Legislative Round-Up- October 20, 2023

Produced by the Foundation for Middle East Peace in cooperation with Americans for Peace Now, where the Legislative Round-Up was conceived.

1.Bills, Resolutions
2. Letters
3. Hearings & Markups
4. Selected Media & Press releases/Statements

NOTE: Once again this week, given the scope and pace of current events — the absolute horror show of Hamas’s attack on Israel and the Israel reaction which at this point is clearly incipient genocide/ethnic cleansing — and given the for the most part morally reprehensible responses from members of Congress in terms of a non-stop stream of dehumanization of Palestinian civilians and support/celebration of military action targeting them, there is no “On the Record” section this week, and only an abbreviated Media section. Check members accounts on X or their websites for yourself if you want to see what they are saying. In general, if they are Democrats the message remains: total support for/solidarity with Israel in its campaign and zero concern for even the existence of Palestinian civilians or what Israel is doing to them. From Republicans, it is largely the same, plus an almost universal narrative connecting the Hamas attack to Iran and implicitly or explicitly making the case for war against (and regime change in) Iran (and some Democrats are on these same talking points). Plus this week we have the added demonization – from both sides of the aisle – of Jewish Americans and members of Congress who dare to call for a ceasefire or to defend Palestinian rights. It is all just soul-crushing to follow, let alone to try to document comprehensively while also following the actual horror-show of genocide unfolding on the ground.

New from FMEP:

1. Bills, Resolutions & letters

Note: With no House Speaker, legislation continues to be introduced in the House but for now, that’s it (as in, it’s bills are not even being referred to committees. Total standstill).

