Legislative Round-up: March 26, 2021

1. Bills, Resolutions & Letters
2. US Law, TFA, & Palestinian aid — Facts vs Fiction
3. Hearings & Markups
4. On the Record

Special shout-out: On 3/25, a group of 200+ scholars working in Antisemitism Studies and related fields, including Jewish, Holocaust, Israel, Palestine, and Middle East Studies released the Jerusalem Declaration on Antisemitism (JDA) — a direct response to the IHRA “working definition” of antisemitism, intended to “improve on it [the IHRA definition] by offering (a) a clearer core definition and (b) a coherent set of guidelines” as well as “(1) to strengthen the fight against antisemitism by clarifying what it is and how it is manifested, (2) to protect a space for an open debate about the vexed question of the future of Israel/Palestine.” You can read the JDA text, FAQs and more here. Also recommended reading: op-ed by JDA signer Professor Trachtenberg (Wake Forest University, who testified in Congress about the Anti-Semitism Awareness Act) – Why I Signed the Jerusalem Declaration on Antisemitism

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

(PROMOTING ARAB NORMALIZATION WITH ISRAEL) S. 1061 (pdf of text): Introduced 3/25 by Sens. Portman (R-OH), Booker (D-NJ), Risch (R-ID), Young (R-IN), Ben Cardin (D-MD) [and per Portman’s press release, the following cosponsors – Rosen (D-NV), Coons (D-DE), Collins (R-ME), Durbin (D-IL), Grassley (R-IA), Feinstein (D-CA), Sasse (R-NE), Warnock (D-GA), Boozman (R-AR), Klobuchar (D-MN), Tillis (R-NC), Kaine (D-VA), and Hawley (R-MO). Notably, as of 2pm on 3/26, the Congressional Record just shows Portman and no cosponsors], “A bill to encourage the normalization of relations with Israel, and for other purposes.” As discussed in last week’s Round-Up, this bill is one of AIPAC’s key lobbying initiatives right now, and is a new version of a bill introduced by Portman and Booker in 2020 (S. 4482, which was covered in the 8/20/20 edition of the Round-Up). Referred to the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations. Press releases: Portman, Risch

(IRAN SANCTIONS) HR 2117: Introduced 3/19 by Wilson (R-SC), Steube (R-FL), and Banks (R-IN), “To require the President to make a determination with respect to the application of sanctions with respect to certain officials of the Government of Iran, and for other purposes,” aka, “the Iran Human Rights and Accountability Act of 2021.” Referred to the Committee on Foreign Affairs and the Committee on the Judiciary. Wilson press release – Congressman Wilson Introduces Iran Human Rights And Accountability Act; Wilson tweet – “On the eve of Nowruz, I am grateful to introduce the Iran Human Rights and Accountability Act of 2021 supporting human rights and democracy in Iran with @RepJimBanks and @RepGregSteube”

(IRAN SANCTIONS) HR 2113: Introduced 3/19 by Steube (R-FL), Wilson (R-SC) and Banks (R-IN), “To impose sanctions with respect to Kata’ib Sayyid al-Shuhada,” aka, the “Sanctioning Iranian-Backed Militia Terrorists Act. Referred to the Committee on Foreign Affairs and the Committee on the Judiciary. Steube press release – Steube Introduces Bill to Sanction Iranian-Backed Militia Responsible for American Deaths in Iraq; Steube tweet – “If Biden won’t hold Iran accountable, my Republican colleagues and I will.   It is dangerous for terrorist groups such as Kata’ib Sayyid al-Shuhada to go unchecked. Sanctioning them and others will help the Middle East advance on its path to stability.” – linked to Free Beacon article, Republican Pressure Mounts to Stop Biden’s Return to Iran Nuclear Deal; and another Steube tweet – “As part of the @RepublicanStudy Committee’s push to hold Iran accountable, I introduced legislation to sanction the Iran-backed militia, Kata’ib Sayyid al-Shuhada, who are directly responsible for American service member deaths in Iraq.”

