Legislative Round-Up: September 24, 2021

1. Bills, Resolutions,  Letters
2. The Great 2021 Iron Dome Supplemental Debacle
3. FY22 NDAA – Update
4. Hearings & Markups
5. 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

We <Heart> Extra $$ for Iron Dome

(IRON DOME IN THE CONTINUING RESOLUTION) HR 5305: Introduced 9/21 by DeLauro (D-CT), “Making continuing appropriations for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2022, and for providing emergency assistance, and for other purposes.” This bill was initially released with (surprise!) $1 billion included for Israel for Iron Dome. After that funding was removed, it was passed 9/21 by a party-line vote of 220-211, with Republican floor statements making clear they would have voted against the bill regardless of whether Iron Dome funding had been included in it or not (their opposition based on the bill’s suspension of the debt ceiling). See Section 2, below, for the full story.

(IRON DOME SUPPLEMENTAL) HR 5323: Introduced 9/22 by DeLauro (D-CT), the “Iron Dome Supplemental Appropriations Act, 2022.” Press release on introduction of the bill is here.  Passed by the House 9/23 by a vote of 420-9, with 2 voting present.  NO votes were: Bush (D-MA), Carson (D-IN), García (D-IL), Grijalva (D-AZ), Massie (R-KY), Newman (D-IL), Omar (D-MN), Pressley (D-MA), and Tlaib (D-MI). PRESENT votes were: Johnson (D-GA) and Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY). Notably, Ocasio-Cortez initially voted “No” but then changed it to “present.” For full analysis of the Iron Dome supplemental debacle, see Section 2, below.

(HOUSE – SHAMELESS GOP GRANDSTANDING ON IRON DOME) HR 5311: Introduced 9/21 by Jacobs (R-NY) and 10 all-Republican cosponsors, “To appropriate amounts to be made available for the procurement of an Iron Dome system by Israel, and for other purposes.” Referred to the House Committee on Appropriations. This bill is an exercise in Republican point-scoring, introduced in the context of the removal of the Iron Dome funding provision from HR 5305 (where it never should have been in the first place), but AFTER Democratic leadership made an explicit commitment to appropriate the funding elsewhere and expeditiously. Also see: Jacobs’ press (bashing Democrats)

(SENATE – SHAMELESS GOP GRANDSTANDING ON IRON DOME) S. 2789 (text): Introduced 9/22 by Shelby (R-AL) and McConnell (R-KY), “A bill making continuing appropriations for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2022, and for providing emergency assistance, and for other purposes.” Placed on the Senate Legislative Calendar. This bill is another exercise in Republican point-scoring — in effect seeking to import the House debacle over Iron Dome into the Senate (adding back in the Iron Dome funding but removing language suspending the debt limit). Also see: press release – Shelby, McConnell Introduce Continuing Resolution – Measure Includes Disaster Aid, Afghan Assistance, Iron Dome Funding; McConnell floor statement

(SENATE – SHAMELESS GOP GRANDSTANDING ON IRON DOME) S. 2839: Introduced by Cruz (R-TX) — who is not even a member of the appropriations committee — “A bill to provide an additional $1,000,000,000 for the Government of Israel to procure the Iron Dome defense system to counter short-range rocket threats, and for other purposes.” Referred to the Committee on Foreign Relations. This bill is another exercise in Republican point-scoring — in effect seeking to import the House debacle over Iron Dome into the Senate. The fact that it was introduced the same day the House passed HR 5323 – which now moves to the Senate for action – says it all.

(SENATE – SHAMELESS GOP GRANDSTANDING ON IRON DOME) S. XXXX: On 9/24, Senators Rubio (R-FL), Hagerty (R-TN), and Collins (R-ME) introduced their own standalone supplemental appropriations bill to give $1 billion in supplemental aid to Israel for Iron Dome (press release).

Supporting 2 States or Greater Israel?

(SUPPORTING 2-STATE SOLUTION) HR 5344 (text): Introduced 9/23 by Levin (D-MI), and 25 Democratic cosponsor, “To preserve conditions for, and improve the likelihood of, a two-state solution that secures Israel’s future as a democratic state and a national home for the Jewish people, a viable, democratic Palestinian state, an end to Israel’s occupation of the Palestinian territories, and peaceful relations between the two states, and to direct the Department of State and other relevant agencies to take steps to accomplish these ends,” aka, the “Two-State Solution Act.” Referred to the House Foreign Affairs Committee. Also see:

(GREATER ISRAEL FOREVER!) HR 5356: Introduced 9/23 by Tenney (R-NY), and 4 Republican cosponsors, “To require the maintenance of the country of origin markings for imported goods produced in the West Bank or Gaza, and for other purposes.” Referred to the House Committee on Ways and Means. See Tenney press release – Congresswoman Claudia Tenney Introduces Bill to Ban Anti-Semitic Restrictions on Country-of-Origin Labeling [comparing the bill title and the press release, it seems that Tenney thinks the biblical terms “Judea and Samaria” means “the West Bank and Gaza.” Which offers some useful insight into the level of actual knowledge – vs. philosemitic self-righteousness – in play here]. Also see Zeldin (R-NY) press release – Reps. Tenney and Zeldin, Foreign Affairs Committee Colleagues Introduce Bill to Ban Restrictions on “Made in Israel” Country-of-Origin Labeling

Other matters

(MORE US-ISRAEL MILITARY COOPERATION/COORDINATION/SALES) HR 5302: Introduced 9/20 by Wilson (R-SC), Schneider (D-IL), and Murphy (D-FL), “To amend the William M. (Mac) Thornberry National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2021 establish [sic] a United States-Israel Operations-Technology Working Group and for other purposes.” See: Wilson tweet/press release. NOTE: This measure has also been offered as an amendment to the FY21 NDAA. Both represent an effort to take a program that was authorized in the FY21 NDAA and make it mandatory. As a reminder, in 2020 Wilson introduced legislation to authorize this (HR 7148). That bill underwent no hearings, and then with no discussion was added to (and adopted as part of) the FY21 NDAA – see FDD statement in celebration, here. It is worth noting that both HR 5302 and its NDAA amendment companion [which was adopted on 9/23] would, in effect, establish an unfunded mandate. Specifically, the effort — which, again, has at no stage been discussed in any committee of jurisdiction — would mandate the Secretary of Defense and Secretary of State take action:

  • to provide a standing forum for the United States and Israel to systematically share intelligence-informed military capability requirements;
  • to identify military capability requirements common to the Department of Defense and the Ministry of Defense of Israel, 
  • to assist defense suppliers in the United States and Israel by assessing recommendations from such defense suppliers with respect to joint science, technology, research, development, test, evaluation, and production efforts; and 
  • to develop, as feasible and advisable, combined United States-Israel plans to research, develop, procure, and field weapon systems and military capabilities as quickly and economically as possible to meet common capability requirements of the Department and the Ministry of Defense of Israel. 

