APN Legislative Round-Up: Week ending June 7, 2013

1. Bills, Resolutions & Letters
2. HASC Marks Up FY14 NDAA; Summary of Mideast Provisions
3. Hearings/Briefings
4. Members on the Record
5. From the Press/Blogs

Note: For Iran watchers, check out these two new resources - first, a new report from the Congressional Research Service: "Iran: U.S. Concerns and Policy Responses" (May 28, 2013). Second, the Arms Control Center has published a nifty table tracking pending and anticipated Iran sanctions bills, available here.

Also, from APN:

June 7: Making Israel the Issue Again, over Samantha Power and Susan Rice
June 5: New Palestinian PM Rami Hamdallah: Resources/Background
Constantly Updated: "Price Tag" Escalation Timeline: Jan 1, 2011 - present

1. Bills, Resolutions, & Letters

(NDAA) HR 1960: On 6/6 the House Armed Services Committee (HASC) marked up HR 1960, the 2014 National Defense Authorization Act, and reported it out of committee. The bill includes numerous provisions related to the Middle East-related, discussed in detail in Section 2, below.

(IRAN) H. Res. 252: Introduced 6/6 by Franks (R-AZ) and 16 cosponsors, "Calling for free and fair elections in Iran, and for other purposes. Referred to the House Committee on Foreign Affairs.

(COUNTER-TERRORISM & NON-PROLIFERATION EFFORTS IN MIDEAST & NORTH AFRICA, INCL IRAN) S. 1021: Introduced 5/22 by Shaheen (D-NH) and having no cosponsors, the "Next Generation Cooperative Threat Reduction Act of 2013." Referred to the Committee on Foreign Relations. The bill would require the President to present to Congress a strategy to carry out MENA CT and non-proliferation efforts and would authorize $30 million annually for 2014-2019 to carry out this strategy.

(SYRIA) S. 960: On 5/21 the Senate Foreign Relations Committee marked up S. 960, the "Syria Transition Support Act of 2013" (video of the markup is available here). In the course of the markup, the committee adopted a far-reaching Managers' package of amendments (amendments negotiated and agreed to in advance by both parties), available here. An amendment offered by Casey (D-PA) was also agreed to after he agreed to offer a second-degree amendment (i.e., he amended his own amendment). Casey's original amendment is here; the second degree amendment is here. Notably, the Committee rejected two amendments offered by Paul (R-TX). The first Paul amendment sought to add language stipulating that nothing in S. 960 shall be construed as authorizing the use of military force, and that nothing in PL 107-40 (the authorization of use of force passed by Congress after 9/11) shall be construed as authorizing the use of military force against Syria. This amendment was defeated by a vote of 2-15. The second Paul amendment sought to strike Title V from S. 960. This is the section of the bill authorizing lethal (and non-lethal) assistance to the Syrian opposition. This amendment was defeated again by a vote of 2-15. In addition, anamendment offered by Udall (D-CO) to "establish chain of custody and accountability for weapons" was defeated by a vote of 4-14.


(IRAN ELECTIONS) Casey Letter to Treasury Secretary: On 6/7, Sen. Casey (D-PA) sent a letter to Secretary of the Treasury Lew calling for the imposition of sanctions against the two frontrunner candidates in Iran's upcoming presidential election, and potentially against all the other candidates as well. The letter states: "On June 14, Iranians will go to the polls to elect their next president. I am writing to express my deep concern about the candidates, which Iran's Guardian Council recently approved to contest these elect ions. I urge you to investigate allegations that these presidential candidates committed human rights violations and consider designating them as 'Specially Designated Nationals' under Executive Order 13553. These candidates' history of brutally repressing dissent is a threat to the safety and security of the Iranian people...." Casey concludes his letter noting, "Sanctioning candidates for Iran's highest political office would signal to the Iranian regime that the United States will not cooperate with human rights violators. Further, it would demonstrate our resolve to stand with the Iranian people, who are victims of this brutal regime." Casey further asks that if Lew determines that the individuals should not be designated under EO 1355, "I request that you reply to me explaining your determination for each individual."