Letters

(IRAN POLICY MUST DEAL WITH *ALL* ISSUES) Menendez-Graham AIPAC-backed letter to Blinken: On March 25, Sens. Menendez (D–NJ) and Graham (R–SC), along with 41 Senate cosigners [breaking down as: 28 Republicans, 14 Democrats and 1 independent (King (I-ME)] sent a letter to SecState Blinken effectively opposing a return to the JCPOA except as part of a “comprehensive” approach to dealing with all Iran-related concerns (House version detailed below). This letter is a key part of AIPAC’s current lobbying agenda (formally unveiled last week. Notably, the Menendez-Graham letter has been circulating since at least March 12, and was the subject of intense lobbying starting last week with AIPAC’s virtual lobby extravaganza. The fact that only 43 senators signed on to the letter, notwithstanding this lobbying, makes this a notably unsuccessful letter, compared to other AIPAC-backed efforts. Also see:

  • Hawkish Iran letter falls flat in the Senate (Responsible Statecraft) [“AIPAC, which has consistently called for a harder line on Iran and opposed the Obama administration’s diplomatic efforts, promoted the letter as top priority during its annual conference, the Jewish Insider reported. The hawkish pro-Israel group had already pushed 70 Democrats and 70 Republicans in the House of Representatives to sign a letter on Iran. But the letter by Menendez and Graham was far less bipartisan, perhaps due to the senators’ previous efforts to derail diplomacy with Iran, with Graham having pushed for regime change and war. The two senators were joined by only thirteen Democrats and Senator Angus King (I–Maine), who is registered as an Independent but belongs to the Democratic caucus.”]
  • AIPAC tweets – “Thank you @SenatorMenendez and @LindseyGrahamSC for bringing Democrats and Republicans in the Senate together on an important bipartisan letter calling for a comprehensive policy to address the comprehensive threat posed by Iran.” & “The Senate letter to the president calls for a comprehensive bipartisan policy to: – Permanently prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons – Limit Iran’s ballistic missiles -Confront Iran’s regional aggression -Work with our regional allies
  • Press releases and Tweet – Risch (R-ID), Young (R-IN), Menendez (D-NJ)

(TELL US ALL RE: ALLEGED RANSOM PAYMENT TO IRAN) Steil/Steube/Banks letter to Blinken: On 3/25, Reps. Steil (R-WI), Steube (R-FL) and Banks (R-IN) sent a letter to SecState Blinken “seeking answers regarding the United States’ involvement in facilitating a $1 billion ransom payment from South Korean to Iran.” Press release is here.

(NO IMF AID TO IRAN) Senate GOP letter to Yellen: On 3/24, Sens. Toomey (R-PA), Risch (R-ID), Kennedy (R-LA), and Hagerty (R-TN) sent a letter to Treasury Secretary Yellen urging her to withdraw her support for the International Monetary Fund’s (IMF) plan to allocate new Special Drawing Rights (SDRs). The letter argues (among other things) that “An allocation would also directly benefit repressive regimes around the world, including U.S. adversaries and state-sponsors of terrorism, since all IMF members would receive SDRs. That means billions of dollars’ worth of SDRs would go to China, Russia, Iran, Venezuela, and Syria.” Press release is here.

2. US Law, TFA, and Aid to the Palestinians – Facts vs Fiction

On 3/25, Rep. Zeldin (R-NY) issued a press release attacking the Biden Administration for its announcement that it would be providing $15 million in COVID-related humanitarian aid to Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza. The press releases states, as background, that “In 2018, Congressman Zeldin played an integral role in ushering into law the Taylor Force Act, which prevents American foreign aid from funding the PA unless the Secretary of State certifies that the PA has taken credible steps to end acts of violence against United States and Israeli citizens. The State Department has been unable to certify the PA has met these requirements since the PA has not terminated its Pay-to-Slay program.”

Zeldin’s press release is just the latest in an ongoing campaign by some in Congress (like Senator Cruz, R-TX, and Lamborn, R-CO) some former Trump Administration officials (most notably ex-Secretary of State Mike Pompeo), and some hardline Greater Israel groups (like CUFI, Jay Sekulow’s American Center for Law and Justice, JINSA, and the “Jewish Policy Center”) to brazenly misrepresent both the letter of the Taylor Force Act and the Congressional intent behind it, apparently for the purposes of manufacturing a controversy over Biden plans to restart aid to the Palestinians and to exact a huge political cost for it doing so (by suggesting that such aid violates both the law and the will of Congress).