(EUROPE & HEZBOLLAH) S. Res. 377: Introduced 9/22 by Rosen (D-NV) and Blackburn (R-TN), “A resolution urging the European Union to designate Hizballah in its entirety as a terrorist organization.” Referred to the Committee on Foreign Relations.

(IRAN SANCTIONS) S. 2781: Introduced 9/21 by Cotton (R-AR) and Sasse (R-NE), “A bill to repeal the exception to sanctions with respect to the energy, shipping, and shipbuilding sectors of Iran relating to reconstruction assistance for Afghanistan.” Referred to the Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs.

(LIBYA TERRORISM) S. 2808: Introduced 9/22 by Collins (R-ME) and Feinstein (D-CA), “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.

(NO PERMANENT AUMFS) S. 2835: Introduced 9/23 by Durban (D-IL), Leahy (D-VT), and Ossoff (D-GA), “A bill to terminate authorizations for the use of military force and declarations of war no later than 10 years after the enactment of such authorizations or declarations.” Referred to the Committee on Foreign Relations.

Letters

(GAETZ VS ISRAELI DIPLOMAT) Gaetz letter to Israeli Ambassador Gilad Erdan: On 9/23, Gaetz (R-FL) sent a letter to Israeli Ambassador asking for an in-person meeting to discuss Gaetz’s allegation that an official at the Israeli Consulate in New York is “involved in an effort to extort my family.” Gaetz tweeted about the issue 6 times on the morning of 9/23, culminating in his posting a screenshot of what a purported response from someone in the Israeli government disavowing any official connection to the matter (the screenshot shows text in quotation marks and with at least one misspelling, suggesting that it is not actually a screenshot of official correspondence). He was still tweeting about the matter on 9/24.

2.The Great 2021 Iron Dome Supplemental Debacle

Background

The proposal to give Israel a huge supplemental appropriation for Iron Dome has been in the air since the end of the May 2021 Israel-Gaza military engagement. With the White House and Democratic leaders clearly and publicly in support of the proposal, as a congressional matter it has been a question not of whether the funding would find its way into legislation, but when it would do so and what the debate around it would look like.

In the meantime, since the summer House Republicans have been using Iron Dome to score points against Democrats, mainly using a procedural gambit called a “motion to recommit” (MTR) (documented here and here). With an MTR, a member offers a motion on the floor seeking to have a bill that is about to pass returned to the committee of jurisdiction, ostensibly to make a critical amendment. In reality, MTRs are almost always used to try to derail passage of a bill (by taking it off the floor) or for political point-scoring (where rejection of the MTR is framed as rejection of the underlying amendment). In recent months, House Republicans have offered numerous MTRs ostensibly seeking to return bills to committee in order to add $1 billion for Iron Dome (bills that have nothing to do with foreign aid, the military, or anything else that could plausibly make them appropriate for this purpose, and bills whose committee(s) of jurisdiction have nothing to do with Department of Defense funding or Israel aid). Each time, when the MTR is rejected, Republicans attack Democrats for allegedly blocking Iron Dome funding.

What happened This Week

With the end of the fiscal year looming and many FY22 appropriations bills not yet passed, Congress needs, urgently, to pass a Continuing Resolution. This week – on the morning of 9/21 – the text of the House version of that resolution (which become HR 5305) appeared on the Rules Committee website, where the Committee was set (almost immediately) to pass a Rule under which the measure would be brought to the floor for a vote (a rule that would not permit for any amendments).

Normally, a CR is a “clean” piece of legislation. As in, a CR is generally speaking a straightforward measure that works to keep the government from shutting down, and doesn’t include extraneous, controversial provisions. This year’s CR, in contrast, DID include something controversial: when the text came out on 9/21, it was discovered – to the surprise of pretty much everyone (except, of course, the drafters) – that under the heading “continuing appropriations” the bill included a provision granting Israel $1 billion (available over 3 years) for Iron Dome.

Notably – and as widely misunderstood or deliberately mischaracterized by many Republicans, as well as many in the media – there is no possible way to call this $1 billion a “continuing” appropriation, or regular funding, or part of “full funding”, or even a “replenishment.” Here are the facts – and they are true regardless of whether one opposes or supports the extra funding for Israel:

  • This $1 billion is NOT part of regular U.S. funding for Iron Dome. Regular FY22 Iron Dome funding is included in this year’s NDAA (detailed in Section 3, below), and has been in no way challenged or even questioned.
  • This $1 billion is NOT part of the funds committed to Israel under the current US-Israel Memorandum of Understanding. That MOU commits the U.S. to $500 million per year in funding for missile defense (which includes Iron Dome).
  • This $1 billion is NOT consistent with past or current levels of U.S. funding for Iron Dome. Indeed, as POMED’s Seth Binder noted, since 2011, the U.S. has provided a total of $1.7 billion for the Iron Dome, and in 2021 provided $73 million for Iron Dome procurement (as part of the aforementioned $500 million for missile defense). Doing the math, Seth notes that $1 billion works out to a staggering 14 times more than the U.S. gave Israel in 2021, and an even more staggering 60% of what the U.S. has provided Israel over the course of a decade’s support for the program.
  • In short, based on the MOU (and consistent with annual appropriations for Iron Dome over the past decade), those suggesting that the $1 billion is required to “fully fund” Iron Dome are either misinformed or seeking to deliberately mis-lead.
  • This $1 billion for Israel is NOT non-controversial, notwithstanding the fact that Iron Dome is a defensive system. Given Israeli actions vis-a-vis Gaza, there are some in Congress who either oppose granting Israel additional massive military funding, or who may support it but reject the “blank check” approach and want it to include oversight requirements or conditions (and notably, one of the common objections to calls for oversight/conditions is that this would violate the MOU, but this $1 billion is not part of the MOU), or may simply want to ensure that there is a real debate around the additional funding that includes an opportunity to raise concerns about Israeli actions/policies.