(ARGENTINA-IRAN) Meng et al letter(link broken as of this writing): On 6/3, Rep. Meng (D-NY) and five colleagues sent a letter to Secretary of State Kerry urging him to oppose the "truth commission" that the governments of Iran and Argentina have set-up to re-investigate the 1994 terrorist bombing of a Jewish cultural center in Buenos Aires. Meng's press release touting the letter is here. The letter was covered by the JTA, here.

(IRAN AT THE UN) Roskam/Deutch et al letter: On 5/24, a bipartisan group of House members led by Roskam (R-IL) and Deutch (D-FL) sent a letter to UN Secretary General Ban-Ki Moon urging Moon to "demand the removal of the Islamic Republic of Iran from serving [sic] as Chairman of the Conference on Disarmament (CD) from May 27 to June 23." Roskam and Deutch's joint press release on the letter is here. The letter was covered in the Times of Israel, here.

(RUSSIA-SYRIA ARMS DEAL) Schneider-Roskam et al letter: On 5/17 (not previously reported in the Round-Up), Reps. Schneider (D-IL) and Roskam (R-IL), along with 15 colleagues, sent a letter to Secretary of State Kerry expressing "grave concern over recent reports of a potential arms transfer from Russia to the regime of Bashar al-Assad in Syria." The letter urged Kerry to continue his efforts to "engage the Russian Federation directly on this matter to dissuade them from pursuing an arms transfer which could have a destabilizing effect on the entire Middle East region."

2. HASC Marks Up FY14 NDAA; Summary of Mideast Provisions

As noted above, on 6/6 the House Armed Services Committee marked upHR 1960, the 2014 National Defense Authorization Act, and reported it out of committee by a vote of 59-2. The bill includes numerous provisions related to the Middle East (including Iran). The following analysis applies to the bill as reported out of committee (as opposed to the originally introduced version). The Chairman's mark (the text that was the basis of the markup, as opposed to the originally introduced language), which including explanatory text at the beginning, is available here. A short fact-sheet provided by the Chairman's office is here. A video of the 14-hour mark-up is available here (yes, 14 hours - have fun!).

Israel in the NDAA

Israeli Cooperative Programs: The bill stipulates (in a table) that the White House requested $95,782,000 under this heading, while the House instead authorized $283,782,000. The increase is broken down as follows: $15 million for "development of increased capabilities for Iron Dome" and $173 million for "increase Israeli Cooperative Programs."

Note: As part of a en bloc amendment adopted during the mark-up, the following language was added to the bill (via an amendment offered by Rep. Heck (R-NV): "Of the funds authorized to be appropriated for fiscal year 2014 by section 4201 for research, development, test, and evaluation, Defense-·wide, and available for the Missile Defense Agency, $15,000,000 may be obligated or expended for enhancing the capability for producing the Iron Dome short-range rocket defense program in the United States, including for infrastructure, tooling, transferring data, special test equipment, and related components."

Egypt in the NDAA

This section is a Sense of Congress regarding U.S.-Egypt relations and U.S. military aid to Egypt. It also requires a comprehensive report to Congress that "contains a comprehensive plan for United States military assistance and cooperation with Egypt." The report includes issues related to use and effectiveness of U.S. aid, internal Egypt developments, and Egypt-Israel developments, including Egyptian adherence to the Israeli-Egypt peace treaty, Egypt's efforts to address Gaza tunnels, and Sinai security.

Syria in the NDAA

This section states that "The Secretary of Defense, with the concurrence of the Secretary of State, may provide assistance to the military and civilian response organizations of Jordan, Kuwait, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates, Iraq, Turkey, and other countries in the region of Syria in order for such countries to respond effectively to incidents involving weapons of mass destruction in Syria and the region." It defines assistance as meaning "training, equipment, and supplies," and authorizes $4 million per fiscal year for this purpose. In the case where the authority provided in this section is used, a report must be provided to Congress detailing the assistance and explaining how this assistance "fits into, and is coordinated with, other United States efforts to build the capability and capacity of countries in the region of Syria to counter the threat of weapons of mass destruction in Syria and the region."