To be clear: all of these people/groups have every right to oppose and lobby against re-starting aid to the Palestinians — even if some might consider opposing humanitarian aid during a pandemic cruel, dehumanizing, immoral, and even evil. But if they are going to lie about what the Taylor Force Act says/does, and about congressional intent vis-a-vis aid to the Palestinians, then it becomes necessary to set the record straight.

Setting the Record Straight on TFA and Aid to the Palestinians

Q: Did the Taylor Force Act cut off all aid to the Palestinians unless/until they end “pay-to-slay” payments

A: No. The Taylor Force Act – passed as part of Public Law No: 115-141 (coming into force 3/23/18) — came out of a long debate and negotiating process inside Congress. It put a partial limitation on one kind of US aid (Economic Support Funds – ESF), and no limits on any other form of US aid to the Palestinians.

Q: So what kind of funds can go to the Palestinians under TFA?

A: Three categories of US funding to the Palestinians are allowed under TFA. These are:

  • All non-ESF funding, including: international disaster assistance (like the $15 million just announced by the Biden Administration), multilateral support (like funding for UNRWA and other UN accounts), security assistance (under the INCLE account, including to support Israeli-Palestinian security cooperation), and State Department public diplomacy programs (like Fulbright scholarships).
  • Funding for specific exceptions stipulated in TFA: the East Jerusalem Hospital Network, wastewater projects, and “any other program, project, or activity that provides vaccinations to children not exceeding $500,000 in any one fiscal year,
  • All ESF funding that does not “directly benefit” the PA.

Q: Are you saying that some ESF is allowed to go to the Palestinians even if TFA’s conditions regarding prisoner/martyr payments haven’t been met?

A: Yes. TFA bars ESF for the West Bank and Gaza that “directly benefits” the Palestinian Authority (that is, unless the State Department can certify that the PA/PLO are taking required steps with respect to ending violence, have terminated payments for those arrested or killed by Israel for acts of terror, etc.). Note that the term used in TFA isn’t “benefits,” but “directly benefits”. This is language that was deliberately crafted to enable an Administration to continue ESF for the West Bank and Gaza, with the onus put on the Executive to define what “directly benefits” means and to provide Congress with a list of criteria that guides its funding decisions (Congress gets informed of the criteria but doesn’t get a veto).

Q: So assuming TFA was fully implemented – and the prisoner/martyr requirements were not met – what would be the impact on ESF to the Palestinians?

A: TFA actually – and perhaps counter-intuitively – opens the door for an INCREASE in ESF for the West Bank and Gaza. Before TFA, under annual ForOps law, ESF for the Palestinians had to be reduced by the amount spent for prisoner/martyr payments the previous year (as estimated by the State Department). With TFA, that reduction was replaced by the “no aid that directly benefits the PA” limitation – meaning all ESF appropriated for the Palestinians could be spent, subject to the requirement that it not “directly benefit” the PA.

Q: But people are writing/saying today that Congress wanted all aid to the Palestinians cut off until the prisoner/martyr payments end. Is that true?

A: The argument that Congress wanted to make all aid to the Palestinians subject to the prisoners/martyrs limitation in the Taylor Force Act is demonstrably false.

  • As noted above, TFA was deliberately crafted to enable some ESF funding, and all non-ESF funding, to continue to flow.
  • Congressional intent was even clearer in the debacle around ATCA:
    • After TFA was passed, Congress passed the Anti-Terrorism Clarification Act (which became law 10/20/18, with its relevant sanctions coming into force 120 later). Under to ATCA (as originally passed), Palestinian acceptance of any form of US assistance could trigger jurisdiction of US courts in cases where the PLO/PA are being sued. As a result, the PA decided almost immediately that it would no longer accept such aid.
    • At the time of ATCA’s passage, and notwithstanding TFA being in force, (a) the Trump Administration was still providing security assistance (INCLE) for Israeli-Palestinian security cooperation, and (b) regular U.S. aid was still flowing to the Palestinians, coming from funding obligated before the Trump Administration’s 2018 decision to cut off aid.
    • Realizing that the (unintended) impact of ATCA was to cut off both INCLE and humanitarian aid to the Palestinians, Congress  – in a clear signal of support for maintaining aid to the Palestinians –  amended ATCA to remove the linkage to aid (so Palestinians could accept it again)
    • And in parallel to “fixing” ATCA, Congress passed the first hard earmark for ESF funding for the Palestinians in history (in the FY20 Consolidated Approps bill) — $75 million slated for humanitarian and economic support for the Palestinians.
  • And of course, at the end of the Trump presidency, Congress passed into law the Nita M. Lowey Middle East Partnership for Peace Act and provided $250 million to fund it, in addition to providing an additional $75 million in ESF for traditional economic and humanitarian support programs (once again hard earmarked).

