Legislative Round-up: April 30, 2021

1. Bills, Resolutions & Letters
2. Hearings & Markups
3. On the Record

NOTE — New CRS report (dated 4/14): U.S. Resumption of Foreign Aid to the Palestinians

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

(AUTHORIZING $$ FOR BIRD) S. 1518: Introduced 4/29 by Hoeven (R-ND) and Baldwin (D-WI), “A bill to amend the National Agricultural Research, Extension, and Teaching Policy Act of 1977 to authorize appropriations for the United States-Israel Binational Agricultural Research and Development Fund.” Referred to the Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry

(NO US ARMS EXPORTS TO HUMAN RIGHTS ABUSERS) S. 1473 (text): Introduced 4/29 by Menendez (D-NJ) and 6 cosponsors (all Democrats), “A bill to enhance the consideration of human rights in arms exports,” aka, the “Safeguarding Human Rights in Arms Exports Act of 2021,” aka, the “SAFEGUARD Act.” Referred to the Committee on Foreign Relations. Press releases: Menendez (D-NJ)

(CONDEMNING POLICE BRUTALITY AROUND THE WORLD) H. Res. 356: Introduced 4/29 by Omar (D-MN), “Expressing condemnation for police brutality wherever in the world it occurs.” Referred to the Committee on the Judiciary, and the Committee on Foreign Affairs. The “whereas” clauses include: “Whereas the United States is the largest arms exporter in the world, including as the top provider to 13 out of 19 countries in the Middle East.

(SUPPORT US VICTIMS OF LIBYAN STATE TERROR) S.1429: Introduced 34/28 by Collins (R-ME) and no cosponsors, “A bill to provide compensation for United States victims of Libyan state-sponsored terrorism, and for other purposes.” Referred to the Committee on the Judiciary.

(CONDEMNING IRAN’S TREATMENT OF BAHA’I) S. Res.183: Introduced 4/28 by Wyden (D-OR) and 3 bipartisan cosponsors, “A resolution condemning the Government of Iran’s state-sponsored persecution of its Baha’i minority and its continued violation of the International Covenants on Human Rights.” Referred to the Committee on Foreign Relations. Press releases: Rubio (R-FL), Boozman (R-AR)

Letters

(TARGETING JOHN KERRY) Sullivan et al letter to POTUS: On 4/29, Sen. Sullivan (R-AK) led a letter to President Biden, cosigned by 18 Senate Republican colleagues, urging him to “investigate recent allegations that Secretary Kerry revealed sensitive information to the Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif.” The letter states that if the allegations prove to be true, the senators “call for his removal from your national security team.” Press releases/Tweets: Sullivan (R-AK), Cruz (R-TX), Rubio (R-FL), Ernst (R-IA), Hagerty (R-TN), Scott (R-FL)

(TARGETING JOHN KERRY) Wagner-Barr-Zeldin letter to State Department IG: On 4/28, Reps. Wagner (R-MO), Barr (R-KY), and Zeldin (R-NY) sent a letter to the State Department Inspector General demanding an investigation into Kerry’s “relationship with Iranian Foreign Minister Zarif” to “determine whether his security clearance should be revoked or not.” The letter demand answers to a list of specific questions, to be provided by May 12. Tweets/press releases: Wagner (R-MO)Barr (R-KY), Zeldin (R-NY).

(TARGETING JOHN KERRY) McClain letter to Biden: On 4/27, Rep. McClain (R-MI) led a letter, cosigned by 16 Republican House colleagues, demanding that President Biden “take immediate action and call for Special Envoy Kerry’s resignation, and order Attorney General Merrick Garland to open an investigation into this allegation.” Press release here.

(TARGETING JOHN KERRY) Biggs letter to Biden: On 4/27, Rep. Biggs (R-AZ) sent a letter to President Biden urging him “to immediately suspend Special Envoy John Kerry’s security clearance and prevent him from participating in any classified briefings until the full nature of his interactions with the Islamic Republic of Iran are investigated.” Also see: Biggs post on Facebook; Arizona Republican calls on Biden to revoke John Kerry’s security clearance (The Hill)

 

2. Hearings & Markups

None.

3. On the Record

Members On The Record…

…re: HRW’s Report on Israel & Apartheid

Tlaib (D-MI) 4/28: Tweet – “Human Rights Watch officially recognizes that Israel is committing the crimes against humanity of apartheid and persecution of the Palestinian people. @hrw?”