In this context, a number of House Democrats registered their dissatisfaction with their leadership for sneaking the Iron Dome provision into the CR, rather than moving it as part of the relevant appropriations bill (the Defense Appropriations bill) or as a supplemental, where in either case there would be an opportunity for debate, amendments, and a chance for members to vote their conscience. Also note the important comments from Defense Appropriations Subcommittee chair McCollum (D-MN), after noting that the Iron Dome funding was added to the CR “without my knowledge or consent”: “This language would have resulted in total chaos in the U.S. House of Representatives’ appropriations process because it would have added an additional billion dollars that had not been budgeted for. Cuts in other spending bills would have been required to make this work,…In order to keep the federal government open and functioning, a decision was made to remove this provision from the Continuing Resolution.

Some House Democrats reportedly made clear that if the Iron Dome language was left in the CR they would vote against it. And given the razor-thin Democratic majority in the House — and the fact that NO Republicans were going to vote for the bill, even if it included Iron Dome, the threat of losing these votes could not be ignored. And note: had just a few Republicans been ready to vote for the CR, the opposition from a handful of progressive Democrats would have been no obstacle to its passage.

As a result, Democratic leadership amended the bill in the Rules Committee – removing the Iron Dome provision while explicitly promising to move the measure expeditiously as part of the FY22 Defense Appropriations bill (see statement in Rules Committee by DeLauro, D-CT).

Subsequently, with respect to the CR:

  • Removal of the Iron Dome provision unleashed a wave of Republican attacks on Democrats, who they accused of betraying Israel, siding with terrorists, antisemitism, leaving Israel defenseless(!), de-funding Iron Dome, etc.
  • Floor consideration of the CR included (no surprise) yet another Republican-introduced Iron Dome-linked MTR, this one offered by Granger (R-TX), and rejected by a vote of 209-215. The rejection of that MTR, predictably, was used by Republicans as another hook to accuse Democrats of betraying Israel, siding with terrorists, leaving Israel defenseless(!), de-funding Iron Dome, etc.
  • Passage of the Continuing Resolution (on a party-line vote) unleashed more Republican point-scoring outrage and accusations (which continues as of this writing) — notwithstanding the explicit, public commitment of House Democratic leaders to move the Iron Dome funding expeditiously, outside of the CR, and notwithstanding the fact that Republicans were going to vote against it anyway. Indeed, Republican statements denouncing the bill are really something to see: simultaneously castigating Democrats for supposedly out-of-control spending and recklessly indebting future generations of Americans, while also bashing them for not funding Iron Dome and suggesting that their vote against the CR, which again, they would have voted against even if it included Iron Dome funding, is a pro-Israel vote.

The focus next shifted to a different vehicle for the $1 billion in supplemental aid for Israel. By all appearances the political imperative to move the Iron Dome funding expeditiously (to push back against the non-stop Republican attacks and a deeply problematic public narrative, emerging in part out of misinformation/disinformation) apparently led Democratic leadership to decide (within hours) against using the Defense Appropriations bill as the vehicle for the $1 billion supplemental for Israel (that bill still has some way to go before it will pass) and instead to move it immediately as free-standing legislation. Subsequently:

  • The freestanding Iron Dome supplemental was brought to the floor for statements and a vote on 9/23. Notably, Republicans speaking on the floor (and on Twitter, and in press releases) engaged in some enormously creative linguistic gymnastics in order to simultaneously support/claim credit for the bill (notwithstanding the fact that it was brought to the floor by the Democrats), while also slamming the Democrats for having removed the Iron Dome supplemental from the CR (notwithstanding the fact that all Republicans were always going to oppose the CR, regardless of whether or not it contained Iron Dome funding).
  • In addition, after Tlaib (D-MI) delivered her statement on the floor – offering harsh criticism of Israeli actions and using the word “apartheid” to describe Israeli policies (language consistent with that used by the Israeli human rights groups Btselem and Yesh Din, and by Human Rights Watch) – Republicans escalated their rhetoric with some directly attacking Tlaib, and shifted to attacking Democrats as antisemitic and supporters of terrorism. They were joined most notably by House Foreign Affairs Committee Chair Deutch (D-FL), who delivered a statement railing against Tlaib and called her statement/views antisemitic.
  • In the end, the bill was passed by the House 9/23 by a vote of 420-9, with 2 voting present. NO votes were: Bush (D-MA), Carson (D-IN), García (D-IL), Grijalva (D-AZ), Massie (R-KY), Newman (D-IL), Omar (D-MN), Pressley (D-MA), and Tlaib (D-MI) [Massie – the one Republican “no” vote, seems to be forgiven by defenders of Israel for his opposition, based on the fact that it reflects his strict libertarian opposition to foreign aid, as opposed to anything at all to do with Israel]. PRESENT votes were: Johnson (D-GA) and Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY). Notably, Ocasio-Cortez initially voted “No” but then changed it to “present.”
  • In the end, passage of the Iron Dome supplemental in the House did nothing to stem the tide of partisan attacks, and given Democratic piling on against critics of the bill, arguably only fueled and legitimized them.

Action now moves to the Senate. As documented in Section 1 of this report, Senators Shelby (R-AL) and McConnell (R-KY) – clearly seeing an opportunity to capitalize on the House debacle and import it into the Senate to score points against Democratic senators – on 9/22 introduced their own version of the CR, in which they included the Iron Dome funding. Since then Cruz (R-TX) and possibly Rubio (R-FL) et al have introduced their own versions of the supplemental. Stay tuned for more grandstanding & drama.

Analysis

This week’s Iron Dome debacle is an own-goal of epic proportions for Democratic leaders (both in Congress and in the White House).