Q: Why did aid to the Palestinians stop under Trump, if it wasn’t in order to comply with TFA and it wasn’t in line with Congressional desire to stick it to the Palestinians?

A: The Trump Administration cut off aid to the Palestinians for its own policy reason — that is, to punish the PA for boycotting the Administration after it announced the Jerusalem embassy move). The cut-off also reflected, in part, the confluence of the legal problem of ATCA and Trump’s punitive attitude toward the Palestinians. As in, as detailed above, ATCA caused the PA to officially reject all U.S. assistance that remained after Trump’s initial punitive cut-off of most aid, resulting in the stopping of all ongoing US assistance projects – from Fulbright scholarship to sewage projects. After Congress amended ATCA to no longer obstruct the flow of that aid to the Palestinians, the Trump Administration simply chose not to re-start it.

Q: Regardless of the letter of the law, is it possible that the Trump Administration and its officials honestly viewed the Taylor Force Act as applying to all US assistance to the Palestinians, and believed they were acting to reflect the will of Congress by cutting off all aid?

A: No. Not only would such a view be contrary to even the most cursory reading of the actual law, and not only would it contradict the clearly and repeatedly demonstrated intentions of Congress, but the argument that Trump officials held (and implemented) such a view is contradicted by the Trump Administration’s own actions.

  • As noted above, following TFA coming into force in March 2018, the Trump Administration allowed some non-ESF aid to continue to flow (until the ATCA debacle ended it).
  • And demonstrating even more clearly that the Trump Administration did not view TFA as compelling the cut-off of all aid, in April 2020, Trump provided a $5 million international disaster assistance grant for the Palestinians, related to COVID needs. At the time, nobody mentioned the Taylor Force Act, or accused Trump of breaking the law (he wasn’t), or accused Ambassador Friedman (who touted the $5 million aid on Twitter) of violating the will of Congress (he didn’t). People attacking the Biden Administration today for providing support for the Palestinians for the same purposes and out of the same aid account seem to have conveniently forgotten about that.

Q: So just to be absolutely clear: would Biden be breaking the law to restart aid to the Palestinians?

A: No. Biden would be acting within the law – and consistent with the clear intentions of Congress – if he were to provide:

  • Any non-ESF funding for the West Bank and Gaza.
  • Any ESF for the programs specifically stipulated in TFA.
  • Any ESF that his administration determines does not “directly benefit” the PA (after the Biden Admin works out what that term means and provides criteria to Congress – something the Trump Admin never bothered to do, since they were cutting off all the aid anyway).

 

3. Hearings & Markups

March 25: The House Foreign Affairs Committee held a markup of various measures, including:

  • HR 1392, “Protection of Saudi Dissidents Act of 2021,” (introduced by Connolly, D-VA) — adopted as part of en bloc package, along with amendments from Connolly (D-VA) (to the findings section) and Meeks (D-NY) (replacing visa-related sanctions in the original text with limitation on arms exports to Saudi, including an exemption for exports for “(1) the defense of the territory of Saudi Arabia from external threats; or (2) the defense of United States military or diplomatic personnel or United States facilities located in Saudi Arabia” and a national security waiver and sunset clause) and a new required report with respect to Saudi diplomats.)
  • HR 1464, “Khashoggi Accountability Act” (introduced by Malinowsk, D-NJ) — passed by Voice Vote, along with two amendments from Malinowski (the first amending the findings, the second amending the sanctions) and one from Omar (D-MN) (adding a new reporting requirement with respect to whether sanctions pursuant to the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act are applicable in the context of “private, commercial, and nongovernmental entities, including non-profit foundations, controlled in whole or in part by any foreign person named in the Office of the Director of National Intelligence report titled ‘’Assessing the Saudi Government’s Role in the Killing of Jamal Khashoggi.’ Omar statement on passage of her amendment is here. A grandstanding amendment from Perry (R-PA), seeking to apply all the sanctions in the bill to the Muslim Brotherhood, was not considered by the committee.
  • HR 256, To repeal the Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Iraq Resolution of 2002(introduced by Lee, D-CA). Passed by a roll-call vote of 28-19, after amendments from Perry (R-PA) (seeking to add as an effective date: “This Act shall take effect on the date on which the Secretary of State determines and certifies to Congress that the implementation of this Act will not alter balance of power considerations in favor of the Islamic Republic of Iran”) and Issa (R-CA) )allowing the President to delay repeal of te AUMF) were rejected. Meeks statement on passage is here.
  • Video of the markup is here. Also see: Ranking member McCaul (R-TX) opening remarks.

March 24: The Senate Committee on Foreign Relations held a business meeting to deal with a number of pieces of legislation, including: S. 615 ( to establish an interagency program to assist countries in North Africa and West Africa to improve immediate and long-term capabilities to counter terrorist threats, and for other purposes), and S. Res. 99 (a resolution observing the 10th anniversary of the uprising in Syria). Video is here. Also see: press release – Menendez, Risch Laud Committee Approval of Bipartisan Resolution Marking 10th Anniversary of Syrian Uprising

March 23: The Senate Committee on Foreign Relations held a hearing to consider the nomination of Samantha Power as head of USAID. Power’s written testimony is here. Video of the hearing is here. Cruz (R-TX) going after Power over her role in the Obama Administration’s decision to abstain on UNSCR 2334 (and arguing that UNSCR is a “pile of lies” that among other things “declares much of modern-day Israel is illegitimate and illegally occupied territory” and asking her to state whether she agrees with UNSCR 2334 [Power largely ducked the question].

March 23: The House Foreign Affairs Committee held a hearing entitled, “Reclaiming Congressional War Powers.” Witnesses were: Oona A. Hathaway, Former Special Counsel to the General Counsel, US Department of Defense (statement); Bob Bauer, Former White House Counsel (statement); and Jack Goldsmith, Former Assistant Attorney General, Office of Legal Counsel, US Department of Justice (statement). Video is here. Also see: Ranking member McCaul (R-TX) opening remarks.

March 23: The House Rules Committee held a hearing entitled, “Reforming the War Powers Resolution for the 21st Century.” Witnesses were: Rebecca Ingber, Professor of Law, Cardozo School of Law (statement); Tess Bridgeman, Just Security (statement): and John B. Bellinger III, former Legal Adviser to the Department of State and the National Security Council (statement). Also see: McGovern, Meeks Issue Joint Statement on Congressional War Powers Hearings

March 22: The Senate Committee on Foreign Relations received a closed briefing on theUnderstanding the Policy and Legal Rationale of U.S. Airstrikes in Syria. Briefers were: Joey Hood, NEA Acting Assistant Secretary of State; an unnamed “official briefer” described as the Deputy National Intelligence Officer for Iran.

 

3. On the Record

Members On The Record…

re: Israeli Elections

Israeli elections this week brought into the Knesset (and possibly the government) a party that includes open followers of Rabbi Meir Kahane, whose Kach party and its offshoot Kahane Chai (“Kahane Lives”) are both US-designated Foreign Terrorist Organizations, and whose followers hold openly racist anti-Palestinian views. Notably, not a single member of Congress appears to have been moved to comment on the elections (other than one member – Manning, D-NC – who issued a statement praising  the elections and expressing enthusiasm for working with the Knesset).