Omar (D-MN) 4/28: Tweet – “We cannot continue to ignore reality. This is an exhaustive, credible, and damning report from one of the most respected human rights organizations in the world,@HRW, detailing crimes against humanity. I urge everyone to read and address the reality of modern-day apartheid.

McCollum (D-MN) 4/27: Twitter thread – “HRW’s report “A Threshold Crossed: Israeli Authorities and the Crimes of Apartheid and Persecution” exposes ‘the reality of Israel’s entrenched discriminatory rule over Palestinians.’” & “@hrw takes facts on the ground and Israeli policies to establish a foundational legal analysis of Israel’s systemic repression and persecution of the Palestinian people.”& “It is clear: Without restrictions, U.S. military aid to Israel is a green light to Israeli persecution of Palestinians, and what HRW calls ‘the crime of apartheid.’”

Wilson (R-SC) 4/27: Tweet – “I urge my colleagues in Congress to vocally condemn the latest attempt by @hrw to demonize the Jewish State. Israel is most certainly not an apartheid & this report only further entrenches ongoing Palestinian rejection of peace talks w/Israel which has persisted for seven years.”

McClain (R-MI) 4/27: “.@hrw has shown again how they have an anti-Israel agenda. Maybe they should focus their efforts on the documented ongoing genocide in #China and the rampant human rights abuses in #Iran. #doublestandards”

Murphy (D-CT) 4/27: “We have all known for a long time that there’s really only 2 paths forward for Israel. “They are either going to have to have a Palestinian state, or they are going to become an Apartheid state.”

…re: Lag Ba’Omer tragedy in Israel

Donalds (R-FL), Jones (D-NY), Luria (D-VA), Maloney (D-WA), Maloney (D-NY), Manning (D-NC), Meng (D-NY), Morelle (D-NY), McCaul (R-TX), Nadler (D-NY), Rosen (D-NV), Roybal-Allard (D-CA), Torres (D-NY)

…re: Israel/Palestine — miscellaneous

Hagerty (R-TN) 4/28: Tweet – “All this talk about national security, but I haven’t heard one thing about standing with Israel in @JoeBiden’s speech tonight.”

Blackburn (R-TN) 4/28: Tweet – “You know what else was missing from this speech tonight: Israel.”

Collins (R-ME) 4/27: Collins, Colleagues Introduce Bipartisan Legislation to Support U.S.-Israel Cybersecurity Partnership [referring to S. 1193, introduced 4/15)

Pressley (D-MA) 4/26: Tweet – “We can’t talk about ending endless wars without addressing how taxpayer dollars have subsidized Israel’s military occupation. Thankful for @BettyMcCollum04’’s leadership on this human rights issue and proud to serve as an original co-sponsor.”

Rice (D-NY) 4/27: Tweet – “Great meeting with AJC Long Island. We discussed our shared commitment to a strong US-Israel relationship, preventing Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons, combating the rising tide of antisemitism, and stopping the spread of dangerous disinformation online.”

McCollum (D-MN) 4/25: Tweet – “Thank you @RepPressley for cosponsoring #HR2590, the Defending the Human Rights of Palestinian Children and Families Living Under Israeli Military Occupation Act, and championing human rights for all.”

Tlaib (D-MI) 4/24: Tweet – “During the holy month of Ramadan, Palestinians are met w/ mobs of Israeli settlers calling on the “death of Arabs!” The anti-Palestinian violence was not stopped by the Israeli govt. These acts of hate is what colleagues need to see when I say Palestinians deserve human dignity.”

…re: attacking John Kerry (and Biden Admin) for allegedly betraying Israel to Iran

Tweets:  Bacon (R-NE)Banks (R-IN), Barr (R-AZ), Blackburn (R-TN), Buchanan (R-FL), Carter (R-GA), Cruz (R-TX), Donalds (R-FL), Ernst (R-IA), Fischer (R-NE), Franklin (R-FL), Garcia (R-CA), Gimenez (R-FL), Green (R-TN), Hartzler (R-MO), Lamborn (R-CO), Lankford (R-OK), Lesko (R-AZ), Marshall (R-KS), Moore (R-AL), Mclain (R-MI), Palazzo (R-MS), Pfluger (R-TX), Roy (R-TX), Stefanik (R-NY), Sullivan (R-AK), Turner (R-OH), Young (R-IN), Zeldin (R-NY)

Press releases: Cruz (R-TX), Gallagher (R-WI), Hern (R-OK – via Facebook), Marshall (R-KS), Roy (R-TX), Rubio (R-FL), Wittman (R-VA), Zeldin (R-NY – demanding that Kerry testify immediately at HFAC)