Calling for ceasefire (gasp, how could they! damn these vicious antisemites to hell!)
Support Israel/Israelis/Israeli-Americans/Americans in Israel
  • (TWO-FER – TAKE $$ FROM GAZA, GIVE TO ISRAEL) S.  3083 (pdf): Introduced 10/19/23 by Hagerty (R-TN) and 11 cosponsors (all Republicans), “A bill to reallocate funding originally appropriated for Gaza to grants to Israel for the Iron Dome short-range rocket defense system,” aka, the “Emergency Resupply for Iron Dome Act of 2023.” Referred to the Committee on Foreign Relations.  Also see: Hagerty, Colleagues Introduce Legislation to Resupply Israel’s Iron Dome Missile Defense Also worth noting: Hagerty previously introduced this legislation in 2021 (as in, defunding Gaza and giving the money to Israel has been his goal since long before the 10/7/23 Hamas attack on Israel)
  • (BIDEN – YOU SUCK FOR NOT DOING MORE TO HELP AMERICANS IN ISRAEL) H. Res. 797: — Introduced 10/19/23 by Mills (R-FL) and 18 cosponsors (all Republicans), “Condemning the Biden Administration for failing to fulfill the United States Government’s duty to American citizens left stranded in Israel.
  • (WE STAND WITH ISRAEL) S. Res. 417: Introduced 10/19/23 by Schumer (D-NY), “A resolution standing with Israel against terrorism.” Agreed to by a vote of 97-0.
  • (BLOCKING $$ FOR US-IRAN PRISONER EXCHANGE; CONDITIONING ALL FUTURE UNFREEZING OF IRAN ASSETS ON IRAN COMPENSATING ISRAEL FOR COSTS OF CURRENT WAR; CONFISCATE IRAN’S FROZEN ASSETS AND USE THEM TO FUND MORE ISRAELI ASSISTANCE) S. 3081:  Introduced 10/18/23 by Daines (R-MT), “A bill to authorize additional assistance to Israel using assets confiscated from Iran, and for other purposes.”  Rreferred to the Committee on Foreign Relations. This appears to be the Senate version of HR 5932 (text), introduced 10/11/23 by Schweikert (R-AZ) and 11 cosponsors (all Republicans), and with the short title, the “Fortify Israel Act.”
  • (REIMBURSE AMCITS FOR COSTS OF LEAVING ISRAEL DUE TO WAR) HR 5965: Introduced 10/17/23 by Smith (R-NJ) and Manning (D-NC), “To amend the State Department Basic Authorities Act of 1956 to provide for an exemption of reimbursement for certain travel to return to the United States, and for other purposes.” This legislation would mandate that the U.S. not require Americans who take out loans from the US government to cover the costs of flights out of Israel in the context of the current conflict do not have to pay back those loand (the bill provide this benefit exclusively to this specific group of Americans, and not Americans who now or in the future might be fleeing any other conflict in the world; arguably it also does not apply to Americans in the West Bank and Gaza Strip who might be fleeing the current war).  Also see: Smith introduces legislation to reimburse Americans for cost of flights out of Israeli war zones
  • (AUMF TO SUPPORT ISRAEL IN CASE OF WAR WITH IRAN) HR XXXX: Take note of this 10/16/23 X-post from Manu Raju, CNN Chief Congressional Correspondent — “House Foreign Affairs Chairman Michael McCaul is drafting legislation ‘in the event it’s necessary’ to authorize the use of US military force in case Israel war broadens into a wider proxy war with Iran.   “I hope I never have to mark this bill up,” he said, per @FossumSamuel
Targeting Hamas
  • (DECLARE HAMAS GUILTY OF GENOCIDE/CRIMES AGAINST HUMANITY/WAR CRIMES) McCaul letter State Dept: On 10/19/23, Rep. McCaul (R-TX) sent a letter to SecState Blinken and US Ambassador-at-Large for Global Criminal Justice Beth Van Schaack, stating (among other things): I call upon the Department of State to join me in issuing a clear and unambiguous declaration that Hamas has committed acts of genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes against the Jewish people and the State of Israel. Indeed, all parties to conflict must act in accordance with international law. [emphasis added, given that this statement underscores the fact that in the eyes of Congress, it appears that everything Israel is doing to civilians in Gaza — which international law experts increasingly are openly calling war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide — is to be considered a-ok under international]. Also see: McCaul Declares Hamas Committed Acts of Genocide, Crimes Against Humanity, War Crimes — Calls Upon State Department To Determine Same
  • (CONDEMNING HAMAS/WE STAND WITH ISRAEL!) H. Res. 789: Introduced 10/16/23 by Van Drew (R-NJ), “Condemning the heinous actions of Hamas and affirming the support of the United States for Israel’s right to exist and defend itself.
Targeting all Palestinians & those who defend Palestinian rights and targeting free speech in the U.S.
  • (BARRING US AID – EMERGENCY & OTHER – TO PALESTINIANS IN GAZA) HR 5996 (text): Introduced 10/19/23 by Kustoff (R-TN) and 2 Republican cosponsors, “To prohibit any direct or indirect United States funding for the territory of Gaza unless certain conditions are met“, aka the ‘‘Stop Taxpayer Funding of Hamas Act’’.  The bill would bar any U.S. funding for Gaza (including humanitarian aid) unless the President can certify that such funds won’t benefit any FTO or anyone associated with an FTO AND that all Israeli hostages in Gaza has first been freed.  It would also bar US funding to Gaza via any UN entity or office, unless the president certifies that “such entity or office is not encouraging or teaching anti-Israel or anti-Semitic ideas or propaganda.” Also see: Reps. Kustoff, Miller, Lawler Introduce Bill Urging Biden to Confirm No Aid Will Go to Hamas