This is remarkable given Congress’s clear record of warning the Palestinians of consequences should an FTO be permitted to participate in elections. As a reminder, in Dec 2005 House passed H Res 575, noting (among other things): “Whereas the inclusion of Hamas, or any other terrorist group on the State Department list of foreign terrorist organizations, into the Palestinian structure could be construed as an implicit endorsement of their anti-American and anti-Israeli terrorist ideology” and “Whereas the United States has a longstanding policy of not dealing or negotiating with terrorists” and “the inclusion of Hamas, or any other terrorist group on the Department of State’s list of foreign terrorist organizations, in the Palestinian Authority’s government will inevitably raise serious questions for the United States about the commitment of the Palestinian Authority and its leadership to making peace with Israel and will potentially undermine the ability of the United States to have a constructive relationship with, or provide further assistance to, the Palestinian Authority.” And of course, after Hamas won the 2006 Palestinian elections, Congress was quick to make good on those threats with legislation sanctioning the PA (HR 4681/S. 2370, plus sanctions in appropriations bills that continue through the present day).

All of which makes Congress’ complete silence w/ respect to Bib joining forces w/ leaders of Kach/Kahane Chai – 2 US-designated Foreign Terrorist Organizations – quite striking. And all of which sends an unmistakable message to Israelis, Palestinians, and the world that rather than using the FTO list as a single standard, Congress has its own double standard when dealing with terrorists, depending on whose terrorists they are.

Re: Miscellaneous

Luria (D-VA) 3/25: Tweet – “Iran is a state-sponsor of terrorism and poses a threat to our national security and Israel, our strongest ally in the region. Iran cannot be allowed to continue to progress towards a nuclear weapon, and we must unequivocally condemn their provocations.” Linked to March 12 article, Resolution condemns Iranian nuclear weapon pursuits

Crawford (R-AR) 3/25: Tweet – “I hope todays [sic] events – where an Israeli tanker was fired upon by an Iranian missile – isn’t the result of the troubling report that the Biden admin facilitated a $1 billion ransom payment to Iran. Perhaps the President will provide more clarity around this later today. #Iran” Linked to tweet alleging Israeli ship was hit by Iranian missile and screenshot of Free Beacon headline “Lawmakers Investigate Stat Department Over $1 billion Ransom Payment to Iran”

Inhofe (R-OK) 3/24: Inhofe Joins All SASC Republicans to Reject Kahl as Under Secretary of Defense For Policy

Rose (R-TN) 3/24: Twitter thread re support for bill to deplatform terrorists (focused on Iran)

Warnock (D-GA) 3/23: Tweet – “Today I met with @giladerdan1, Israel’s Ambassador to the United States, to discuss how we can continue to strengthen U.S.-Israel relations & combat threats of anti-Semitism & hate.”

Hill (R-AR) 3/23: ICYMI: Biden Administration Confirms: No-Strings-Attached Money to Russia and China [“…Additionally, Iran, the world’s foremost state sponsor of terrorism, would gain access to nearly $5 billion.”]

Durbin (D-IL) 3/22: Durbin Calls for the Release of Political Prisoners Languishing in Jails Around the World

Gottheimer (D-NJ) 3/22: Tweets – “Great to meet with so many friends and @AIPAC National Council members from New Jersey. We discussed the importance of critical security assistance to our ally Israel, preventing a nuclear-armed Iran, and supporting normalization between Israel and Arab states.” And “I am proud of my work in Congress to strengthen the historic, bipartisan U.S.-Israel relationship.

Wicker (R-MS) 3/21: Tweet – “It was good to meet with @AIPAC National Council earlier this week to discuss countering and preventing a nuclear Iran, supporting U.S. security assistance to Israel, and backing Israel-Arab normalization efforts.”

Deutch (D-FL) 3/19: Tweet – “‘The United States administration enthusiastically embraced the IHRA working definition… a guide to identify & recognize & stand up together against different forms of antisemitism & all forms.’ Thank you @StateSEHI for your work on Holocaust issues, combating antisemitism.” Linked to article, Holocaust envoy to ‘Post’: Biden admin. strongly embraced IHRA definition (Jerusalem Post)

Jackson (R-TX) 3/19: Tweet – “Colin Kahl famously said that Iran would use our taxpayer money to buy “butter, not guns,” when in fact Iran used our money to buy missiles & bombs & to support terrorist groups like Hamas, Hezbollah, and Al-Qaeda. The only policy shop he’s qualified to run is in Tehran.