Floor statements: Sullivan (R-AK), Sullivan (R-AK)

…re: defending John Kerry

Beyer (D-VA) 4/27: Twitter thread with links to receipts along the way (consolidated here) – “Over the past few days Republican politicians have amplified a tidal wave of lies and disinformation from rightwing media. Ridiculous conspiracy theories about the President banning meat, and about the Vice President’s book. A new claim about Climate Envoy John Kerry is worse. Republicans are spreading the highly dubious claim that Kerry secretly informed Iran’s foreign minister Javad Zarif about 200 Israeli strikes against Iranian targets in Syria, based on a 2020 recording of Zarif reported by NYT. Republicans say it’s ‘a criminal act’ and ‘treason.’ Mike Pompeo, one of the worst Secretaries of State in American history, is again slandering a diplomat for his own political benefit. Nikki Haley, who said ‘we can’t trust them’ of Iran, has chosen to take the word of Iran’s foreign minister over a decorated American war hero. But the secret intel Kerry supposedly gave Iran’s foreign minister wasn’t secret. Benjamin Netanyahu discussed the strikes by a hot mic in 2017; the Commander in Chief of the Israeli Air Force publicly confirmed that Israel had struck over 100 Iranian targets in Syria soon after. Israeli strikes on Iranian targets in Syria continued regularly. 13 months later the number had risen to 200, the number Kerry supposedly gave Zarif. Except that was public knowledge, widely reported by global press at the time and publicly confirmed by the IDF. Republicans are slandering John Kerry, who risked his life in service to this country, of ‘betraying’ a key ally by furnishing intelligence to an adversary that said adversary could have found with a google search. This ‘secret’ info came with a map at the Wall Street Journal. John Kerry’s ‘secret’ info, the sharing of which Republicans say constituted a criminal act, is such a closely guarded secret that it has been freely available on Wikipedia for years. There is a scandal involving the betrayal of Israeli intelligence. You know who did it? Donald Trump. Donald Trump betrayed Israeli sources and methods to the Russians during a meeting in the Oval Office, and Republican leaders were nowhere to be found. Republicans had their heads in the sand as Trump betrayed our national security interests and damaged our relationships with key allies. Their attacks on John Kerry are lies told in bad faith to try to weaken the President’s ability to fight climate change. They will not succeed.

…re: Attacking Colin Kahl over Israel and/or Iran

Scott (R-FL) 4/27: “We need leaders who understand that our adversaries are regimes like those in Communist China and Iran and that our friends are countries like Israel and its partners in the Middle East. That is not Dr. Kahl. I have grave concerns about Dr. Kahl’s lack of support for one of our great allies, Israel, weakness toward Communist China and desire to rejoin the disastrous Iran Deal”

Cruz (R-TX) 4/27: “I have come to believe that Colin Kahl’s judgment is irreparably marred by obsessive animosity toward Israel. I can think of no other way to explain his years of consistently wrong views regarding the Middle East–and not just wrong but impulsive and reckless. He has repeatedly spilled out his conspiracy theories and attacks on Twitter and other public venues. He views the world through a cracked lens. And I challenge my Democratic colleagues to explain one simple thing: What other explanation, other than animosity to the world’s only Jewish state, could possibly account for all of these staggeringly wrong judgments?” [he goes on at length on this]

Inhofe (R-OK) 4/27: “Somehow, for Dr. Kahl the problem is never Iran or the weak 2015 Iran deal that didn’t cover the nuclear sites that Israel revealed. He wants to give Iran massive sanctions relief to return to that deal. No, for Dr. Kahl the problem is Israel, especially when our Israeli friends reveal information about Iran’s nefarious behavior.

….re: Iran/JCPOA

Stefanik (R-NY) 4/29: Tweet – “In his first 100 days, President Biden has outreached more to China and Iran than Republicans, and he has alienated half of the country by governing as the most far-left president in American history.”

Harshbarger (R-TN) 4/29: Tweet – “Rewarding Iran by rolling back sanctions would be a mistake. Until the regime in Tehran ends their malign behavior in the Middle East, including state sponsorship of terrorism, maximum pressure should be maintained.”

Gallagher (R-WI) 4/29: Tweet – “Giving Iran billions in the face of terrorism and nuclear extortion is called short-sighted appeasement, not stern deterrence. POTUS is ignoring key allies who oppose rejoining the nuclear deal and NK is watching and waiting for its own turn for sanctions relief.”

