRAHAM ACCORDS) SA 41, offered by Hagerty (R-TN), providing for a “deficit-neutral reserve fund relating to ensuring that the United States sustains and expands the Abraham Accords”
- (ISRAEL/SETTLEMENTS) SA 72, offered by Rubio (R-FL), providing for a “deficit-neutral reserve fund relating “to allowing state and local governments to divest from entities that engage in commerce-related or investment-related boycott, divestment, or sanctions activity with respect to Israel.” [“…intended to penalize, inflict economic harm on, or otherwise limit commercial relations with Israel or persons doing business in Israel or Israeli-controlled territories for purposes of coercing political action by, or imposing policy positions on, the Government of Israel…”]. Rubio press release.
- (NO IRAN AGREEMENTS WITHOUT CONGRESSIONAL APPROVAL) SA 177, offered by Blackburn (R-TN), providing for a “deficit-neutral reserve fund relating to any agreement between the united states and iran relating to nuclear or missile capabilities not moving forward without formal consideration by Congress.” [“which may include a requirement that Congress formally approve such an agreement”]. Blackburn press release is here.
- (No Treaties W/O Congressional Approval) SA 243, offered by Lee (R-UT), a “point of order against implementation of an international agreement that has not received advice and consent of the Senate.”
- (No Treaties W/O Congressional Approval) SA 245, offered by Lee (R-UT), providing for a “deficit-neutral reserve fund relating to advice and consent for treaties and international agreements.”
- (PROHIBIT FOREIGN AID — NOT INCLUDING ISRAEL) SA 389, offered by Scott (R-FL), providing for a “deficit-neutral reserve fund relating to prohibiting certain foreign aid until the federal debt is reduced to pre- covid-19 levels.” [“prohibiting the expenditure of Federal funds on international development assistance that is targeted specifically toward economic support programs, social policy, climate change programs, or other non-democracy or non-health programs, but not prohibiting foreign aid to Israel or those committed to peace with Israel…”
- (TARGETING UNRWA) SA 410, offered by Scott (R-FL), providing for a “deficit-neutral reserve fund relating to ensuring that United States funds contributed to the United Nations shall not in any form be expended on the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine refugees unless the agency is not teaching, promoting, or advocating anti-Israel, anti-Jewish, or anti-United States ideas and sentiments.”
- (TARGETING THE JCPOA) SA 421, offered by Lankford (R-CO), providing for a “deficit-neutral reserve fund relating to preventing the use of funds to implement the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) unless the President certifies that Iran is in full compliance with the JCPOA.”
- (TARGETING TURKEY) SA 429, offered by Lankford (R-CO), providing for a “deficit-neutral reserve fund relating to prohibiting the provision of funds to Turkey for International Miliary and Education training until Turkey is fully removed from the supply chain of the F-35 aircraft program”
- (IRAN SANCTIONS) SA 464, offered by Sullivan (R-AR), providing for a “deficit-neutral reserve fund relating to opposing the lifting of sanctions imposed by the United States with respect to the Islamic republic of Iran.”
- (TARGETING THE IRGC) SA 465, offered by Sullivan (R-AR), providing for a “deficit-neutral reserve fund relating to reiterating the designation of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps as a Foreign Terrorist Organization.“
- (JERUSALEM EMBASSY) SA 514, offered by Inhofe (R-OK), Hagerty (R-TN). Blunt (R-MO), Cornyn (R-TX), Grassley (R-IA), and Wicker (R-MS) providing for a “deficit-neutral reserve fund relating to maintaining the United States embassy in Jerusalem, Israel.”
- (BLOCKING US ENTRY INTO AGREEMENT W/ IRAN) SA 472, offered by Blunt (R-MO), providing for a “point of order against legislation that would enter the United States into any international agreement that allows the Islamic Republic of Iran to enrich sufficient uranium to develop a nuclear weapon.” [“It shall not be in order in the Senate to consider any bill, joint resolution, motion, amendment, amendment between the Houses, or conference report that would enter the United States into any international agreement that allows the Islamic Republic of Iran to enrich sufficient uranium to develop a nuclear weapon”; this requirement can be “waived or suspended in the Senate only by an affirmative vote of three-fifths of the Members, duly chosen and sworn. An affirmative vote of three-fifths of the Members of the Senate, duly chosen and sworn, shall be required to sustain an appeal of the ruling of the Chair” on the point of order.]