This section urges President Obama to "fully consider all courses of action to remove President Bashar al-Assad from power" and to "fully consider all courses of action to reinforce his stated ''redline'' re-garding the use of weapons of mass destruction by the Assad regime..." It express support for continued "rigorous planning and operational preparation to support any efforts to secure the chemical and biological stockpiles and associated weapons." It calls for a U.S. policy to support "the stability of countries on Syria's border, including Jordan, Turkey, Iraq, Lebanon, and Israel." It calls for the U.S. to continue to support Syrian opposition forces with non-lethal aid. The final three "resolved" clauses strongly imply support for U.S. military support for opposition forces and potential U.S. military action in Syria. They state that "the President, the Department of Defense, the Department of State, and the intelligence community, in cooperation with European and regional allies, should ensure that the risks of all courses of action or inaction regarding Syria are fully explored and understood and that Congress is kept fully informed of such risks;" that "the President should fully consider, and the Department of Defense should conduct prudent planning for, the provision of lethal aid and relevant operational training to vetted Syrian opposition forces, including an analysis of the risks of the provision of such aid and training; and, "should the President decide to employ any military assets in Syria, the President should provide a supplemental budget request to Congress."

Title XII lays out other areas of interest to the Committee. With respect to Syria, it includes a section entitled "Resource Requirements to Support U.S. Policy Objectives in Syria." This section in effect requires the Secretary of Defense to provide an assessment of various scenarios under which the U.S. becomes engaged military, to varying degrees, in Syria. Specifically, the language states:

The conflict in the Syrian Arab Republic continues to grow more lethal over time. The regime of President Bashar al-Assad is utilizing conventional and unconventional weapons, including chemical weapons, to defeat the opposition fighting against the regime. Events in Syria threaten the vital national security interests of the United States; however, the committee remains concerned that it does not have a comprehensive understanding of the resources required for certain courses of action that could shape the outcome of the conflict in Syria. Therefore, the committee directs the Secretary of Defense to provide a briefing to the House Committee on Armed Services by September 1, 2013, that includes an assessment of the resources required for the following courses of actions:
(1) Conducting limited air strikes against runways and other infrastructure that would prevent the regime of President Bashar al-Assad from deploying fixed wing aircraft or resupply via the air;
(2) Establishing a no-fly zone over western Syria, enforced from the sea, that would prevent fixed or rotary wing aircraft from deploying or resupply via the air in that area;
(3) Creating safe zones sufficient to allow the Syrian opposition to change the military balance on the ground;
(4) Arming the Free Syrian Army with heavy military equipment to change the military balance on the ground; and
(5) Providing additional aid to Jordan and other regional allies to assist in securing all or some of the Syrian chemical weapons stockpile should it be required.
Additionally, the assessment should identify where U.S. capabilities likely would be required for each of these courses of action and the effects that such courses of action would have in supporting a range of U.S. policy objectives in Syria and the region.

Note: As part of an en bloc amendment adopted during the mark-up, the following language (offered by Garamendi, D-CA) was added at the end of Subtitle E of title XII of the bill: "Section 12__. RULE OF CONSTRUCTION. Nothing in this Act shall be construed as authorizing the use of force against Syria."

Iran in the NDAA

This section requires a report detailing U.S. efforts to "improve the interoperability of United States-Gulf Cooperation Council countries missile defense systems," and "An outline of the defense agreements with Gulf Cooperation Council countries, including caveats and restrictions on United States operations." It also must include "An outline of United States efforts in Gulf

Cooperation Council countries that are funded by overseas contingency operations funding, an explanation of overseas contingency operations funding for such efforts, and a plan to transition overseas contingency operations funding for such efforts to long-term, sustainable funding sources."

This section expands an existing report to require "a description of the strategy and structure of the global Iranian Threat Network and an assessment of the capability of such Network and how such Network operates to reinforce Iran's grand strategy" and "a description of the gaps in intelligence of the Department of Defense with respect to Iran and a prioritization of those gaps in intelligence by operational need.''

