Legislative Round-Up: October 1, 2021

1. Bills, Resolutions, Letters
2. The Great 2021 Iron Dome Supplemental Debacle (cont.)
3. Heairngs & Markups
4. 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

(FREE MARKET EXCEPTION TO PREVENT CRITICISM OF ISRAEL) HR 2829: Introduced by Rubio (R-FL) 9/23 (when all of us were busy tracking the Iron Dome debacle), the “Mind Your Own Business Act of 2021.” This bill aims to kick companies that adopt policies challenging Israeli policies — including distinguishing between Israel and settlements — out of the stock market, and to enable stockholders to sue them. The bill, which targets “woke” [yes, it actually uses that word] policies in general, specifically mentions “any entity that engages in a commerce- or investment-related boycott, divestment, or sanctions activity that targets Israel” (it also specifically mentions Critical Race Theory). This bill represents part of what is clearly the new horizon in lawfare, in effect seeking to establish a free market exception for Israel (on top of a free speech exception for Israel, which stands in contrast, of course, to Rubio’s strong support for Citizens United). Notably, the bill references “norms that large corporate issuers that are significant to the national economy…do not use corporate resources to promote socialism, Marxism, critical race theory, or other un-American ideologies among their workforces or customers.” Yes, you read that right: “Un-American ideologies.” We’re talking unabashed McCarthyism introduced in a 2021 Senate bill. NOTE: This bill should not be confused with S. 1444 — a bill introduced 4/29/21 by Wyden (D-OR) that has the exact same name (but rather than seeking to quash ideas, is focused on protecting privacy. Also see:

(THANK YOU, QATAR!) S. Res. 390: Introduced 9/28 by Graham (R-SC) and Blackburn (R-TN), “A resolution expressing appreciation for the State of Qatar’s efforts to assist the United States during Operation Allies Refuge.” Referred to the Committee on Foreign Relations.

(LIBYA STABILIZATION) HR 1228: Introduced 2/23 by Deutch (D-FL) and having 23 cosponsors, the Libya Stabilization Act. Passed by the House 9/28 under suspension of the rules by a roll call vote of 386-35.

Letters

(BAHRAIN HUMAN RIGHTS) Wyden-Rubio et al letter to Blinken: On 9/24, Sens. Wyden (D-OR) and Rubio (R-FL) led a letter to SecState Blinken, raising detailed concerns about the human rights situation in Bahrain and urging him “and the Biden-Harris administration to promote reform and respect for basic human rights in Bahrain and greater stability in the region.” The letter was also signed by Leahy (D-VT), Baldwin (D-WI), Sanders (I-VT), Merkley (D-OR), and Brown (D-OH). Also see: press release, article in Al-Jazeera.

 

2.The Great 2021 Iron Dome Supplemental Debacle (cont.)

Last week the political news cycle was consumed with efforts in the House to appropriate $1 billion in supplemental aid for Israel for Iron Dome (on top of Israel’s regular annual $3.8 billion in aid). For details of that drama – and massive political own goal scored by Democrats – see last week’s Round-Up.

Action moves to the Senate

This week action moved to the Senate, where even last week some Republican senators were already working to import the House drama into their own chamber, with grandstanding bills already introduced – S. 2789, a Continuing Resolution that includes Iron Dome funding, introduced by Shelby, (R-AL), and McConnell (R-KY); S. 2839, for $1 billion in additional Iron Dome funding, introduced by Cruz (R-TX); and S. 2830, an Iron Dome Supplemental appropriations bill, introduced by Rubio (R-FL), Hagerty (R-TN), and Collins (R-ME). To be clear: these were bills introduced not for the purpose of being considered/passed, but for the purposes of scoring political point-scoring. Under normal procedures in both the House and the Senate, major funding bills are introduced by the chair of the committee of jurisdiction (either authorizing or an appropriations). The introduction of a major funding bill — like a continuing resolution or a $1 billion supplemental — by any other member is, by definition, an act of grandstanding.