- (IRAN SANCTIONS) SA 605, offered by Romney (R-UT), relating to “maximum pressure sanctions against Iran”
- (CUT LOANS TO JORDAN) SA 609, offered by Paul (R-KY), relating to “US infrastructure instead of loans to Jordan”
- (CUT SCHOLARSHIPS TO EGYPT) SA 613, offered by Paul (R-KY), relating to “Roads in the US instead of scholarships for Egyptians”
- (CUT AID FOR TUNISIAN YOUTH) SA 615, offered by Paul (R-KY), relating to “Roads instead of Tunisian Youth”
- (TARGETING IRAN) SA 639, offered by Hagerty (R-TN), to “Prohibit the United States from ever again facilitating the transfer of funds to United States-designated state sponsors of terrorism, such as when the Obama Administration transferred approximately $400,000,000 in hard currency to the Iranian regime on ‘pallets of cash’ in January 2016 due to negotiations with Iran led by Obama Administration officials.” [per Hagerty’s press release)
- (SUPPORT ISRAEL) SA 686, offered by Graham (R-SC), to “Honoring 2016 Security Commitments to Israel”
- (FIGHTING BDS) SA 711, offered by Hagerty (R-TN) to “Condemn universities that tolerate the BDS movement”
- (TARGETING THE ICC) SA 732, offered by Risch (R-ID), to “Require ICC to cease examination of Israeli activities in Palestinian territories”
- (TARGETING ROB MALLEY) SA 741, offered by Risch (R-ID), “Relating to the special representative for Iran”
- (TARGETING ROB MALLEY) SA 743, offered by Risch (R-ID), “Relating to the special envoy for Iran”
- (JERUSALEM EMBASSY) SA 744, offered by Risch (R-ID), “Point of Order against relocation of U.S. embassy in Jerusalem, Israel”
- (NO IRAN DEAL W/O CONGRESS APPROVAL) SA 745, offered by Risch (R-ID), “Point of Order against implementing a nuclear deal with Iran absent formal Congressional approval”
- (TARGETING JCPOA) SA 746, offered by Risch (R-ID), “Point of Order against implementing a nuclear deal with Iran until detained U.S. citizens are released”
- (NO JCPOA w/o CONGRESS APPROVAL) SA 747, offered by Risch (R-ID), “Point of Order against implementing a nuclear deal with Iran absent Congressional approval”
- (TARGETING JCPOA) SA 748, offered by Risch (R-ID), “Point of Order against implementing a nuclear deal with Iran until Iran stops supporting terror”
- (TARGETING JCPOA) SA 749, offered by Risch (R-ID), “Point of Order against implementing a nuclear deal with Iran”
- (TARGETING JCPOA) SA 838, offered by Cruz (R-TX), taking funding away from JCPOA implementation and “to increase funding for the Department of Defense (function 050) to enable the Department of Defense to provide additional training and care, including veterinary care, to working military dogs” (pdf of amendment text is here; Free Beacon article about it is here)
- (TARGETING IRAN) SA 879, offered by Barrasso (R-WY), “Ensuring taxpayer dollars do not benefit terrorist” (targeting Iran)
Members On The Record…
…Biden Shift in Policy Re: Yemen
Murphy (D-CT) 2/4: Murphy Applauds Biden Administration’s Announcement To End U.S. Support For War In Yemen
Schiff (D-CA) 2/4:Chairman Schiff Statement on Yemen
Lieu (D-CA) 2/4: Rep Lieu Statement On Ending U.S. Support For Saudi-led Military Operation In Yemen
DeLauro (D-CT) & Lee (D-CA) 2/4: DeLauro, Lee Applaud Biden for Ending Support for Saudi-Led War in Yemen
Khanna (D-CA) 2/4: Statement: Khanna Hails Biden Withdrawal From Saudi War In Yemen
Congressional Progressive Caucus 2/4: Congressional Progressive Caucus Applauds “Long Overdue” End to U.S. Role in the War in Yemen
Hagerty (R-TN) 2/4: Press release – Hagerty Statement on Biden’s Foreign Policy Speech [“…Contrary to President Biden’s false assertions, America never stopped leading the world over the last four years. In the Middle East, Israel and our Arab allies are more secure and stable as a result of the Abraham Accords…”]
Diaz-Balart (R-FL) 2/4 : Tweet – “When Ilhan Omar continuously made anti-Semitic comments about Israel, Nancy Pelosi swept it under the rug and suggested that they ‘move forward.’ Why wasn’t she removed from her role on a committee that helps set US policy toward Israel?”