This Sense of Congress states that "maintaining only one aircraft carrier battle group in the Arabian Gulf constrains United States' options and could put at risk the ability to have diversified platforms from which to defend the Arabian Gulf and, if necessary, to conduct military operations to prevent Iran from threatening the United States, United States allies, or Iran's neighbors with nuclear weapons." Among other things, it adds that "the United States should construct and sufficiently sustain a fleet of at least eleven aircraft carriers and associated battle force ships in order to meet current and future requirements and to support at least a two aircraft carrier battle group presence in the Arabian Gulf, in addition to meeting other operational requirements" and "the United States should finalize bilateral agreements with key Gulf Cooperation Council countries that support the Defense of the Arabian Gulf requirements, at the earliest possible date."

Middle East (General) in NDAA

This section contains a Sense of Congress noting, among other things, that the Benghazi attack "highlighted the limitations of the United States military to alert, deploy, and decisively counter a no-notice terrorist attack such as the one in Benghazi, or another security contingency, due to the limitations stemming from United States military posture in Africa and the Middle East and when there is a lack of a layered defense at United States diplomatic facilities." The section requires a far-reaching report to Congress "on the posture and readiness of United States Armed Forces to respond to future terrorist attacks in Africa and the Middle East."

Note: An amendment offered by Rep. Turner (R-OH) and adopted in Committee (by a vote of 33-27) added a section entitled "ADDITIONAL MISSILE DEFENSE SITE IN THE UNITED STATES FOR OPTIMIZED PROTECTION OF THE HOMELAND." The section focuses on missile threats emanating from the Middle East and Iran, and calls for states that, "The Missile Defense Agency shall construct and make operational in fiscal year 2018 an additional homeland missile defense site capable of protecting the homeland, designed to complement existing sites in Alaska and California, to deal more effectively with the long-range ballistic missile threat from the Middle East."

Note: Another Turner (R-OH) amendment, also adopted, was entitled "Sense of Congress on the stationing of United States Forces in Europe." The section focuses on terror threats in the EUCOM area of operations and links these to the Arab Spring (in which Turner includes Mali), which he notes has "presented emerging strategic challenges that present significant implications for regional stability, the security of the State of Israel (Israel), and the national security interests of the United States and many European allies." The resolved clauses note, among other things, that "an enduring United States presence and engagement across Europe and Eurasia provides the critical access and infrastructure necessary to accomplish United States strategic priorities, expand United States global reach in Europe, Eurasia, the Middle East, Africa, as well as the Mediterranean and Atlantic oceans, and facilitates a rapid United States response for complex contingencies..."

Yemen in the NDAA

This section includes language entitled "REPEAL OF AUTHORITY TO BUILD THE CAPACITY OF CERTAIN COUNTERTERRORISM FORCES IN YEMEN AND EAST AFRICA," repealing Section 1203 of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2013 (Public Law 112-239; 126 Stat. 1980).

Note: As part of an en bloc amendment adopted during the markup, a new section was added to the bill (via language offered by Rep Veasey, D-TX), entitled "REPORT ON CAPABILITY OF YEMENI GOVERNMENT TO DETAIN, REHABILITATE, AND PROSECUTE INDIVIDUALS DETAINED AT GUANTANAMO WHO ARE TRANSFERRED TO YEMEN" (self-explanatory).

3. Hearings/Briefings

June 12: The House Foreign Affairs Committee's Subcommittee on the Middle East and North Africa will hold a hearing entitled, "American NGOs Under Attack in Morsi's Egypt." Scheduled witnesses are Lorne Craner (IRI), Charles Dunne (Freedom House), Joyce Barnathan (International Center for Journalists) and Ken Wollack (NDI).

June 5: The House Foreign Affairs Committee's Subcommittee on the Middle East and North Africa held a hearing entitled "A Crisis Mismanaged: Obama's Failed Syria Policy." Witnesses were: Tony Badran, FDD (statement); Danielle Pletka, AEI (statement); and Jon Alterman, CSIS (statement). Subcommittee Chairwoman Ros-Lehtinen's (R-FL) opening statement is available here. Video of the full hearing is available here.

June 5: Rep. McDermott (D-WA) hosted a staff briefing on The Iran Project's latest report, "Strategic Options for Iran: Balancing Pressure with Diplomacy." Ambassadors William Luers, At the briefing, Tom Pickering and Frank Wisner discussed diplomatic solutions to Iran's threat to global security in light of ineffective U.S. sanctions.