Womack (R-AR) 4/29: Tweet – “Under no circumstance should we be making concessions to Iran, a state sponsor of terror & human rights abuser. The basis for these sanctions are unquestionable. Lifting them will allow money to flow back to this regime to continue their destabilizing behavior & nuclear pursuits.”

Fulcher (R-ID) 4/29: Tweet – “I cosponsored the Maximum Pressure Act so we can hold Iran accountable and deter them from further developing their nuclear weapons program. The Act recognizes and corrects the shortcomings of President Obama’s JCPOA.” [linked to bill text]

Steube (R-FL) 4/29: Steube Pens Op-Ed in Washington Examiner Slamming Biden’s Iran Approach, Offering Alternative Solution to Protect U.S. Security and Interests

McCaul (R-TX) 4/29: McCaul Joins the McCain Institute’s Sedona Forum 2021 [House Foreign Affairs Committee Lead Republican Michael McCaul joined a bipartisan panel at the Sedona Forum 2021 with the McCain Institute to discuss Iran.”]

McConnell (R-KY) 4/29: Statement after Biden’s report to a joint session of Congress – “...While Iran keeps ramping up nuclear rhetoric and financing terror across the Middle East, this White House keeps downplaying Iranian terror. And they appear eager to squander sanctions leverage just to climb back into a failed deal from the Obama era.”

Turner (R-OH) 4/28: Tweet – “John Kerry thought Foreign Minister Zarif was trustworthy enough to send pallets of cash under the flawed Iran nuclear deal. Now Kerry is calling him a liar. Which is it? This underscores why the U.S. should NOT be engaging in nuclear talks with Iran.”

Green (R-TN) 4/28: Tweet – “Iran’s aggressive behavior towards the US Navy in the Persian Gulf will not be tolerated. This is yet another example of why we cannot gut our military’s budget.”

Cotton (R-AR) 4/28: Tweet – “President Biden is rushing back to the failed Iran Nuclear Deal and turning a blind eye to Iran’s terrorist activities.”

Steube (R-WI) 4/28: Tweet – “Under the Biden Administration, we have given China a free pass, emboldened Iran, and put our service men and women in harm’s way. This Administration’s foreign policy is not a success – it continues to threaten our interests at home and abroad.”

McConnell (R-KY) 4/28: Statement before Biden’s report to a joint session of Congress –  “…a dangerously misguided foreign policy threatens our safety and standing abroad. Years of carefully-assembled multilateral sanctions had created an economic straitjacket around Iran’s terrorist state. But in its haste to turn the clocks back to the Obama era, President Biden’s negotiators have offered to give up massive portions of this leverage just to get Iran back to a failed nuclear deal.“

Lesko (R-AZ) 4/27: Tweet – “I’m proud to serve on @RepublicanStudy’s steering committee and work with my #RSC colleagues to hold Iran accountable for sponsoring terrorism and threatening Israel’s national security and our own national security.”

Bice (R-OK) 4/27: Tweet – “I am proud to be a cosponsor of H.Res. 118, supporting a secular, democratic, non-nuclear #Iran. This resolution has now over 224 cosponsors. #WeStand4FreeIran.”

Bacon (R-NE) 4/27: Tweet – “As an original cosponsor of H. Res 118, I support a secular, democratic, non-nuclear #Iran. This resolution has now over 222 cosponsors. The U.S. stands with the Iranian people and supports peaceful #IranProtests. #WeStand4FreeIran

Bilirakis (R-FL) 4/27: Tweet – “I am with a majority of the House in supporting H. Res 118, condemning #Iran’s terrorism and right violations of its own people. We stand with Iranian people and support peaceful #IranProtests”

Hill (R-AR) 4/27: Tweet – “I am proud to be a cosponsor of bipartisan H. Res118, supporting a secular, democratic, non-nuclear #Iran. I am with a majority of the House in condemning Iran’s terrorism and right violations of its own people. #WeStand4FreeIran

Ernst (R-IA) 4/26: Ernst Joins Effort to Prevent Unilateral Deal with Murderous Iranian Regime (Tweet)

Blackburn (R-TN) 4/26: Tweet – “The United Nations has elected Iran, a state notorious for its abysmal record on women’s issues, to its Commission on the Status of Women @UN. This is outright wrong & an insult to nations like the U.S., who have worked to support women across the globe.

Babin (R-TX) 4/26: Tweet – “Iran has NO place on the UN Women’s Rights Commission. These kinds of hypocritical & erroneous decisions prove that Trump made the right call to leave the UN Human Rights Council. Where’s the outrage from the lib media? Are they silent b/c Biden’s pres?