As expected, the grandstanding in the Senate looked a lot like grandstanding in the House. Lacking the hook of the Democrats drafting a CR including Iron Dome, and then removing Iron Dome from it, Republicans did what they could with the Republican-introduced bills, and with last week’s House drama, to suggest that Democrats’ in both the House and Senate (and the White House) are anti-Israel [note: irrespective of the inclusion of the Iron Dome funding in the Shelby/McConnell CR, that bill was written to be a non-starter with Democrats, omitting one of the key Democratic priorities for the CR (the suspension of the debt ceiling; and irrespective of whether the Iron Dome funding had been included in the Democrats’ version of the CR, Republicans in the Senate would have voted against it, due to the debt ceiling issue)]. For examples see:

  • Inhofe (R-OK) 9/30: Inhofe Votes No on Democrats’ Weak Attempt to Fund the Government: “This falls way short for defense” [“I cannot in good conscience vote for this continuing resolution that falls way short for defense because it does not provide three to five percent real growth for our military as outlined in the National Defense Strategy. Worse, it strips out funding for the Iron Dome, a missile defense system that saves lives in Israel…”]
  • Cruz (R-TX) 9/30: Sen. Cruz Issues Statement on Continuing Resolution [“The Democrats also shamefully took out a provision to replenish funding for Israel’s Iron Dome defense system. Speaker Pelosi and Leader Schumer were apparently too afraid of the leftwing radicals and socialists who control the Democrat Party to stand by our close ally Israel.”]
  • McConnell (R-KY) 9/28: floor statement
  • Collins (D-ME) et al 9/27: press release – Collins, Rubio, Hagerty Introduce Bill to Fund Iron Dome
  • McConnell (R-KY), Cassidy (R-LA); Shelby (R-AL); Crapo (R-ID) 9/27:  floor statements
  • Hagerty (R-TN) 9/26: Tweet – “After House Dems caved to anti-Israel progressive liberals & stripped funding for Iron Dome replenishment from the Continuing Resolution, I questioned Thomas Nides, Biden’s nominee to be U.S. Ambassador to Israel, about the Biden administration’s support for Iron Dome funding.”

Following the lead of the House, it was clear that Democrats in the Senate would seek to move the $ billion in supplemental funding for Israel via a freestanding piece of legislation, that they would seek to move by unanimous consent (UC) — meaning that no senator objects to skipping normal procedure (which would require that the legislation be considered in the committee(s) of jurisdiction before being referred to the floor for debate and a vote) and instead bringing the measure directly to the Senate floor.

  • On 9/30, the news broke that Sen. Paul (R-KY) was refusing to “hotline” the measure, demanding that the funding for Iron Dome be deducted from funding that has been allocated for Afghanistan. [Note: “Hotlining” is the process by which senators indicate they agree to bring a bill directly to the floor; refusal by a member to agree to hotline a bill is referred to as a “hold” and information about holds is not public unless the member in question chooses to share it.].
  • On 10/1, it was reported that Paul’s objections notwithstanding, Menenedez (D-NJ) (chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee) plans to bring the measure to the Senate floor on 10/4.

Stay tuned!

Meanwhile, back in the House:

Partisan Point-Scoring Continues: The Iron Dome funding continues to be a hook for grandstanding in the House (despite the fact that it was passed last week in the House by a landslide vote), including during this week’s markup of a bill seeking to compel the Biden Administration to actively promote normalization by Arab states with Israel (see section 3, below). For examples, see:

  • Miller-Meeks (R-IA) 10/1: Tweet – “Our relationship with Israel is mutually beneficial, and it is important that we work to support them whenever we can. That means fully funding the Iron Dome missile defense system must be a top priority of this Congress. #IA02”
  • Wilson (R-SC) 9/30: Statement in the Congressional Record, “Iron Dome Crucial to Defend Families
  • Granger (R-TX) 9/30: Statement – Rep. Granger Opposes Passage of Continuing Resolution [“…The party that controls the House, the Senate, and the White House decided to do exactly what we asked them not to do. They refused to include critical assistance to help our ally Israel defend itself against terrorist rocket attacks…]
  • Miller-Meeks (R-IA) 9/28: Tweet – I am proud to have voted for and spoken in support of fully funding the Iron Dome missile defense system last week. #IA02
  • Op-ed by Clifford May (FDD) in the Washington Times, The Squad loves dead Jews: Support for Hamas implies nothing less
  • Gimenez (R-FL) 9/27: Tweet – “Crocodile tears won’t work. The Iron Dome is a defensive system protecting BOTH Israelis and Palestinians from rockets launched into Israel by Hamas terrorists. I’m proud to stand with Israel and find repugnant all the political theatrics used to justify anti-Semitism.
  • Emmer (R-MN) 9/27: Tweet – “I’m relieved that the House voted to provide funding for Israel’s Iron Dome defense system and outraged at some of my colleagues’ attempts to abandon our nation’s closest ally in the region.
  • Emmer (R-MN) 9/27: Tweet – “Last week, Democrats nearly abandoned Israel, like they did Afghanistan, while they are under direct threat.”
  • Steube (R-FL) 9/27: Tweet – “As one of our closest allies, it is imperative that we continue to support the security of Israel as they face relentless attacks from anti-democratic forces and terrorists in the region. I joined @OANN to discuss the recent House passage of $1 billion for Israel’s Iron Dome.
  • Reschenthaler (R-PA) 9/26: Tweet – “Anti-Semitism once again reared its ugly face in the halls of Congress this week. Israel is not an ‘apartheid state,’ @RashidaTlaib. It’s the only democracy in the Middle East.
  • Scott (R-SC) 9/26: Tweet – “The Iron Dome is a key instrument for peace in the Middle East. It is unconscionable House Democrats would not stand up for Israel.”
  • Mast (R-FL) 9/25: Tweet – “The Iron Dome is a jointly funded U.S. – Israel defense system. It saves lives in Israel. So, of course, the squad wants to defund it.
  • Moore (R-AL) 9/25: Tweet – “Despite the Squad’s heartless attempts to block funding for Israel’s Iron Dome, the House passed bipartisan legislation to approve funding for the missile defense system that continues to save countless innocent lives. I’m always proud to stand with Israel!
  • Op-ed by Bret Stephens 9/24 in the Minnesota Star-Tribune – Omar, ‘squad,’ launch another anti-Israel strike [illustrated with a photo of a Hamas missile strike on Israel]

More on No/Present votes: In addition, since last week’s Round-Up there have been statements issues around some of the “no” and “present” votes (and one that I missed last week):

  • Jewish Insider 9/30: How Ayanna Pressley shifted her stance on Israel
  • Tlaib (D-MI) 9/24: Tweet – “All the bipartisan attacks launched at me for speaking a factual truth about the apartheid system in Israel will not intimidate or silence this girl from #SouthwestDetroit.
  • Pressley (D-MA) 9/23: Pressley Statement on Iron Dome Funding
  • Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) 9/24: A Note to Our NY-14 Community from Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez [for analysis/speculation/point-scoring are what people think about her changing her vote and what they insist are her “real” reasons, just Google her name + Iron Dome]

And another story that came out of this is the battle between Massie (R-KY) and AIPAC over Massie’s “no” vote on the Iron Dome supplemental. See: GOP Rep. lashes AIPAC for ‘foreign interference’ after Iron Dome vote attack ad (Times of Israel); Republican Congressman, pro-Israel group spar over Iron Dome funding (Al-Monitor); GOP Congressman Calls AIPAC Ad “Foreign Interference” (Jewish Journal); ‘Foreign Interference’: Republican Libertarian Blasting AIPAC Accused of Antisemitism (Haaretz)

Further Articles/Analyses

Americans for Peace Now 10/1: It’s Not Actually About the Iron Dome

The Hill 9/30: The controversial Iron Dome vote masks the GOP’s debt ceiling strategy

American Friends Services Committee 9/29: 5 things to know about U.S. funding for Israel’s “Iron Dome”

Jewish Currents 9/28: A Guide to the Fight Over Iron Dome Funding

JTA 9/27: The vast majority of progressives overwhelmingly backed Iron Dome funding — but with a caveat

Lara Friedman (FMEP) 9/26: The Great 2021 Iron Dome Supplemental Debacle

Electronic Intifada 9/24: Democrats abandon Rashida Tlaib to racist onslaught

Mondoweiss 9/24: How Iron Dome funding split the Democratic Party on Israel

 