June 4: The Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs held a hearing entitled, "Iran Sanctions: Ensuring Robust Enforcement, and Assessing Next Steps." Video of the full hearing is available here. Witnesses were: David Cohen, Under Secretary of the Treasury for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence (testimony); Wendy Sherman, Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs (testimony) and Eric Hirschhorn, Under Secretary of Commerce for Industry and Security (testimony). Chairman Johnson's (D-SD) opening statement is available here. Ranking member Crapo's (R-ID) statement is available here. Sen. Corker (R-TN) released his statement in a press release entitled, "U.S. Sanctions on Iran Should Target Regime, Maintain International Consensus on Isolating Iran." Sen. Warren (D-MA) released her statement (along with video) in a press release entitled, "Sen. Warren Stresses Importance of Structuring Iran Sanctions to Encourage Negotiation."

4. Members on the Record

Cruz (R-TX) 6/5: Statement slamming Samantha Power's nomination as UN Ambassador, bashing Power for (at the top of the list) being "yet another Obama nominee who has been sharply critical of our nation's strong support of Israel."
Poe (R-TX) 6/5: Denouncing the Conviction by an Egyptian Criminal Court of 43 Foreign NGO Workers and stating: "Egypt takes millions of American dollars every year while persecuting American freedom fighters. It is time for some accountability"
Sen. Paul (R-TX) 6/5: Denouncing the Conviction by an Egyptian Criminal Court of 43 Foreign NGO Workers and calling for an end to U.S. aid to Egypt
Smith (D-WA) 6/5: In his opening statement at the House Armed Services Committee's markup of the FY 2014 Nation Defense Authorization Act, he noted that "The bill also supports strong cooperation with our allies and partners to safeguard international and regional security, including an increase of over $200 million for missile defense cooperation with Israel..."
Engel (D-NY) 6/5: Ranking Member Eliot Engel Statement on Renewed Exceptions for Buyers of Iranian Oil [not happy about the exceptions]
Casey (D-PA) 6/4: Casey to EU: Designate Hezbollah as a Terrorist Organization
Menendez (D-FL)Leahy (D-VT)Engel (D-NY) Royce (R-CA)Casey (D-PA)Granger (R-TX), Hoyer (D-MD)/Cantor (R-VA), Price (D-NC), 6/4: Denouncing the Conviction by an Egyptian Criminal Court of 43 Foreign NGO Workers (also see Round-Up of statements here)
Rubio (R-FL) 6/4: Denouncing the Conviction by an Egyptian Criminal Court of 43 Foreign NGO Workers and touting plans to introduce "comprehensive legislation that would ensure that U.S. assistance to Egypt reflects our values as well as our interests"
Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) 6/4: Denouncing the Conviction by an Egyptian Criminal Court of 43 Foreign NGO Workers and suggesting that aid to Egypt should end (Spanish version here)
McCain (R-AZ), Graham (R-SC), and Ayotte (R-NH) 6/4: Denouncing the Conviction by an Egyptian Criminal Court of 43 Foreign NGO Workers and arguing that "Congress must conduct a comprehensive review of U.S. assistance to Egypt"
Wolf (R-VA) 6/4: Denouncing the conviction by an Egyptian court of U.S. NGO workers, and ending with a call to action: "I call on President Obama and Secretary of State Kerry to personally raise this travesty of justice with the Egyptian President, Mr. Morsi, and I would urge every Member of the House and Senate to send a letter to the Egyptian Government protesting what took place yesterday in Cairo."
Culberson (R-TX) 6/4: In the course of a floor discussion of NATO funding, Culberson noted: "...while I share the gentleman's passion to cut the deficit and the debt, let's save it for cutting the United Nations and foreign aid, other than for Israel. I'm wearing proudly my pin of the two lone star States, the State of Texas and the State of Israel. Except for our funding for the great State of Israel, which we need to preserve and protect, I look forward to helping the gentleman cut foreign aid and cut funding for the United Nations, but not for NATO."
Portman (R-OH) 6/4: Statement touting co-sponsoring of the Iran Sanctions Loophole Elimination Act (S. 892)
Hoeven (R-ND) and Blumenthal (D-CT) 6/4: Spoke on the Senate floor in support of their resolution, S. Res. 154 (related to Iranian elections and democracy) and urged colleagues to co-sponsor.
Royce (R-CA) 6/3: Press release - Royce Statement on White House Announcement of Additional Iran Sanctions
Murphy (D-CT) 6/3: Urging President Obama to sign the UN international Arms Trade Treaty, arguing that "It is time to come together to stop the illicit arms trade that has brought devastation and horror to places like Mali, the Balkans, Israel, and Mexico."
McCaul (R-TX) 6/3: Urging President Obama not to sign the UN small arms treaty because, among other things, it could "make it difficult for the U.S. to support allies, such as Israel."
Casey (D-PA) 5/31: Casey Statement on Russia Delivering Missile to Assad
Menendez (D-FL) 5/31: Menendez Statement on the Sanctioning of Companies Helping Iran Evade Sanctions
Deutch (D-FL) 5/31: Congressman Deutch Commends Administration Decision to Promote Free Flow of Information to Iranian People
Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) 5/30: Promising $4 Billion to the Palestinians While U.S. Economy Suffers is Absurd and Has Never Gotten Us Closer to Peace (Spanish version here)
Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) 5/30: 500-Page Indictment by AMIA Bombing Prosecutor Reveals Troubling Extent of Iran's Infiltration into Latin America (Spanish version here)
Warner (D-VA) 5/30: Press release about his visit to Israel, meetings with Israeli officials, and Iron Dome site visit, plus trip to Egypt and Djibouti
Menendez (D-FL) 5/29: Press release - Chairman Robert Menendez Meets with Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu (transcript of statements by Menendez and Netanyahu)
Kaine (D-VA) 5/29: Kaine at the UN, Meets with Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon & Ambassador Susan Rice, discussion of ongoing conflict in Syria and other global challenges
Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) 5/26: Statement about UAE (and Iran), after leading trip to UAE and Afghanistan
Grayson (D-FL) 5/24: Press release on Grayson amendments to Iran sanctions bill (HR 850)
Cotton (R-AR) 5/23: First-person blog post defending his "Corruption of Blood" amendment to HR 850