  • (ATTACKING US SCHOOLS & STUDENTS FOR ENGAGING IN/ALLOWING PROTEST IN SUPPORT OF PALESTINIANS IN GAZA; ACCUSING THEM OF ENDANGERING JEWISH STUDENTS & SUPPORTING/ENGAGING IN ANTISEMITISM) H. Res. 798: Introduced 10/19/23 by Owens (R-UT) and 52 cosponsor (all Republicans), “Condemning the support of Hamas, Hezbollah, and other terrorist organizations at institutions of higher education, which may lead to the creation of a hostile environment for Jewish students, faculty, and staff.”
  • (NO FUNDS FOR PALESTINIANS) HR 5986: Introduced 10/18/23 by Mast (R-FL), “To prohibit funds for the Palestinian-controlled West Bank or Gaza.”
  • **IHRA DEFINITION ALERT!*** (DE-FUND US UNIVERSITIES THAT PERMIT PROTESTS OF ISRAEL/PROTESTS FOR PALESTINIAN RIGHTS VIA LEGISLATING THE IHRA DEFINITION OF ANTISEMITISM) S. 3078: Introduced 10/18/23 by Scott (R-FL) and 4 cosponsors  (all Republicans), “A bill to amend the Higher Education Act of 1965 to prohibit institutions of higher education that authorize Anti-Semitic events on campus from participating in the student loan and grant programs under title IV of such Act.” This bill would legislate the IHRA definition of antisemitism, including its examples, into law as the basis for stripping campuses of labeling criticism of Israel as antisemitism and punishing campuses for it.  Referred to the Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions. Also see: Senator Tim Scott Introduces Legislation to Defund Colleges and Universities that Promote Antisemitism. NOTE: S. 3078 is the Senate companion to HR 3773, Introduced 5/31/23 by Lawler (R-NY) and currently having 17 cosponsors (18 Republican + Gottheimer, D-NJ – because of course). That bill – introduced after a campaign of rage/retribution against a law student for a graduation speech that included criticism of Israel – was covered in detail in the 6/2/23 edition of the Round-Up. Also see: Tim Scott wants to defund colleges over anti-Israel statements: ‘Hits them where it hurts’ (WFIN 10/19/23)
  • (GOING ON A WITCH HUNT! DEPORT FOREIGNERS IN THE US WHO CRITICIZE ISRAEL/DEFEND PALESTINIANS) H. Res. 796/S. Res. 413 (text): Introduced 10/18/23 in the House by Gonzales (R-TX) and in the Senate by Rubio (R-FL) and 11 cosponsors (all Republicans), “Condemning foreign nationals in the United States who have endorsed and espoused the actions of foreign terrorist organizations (FTO) in Gaza who, on October 7, 2023, launched attacks against the State of Israel, and killed innocent Israeli and United States citizens.” Referred to the Senate Committee on the Judiciary. To be clear: the intent behind this legislation, as reflected in its “whereas” clauses, is to target not merely people who espouse support for Hamas or any other FTO, but to target all protests of Israeli policies/actions, explicitly putting in the same category support for Hamas and criticism of Israel and anti-Zionism: “Whereas students at our most elite colleges an  universities, including foreign nationals, have celebrated this pogrom and blamed the Jews for their own slaughter at the hands of a savage enemy; Whereas Hamas called for a ‘Day of Rage’ on October 13, 2023, and some individuals in the United States have responded to this call and incited others to endorse and espouse Hamas’ actions against Israeli and American civilians; Whereas there have been violent, anti-Semitic, pro-Hamas riots in the streets of South Florida, Washington, D.C., New York City, Pittsburgh, Portland, Los Angeles, and other cities; Whereas individuals, including foreign nationals, participating in these riots have made calls for intifada, decolonization, jihad, and other similar calls to eliminate the State of Israel…” Also see: Rubio, Colleagues Call on Biden to Enforce Existing Law, Revoke Visas of Hamas Sympathizers NOTE: On 10/15/23, Rubio sent a letter to Blinken (discussed below) making this same demand and promising legislation to back it up.
  • (IRAN SANCTIONS) HR 5994: Introduced 10/19/23 by Issa (R-CA) and no cosponsors, “To provide for full enforcement of oil sanctions against Iran, and for other purposes.”
  • (FREEZE IRANIAN FUNDS TO HAVE BEEN RELEASED IN PRISONER EXCHANGE DEAL) HR 6000: Introduced 10/19/23 by Nunn (R-IA) and 1 cosponsor (Republican), “To freeze $6,000,000,000 of Iranian funds held in Qatar, and for other purposes.”
  • (FREEZE IRANIAN $$ IN PRISONER EXCHANGE DEAL) HR 5961: Introduced 10/16/23 by McCaul (R-TX) and 25 cosponsors (all Republicans), “To freeze certain Iranian funds involved in the 2023 hostage deal between the United States and Iran, and for other purposes.
  • (TO REINSTATE IRAN SANCTIONS) S. 3041: Introduced 10/16/23 by Cotton (R-AR) and 30 cosponsors (19 Republicans plus Manchin, D-WV), “A bill to reinstate certain sanctions imposed with respect to Iran.”  Referred to the Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs. Also see: Rep. Cotton introduces bill to reinstate Iran sanctions (Jewish News Syndicate 10/17/23)


