Legislative Round-Up: September 10, 2021

1. Bills, Resolutions & Letters
2. On the Record

*Brought to you in cooperation with Americans for Peace Now, where the Round-Up was born!

More great FMEP programming:

1. Bills, Resolutions & Letters

(WHAT COULD POSSIBLY GO WRONG?) HR 5148: Introduced 9/3 by Auchincloss (D-MA) and 4 cosponsors (bipartisan), the “United States–Israel Artificial Intelligence Center Act.” Referred to the House Committee on Foreign Affairs. This is the House version of S. 2120. Also see: Auchincloss press release; Bipartisan group to introduce bill promoting U.S.-Israel AI cooperation legislation (Jewish Insider); Tweet from Gonzalez (R-OH)

(FY22 NDAA) HR 4350: On 9/2, the House Armed Services Committee completed its mark-up of HR 4350, the FY22 NDAA (adopted by a vote of 57-2); press release is here. The text that was debated (and amended) by the full committee (aka, the Chairman’s Mark) is here; final text of the bill, as adopted by the committee, is here. On 9/7, the House Rules Committee announced that it is “likely to meet the week of September 20 to grant a rule that may provide a structured amendment process for floor consideration of H.R. 4350 – National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2022.” It set a deadline of 1pm on Sept. 14 for submission of amendments. Coming out of Committee, the bill includes a number of Israel/Middle East-related provisions, as follows.

Israel: While not mentioned in the bill text, the tables at the end of the bill include $500 million for Israel-related programs, as follows: Israeli Cooperative Programs – $300 million; Arrow 3 Upper Tier Systems – $62 million; Short Range Ballistic Missile Defense – $30 million; Iron Dome – $108 million. On 9/9 AIPAC tweeted  “Last week the House Armed Services Committee authorized $500 million for U.S.-Israel missile defense cooperation. Collaboration on lifesaving programs like Iron Dome, David’s Sling and Arrow keeps Americans and Israelis safe, supports our economy and creates American jobs.”. In addition, Section 731 of the bill provides for a “Grant program for increased cooperation on post-traumatic stress disorder research between the United States and Israel.”

Other Middle East-related provisions

  • Section 1053. Reports and briefings regarding oversight of Afghanistan [including with respect to support from Iran]
  • Section 1221. Extension and modification of authority to provide assistance to vetted Syrian groups and individuals.
  • Section 1222. Extension and modification of authority to support operations and activities of the Office of Security Cooperation in Iraq
  • Section 1223. Extension and modification of authority to provide assistance to counter the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria.
  • Section 1224. Prohibition of transfers to Badr organization.
  • Section 1225. Prohibition on transfers to Iran.
  • Section 1226. Report on Iran-China military ties.
  • Section 1227. Report on Iranian military capabilities.
  • Section 1228. Report on Iranian terrorist proxies.
  • Section 6009. Expansion of scope of Department of Veterans Affairs open burn pit registry to include open burn pits in Egypt and Syria.

Israel/Middle East issues in the HASC Mark-Up

Letters

(HUMAN RIGHTS – EGYPT) Lieu-Padilla et al letter to Blinken: On 9/9/, Reps. Lieu (D-CA) l and Padilla (D-CA) led a letter to SecState Blinken highlighting serious concerns about the human rights violations of the Sisi government in Egypt, and requesting that the Biden Administration “use the full range of tools at your disposal to put meaningful pressure on President Sisi and his regime.” The letter was cosigned by Reps. Wild (D-PA), Allred (D-TX), Bass (D-CA), Beyer, (D-VA), Sherman (D-CA), Titus (D-NV), Costa (D-CA), Cicilline (D-RI) and Castro (D-TX).

