APN Legislative Round-Up: Week Ending 1/18/13

1. Bills, Resolutions & Letters
2. Key Committees/Subcommittees in the 113th Congress
3. From the Press


APN article 1/18/13: Laying Bare The Facts About Netanyahu And The Settlements
APN/Peace Now Report 1/16/13: New Peace Now Report: Netanyahu's Settlement Policy Wrecks Two-State Solution
APN article 1/17/13: Obama's Second Term and His Middle East Legacy
APN briefing call 1/17/13 with Hagit Ofran on new settlement report (audio)
Yossi Alpher for APN: Hard Questions, Tough Answers - Hard Questions, Tough Answers with Yossi Alpher: Netanyahu's three post-elections options

1. Bills, Resolutions, & Letters

(JERUSALEM) HR 252: Introduced 1/15/13 by Chaffetz (R-UT) and no cosponsors, the "Jerusalem Embassy and Recognition Act of 2013." Referred to the House Committee on foreign Affairs. Inexplicably, this bill is identical to HR 104, introduced on 1/3/13 by Garrett (R-NJ) and no cosponsors. It is not clear why Chaffetz re-introduced the same bill two weeks later, but seems to hint at some amateur antics on this issue. Notably, on 1/9/12, Rep. Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), now the chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee's Middle East Subcommittee, issued a statement arguing that Congress must pass HR 104 (and HR 300, below) "to continue to support Israel."

(US VISAS FOR ISRAELIS) HR 300: Introduced 1/15/13 by Rep. Sherman (D-CA) and 50 cosponsors, "To provide for the inclusion of Israel in the visa waiver program, and for other purposes." Referred to House committee. Status: Referred to the House Committee on the Judiciary. In the past, Israel has not qualified for the visa waiver program, in part because of the high rate of Israelis overstaying their U.S. tourist visas. Reporting on introduction of HR 300 from Haaretz, here. As noted in the 5/25/12 edition of the Round-Up (in the context of the introduction of HR 5850, on the same topic), "This is not the first time Congress has sought to add Israel to the visa waiver program (see the 2007 reporting in the JTA and the Jerusalem Post). Adding Israel to the program has in the past been problematic, based on the fact that Israel didn't qualify because the visa refusal rate is too high. Israelis coming to the U.S. on tourist visas - and then staying on to live/work in the U.S. illegally - is such a serious problem that last year the U.S. embassy in Tel Aviv produced avideo warning Israelis against doing so (read about it here). More reporting this time around: Ynet. As noted above, on 1/9/12, Rep. Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), now the chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee's Middle East Subcommittee, issued a statement arguing that Congress must pass HR 300 (as well as HR 104) "to continue to support Israel."

(EGYPT) HR 276: Introduced 1/15/13 by Rep. Buchanan (R-FL) and 4 cosponsors, "To prohibit United States assistance to the country of Egypt." Referred to the House Committee on Foreign Affairs. Notably, this bill does not make assistance to Egypt contingent on the character or behavior of the Egyptian government, or on its attitude toward Israel and the Camp David peace treaty, or on anything else. Similarly, the bill offers no whereas clauses justifying or explaining the ban on assistance, and includes no conditions under which the ban would end. It simply seeks to bar any U.S. assistance, in any form, apparently forever.

(MIDEAST RELIGIOUS FREEDOM) HR 301: Introduced 1/15/13 by Wolf (R-VA) and 8 cosponsors, "To provide for the establishment of the Special Envoy to Promote Religious Freedom of Religious Minorities in the Near East and South Central Asia." Referred to the House Committee on Foreign Affairs. Wolf's statement on the introduction of HR 301 is available here.