2. Letters

We Love Israel & Applaud Biden’s Policy in Support of Israel’s War on Gaza

  • (WE SUPPORT BIDEN’s [incoherent] MIDDLE EAST POLICY) Nadler et al letter to Biden: On 10/20/23, Rep. Nadler (D-NY) led a letter, cosigned by “every Democratic Jewish Member and 107 other Democrats in Congress” to Biden to thank him for his ” strong leadership during a tragic and dangerous moment in the Middle East.” The letter goes on: “We stand with you in supporting Israel and are ready to provide whatever assistance the state and people of Israel need to defend themselves and to ensure that hostages return home and those who perpetrated these crimes against humanity are held accountable.” The signer also praise Biden’s readiness to send humanitarian aid to Palestinians in Gaza (readiness that makes very little sense absent a ceasefire or humanitarian pause), and to repeat what is at this point a comically – and painfully – empty formula of U.S. policy: “We agree with you that Israel’s response must be in accordance with international law and our shared democratic values.” Honestly, the rest of the letter is just to annoying to report on – read it yourself you can stomach this level of BS. Also see: Majority of House Democrats, Led By Jewish Members, Unified Behind President Biden’s Leadership in the Middle East

Targeting Palestinians & Their Supporters in the US, Esp. Students & Universities

  • (DEPORT FOREIGN CRITICS OF ISRAEL/DEFENDERS OF PALESTINIANS, ESPECIALLY STUDENTS) Banks et al letter to Blinken & Mayorkas: On 10/20/23, Rep. Banks (R-SC) led a letter, cosigned by 17 cosponsors (all Republicans), to SecState Blinken and Homeland Security Secretary Mayorkas, “to request information regarding the potentially unlawful presence on U.S. soil of non-immigrant foreign nationals who have endorsed terrorist activity.” The letter focuses on campus protests links to Israel’s actions in Gaza, characterizing them as support for Hamas, a U.S. designated foreign terrorist organization, and arguing that participating in protests for Palestinian rights and opposing Israeli actions therefore violate U.S. law, and visas for people engaging in such activities should be revoked (and those visa-holders should be deported). The letter asks for answers, by Nov. 7, to two questions: “Does your Department have reason to believe that any current F1, J1, H1, or other non-immigrant visa holders have been rendered ineligible as a result of ‘endorsing or espousing’ terrorist activity by Hamas?” and “Has your Department moved to review or revoke the visas of any such individuals and place the holder into expedited removal proceedings?” Also see: Representatives Jeff Duncan and Jim Banks Call for Deportation of Non-Citizen Terrorist Sympathizers
  • (DEPORT FOREIGNERS IN THE US WHO SUPPORT PALESTINIANS) Rubio et al letter to Blinken: On 10/19/23, Sen. Rubio (R-FL) let a letter, cosigned by 4 fellow House Republicans, to SecState Blinken, asserting that participation in demonstrations in support of Palestinian rights falls under the legal definition of giving material support for terrorist activity, and therefore foreigners in the U.S. who have participated in such protests must have their visas revoked and must be deported. It also calls on officials in U.S. universities to “be required to immediately report pro-Hamas, or related activity [emphasis added], whether on campus or not” and for such activity to be treated as “a disqualifier for continued possession of a visa or lawful status as a student or exchange visitor.” It also demands that any academic institutions that “has officially supported, endorsed, or espoused Hamas or its recent activities, whether by issuing official statements, allowing pro-Hamas demonstrations on campus, or officially recognizing or providing financial assistance to student groups that support Hamas” be made ineligible to sponsor visas under the Depart of Homeland Security’s Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP). The letter also notes that Hamas is a designated terrorist group and states: “We ask that you coordinate with the U.S. Department of Justice National Security Division and the U.S. Department of Treasury Office of Terrorism and Financial Intelligence to take action against any institution of higher education that recognizes, or provides financial assistance to, student groups, including but not limited to ‘Students for Justice in Palestine,’ and other similar front organizations” [yes, this letter in effect describes SJP as a Hamas “front” organization]. As a reminder, the current public narrative, ANY public speech or demonstrations in support of Palestinians in Gaza and challening Israel’s actions against them are characterized by defenders of Israel as “pro-Hamas.”  Also see: Rubio, Colleagues Urge Removal of Hamas and Terrorist Supporters
  • (ATTACKING DHS FOR HAVING “PRO-HAMAS” SPOKESWOMAN) Hawley letter to Mayorkas: On 10/19/23, Sen. Hawley (R-MO) sent a letter to Homeland Security Mayorkas calling for the termination of DHS employee, Nejwa Ali. The letter states: “I am alarmed by reports that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) currently employs a former spokeswoman for the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) as an officer charged with adjudicating U.S. immigration cases. According to reports and publicly available records, this employee, Nejwa Ali, has a documented history of making virulently antisemitic, pro-Hamas statements, including in the immediate aftermath of Hamas’ savage attack on innocent American and Israeli civilians. These statements appear to cast severe doubt on her ability to impartially evaluate immigration cases. I am glad to see that she has now been placed on administrative leave—but that is not enough. If these reports are accurate, you must terminate her employment immediately.” Also see: Hawley Demands Answers from Biden DHS for Employment of Pro-Hamas Spokeswoman, Urges Firing
  • (TWO-FER: USE PALESTINIANS TO ACCUSE BIDEN OF WANTING TO FLOOD AMERICAN WITH FOREIGNERS *AND* EXPRESS ANTI-ARAB/ANTI-PALESTINIAN/ISLAMOPHOBIA BY RAILING AGAINST ANY RESETTLMENT OF GAZA REFUGEES IN THE US) Tiffany-Ogles letter to Mayorkas: On 10/16/23, Reps. Tiffany (R-WI) and Ogles (R-TN) sent a letter to Homeland Security Secretary Mayorkas, criticizing the Biden Administration for having resettled Afghans in the U.S., and asserting: “the American people do not want to see this dangerous situation repeated with Palestinians. Moreover, they deserve more than a vague assurance from a White House spokesman that the Biden administration hasn’t yet identified a legally dubious mechanism to flood American neighborhoods with foreigners from a region that is a global hotspot for Islamic terrorism.”  The letter closes: “Along those lines, we would ask that the department make an unequivocal public commitment sooner rather than later not to use ‘categorical parole’ or any other loophole to bring Palestinians into the United States.” Also see: Tiffany, Ogles Demand Answers on Biden’s Potential Plans to Resettle Palestinians into the United States
  • (OPEN A WITCH HUNT AGAINST STUDENT CRITICS OF ISRAEL, ACCUSING THEM OF BEING FINANCED BY TERRORIST ORGS) Hawley letter to Garland: On 10/16/23, Rep. Hawley (R-MO) sent a letter to Attorney General Merrick Garland, urging the Department of Justice investigate whether student groups critical of Israel and defending Palestinian rights are being funded by terrorist organization. He writes:  “…There is a long and sordid history of supposedly independent ‘human rights’ groups operating within American borders, that possess longstanding ties to foreign terrorist organizations. To name just one high-profile example, in the early 2000s, the Department of Justice shuttered the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development and jailed its founders, after finding that this supposed charitable organization was funneling money into the pockets of Hamas. It is entirely possible that many of these student organizations, at some level or another, are enmeshed in similar networks—whether as recipients of funding from these malicious actors or as conduits for it [emphasis added]. Given the potential scale of this threat, I urge you to immediately deploy DOJ resources to investigate these organizations’ funding sources. The First Amendment protects the right to protest. But it does not protect the provision of material support to terrorist organizations. Nor does it insulate financial transactions that threaten our national security. Hamas, as you are well aware, is designated a terrorist organization pursuant to section 219 of the Immigration and Nationality Act. DOJ should deploy all appropriate authorities to investigate any potential links to organizations that operate within the United States.” Also see: Hawley Urges DOJ Investigate Outside Funding of Far-Left, Anti-Israel Student Groups; Hawley Pushes Mayorkas to Address ‘Terrorist-Linked Aliens’ at Border Following Hamas Attack in Israel; Hawley: Who Is Funding Student Groups Conducting Anti-Israel Protests? (Breitbart 10/13/23)
  • (FIND & DEPORT FOREIGNER STUDENTS WHO CRITICIZE ISRAEL/SUPPORT PALESTINIANS) Cotton letter to Mayorkas: On 10/16/23, Sen. Cotton (R-AR) sent a letter to Homeland Security Secretary Mayorkas urging him to “immediately deport any foreign national—including and especially any alien on a student visa—that has expressed support for Hamas and its murderous attacks on Israel. These fifth-columnists have no place in the United States. Federal law is clear that any alien who ‘endorses or espouses terrorist activity or persuades others to endorse or espouse terrorist activity or support a terrorist organization’ is inadmissible and must be deported. Swiftly removing and permanently barring from future reentry any foreign student who signed onto or shared approvingly the anti-Semitic letter from the Harvard Palestine Solidarity Committee [“anti-semitic” in this context refers to the letter holding Israel “entirely responsible for all of the unfolding violence“] on October 7 would be a good place to start.” Also see: Cotton to Mayorkas: Deport Any Foreign National Supporting Hamas; Sen. Cotton urges DHS to deport foreign nationals who support Hamas: ‘No place in the United States’ (New York Post 10/17/23)