There is no way Democratic leaders didn’t know that a not-insignificant-number of House Democrats had concerns about or objections to the proposed $1 billion in supplemental funding for Israel for Iron Dome. So why did they decide to try to sneak this funding into the CR? Did they assume they could corner progressives into quietly going along with it, by forcing them to choose between voting their conscience and keeping the government open? Did they think putting this funding into the CR – an option that would largely prevent floor debate and amendments – would circumvent discussion/criticism of Israeli actions & accountability that they preferred to avoid? Did they view this as an opportunity to squeeze Republicans — by in effect forcing them to vote against funding for Israel (since all Republicans were going to vote against the CR, regardless of whether it included the Iron Dome provision) — that was so valuable it outweighed the need to take seriously objections in their own caucus?

Regardless of why it happened, the decision to sneak the $1 billion in extra funding for Israel for Iron Dome into the CR suggests outright contempt from Democratic leaders for their progressive colleagues, weak/cowardly leadership, and incredibly poor strategic thinking.

Given the spectrum of views among congressional Democrats, a confident leadership would have taken the bull by the horns, actively welcoming a debate about this funding (which it was always clear would be supported by most House Democrats, some passionately). Normal consideration of this $1 billion in extra aid — involving an opportunity for statements, debate and amendments — should have been seen as a valuable opportunity for supporters of the funding to make their case, and for those with concerns about the funding and the policies/actions it supports to speak their minds and vote their conscience.

Instead, this gambit of sneaking the funding into the CR resulted in an unnecessary public battle among Democrats, and handed Republicans what appears to be (as of this writing) inexhaustible, high-caliber political ammunition to be fired gleefully not just at progressives, but at Democrats in general.

Moreover, politically speaking this own-goal is even more egregious given the fact that it is Republicans who are voting against Israel aid, over and over. As Rep. Hayes (D-CT) pointed out on the House floor, “on July 1 the Appropriations Committee voted on HR 4373, which contains the bulk of Israel aid, $3.3 billion in security assistance. Every Republican voted ‘no.’  On July 13, the Appropriations Committee voted on HR 4432, which includes $500 million in missile defense. Every Republican voted ‘no.’” And of course, if just a few Republicans had been willing to vote for the Continuing Resolution that started this whole debacle, it could have passed easily WITH Iron Dome funding included.

Yet, notwithstanding all of these facts, Democratic leaders still somehow managed the astounding feat of helping Republicans define and drive a public narrative in which Democrats are on the defensive with respect to funding for Israel.

And adding insult to self-inflicted injury, in terms of the Democratic caucus, the upshot of this gambit is some Democratic leaders sending a message to their own progressives colleagues that Democrats not only won’t defend the political space for their progressive colleagues to share their views (views that are shared by many Democratic voters) or vote their consciences, but that Democrats will stand by quietly or even join in with Republicans in delegitimizing and attacking them.

Members on the Record re: Iron Dome

I have elected to take the extraordinary (and exhausting, and infuriating) step of collecting every statement by every member of Congress that I was able to find. Many, many, many members made statements and published tweets about the Iron Dome debacle.

These statements document how the supplemental funding for Iron Dome funding was treated by Republicans and many Democrats as an opportunity to grandstand not merely in support of Israel, but in support of Israeli impunity — with members treating even massive supplemental U.S. aid for Israel as an Israeli entitlement that shall not be questioned; treating those colleagues who differ with them on this matter with open contempt; and subjecting those who dared to object (even just in terms of the process) or speak out in disagreement with ever-escalating attacks equating such disagreement with antisemitism and support for terrorism.

Rather than put them all in the Round-Up (which would – not counting anything else in this report – yield a round-up of 30+ pages), I’ve created a separate document, posted here.

3. FY22 NDAA – Update

On 9/21, the House Rules Committee passed its rule laying out what amendments to HR 4350 — the FY22 NDAA — would be “in order” (i.e., get a hearing on the House floor, either on their own or as part of a series of en bloc amendments) and which would not.  On 9/23, following lengthy debate and consideration of amendments on the House floor, the House passed HR 4350 by a vote of 316-113. For Middle East-related elements in the base bill (before the amendments below), so last week’s edition of the Round-Up.

What happens next? This week,  on 9/22, the Senate Armed Service Committee Chair and Ranking member formally filed their version of the FY22 NDAA (work in which was completed back in July). That bill will likely come to the floor very soon, where the Senate will have its own amendment-palooza (as it does every year on this bill). Once the Senate passes its version of the NDAA, it will vote to delete the entire House-adopted text of HR 4350 and replace it with its own text. Which will be returned to the House, where it will be rejected and the two bill will have to be reconciled in conference (a black box process where pretty much anything can happen). Stay tuned.

Middle East-related amendments offered to HR 4350 – and how they fared – are detailed below.