2. Key Committees/Subcommittees in the 113th Congress

A full listing of committee/subcommittee members (announced thus far) in the 113th Congress is available here (House) and here (Senate). Key committees are:

House Foreign Affairs Committee (HFAC)
Chair: Royce (R-CA)
Ranking Member: Engel (D-NY)
Full member list here.
Further reading from the Cable: House Foreign Affairs Democratic leadership set and New House Foreign Affairs Committee takes shape

HFAC's Middle East and South Asian Subcommittee
Chair: Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL)
Ranking Member: Deutch (D-FL)
Full subcommittee member list here.
Note: Deutch beat out Sherman (D-CA) for the senior Democratic position on the subcommittee. Sherman, it should be recalled, beat veteran HFAC leader Howard Berman is the last election, after Berman was endorsed by much of the House Democratic caucus. For details, see this report in Roll Call: Deutch Outmaneuvers Sherman for Top Democratic Spot on Middle East Panel. As noted in the article, Sherman also lost out to Engel for leadership of the full committee. Also see this post in the Hill: Pro-Israel hawk gets top spot on House Foreign Affairs's new Middle East panel.

House Appropriations Committee (HAC)
Chair: Rogers (R-KY)
Ranking Member: Lowey (D-NY)
Full committee membership here.
Further reading on Lowey's ascent to ranking member, here.

HAC, Foreign Operations Subcommittee
Chair: Granger (R-TX)
Ranking Member: not yet available
Full GOP subcommittee membership here
Further reading: Wasserman-Schultz (D-FL), 1/16/13: Wasserman Schultz Secures Coveted Subcommittee Seats (including on Appropriations ForOps Subcommittee)

Senate Foreign Relations Committee (SFRC)
Chair: Expected to be Menendez (D-NJ) - see reporting here; welcomed by Ros-Lehtinen, here.
Ranking Member: Corker (R-TN)
Full Democratic membership here.
Reporting on Republican membership here.

Senate Appropriations Committee (SAC)
Chair: Mikulski (D-MD)
Ranking Member: Cochran (R-MS)
Full committee membership here.

SAC Foreign Operations Subcomittee
Chair: Leahy (D-VT)
Ranking Member: Graham (R-SC)
Full committee membership here.
Further reading: The Hill 1/9/13: Leahy Says He'll Have Stronger Hand Over U.S. Foreign Aid

3. From the Press

Note: On 1/8/13 the Congressional Research Service released a new report: Israel: 2013 Elections Preview

The NY Jewish Week 1/16/13: Hagel Backed By Pro-Israel Leaders In Congress
Politico 1/16/13: Rand Paul: Israel aid cuts shouldn't be drastic
The Hill 1/14/13: Hagel to meet Schumer to discuss Iran, Israel
Roll Call 1/14/13: Outside Groups Spent Big on Congressional Travel
("The American Israel Education Foundation spent more than $650,000 last year -- more than any other group -- to send more than 60 lawmakers and staffers to Israel for tours of Jerusalem, seminars on Israeli politics and discussions of asymmetric warfare, according to congressional travel filings. The foundation's main purpose is to fund these 'educational seminars to Israel for members of Congress and other political influentials,' according to its mission statement, which was emailed to CQ Roll Call by a representative from the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, its affiliated lobbying organization.)
Jerusalem Post 1/13/13: Colin Powell defends Hagel as 'supporter of Israel'
The Hill 1/12/13: Foreign policy battle between McCain, Rand Paul to hit Senate committee
The Hill 1/10/13: Poll shows partisan divide over Israel that could dominate Hagel nomination
The Cable 1/10/12: New Progressive Foreign Policy Alliance Backs Hagel
JTA 1/10/13: Jerusalem embassy, visa perennials reintroduced in Congress
The Hill 1/8/13: GOP Rep. Wolf Calls for Ending Tunisian Aid After Release of Benghazi Suspect
AP 1/7/13: In 1st visit to Israel, Republican Senator Rand Paul calls for gradual reduction of aid
The Hill 1/7/13: Rand Paul to Israel: "It will be harder to be a friend if we are out of money"
The Cable 1/7/13: Rand Paul 'open-minded' on Hagel
The Lakewood Scoop 1/4/13: Agudath Israel Representatives Show Support for the 113th Congress