Targeting Hamas

  • (BIG TECH MUST PRESERVE DATA RE: HAMAS ATTACK ON ISRAEL) Cruz et al letters to X, Meta, TikTok, and Google: On 10/20/23, Sen. Cruz (R-TX) led letters, cosigned by 10 Senate colleagues (all Republicans), sent to the leaders of X, Meta, TikTok, and Google. The letters state that “it is imperative that we preserve a full documentary history of Hamas’s atrocities. Ordinarily policies limiting the distribution of disturbing content might make sense, but videos and images uploaded by soldiers, law enforcement, citizens, journalists, and those with real time access to acts of terrorism need to be preserved to aid in prosecuting war crimes, intelligence gathering, media reporting, and the historical record. The role of social media in documenting war crimes and chronicling what happens in times of war is relatively new but highly consequential. [name of social media compan] has a responsibility not to permanently delete any of this content but to preserve it in such a way that the public record and historical record can accurately document the horrific atrocities being carried out.”  The letter goes on to demand – under what they assert is the authority they derive fromt the Standing Rules of the Senate which “provide the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation jurisdiction over technology including to ‘review and study’ technology ‘ on a continuing basis,” detailed information – to be provided no later than November 3, 2023, about each company’s: Content Policies, Preservation of Documentary Evidence of Terrorism, and Legal Obligations as relates to content related to the Hamas attack on Israel and the war that has followed. Also see: Sen. Cruz, Commerce Committee Colleagues Want Big Tech To Preserve Documentary History of Hamas’s Atrocities
  • (INVESTIGATE HAMAS CRYPTO FUNDRAISING) Warren et al letter to Biden Admin: On 10/17/23, Sen. Warren (D-MA) led a bipartisan/bicameral letter, cosigned by 104 House and Senate members, addressed to National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan and Brian Nelson, Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence at the Department of the Treasury. The letter opens: “We write to express our grave concern regarding reports that, in the months leading up to their brutal and horrific October 7th attack on Israel, Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) raised millions of dollars in crypto – evading U.S. sanctions and funding their operations. Indeed, between August 2021 and this past June, the two groups raised over $130 million in crypto, and moved millions among each other, ‘with PIJ sending over $12 million in crypto to Hezbollah since 2023. As the Wall Street Journal reports, ‘[r]esearchers who study Hamas’s financing said crypto remains one of a number of tools the group uses to raise funds.’ Given the clear and present danger posed by the financing of these and other militant organizations, we ask the Administration to provide additional details on its plan to prevent the use of crypto for the financing of terrorism.” The letter asks the Biden Administration to answer a list of questions “regarding Treasury’s plans to address the serious national security threats posed by the use of cryptocurrency to finance terrorism no later than October 31, 2023.” Also see: Warren, Marshall, Casten, 100+ Lawmakers Ask Biden Administration to Address Crypto-Financed Terrorism after Reports of Hamas Raising Millions in Crypto to Fund Operations