Israel

  • Amdt. 110: Offered by Biggs (R-AZ), “Expresses a sense of Congress about the importance of the U.S.-Israel relationship. PASSED as part of En Bloc #1. Also see: Biggs’ tweet – “My amendment to the NDAA reaffirms the United States-Israel alliance. At a time when Israel is facing assaults and threats from tyrannical regimes, the US Congress must send a strong, unflinching message that we remain united with our friends and allies.” 
  • Amdt. 193: Offered by Garabin (R-NY) and Langevin (D-RI), “Establishes a Department of Homeland Security grant program to facilitate closer U.S.-Israel cybersecurity cooperation.” [This is the NDAA amendment version of Langevin’s bill HR 2651]. PASSED as part of En Bloc #2
  • Amdt. 203: Offered by Perry (R-PA), “Prohibits funding to any organization or any country that has labelled Israel as an ‘apartheid’ state. NOT IN ORDER
  • Amdt. 220: Offered by Jackson (R-TX), “Expresses the Sense of Congress that Israel is a critical defense partner and highlights various things such as improving interoperability, opposing terrorism in the Middle East, and maintaining a strong relationship. PASSED as part of En Bloc #2. Also see Jackson’s tweet – “WATCH: I believe our relationship with Israel is non-negotiable! I’m urging my colleagues to vote in favor of my amendment to the NDAA which makes clear that Israel is a CRITICAL defense partner!” [linked to clip of him speaking on House floor] 
  • Amdt. 232: Offered by Phillips (D-MN) and Gonzalez (R-OH), “Requires a Secretary of Defense report on how the US is working with other countries in CENTCOM area of responsibility to improve Israel’s coordination with other regional militaries and also requires the Secretary of State and USAID Administrator provide an analysis of the strategic initiatives taken to integrate the Abraham Accords into congressionally authorized and appropriated programs.“  PASSED as part of En Bloc #3. 
  • Amdt. 380: Offered by Gottheimer (D-NJ), “Restricts universities which have sponsored or endorsed events hosting convicted terrorists on campus from receiving Basic Research funding under the RDT&E account for all service branches.” [The apparent target of this amendment is Palestinian activism/free speech on US campuses, as tested in the past years by events featuring Laila Khaled]. — WITHDRAWN
  • Amdt. 512: Offered by Auchincloss (D-MA), Gonzalez (R-OH), and Meng (D-NY), “Establishes the United States-Israel Artificial Intelligence Center to improve artificial intelligence research and development cooperation.” [Note: this is an effort to attach HR 5148/S. 2120 to the NDAA – a gambit that would preempt even minimal congressional scrutiny of the proposal]- WITHDRAWN
  • Amdt. 669: Offered by Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), Pocan (D-WI), and Tlaib (D-MI), “Suspends the transfer of Boeing Joint Direct Attack Munition weaponry under the $735 million direct commercial sale to the Israeli government.” Ocasio-Cortez press release notes: “This would block the transfer of the same kind of Boeing weaponry that the Israeli government used to kill 44 Palestinians in one night in al-Rimal. NOT IN ORDER
  • Amdt. 672: Offered by Schneider (D-IL), Wilson (R-SC), Murphy (R-FL), Manning (R-NC) and Frankel (D-FL), “Requires the creation of a U.S.-Israel Operations-Technology Working Group.” [Note: This appears to be the same amendment that these members announced they were offering to the NDAA during committee consideration (it does not appear to have been considered). The purpose of this amendment is to take a program that was authorized in the FY21 NDAA and make it mandatory. As a reminder, in 2020 Wilson introduced legislation to authorize this (HR 7148). That bill underwent no hearings, and then with no discussion was added to (and adopted as part of) the FY21 NDAA – see FDD statement in celebration, here.]  PASSED as part of En Bloc #4. Also see Frankel’s tweets – “The House just debated a @RepSchneider amendment to establish a bipartisan U.S-Israel Operations-Technology Working Group to increase collaboration between our countries on emerging technologies in cyber, space, artificial intelligence, and directed energy. I’m proud to co-lead this effort that will continue to advance the US-Israel relationship. I look forward to seeing it established within the next year.
  • Amdt. 698: Offered by Malinowski (D-NJ), Phillips (D-MN), Porter (D-CA) and Khanna (D-CA), “Requires an annual report to Congress by the State Department on foreign companies proliferating dangerous cyber-weapons and hack-for-hire capabilities to known human rights abusers and repressive governments.” PASSED as part of En Bloc #3.

Egypt

  • Amdt. 532: Offered by Malinowski (D-NJ), Wagner (R-MO), and Spanberger (D-VA), “Requires the Secretary of State to provide a report on state-sanctioned intimidation and harassment by the Egyptian government against Americans and their families.” PASSED as part of En Bloc #3.
  • Amdt. 536: Offered by Malinowski (D-NJ), Beyer (D-VA), Lieu (D-CA), Levin (D-MI), Wild (D-PA), Omar (D-MN), Khanna (D-CA), and Lynch (D- MA), “Requires a report by the State Department on allegations of systematic extrajudicial killings and torture by Egyptian security forces and a determination of whether such acts constitute a consistent pattern of gross violations of internationally recognized human rights.” PASSED as part of En Bloc #3.
  • Amdt. 637: Offered by Fortenberry (R-NE) and Ruppersberger (D-MD), “Adds a Sense of Congress that it is in the best interests of the region for Egypt, Ethiopia, and Sudan to immediately reach a just and equitable agreement regarding the filling and operation of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam. PASSED as part of En Bloc #1.

Iran

  • Amdt. 213: Offered by Perry (R-PA), “Prohibits the use of funds to enter into any nuclear agreement with the Islamic Republic of Iran.” NOT IN ORDER
  • Amdt. 300: Offered by Fallon (R-TX), “Repeals the Iran sanctions exemption for Afghanistan reconstruction assistance and economic development.” NOT IN ORDER
  • Amdt. 318: Offered by Tenney (R-NY), “Revises the report on Iran’s military capabilities to include all instances of the supply, sale, or transfer of arms or related material, to or from Iran. PASSED as part of En Bloc #3.
  • Amdt. 323: Offered by Tenney (R-NY), “Requires a report on the United Nations arms embargo on Iran and its effectiveness in constraining Iran’s ability to supply, sell, or transfer arms or related material while the arms embargo was in effect. Requires the Department of Defense to report on the measures that the agencies are taking, in the absence of such a United Nations arms embargo on Iran, to constrain Iranian arms proliferation. PASSED as part of En Bloc #4.
  • Amdt. 326: Offered by Tenney (R-NY), “Requires a report on all IRGC-affiliated operatives serving in diplomatic and consular posts outside of Iran, and the ways in which the Departments of Defense and State are working with partner nations to inform them of the threat posed by IRGC-affiliated operatives. PASSED as part of En Bloc #4.
  • Amdt. 370: Offered by Steil (R-WI), “Requires the Secretary of Defense in consultation with the Secretary of State to submit a report to the appropriate congressional committees on the short- and long-term threats posed by Iranian-backed militias in Iraq to Iraq and to United States persons and interests.” PASSED as part of En Bloc #4.
  • Amdt. 379: Offered by Steil (R-WI), “Authorizes the Secretary of the Treasury to apply one or more special measures with respect to a foreign financial institution that conducts a significant transaction with INSTEX, if the transaction facilitates the evasion of U.S. sanctions against Iran. Requires consultation with European allies and clear objectives as the basis for a special measure. This amendment does not apply to non-sanctionable activities such as humanitarian assistance. NOT IN ORDER
  • Amdt. 496: Offered by Luria (D-VA) et al, “Expresses a sense of Congress that the Government of Iran’s decision to enrich uranium up to 60 percent purity is a further escalation and shortens the breakout time to produce enough highly enriched uranium to develop a nuclear weapon, and the Government of Iran should immediately abandon any pursuit of a nuclear weapon. PASSED as part of En Bloc #2.
  • Amdt. 521: Offered by Malliotakis (R-NY), “Requires a report to Congress of all malign operations by Iran conducted on Unites [sic] States soil. Including: Iran-backed terrorist attacks, kidnapping, export violations, sanctions busting activities, cyber-attacks, and money laundering. PASSED as part of En Bloc #3.
  • Amdt. 593: Offered by Hill (R-AR), “Requires reporting on the monetary assets held by the leaders of the Islamic Republic of Iran.” NOT IN ORDER