3. Hearings & Markups

September 30: The House Committee on Foreign Affairs held a markup of various measures, including HR 2748, the “Israel Relations Normalization Act of 2021.” Video here (consideration starts around 3:57:20). The bill was an occasion for (extensive) bipartisan grandstanding in support of Israel and normalization, some grandstanding at the expense of the Palestinians, and, of course, some point-scoring by Republicans – including over last week’s Iron Dome debacle and raising this week’s manufactured controversy over Vice President Harris refraining from publicly rebuking a college student for her criticism of Israel. It was ultimately approved by the committee, after adopting (by voice vote) and amendment offered by Mast (R-FL) and one by offered by Jacobs (D-CA); and after rejecting (by voice vote) two amendments offered by Perry (R-PA), one related to climate change (here) and the other seeking to turn the bill into a celebration of former President Trump (here). Also see:

  • Schneider (D-IL) 10/2: press release – Schneider Bill Supporting Normalization with Israel Passes House Foreign Affairs Committee
  • Schneider (D-IL) tweet – “Thanks to @HouseForeign for passing my critically important bipartisan Israel Relations Normalization Act to build upon peace and normalization agreements with Israel. It is my hope that my bill will lift the chances of peace in the Middle East and provide a better future for all
  • Chabot (R-OH) tweet – “The Abraham Accords are a landmark agreement for peace in the Middle East. Watch my remarks in support of the accords and normalization between #Israel and the Arab world at today’s @HouseForeignGOP markup here:”
  • Mast (R-FL) tweet – “A two-state solution in which Hamas gains international legitimacy would be a disaster for Israel and the world. The United States must not empower radical Islamic terrorists!” [his statement in committee regarding his amendment]
  • House Foreign Affairs approves Israel Relations Normalization Act (Jewish Insider).

 

4. On the Record

Attacking VP Harris for failing to silence/shame college student over free speech critical of Israel

Cotton (R-AR) 10/1: Tweet – “Kamala Harris praised the lie that Israel is conducting an “ethnic genocide.” If she doesn’t believe this, she should come out and say so herself.” Linked to article, Harris’ office does damage control over student’s Israel ‘ethnic genocide’ comment (Politico)

Cotton (R-AR) 9/30: Tweet – “This slander against Israel is disgraceful, and it was encouraged by Vice President Harris. She should be ashamed of herself.” Linked to article, Harris Tosses Pro-Israel Cred Out the Window With Praise for Student Accusing Jewish State of ‘Ethnic Genocide’ (Free Beacon)

Roy (R-TX) 9/30: Tweet – “Vice President of the United States perpetuating anti-Israel & anti-American narrative used by Iranian state media for anti-Israel & anti-American propaganda. #HeckuvaJobKamala”. Linked to tweet from Iran’s PressTV

Meuser (R-PA) 9/29: Tweet – “Kamala Harris owes all who support Israel an apology and explanation. Her foolish woke view is wrong, per usual. Go to Israel and learn something, Madame VP.” Linked to Jerusalem Post article, “VP Harris to student who accused Israel of ‘genocide’: Your truth must be heard

Hawley (R-MO) 9/29: Tweet – “Kamala Harris doesn’t have time to go the border, but she apparently has plenty of time to encourage anti-Israel, anti-Semitic falsehoods” Linked to tweet from an account managed by the Republican Jewish Coalition (RNC), “WATCH: Kamala Harris nods as student accuses Israel of ‘ethnic genocide’: ‘your truth cannot be suppressed’ [the tweet that seems to have started it all…]

Levin & the 2-state bill

JTA 9/30: Andy Levin says his friendship with Rashida Tlaib gives him hope for Israel

Price (D-NC) 9/29: Tweet – “A two-state solution is in danger of becoming a cliché. That’s why I cosponsored the 2 State Solution Act, which makes clear the range of policies relevant to truly achieving a viable 2-state outcome that ensures peace, prosperity & security for the Israeli & Palestinian people.”

Levin (D-MI) 9/28: Tweet – “We can have a two-state solution that secures Israel’s future as a democratic state and a national home for the Jewish people alongside a Palestinian state. This demands ending the occupation and elevating true human rights for both Palestinians and Israelis.

Levin (D-MI) 9/28: Tweet – In recent years, saying one supports a two-state solution has become like offering “thoughts and prayers” in the wake of a mass shooting. People say they support two states, but the words are not connected to any deeds.

Levin (D-MI) 9/27: Tweet – “I introduced the Two-State Solution Act because allowing the occupation and creeping annexation to continue unabated will ensure Palestinians will never have their human rights respected and Israelis will never enjoy true security.”