US Support for Israel, Including New Aid Package

  • (DON’T COMBINE ISRAEL AID WITH UKRAINE & BORDER AID) Burchett et al letter to Senate leaders: On 10/19/23, Rep. Burchett (R-TN), along with four fellow House Republicans, wrote to Senate leaders Schumer (D-NY) and McConnell (R-KY), warning them not to combine a planned aid package for Israel with funding for Ukraine and the southern border. Making clear their support for an aid package for Israel, they “encourage the Senate to reject President Biden’s misguided attempt to force through aid for Ukraine by tying it to support for the Jewish people and our nation’s security.” Also see Burchett X-post – “.@POTUS wants $60B more for Ukraine, and just $10B for Israel. We cannot endlessly fund a war that’s heading into its third year. Let these votes stand alone and see where the chips fall.” Also see: Rep. Burchett leads letter to Senate leaders to reject tying foreign aid together
  • (DON’T COMBINE ISRAEL AID WITH UKRAINE & BORDER AID) Marshall et al letter to Senate leaders: On 10/19/23, Sen. Marshall (R-KS) led a letter, cosigned by 8 Senate colleagues (all Republicans) to Senate leaders Schumer (D-NY) and McConnell (R-KY), expressing support for an aid package for Israel and noting: “we know there will no doubt be efforts to attach any funding to Israel to more aid to Ukraine, in excess of the already $113 billion Congress has provided to Ukraine. These are two separate conflicts and it would be wrong to leverage support of aid to Israel in attempt to get additional aid for Ukraine across the finish line. Furthermore, it would be irresponsible and we should not risk a government shutdown by bundling these priorities together and thus complicating the process and lessening the likelihood of a funding package. We note that 22 Members of the U.S. House of Representatives wrote to the then-leading candidates to be the next Speaker of the House urging them to deny attempts to couple these issues. We urge you to keep separate attempts to provide military aid to Israel from additional funds to Ukraine or other matters. warning them not to combine a planned aid package for Israel with funding for Ukraine and the southern border.” Also see: Senator Marshall and GOP Colleagues Demand Any Aid Package to Israel Not be Jammed With More Ukraine Funding
  • (SEND ISRAEL MORE IRON DOME & MORE MUNITIONS) Gillibrand et al letter to Biden: On 10/12/23, Sen. Gillibrand (D-NY) and 4 fellow senators plus Sinema (I-AZ) sent a letter to President Biden asking the Department of Defense to “holistically assess its stockpiles of these defense articles — especially Iron Dome interceptors — so that it can quickly transfer these munitions to Israel, upon request. We further urge the Department of Defense to coordinate ammunition transfers with allies, especially those that have joined American calls of support for Israel. Finally, we urge the Administration to quickly evaluate these stockpiles, allied commitments, and near-term Israeli needs and submit to Congress any necessary supplemental assistance packages so that Congress may act quickly to get Israel the support it needs during this crisis.” Also see: Gillibrand Leads Group Of Six Senators To Call For Replenishment Of Iron Dome And For The U.S. To Stand Ready To Provide Additional Munitions To Israel As It Defends Itself

Concern for Amcits in West Bank/Gaza

  • (CONCERN FOR AMCITS IN THE WEST BANK AND GAZA) Ramirez/Lee/Tlaib letter to SecState: On 10/18/23, Reps. Ramirez (D-IL), Lee (D-PA), and Tlaib (D-MI) sent a letter to SecState Blinken stating: “We appreciate the Department of State’s effort to keep members of Congress apprised of the situation in Israel and Palestine. Several of us attended the Bipartisan Classified Member Briefing offered on October 12, 2023. However, we are concerned about the lack of meaningful information provided by the Department on the status of civilians, particularly those in Gaza and the West Bank, and the status of American citizens in Palestine. We formally request that the Department provide a subsequent Member-level briefing specific to the status of civilians, particularly those in Gaza and the West Bank, and the status of American citizens in Israel and Palestine. We request it happen in the next 5 business days, given the urgent need for this information…” The letter includes a list of specific questions to be answered.
  • (AID AMCITS TRYING TO FLEE GAZA STRIP) Warren et al letter to Blinken & Sullivan: On 10/17/23, Sens. Warren (D-MA), Markey (D-MA), and Shaheen (D-NH) sent a letter to SecState Blinken and National Security Advisor Sullivan urging them “to do everything possible to provide assistance to U.S. citizens fleeing the Gaza Strip, including our constituents from New England.” The letter goes on: “We fully support Israel’s right to defend itself and we have called for Israel to uphold the rule of law and protect innocent civilians in Gaza. We will continue to do so. We are also concerned that our offices have received requests from multiple families from New England who are seeking assistance. These families are terrified for their lives and growing more frustrated as promises of escape through the opening of the Rafah crossing remain unfulfilled. As with all civilians in Gaza, these families’ situation only grows more concerning as Gaza runs out of food, water, fuel for hospitals, and other critical supplies [due to Israel’s policy of preventing entry into Gaza of all of those things since last week].” They call on the Biden officials to “immediately implement a plan to protect these civilians and request the State Department brief our offices as soon as possible.” Also see: Markey, Warren, and Shaheen Urge Secretary of State Blinken and National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan to do Everything Possible to Assist U.S. Citizens Fleeing Gaza Strip