Saudi Arabia, Yemen, & UAE

  • Amdt. 19: Offered by Connolly (D-VA) and Meeks (D-NY), “Imposes temporary limits on arms sales to Saudi Arabia and requires various reports and actions related to the death of Saudi Arabian journalist Jamal Khashoggi.” PASSED as part of En Bloc #1.
  • Amdt. 57: Offered by Meeks (D-NY), Deutch (D-FL), and Lieu (D-CA), “Requires the suspension of U.S. sustainment and maintenance support to Saudi air force units determined to be responsible for airstrikes resulting in civilian casualties in Yemen with certain exemptions for territorial self-defense, counterterrorism operations, and defense of U.S. government facilities or personnel. Passed by a roll call vote of 223-204
  • Amdt. 61: Offered by Omar (D-MN), “Prohibits the proposed sale of F35s and other weapons to the United Arab Emirates. WITHDRAWN
  • Amdt. 449: Offered by Malinowski (D-NY), Schiff (D-CA), DeFazio (D-OR), Cicilline (D-RI), Cohen (D-TN), Castro (D-TX), Khanna (D-CA), Titus (D-NV), Norton (D-DC), Luria (D-VA), and Allred (D-TX), “Imposes sanctions on foreign persons listed in the report of the Director of National Intelligence for the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, which is the language from HR 1464 that as passed by voice vote in the Foreign Affairs Committee during the 117th Congress.” PASSED as part of En Bloc #3.
  • Amdt. 520: Offered by Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) and Connolly (D-VA), “Prohibits funds from being used to provide weapons or military aid or military training to Saudi Arabia’s Rapid Intervention Force (RIF), the unit responsible for the murder of U.S. journalist Jamal Khoshoggi. PASSED as part of En Bloc #3.
  • Amdt. 550: Offered by Dingell (D-MI), “States that none of the funds authorized to be appropriated by this Act are authorized to be made available for any US governmental or private entity to participate in, or in any way assist, restrictions on imports, including humanitarian and civic assistance, or travel at Yemen’s air or sea ports, including any communication, coordination, training, or any other interaction between the U.S. military and the members of an air force or navy that may enable, aid, or facilitate the enforcement of these restrictions.”  NOT IN ORDER
  • Amdt. 573: Offered by Khanna (D-CA), Jayapal (D-WA), and Schiff (D-CA), “Terminates U.S. military logistical support, and the transfer of spare parts to Saudi warplanes conducting aerial strikes against the Houthis in Yemen and permanently ends intelligence sharing that enables offensive strikes and any U.S. effort to command, coordinate, participate in the movement of, or accompany Saudi-led coalition forces in the war in Yemen. PASSED by a roll call vote of 219-207.
  • Amdt. 670: Offered by Schiff (D-CA), Prohibits funding from being used to share intelligence with Saudi ships enforcing the blockade of the Port of Al Hodeidah, Yemen, and plans imposing a no-fly zone over the airport in Sanaa, Yemen.” WITHDRAWN
  • Amdt. 852: Offered (LATE) by Lieu (D-CA), “Extends an existing prohibition on in-flight refueling to non-United States aircraft that engage in hostilities in the ongoing civil war in Yemen for two years, or until a specific authorization has been enacted.” PASSED as part of En Bloc #2.

Iraq

  • Amdt. 28: Offered by Sherman (D-CA), “Authorizes the Secretary of Defense, upon request of the Government of Iraq and in consultation and coordination with the Government of Iraq, to provide support for vetted forces in Iraq operating in the Nineveh Plains to successfully facilitate the return of religious minorities.” PASSED as part of En Bloc #4.

Tunisia

  • Amdt. 758: Offered by Malinowsky (D-NJ) and Connolly (D-VA), “Limits security assistance to the Tunisian military until the President certifies that the Tunisian government has met certain conditions. NOT IN ORDER

Syria

  • Amdt. 56: Offered by Meeks (D-NY) and Deutch (D-FL) “Requires a report and clarification on U.S. – Syria political strategy and policy goals, including diplomatic, development/humanitarian, and security objectives.” PASSED as part of En Bloc #3.
  • Amdt. 622: Offered by Jayapal (D-WA), Commissions a Defense Department report on estimated savings to come from full drawdown from Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria compared to the status quo ante and the estimated cost of redirecting U.S. personnel and materials to effectively engage in great power competition with Russia and China, including increased outlays in ships, aircraft, nuclear weapons, etc. sufficient to effectively curb and deter both countries militarily in their respective regions.” PASSED as part of En Bloc #2.
  • Amdt. 673: Offered by Steil (R-WI), Requires the President, acting through the Secretary of State and in coordination with the Secretary of Defense and the Secretary of the Treasury to submit a report to relevant congressional committees that describes the financial benefits the Assad regime in Syria will obtain through transit fees for allowing the export of gas into Lebanon through the Arab Gas Pipeline in the case that the President issues a waiver under the Caesar Syria Civilian Protection Act of 2019 (P.L. 116-92).” NOT IN ORDER
  • Amdt. 706: Offered by Hill (R-AR), Requires an interagency strategy to disrupt and dismantle narcotics production and trafficking and affiliated networks linked to the regime of Bashar al-Assad in Syria. NOT IN ORDER
  • Amdt. 734: Offered by Green (R-TN), “Withholds funds from POTUS if he tries to lower troop levels in Syria and Iraq below 10% of current deployments without updating Congress on effects to counterterrorism and national security.” NOT IN ORDER
  • Amdt. 759: Offered by Tenney (R-NY), Requires a report on the net worth of Syrian president Bashar al-Assad. PASSED as part of En Bloc #4.
  • Amdt. 771: Offered by Bowman (D-NY) and Khanna (D-CA), Prohibits U.S. military presence in Syria without Congressional approval within 60 days of enactment.” DEFEATED by a roll call vote of 141-286. Bowman tweet in support of the amendment is here.
  • Amdt. 835: Offered (LATE) by Fallon (R-TX), “Restricts the President of the United States from granting a waiver of any requirements under the Caesar Syria Civilian Protection Act for the purpose of approving transports of natural gas to Lebanon and Syria via the Arab Gas Pipeline.” NOT IN ORDER