Levin (D-MI) 9/27: Tweet – “Last week, two dozen of my colleagues signed on to support policies that most American Jews and other Americans believe is the best pathway to peace. Make sure your representative is among them.”

Levin (D-MI) 9/27: Tweet – “What an honor to have the moral rabbinic voices at @truah supporting the #TwoStateSolution Act. My human rights work is always guided by the commandment from Torah: ‘Justice, justice thou shalt pursue.’”

Levin (D-MI) 9/27: Op-ed in The Hill – Recommitting US policy toward two-state solution is the best way to further Middle East peace

 

Other issues

Wilson (R-SC) 10/1: Tweet – “My support is w/ the 312 Iraqi civil leaders calling for normalization with Israel & stability in the region. They now face persecution and even death for advocating for peace & opportunity. Where is Admin’s voice on this? #AbrahamAccords”

Feenstra (R-IA) 9/30: Tweet – “I enjoyed talking to Denise Bubeck with @AIPAC yesterday! Last week, I was honored to support funding for the Iron Dome. I will always stand with America’s close ally & friend Israel.”

Tenney (R-NY) 9/30: Tweet – “Yesterday I joined @securefreedom & @LibertyIranian to discuss #Iran policy. As a member of @HouseForeignGOP, I’m committed to holding Iran accountable. To achieve a comprehensive deal that strengthens our security, President Biden must maintain pressure.”

Ernst (R-IA) 9/30: Tweet – “Iran, the world’s largest state sponsor of terrorism, cannot be trusted.  @POTUS & his Administration must not give in by lifting sanctions or joining the failed Iran Nuclear Deal.”

Cardin (D-MD) 9/29: Floor statement in support of Dilawar Syed to be the Deputy Administrator of the Small Business Administration [including pushing back against Republican accusations that Syed is anti-Israel]

Risch (R-ID) 9/29: Tweet – “I am encouraged the #EU parliament is considering withholding assistance to #UNRWA after their report confirmed what we knew: UNRWA textbooks promote incitement against #Israel.” Linked to article, European Parliament moves to condition UNRWA funds over PA textbook incitement (Times of Israel)

Lankford (R-OK) 9/29: Tweets – “I am very concerned by Iraq’s move to arrest leaders who want to make peace with Israel. The Biden Administration should absolutely pursue Iraq and other nations to join the Abraham Accords.” and “President Trump’s leadership in brokering the historic Abraham Accords was a significant moment for peace in the Middle East. The US must work to expand the Accords and support Arab leaders’ calls to normalize relations with Israel.

Hagerty (R-TN) 9/28: Tweet – “If Biden (re)opens a US consulate for Palestinians after the U.S. recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital in 2017, he’ll violate the Jerusalem Embassy Act of 1995 & undermine Israel’s sovereignty. Govt of Israel strongly opposes Biden’s proposal.”

Raskin (D-MD) 9/28: Tweet – “For 13 years, Zeynab Jalalian has been imprisoned in Iran on trumped up charges because of her advocacy for Iranian Kurds & women’s rights. Now her captors are denying her basic health care to extract a ‘confession.’ Iran must heed UN’s call for Zeynab’s unconditional release.

Garabino (R-NY) 9/28: Tweet – “The best way to defend against cyber threats is working closely with our allies. The U.S.-Israel Cybersecurity Cooperation Enhancement Act will facilitate a stronger partnership with Israel so we can thwart future attacks.

Gaetz (R-FL) 9/27: Tweet – “.@SecBlinken should immediately shut down the Saudi Arabia Consulate in Los Angeles (@KSAconsulateLA). Here’s why” Linked to Gaetz podcast appearance

Zeldin (R-NY) 9/25: Op-ed – “We Must Stop the Spread of Antisemitism in Our Schools” [focusing on “antisemitism” in the form of criticism of Israel and Israeli policies]

Mast (R-FL) 9/24: Website post, “Fighting Anti-Semitism” about his support for HR 5356, legislating that products made in the West Bank and Gaza MUST be labeled “made in Israel”

Cohen (D-TN) 9/22: Press release – Congressman Cohen Condemns Appointment of Wanted Criminals to Senior Iranian Government Positions