YES to limited humanitarian measures in Gaza, but NO to calls for ceasefire, de-escalation, etc.

  • (WE’RE NOT CALLING FOR CEASEFIRE OR DE-ESCALATION, BUT WE CAN GET BEHIND HUMANITARIAN SUPPORT FOR PALESTINIANS AS THEY ARE GETTING BOMBED INTO OBLIVION) Murphy et al letter to Blinken: On 10/18/23, Sen. Murphy (D-CT) led a letter, cosigned by 33 fellow senators (all Democrats plus Sanders, I-VT), sent  letter to SecState Blinken “to uphold our country’s proud tradition of leading the international community in providing lifesaving relief by contributing funding for international humanitarian assistance toward this UN appeal.” The letter notably which purports to be motivated by humanitarian concerns notably does not endorse (or even mention the words) “ceasefire” or “humanitarian pause” or “de-escalation.” Indeed, the letter makes clear that the signers support Israel’s continuing military campaign in Gaza: “The United States should continue its steadfast support for Israel while also doing our part to help the UN assist innocent civilians as they flee the violence.” Also see: Senator Gillibrand Calls For Humanitarian Aid To Address Emergency Needs In Gaza
  • (EGYPT: SUPPORT SAFE ZONES/AID CORRIDOR) Moore et al letter to Egyptian Ambassador to US: On 10/18/23, Rep. Moore (R-UT) led a letter, cosigned by more than 100 colleagues (bipartisan), calling on Egypt to “strongly encourage the government of Egypt to engage constructively with the United States, Israel, and relevant international stakeholders to establish and maintain safe zones in southern Gaza, with humanitarian access corridors, for civilians seeking refuge from the fighting in the north of the Strip.” The letter praises Israel for “military operations inside Gaza are designed to avoid civilian casualties” and states: “In order to protect noncombatants and civilians in Gaza from Hamas’s brutality [emphasis added], we call on the Egyptian government to urgently work with the United States, Israel, and relevant international stakeholders to 1) take all measured and appropriate steps to support and facilitate safe zones in southern Gaza and 2) enable a steady supply of humanitarian assistance to flow from Egypt towards those in the safe zones until the civilian population is able to return to the north of the Strip. We are optimistic that the international community will participate in providing financial assistance for this humanitarian situation, but Egypt’s robust participation is essential to the success and the safety and security of up to two million Gazans who are desperately in need of such support. Further, we call upon those states that have been long-standing intermediaries for Hamas, especially Qatar and Türkiye, to help as well.” Raising  Israel-Egypt relations since the Camp David Accords, the letter closes: “We call upon your government once again to maintain this commitment to partnership and quickly take action to support civilians effectively being held hostage by Hamas.” Also see: Congressman Blake Moore Leads Letter Encouraging Egypt to Play Leadership Role, Establish Safe Zones in Southern Gaza
  • (ADDRESS HUMANITARIAN CRISIS IN THE MIDDLE EAST) Sherrill et al letter to Blinken: On 10/17/23, Reps. Sherrill (D-NJ), Houlahan (D-PA) and Moulton (D-MA) sent a letter to SecState Blinken urging “As the conflict in Gaza continues to take shape, it’s imperative that the United States, and your department, work to uphold our commitment to preventing the humanitarian situation from deteriorating further. We must continue to encourage Israel to ensure food, water, and power reach Gaza. We should continue to support Israel in meeting its stated goal of minimizing human casualties by working with the Egyptian Government to open Rafah Crossing to refugees. We should also work with both countries to ensure that refugees will be able to return home once the war is over. We can act as a convener for negotiations, as we already have with Israel and Egypt. We can send food aid and medical assistance. We can, and must, use the diplomatic tools available to us to bring the other nations in the region – Egypt, Qatar, and signatories to the Abraham Accords, among others – to the table to work towards an effective humanitarian response. The United States has the opportunity and the responsibility to assist Israel in ensuring the safety of their people and the rescue of hostages. At the same time, we must work to end Hamas’s brutal reign and protect the lives of Palestinian civilians…” Also see: Sherrill, Houlahan, Moulton Reaffirm Support for Israel and Call on Blinken to Address Humanitarian Crisis in Middle East

RESCUE HOSTAGES NOW but NO to calls for ceasefire, de-escalation, etc.