Libya

  • Amdt. 567: Offered by Malinowsky (D-NJ), Requires the Department of Justice to consider reviewing credible information on war crimes and torture committed by US citizens in Libya (including Mr. Khalifa Haftar).” PASSED as part of En Bloc #3.
  • Amdt. 609: Offered by Malinowsky (D-NJ), Requires the President to review certain alleged arms embargo violators for sanction under Executive Order 13726 (81 Fed. Reg. 23559; relating to blocking property and suspending entry into the United States of persons contributing to the situation in Libya).” PASSED as part of En Bloc #3.
  • Amdt. 817: Offered by Omar (D-MN), Requires State and USAID to report on human trafficking and slavery in Libya, and develop a strategy for addressing root causes and holding perpetrators accountable. PASSED as part of En Bloc #3.

General Provisions with Middle East Implications

  • Amdt. 123: Offered by Pallone (D-NJ), “Requires a report from the Secretary of Defense, in collaboration with the Secretary of State, addressing allegations that some units of foreign countries that have participated in security cooperation programs under section 333 of title 10, U.S.C. may have also committed gross violations of internationally recognized human rights before or while receiving U.S. security assistance. This report would also includes recommendations to improve human rights training and additional measures that can be adopted to prevent these types of violations.” PASSED as part of En Bloc #3.
  • Amdt. 294: Offered by Connolly (D-VA) and Turner (R-OH), “Requires a report related to human rights abusers, terrorists, and military coup participants who have received security cooperation training from the United States.” PASSED as part of En Bloc #1.
  • Amdt. 313: Offered by Posey (R-FL) and Waltz (R-FL), Prevents terrorist agents from asserting a Uniform Commercial Code state law defense that they argue requires their victims to execute on the foreign entity where they opened the account, not the U.S. entity holding their blocked assets here and reporting them to OFAC.” NOT IN ORDER
  • Amdt. 341: Offered by Gottheimer (D-NJ), “Requires the Secretary of the Treasury to submit to Congress (1) a copy of licenses authorizing financial institutions to provide services benefitting a state sponsor of terrorism, and (2) a report on foreign financial institutions conducting significant transactions for persons sanctioned for international terrorism and human rights violations.” PASSED as part of En Bloc #1.
  • Amdt. 348: Offered by Gottheimer (D-NJ), “Requires the Secretary of State, upon receipt of a request from appropriate Committee Chairs and Ranking Members, to determine whether a group constitutes a Specially-Designated Global Terrorist Group or foreign terrorist organization and to submit a report with respect to that determination. NOT IN ORDER
  • Amdt. 446: Offered by Gottheimer (D-NJ) and Gonzalez (R-OH), “Requires GAO to carry out a study on the financing of domestic violent extremists and terrorists, including foreign terrorist-inspired domestic extremists. PASSED as part of En Bloc #2.
  • Amdt. 468: Offered by Curtis (R-UT), Malinowski (D-NJ), Kim (R-CA), and Phillips (D-MN), “Updates the Annual Report on Human Rights Practices to report on the status of surveillance and use of advanced technology to impose arbitrary or unlawful interference with privacy, or unlawful or unnecessary restrictions on freedoms of expression, peaceful assembly, association, or other internationally recognized human rights.” PASSED as part of En Bloc #1.
  • Amdt. 563: Offered by Jacobs (D-CA) and Malinowski (D-NJ), “Requires human rights vetting of potential recipients of U.S. support to combat terrorism under 10 U.S.C. 127e.” PASSED as part of En Bloc #2.
  • Amdt. 600: Offered by Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), Prohibits Direct Commercial Sales (DCS) and Foreign Military Sales (FMS) to any country that has engaged in gross violations of internationally recognized human rights, genocide, or war crimes.” NOT IN ORDER
  • Amdt. 601: Offered by Schiff (D-CA) and Malinowski (D-NJ), Establishes measures to protect the human rights of journalists. Expands the scope of required reports related to violations of the human rights of journalists, requires the President to impose certain property- and visa-blocking sanctions on persons responsible for gross violations of the human rights of journalists, and prohibits certain foreign assistance to a governmental entity of a country if an official acting under authority of the entity has committed a gross violation of human rights against a journalist.” PASSED as part of En Bloc #4.
  • Amdt. 611: Offered by Lee (D-CA), “Repeals the 2002 Authorization for Use of Military Force.” WITHDRAWN
  • Amdt. 655: Offered by McGovern (D-MA), Modifies the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act (Subtitle F of title XXI of PL 114-328) to authorize sanctions for serious human rights abuse, any violation of internationally recognized human rights, or corruption; adds two new reports to Congress; and repeals the sunset.” PASSED as part of En Bloc #3.
  • Amdt. 738: Offered by Meeks (D-NY) and McCaul (R-TX), Requires congressional notification for certain rewards provided under the State Department rewards program.” PASSED as part of En Bloc #3.
  • Amdt. 765: Offered by Gracia (D-IL), Omar (D-MN), Jacobs (D-CA), Bass (D-CA), Tlaib (D-MI), Watson Coleman (D-NJ), Jayapal (D-WA), and Hayes (D-CT), Requires the GAO, in consultation with the President, the Secretary of State, the Secretary of the Treasury, the Secretary of Commerce, the Administrator of the United States Agency for International Development, and the United States Ambassador to the United Nations to submit a report to Congress on humanitarian impacts of US sanctions.” PASSED as part of En Bloc #2.
  • Amdt. 854: Offered (LATE) by Spanberger (D-VA), Meijar (R-MI), Gallagher (R-WI) and Golden (D-ME), “Repeals the January 14, 1991, resolution authorizing the use of military force (AUMF) against Iraq.” WITHDRAWN
  • Amdt. 856: Offered (LATE) by Meijar (R-MI), Spanberger (D-VA), Gallagher (R-WI) and Golden (D-ME), “Repeals 1957 authorized use of military force (AUMF) to defend Middle East nations from armed aggression by ‘any country controlled by international communism.’” WITHDRAWN