Rubio (R-FL) 4/26: Tweet – “British-Iranian citizen #NazaninZagharRatcliffe sentenced to another year in jail in #Iran on multiple charges, including reportedly participating in a protest 12 yrs ago. She should be freed immediately and reunited with her family. #FreeNazanin

Tenney (R-NY) 4/26: Tweet – “I strongly support @RepJimBanks ‘s #MaxPressure Act to hold Iran accountable. The regime in Iran poses the single greatest threat to Israel and our partners in the Middle East. Iran’s theocrats only respond to pressure — we must keep it up until we secure a comprehensive deal!

Lowenthal (D-CA) 4/26: Tweet – “Iran must never hold nuclear weapons. The Trump Administration’s failed approach left them closer than ever. Only diplomacy and a return to the JCPOA can foster peace and stability.”

Fitzgerald (R-WI) 4/26: Tweet – “Even Iran’s senior leadership begrudgingly admits the effectiveness of U.S. sanctions. It’s imperative that Congress keep the pressure on the Iranian regime by passing the #MaxPressure Act.

Tenney (R-NY) 4/25: Tweet – “Last week democracies – many U.S allies – voted to give Iran a seat on a @UN women’s rights body. Societies that value freedom cannot allow this to happen on their watch. Iran is one of the world’s greatest human rights abusers. Shame on those who supported its candidacy.

Scott (R-FL) 4/25: Tweet – “Iran cannot be trusted. I’m proud to join Sen. @MarshaBlackburn and my colleagues to introduce legislation preventing @POTUS from re-joining the reckless Obama-Biden Iran nuclear deal.

Tenney (R-NY) 4/25: Tweet – “This week countries elected #Iran to the @UN’s Commission on the Status of Women. You heard that right. The Islamic Republic of Iran is a brutal regime that mistreats and abuses women. The hypocrisy is stunning, which is why I’m fighting to restore values at the UN.

…re: Miscellaneous Mideast Issues

Hagerty (R-TN) 4/29: Tweet – “President Trump can be censored, yet the Ayatollah can remain online while calling for death to Israel. We can’t allow Big Tech to keep hiding behind section 230 – abolish it. I joined #Kudlow on @FoxBusiness to discuss my new legislation, the #FREESpeechAct.

Pocan (D-MI) 4/28: Tweet – “Speaking of Yemen, Yemen is facing the greatest humanitarian crisis in the world. 16 million people—over half of the country’s population—are going hungry. We must demand Saudi Arabia #EndTheBlockade

Boebert (R-CO) 4/28: Tweet (during Biden’s address to Congress) – “This speech shows that Syria isn’t the only place Biden’s bombed.”

Lieu (D-CA) 4/27: Tweet – “Last week, we asked U.S. Special Envoy for #Yemen Tim Lenderking whether the U.S. is currently supporting offensive Saudi-led military operations in Yemen. The answer we got was unsatisfactory. Our letter to @StateDept & @DeptofDefense requesting clear answers” [linked to letter].

Articles and Reports Related to the Hill

Newsweek/FDD 4/29: Congress Needs to Review UN Agency’s Terror Finance Problem

Cleveland Jewish News 4/29: Sen. Portman discusses anti-Semitism, security with Jewish media

Jewish Chronicle (Pittsburgh) 4/28: Editorial – Resounding bipartisan support for Israel

Middle East Forum 4/28: Sen. Grassley Opposes Samantha Powers Nomination Because of Terror Finance Scandal Uncovered by MEF

Al-Monitor 4/28: Congress presses Biden administration for answers on Yemen war

New York Post 4/28: A member of ‘The Squad’ is slandering the Jewish state — again       

Jewish Insider 4/28: After drawn-out battle, Senate confirms Kahl in party-line vote

Iran International 4/28: US Lawmaker Says Kerry Must Be Fired If He Shared Info With Iran’s Zarif

The Hill 4/27: Lawmakers tout bipartisan support for resolution criticizing Iran’s government

Jewish Insider 4/27: Meet Carolyn Maloney’s mixed martial arts challenger [“Rana Abdelhamid, backed by Justice Dems and a member of DSA, favors conditioning U.S. aid to Israel”]

JNS 4/26: Progressive reps push antisemitism definitions that allow for increased criticism of Israel

Algemeiner 4/26: Democrats Send Letter to Administration to Use Other Definitions of Antisemitism

Politico 4/26: GOP tears into Kerry amid Iran controversy