2. On the Record

Iran

Risch (R-ID) 9/9 : Ranking Member Risch: IAEA Should Censure Iran

Cornyn (R-TX) 9/8: Tweet – “Iran is blocking United Nations atomic agency inspectors’ access to nuclear-related sites and continues to expand its nuclear activities, the International Atomic Energy Agency said in two confidential reports Tuesday”. Linked to article, Iran Blocking IAEA Access to Nuclear-Related Sites (Wall Street Journal)

Meeks (D-NY) & McCaul (R-TX) 8/31: Meeks, McCaul Urge Biden Administration to Prioritize Securing the Release of American Citizens Unjustly Imprisoned in Iran

Senate Codel to Middle East

Van Hollen (D-MD) 9/9: Van Hollen, Colleagues Release Statement Following CODEL to Lebanon, Israel

Murphy (D-CT) 9/9: Murphy CODEL Concludes Visit to Lebanon, Israel, West Bank, Tunisia, Greece

Ossoff (D-GA) 9/9: PHOTOS: Sen. Ossoff Meets With Key Leaders in Middle East, Greece Israel

Jewish Insider 9/9: Democratic senators pushed consulate reopening during Israel meetings [also see Twitter thread from Ossoff’s office summarizing the whole trip]

Israeli President Herzog 9/3: Tweet – “Bipartisanship is a sacred pillar of the U.S.-Israel alliance. Delighted to welcome a delegation of U.S. Democratic Senators to Jerusalem. Held an open discussion with Senators @ChrisMurphyCT, @SenBlumenthal, @ChrisVanHollen & @ossoff about our shared interests and values.

Murphy (D-CT) 9/3: Tweet – “In our meetings today in Israel w Prime Minister Bennett and other officials we stressed the importance we place on reopening our consulate in Jerusalem to better serve Palestinians. This consulate was open for over 100 years before being cruelly shuttered by President Trump.

Van Hollen (D-MD) 9/3: Tweet – “Yes, we had good meetings and raised this issue. It was also a commitment @POTUS made and important that he keep his word, follow through, and reverse Trump’s harmful decision.

Jewish Insider 9/1: Senate delegation set to meet with Bennett, Lapid and Herzog while in Israel

Murphy (D-CT) 8/31: Tweet – “Wheels down in Beirut. Visiting Lebanon and Israel over the next few days w @ChrisVanHollen @SenBlumenthal and @ossoff to work on a solution to the political and economic crisis in Lebanon and to build bridges with the new Israeli coalition government.

Murphy (D-CT) 8/30: Murphy, Blumenthal, Van Hollen, Ossoff Travel to Lebanon, Israel, West Bank to Discuss Regional Security and Democracy

Mr. Bennett Comes to Washington

Tlaib (D-MI) 8/29: Tweet – “.@POTUS: Did we get a commitment from the PM that the Israeli government* would uphold Palestinian human rights?” Linked to POTUS tweet – “It was an honor to welcome Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett to the White House today. We strengthened the enduring partnership between our two nations and underscored the United States’ unwavering commitment to Israel’s security.”

Green (R-GA) 8/28: Tweet – “Remove Joe Biden immediately! Our country is in danger being controlled by a man who can’t even stay awake in a meeting with Israel’s Prime Minister. We have already seen his decisions as Commander in Chief! 13 dead & our military demoralized!” Linked to The Post Millennial tweet – “WATCH: Joe Biden appears to doze off in the middle of a meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett” [the story that Biden fell asleep during his meeting with Bennett was debunked almost immediately, including by Bush White House alum Ari Fleischer , but Green has not deleted her tweet]

Pallone (R-NJ) 8/28: Tweet – “I’m glad to see @POTUS uphold our country’s strong bond with Israel. I look forward to seeing our two countries work together in the future toward our mutual interest in a safe and secure world.” Linked to article, Biden, Bennett open new chapter in U.S.-Israel relations with White House visit (Washington Post)

Wasserman Schultz (D-FL) 8/28: Tweet – “Great to see @POTUS and @IsraeliPM reaffirm their support for the US-Israel alliance and commit to Israel’s safety and security. I look forward to working to advance our shared interests.” Linked to POTUS tweet – “It was an honor to welcome Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett to the White House today. We strengthened the enduring partnership between our two nations and underscored the United States’ unwavering commitment to Israel’s security.