4. Hearings & Markups

September 22: The Senate Foreign Relations Committee held a 2-panel hearing to consider 5 nominations made by President Biden. The Panel I dealt with the nominations of Tom Nides to be US ambassador to Israel (statement); David Cohen to be US ambassador to Canada (statement); and Cynthia Ann Telles to be US ambassador to Costa Rica (statement). Panel II dealt with the nominations of Sarah Margon to be Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor (statement); and Tom Udall to be US ambassador to New Zealand (statement). With respect to Nides, the hearing was largely a celebration of support for Israel, support for the Abraham Accords, and of shared outrage against anyone who would dare boycott Israel or settlements. With respect to the other Middle East-related content in the hearing, Margon was subjected to a deeply unfriendly (and quite painful to watch) interrogation with respect to her views on Israel, which some on the committee are clearing treating as a litmus test of her fitness for confirmation (made all the more painful because it appeared that Margon had been directed to repeat the same talking point over and over in the face of this questioning, rather than being allowed to actually explain and defend her past statements and views).  See:

5. On the Record

Iron Dome

  • Members on the record – Iron Dome-related statements from members of Congress are here
  • Media — There were just too many media reports to collect

Israel/Palestine (unrelated to Iron Dome)

Times of Israel 9/23: Top Republican releases remaining Palestinian aid he held up for months

Portman (R-OH) & Cardin (D-MD) 9/22: press release – Portman, Cardin Commend Biden Administration for Continuing U.S. Policy Against Participation in U.N. Conference That Promotes Anti-Israel Agendas

Hill (R-AR) 9/22: Floor statement – Iran is a Threat [major focus on Israel]

Deutch (D-FL) 9/22: Twet – “Friends in Israel and in the U.S., tune in now to see my interview with @nathanguttman air on Kan – Israel Public Broadcasting evening news

Jerusalem Post 9/21: Barkat to meet senators on Jerusalem consulate for Palestinians

Cruz (R-TX) 9/21: Tweet – “Good! Our girls were very sad when Heidi & I had to tell them that we’d no longer be buying Ben & Jerry’s, because we don’t want to do anything to subsidize anti-Semites who are boycotting Israel.” Linked to article/tweet – That Ben & Jerry’s Boycott of Israel Is Backfiring, as States Are Dropping the Company From Investments (RedState)

Gimenez (R-FL) 9/21: Tweet – “President Biden, you cannot use the word ‘but’ when talking about Israel’s sovereignty. I stand with the people of Israel. Period. Full stop. #UNGA” [apparently in response to Biden following up his statement of unequivocal support for Israel and its security with, “But I continue to believe that a two-state solution is the best way to ensure Israel’s future as a Jewish, democratic state, living in peace alongside a viable, sovereign, democratic Palestinian state.”]

McCollum (D-MN) campaign 9/20: Tweet – “Thank you @johnlegend for supporting Palestinian human rights! Congresswoman Betty McCollum’s bill #HR2590 would prevent U.S. tax dollars from supporting Israel’s military occupation and abuse of the Palestinian people.” Linked to tweet from Mehdi Hassan, “I asked @johnlegend why he is one of the few celebs willing to criticize Israel and speak out in favor of the Palestinians. Listen to his response

Times of Israel 9/20: Unlike fellow Dems, Jewish senator Ossoff favors tight-lipped approach on Israel

Portman (R-OH) 9/19: Tweet – “It’s been one year since signing of the Abraham Accords. Let’s build off this historic treaty and pass our bipartisan bill encouraging additional states to normalize relations with Israel.

Sherman (D-CA) 9/18: Tweet – “Was good to share some time and New Year greetings with former ambassador and Israel’s current representative to Southern California and over a dozen western states, @Hillel_Newman. Continuing my efforts to strengthen US-Israel relationship.

Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) 9/17: Tweets – “In this year’s NDAA, I’ve intro’d 7 amendments, including blocking specific US weapons transactions to: – Saudi gov over the murder of Jamal Khashoggi – Colombia gov over its violent crackdown on protesters,& – Israeli gov over the bombing of Palestinian civilians, media centers” & “The amendments also include one of several measures to crack down on program 1033, which allows US military to transfer weapons and military equipment to local police depts – including items like grenade launchers. We must stop the militarization of local police departments.” [Israeli Ambassador to US & UN 9/18 response: Tweets – I would expect a Congressperson to understand that Israel is defending its citizens against Hamas, a designated terrorist organization. Your amendment further legitimizes their heinous attacks against innocent civilians, as well as antisemitic lies.” and “Israel & the US have a strategic alliance, critical to the security of our two countries. Israel is a world leader in the fight against terrorism, and our partnership has helped prevent terrorist attacks against American citizens many times in the past.”] Also see: Middle East Monitor 9/20: Ocasio-Cortez seeks to suspend US arms sales to Israel and Saudi Arabia; Jerusalem Post 9/19: AOC introduces amendment to halt US arms sale to Israel; Jewish Press 9/19: AOC Calls for Arms Boycott of Israel; Times of Israel 9/19: Ambassador Erdan slams Ocasio-Cortez for her bid to block arms sale to Israel; Jewish Journal 9/17: AOC Proposes Amendment Blocking U.S. Weapon Sale to Israel

Marshall (R-KS) 9/17: Tweet – “It’s been one year after the Abraham Accords were signed, & Bahrain continues to take real steps towards peace & recognizing Israel. This admin must build upon President Trump and Secretary Pompeo’s successful steps to ensure a lasting legacy of peace.” Linked to article, ‘A great honor’: Bahrain’s first-ever envoy to Israel presents credentials (Times of Israel)

Other Matters

Haaretz 9/19: Biden Sent Egypt a Message on Human Rights. These Democrats Want More

Cotton (R-AR) 9/19: Tweet “Impressive.” Linked to a New York Times article about how Israel assassinated an Iranian scientist using an AI-assisted remote-controlled killer robot