5. From the Press/Blogs

Times of Israel 6/7: Kerry quietly approves $1.3 billion in arms to Egypt
Reuters 6/6: Lawmakers in new drive to slash Iran's oil sales to a trickle
Times of Israel 6/6: Major pro-Israel group [NORPAC] endorses Booker for Senate
The Cable 6/6: Reps. Ed Royce and Eliot Engel dispatch aides near Syrian border
Jerusalem Post 6/5: Congressmen urges US to move embassy to J'lem
Al-Monitor 6/5: Republican Congressman King Opposes US Arms to Syrian Rebels
JTA 6/4: When Kerry says 'both sides,' AIPAC says the Palestinians [to the Hill]
JTA 6/4: Was Frank Lautenberg sufficiently pro-Israel?
Jerusalem Post 5/29: Committing to Israel's qualitative military edge (Op-ed by Reps. Schneider, D-IL, and Collins, R-GA)
Jerusalem Post 6/3: US, Israeli, EU lawmakers to call for united J'lem
Long Island Press 5/31: Republican bill uses Iran as bogeyman to benefit Big Oil donors and neuter environmental law
Counterpunch 5/31: Note to John Kerry: Get Israeli Peace Leaders Before Congress (by Ralph Nader)
JTA 5/30: Why the ZOA hearts Rand Paul
The Jewish Press 5/29: Staunch Israel Supporter Rep. Bachmann Calls it Quits
The Cable 5/28: Who knew about McCain's secret trip to Syria?
Politico 5/28: Hill break allows global focus, travel
Haaretz 5/27: Turbulent Middle East will only strengthen U.S.-Israel alliance (op-ed by Sen. Menendez, D-NJ)
The Jewish Press 5/27: Sane at Last: ZOA Urging Enthusiastic Congress to Curb Arab Aid [detailed report on ZOA Hill meetings that week, including member quotes and ZOA agenda]
JTA 5/26: ZOA lobbies against Palestinian aid, for conditions on Egypt assistance
Atlantic Sentinel 5/24: Congress Seeks More Iran Sanctions, Frustrates Diplomatic Efforts