Gottheimer (D-NJ) 2/3: Tweets: “I’m committed to getting COVID-19 relief for state and local governments, boosting the Nonprofit Security Grant Program, combating domestic terrorism and anti-Semitism, …” & “… and strengthening the historic, bipartisan U.S.-Israel relationship.”
Bishop (R-NC) 2/3: Tweet – “The Iran Deal is a disaster for America and our allies, especially Israel. Why would we EVER rejoin the JCPOA when Iran is actively enriching uranium in violation of the original agreement? THIS is what bad policy really looks like, @JoeBiden.”
Inhofe (R-OK) 2/3: Slamming Biden/Democrats’ support for rejoining the JCPOA
Tlaib (D-MI) 2/3: Tweet – “Let’s be clear: this false equivalency is a pathetically desperate smear rooted in racism, misogyny, and Islamophobia. Marjorie Taylor Greene has incited violence against her fellow members of Congress. She’s unfit to serve, even by today’s #GOP standards.”
Rubio (R-FL) 2/2: Tweet – “Senator Rubio applauds #Israel and #Kosovo for establishing diplomatic relations. This is an important step for both countries as well as for international peace and security.”
Huffman (D-CA) 2/1: Bay Area Lawmakers React to Marjorie Taylor Green’s Camp Fire Israeli Laser Conspiracy Theory
Inhofe (R-OK) 2/1: Inhofe in Foreign Policy: Congress Will Make It Tough for Biden on Iran
Kaine (D-VA) 1/31: Tweet – “I raised this issue in hearing for Secretary of State Blinken. Glad to see this news.” Linked to Times of Israel article – Israel to send Palestinians 5,000 coronavirus vaccine doses for health workers
Articles and Reports Related to the Hill
…On GOP efforts to shift conversation from defending Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene to Attacking Rep. Ilhan Omar
Jerusalem Post 2/3: House GOPs seek to remove Ilhan Omar for ‘conduct’ including antisemitism
Free Beacon 2/4: Report: Anti-Israel Activist Heading to Biden State Dept [attacking former FMEP President Matt Duss]
Jewish Insider 2/2: Manning compares Capitol Riot experience to running from Gazan rockets in Israel
Foreign Policy 2/1: Congress Will Make It Tough for Biden on Iran
Arutz Sheva 2/1: Congresswoman Kat Cammack gives hope to the future [“One of her very first acts as a Congresswoman was to place an Israeli flag alongside an American flag outside her DC office. This is is even more important because Rep. Rashida Tlaib who supports and professes BDS has an an office right next door.”]
Jewish News Syndicate 1/29: Massachusetts Rep. Jake Auchincloss stands strongly against BDS, Iranian hostility
Jewish Insider 1/29: Moderate Democrats stay mum on Malley pick as Iran envoy
Jewish Insider 1/29: Rep. Mike Gallagher urges a ‘big tent’ Republican Party “‘I think Biden’s foreign policy risks getting sucked into the same vacuum that Obama’s foreign policy did,’ said Gallagher. Trying to put the Iran deal ‘back together with duct tape,’ he suggested, will ‘anger our traditional allies in the region, Israel and the Sunni Arab Gulf states, and thereby screw up all the progress we’ve made with the Abraham Accords.’”
Jewish News Syndicate 1/29: Jewish, pro-Israel groups denounce Rep. Taylor Greene over anti-Semitic statements
Jewish News Syndicate 1/29: Massachusetts Rep. Jake Auchincloss stands strongly against BDS, Iranian hostility