Banks (R-IN) 3/19: Tweet – “Interesting and informative meeting with @MorganOrtagus & Brian Hook this week, on Iran strategy. Looking forward to working with you & @republicanstudy these next two years!” Linked to Free Beacon article, Republican Pressure Mounts to Stop Biden’s Return to Iran Nuclear Deal

Carter (R-TX) 3/19: Tweet – “This afternoon I had the pleasure of meeting with members of AIPAC. Israel is one of our greatest allies and we must work to maintain a strong and healthy relationship.”

Deutch (D-FL) 3/18: Twitter thread on US-Saudi relations, incl: “Saudi Arabia is a partner, but we cannot be afraid to speak truth to our partners or sacrifice American values, especially when certain actions threaten the foundation of a relationship that advances U.S. interests.”

Re: Don’t Cut or Condition Aid to Israel! [aligns with AIPAC lobby ask]

Murphy (D-FL) 3/20: Tweet – “Assistance to our ally Israel advances America’s national security interests and promotes a more just and peaceful Middle East. Read my op-ed”. Linked to op-ed signed by Rep. Murphy and JINSA’s Michael Makovsky, Don’t cut or condition US military aid to Israel

Wasserman Schultz (D-FL) 3/19: Tweet – “I couldn’t agree with @RepStephMurphy more. Our relationship with Israel is vital and the bond between our two countries is unbreakable. We must not cut or condition the aid we provide.” Linked to op-ed signed by Rep. Murphy and JINSA’s Michael Makovsky, Don’t cut or condition US military aid to Israel

Torres (D-NY) 3/19: Tweet – “The relationship with Israel is not merely an alliance. It is a friendship—unconditional and unbreakable. Israel’s security is non-negotiable.” inked to op-ed signed by Rep. Murphy and JINSA’s Michael Makovsky, Don’t cut or condition US military aid to Israel

Articles and Reports Related to the Hill

Re: Nominations/Confirmations

Jewish Insider 3/25: Menendez undecided on Kahl nomination

Jewish Insider 3/24: Manchin votes for Kahl in tied committee vote; nomination to proceed to full Senate vote

Jewish News Syndicate 3/24: Biden nominee Colin Kahl, opposed by some pro-Israel groups, moves to Senate vote

Politico 3/24: Senators salvage embattled Pentagon policy nominee in tie vote

Jewish Insider 3/23: Samantha Power questioned over U.N. 2334 resolution at confirmationhearing

Politico Playbook 3/23: AHEAD OF THE POWER HEARING [A coalition of [far right-wing] Jewish groups sent a letter to Senate Majority Leader CHUCK SCHUMER [cc’d to all members of the Senate] urging him to oppose Power’s confirmation. The groups, which include MORTON KLEIN’S Zionist Organization of America, faulted the Obama administration for failing to block a 2016 U.N. resolution condemning Israeli settlement construction while Power was U.S. ambassador to the U.N. and expressed concern ‘that Power could use USAID’s massive budget to the detriment’ of Israel.” Letter is here. NOTE: Politico’s description of the signers of the letter as “a coalition of Jewish groups” is inaccurate – the signers include the World Council of Independent Christian Churches, as well as Proclaiming Justice to the Nations (PJTN), a hardline pro-Greater Israel/anti-two-state Evangelical group (for more on that group, see: Is Evangelical Group a Useful Ally in BDS Fight — or Bigoted Albatross? (The Forward)

Breitbart 3/22: Samantha Power Faces Opposition for USAID Post over Anti-Israel Record, ‘Unmasking’ [citing ZOA statement – here]

Re: Other newsPolitico 3/25: Progressives get antsy over Biden’s slow-mo foreign policy

New York Times 3/24: How a Stabbing in Israel Echoes Through the Fight Over Online Speech

Newsweek 3/24 (Eugene Kontorovich: Fake International Law Is the Newest Anti-Israel Libel[among other things, attacking Senators Warren, D-MA and Brown, D-OH and other signers of a letter for suggesting that Israel has a legal responsibility for vaccinating Palestinians]

Free Beacon 3/22: Palestinians Funneled Hundreds of Millions to Terrorists, State Dept Report Reveals [with quotes from office of Senator Cruz]

The Hill (Rep. Murphy, D-FL) and JINSA’s Michael Makovsky) 3/19: Don’t cut or condition US military aid to Israel