Deutch (D-FL) 8/27: Tweet – “Today’s meeting between @POTUS Biden & @IsraeliPM Bennett was historic. I was pleased to hear them affirm support for the US-Israel relationship, advancing our shared interests and values, & long-standing, bipartisan US commitment to Israel’s safety & security. Read my statement” Linked to statement.

Gottheimer (D-NJ) 8/27: Tweet – “Welcome to Washington, Prime Minister Bennett! We look forward to continuing to strengthen the historic, bipartisan U.S.-Israel relationship in the years to come.” Linked to POTUS tweet – “It was an honor to welcome Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett to the White House today. We strengthened the enduring partnership between our two nations and underscored the United States’ unwavering commitment to Israel’s security.”

Cassidy (R-LA) 8/27: Tweet – “.@IsraeliPM Bennett is meeting with the president today to ask the U.S. to not re-enter the Iran Nuclear deal. COMPLETELY AGREE WITH PM BENNETT.”

McConnell (R-KY) 8/24: Tweet – “Good conversation with @IsraeliPM Bennett last night. We discussed shared challenges: Global terrorism, Iran’s dangerous aspirations, anti-Semitism & BDS. Reaffirmed my support for deeper strategic partnership and preserving Israel’s qualitative military edge & freedom of action.

Targeting Rep. Tlaib (D-MI) [yes, still]

NOTE: Most of these links are in response to Tlaib’s 8/28 Twitter thread: “Meet Mai Afana’s mother, Khuloud, who is fighting to be able to bury her daughter & begin her healing. Mai was a mother, loving daughter & successful PhD student. She was killed by the Israeli government last June. Israel won’t release her body to her family. I am sharing Mai’s story because I began to only learn last year of this inhumane practice by the Israeli govt. Without proof, they make claims, and all to just continue to dehumanize Palestinians even after they have died. We must stand against this form of collective violence. The Palestinian people deserve the same dignity as any other human being. To deny the right to see their loved ones for a modicum of closure is another form of painful violence from the U.S. sponsored, Israeli arsenal. Mai’s dead body is one of hundreds being held. I still remember the Erekat family’s plea last year to release their loving son, Ahmed’s body. Here is his story. @hrw and other human rights organizations have demanded an end to this disgusting practice, and the U.S. must join them in that demand. [link]” To learn more about Israel’s practice of holding hostage bodies of slain Palestinians, check out this new podcast & related resources from FMEP)

Jewish New Syndicate 9/1: Pro-Israel group urges ethics investigation of Tlaib for retweeting charity with terror ties

Jewish News Syndicate 8/30: Rashida Tlaib draws backlash over pressure on Israel to release body of slain terrorist

Fox News 8/30: Tlaib sparks backlash for tweet about woman reportedly killed attacking Israeli soldiers with knife

JTA 8/30: Rashida Tlaib demands Israel release body of woman who tried to kill troops

Breitbart 8/29: Rashida Tlaib Describes Palestinian Terrorists as ‘Loving’ and ‘Successful’

Washington Free Beacon 8/27: Rashida Tlaib Promoted a Fundraiser for Group Tied to Hamas, Taliban

Miscellaneous

Barr (R-KY) 9/7: Tweet – “The Abraham Accords proves that Israel—not Iran—is the center point for lasting peace and prosperity in the Middle East. I congratulate both countries for taking this historic step forward that will strengthen the region for generations to come.” Linked to article, Eitan Na’eh tapped to be first ambassador to Bahrain (Times of Israel)

Jewish Insider 8/31: Ben Samuels returns to his roots [“On foreign policy matters, Samuels made clear that he was eager to take an active role in bolstering the U.S.-Israel relationship, maintaining that his voice would be a valuable addition to the conversation amid festering Democratic divisions over the Jewish state. ‘In many cases, a lot of younger Jews don’t always understand why Israel is important to our collective safety and to Americans and to the Jewish people,’ said Samuels, who has family in Israel and has visited twice. ‘I think a new generation of younger Jewish leadership is in a very good position to try to do something about that and help younger Americans and younger Jews understand the importance of the U.S. relationship with Israel.’”]