  • (BIDEN MUST DO ALL POSSIBLE TO RESCUE AMCIT HOSTAGES BUT ALSO DON’T DARE ASK ISRAEL TO STOP BOMBING GAZA, WHICH YES, MAY KILL HOSTAGES BUT SHUT UP SHUT UP ONLY AN ANTISEMITIC TERRORIST-LOVER WOULD POINT OUT THIS INCONSISTENCY) Ernst/Booker et al letter to POTUS: On 10/17/23, Sens. Ernst (R-IA) and Booker (D-NJ) led a bipartisan, bicameral letter, cosigned by 47 House and Senate members, urging to do everything in his power to secure the safe release of American citizen hostages held by Hamas. The letter states: “we urge the United States to continue supporting Israel’s urgent efforts to dismantle the threat of Hamas, provide the necessary resources for Israel’s defense, and continue offering whatever support necessary to immediately and safely rescue kidnapped Americans, with particular attention to those who require urgent medical care. Lastly, many families are painfully waiting for any update on the health of their loved ones who have been taken hostage. We urge you to encourage our allies and partners in the region to place pressure on Hamas to allow the International Committee of the Red Cross to have access to the hostages while the United States and Israel work to secure their release.” Also see: Ernst, Booker Urge President Biden to Do Everything in His Power to Rescue American Hostages

Attacks on Israel = Attacks Jews, Threats to Israel = Threats to US Jews

  • (PLAYING UP & PLAYING ON FEARS OF JEWISH AMERICANS) Ohio delegation to Ohio Jewish community: On 10/17/23, Rep. Latta (R-OH) led a letter, signed by every member of Ohio’s delegation to Congress, to the Ohio Jewish community. The letter opens: “In the wake of the barbaric terrorist attacks committed by the terrorist organization Hamas against Jewish communities in Israel [note: Hamas attacked/killed/kidnapped Jews and non-Jews alike], we as the elected United States Representatives and Senators from the state of Ohio write to reiterate our unwavering support for your safety and well-being...” Also see: Latta on X

Iran must pay!

  • (HOLD IRAN ACCOUNTABLE FOR HAMAS/HIZBALLAH SUPPORT) Tenney-Moskowitz letter to POTUS: On 10/17/23, Reps. Tenney (R-NY) and Moskowitz (D-FL) sent a letter to President Biden urging him “to hold Iran accountable for funding, training, and supporting the horrific invasion of Israel; to take direct action against the Iran-backed terror group Hamas that launched this attack; and to deter Hezbollah in Lebanon from opening a second front in the north, if they have not already.” The letter also states: “…As you know, the United States has been negotiating what would be a historic achievement: normalization between Israel and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. The Iranian regime is strongly interested in derailing the momentum toward peace between the world’s only Jewish state and the world’s most influential Arab and Islamic State…Terrorists cannot be allowed to hijack this critical peace process. There would be no clearer repudiation of this brutal Iran-backed onslaught than for Israel and Saudi Arabia to establish diplomatic relations as quickly as possible. We urge you to work to insulate Saudi-Israel diplomacy and to expedite efforts to bring about Israeli-Saudi normalization with as few extraneous demands as possible.”  Also see: Congresswoman Tenney, Congressman Moskowitz Urge President Biden to Hold Iran Accountable for Attack on Israel
  • (LINKING TO IRAN TO HAMAS, FREEZE IRAN $$ FROM PRISONER EXCHANGE DEAL) McCaul et al letter to Biden: On 10/13/23, Rep. McCaul (R-TX) led a letter to President Biden, cosigned by 19 fellow House Republicans, citing Hamas’ Oct. 7 attack on Israel, including hostage taking, and stating: “we write to urge you to take all available action to ensure the $6 billion in Iranian funds currently held in Qatar remains permanently off limits to the Iranian regime. According to your Administration, the $6 billion transferred earlier this year remains in Qatar and has not yet been spent. We implore you to ensure the money cannot be touched by Iran, under any circumstances.”  It closes: “We urge you to immediately use all tools available to permanently ensure that none of these funds can be used by Iran or for the benefit of Iran, and to fully enforce all sanctions against the regime. This would prove that hostage-taking does not pay and ensure the U.S. is taking every possible action to prevent any further Iranian support to Hamas and other terrorist groups and proxies. The entire world has been shaken by the evil that Hamas unleashed on Israel this week. This is a moment of moral clarity. After the atrocities committed this week, the only appropriate action is to cut off all financial avenues currently available to Hamas’ benefactor Iran.” Also see: McCaul Leads Letter with 19 Members of Congress to President Biden Urging the Administration to Freeze $6 Billion Payout to Iran Permanently (dated 10/17/23)
  • (WE NEED ANSWERS RE IRAN’S NUKE PROGRAM) Cramer et al letter to Blinken: On 10/11/23 Sen. Cramer (R-ND) led a letter, cosigned by 14 Senate Republicans, to SecState Blinken arguing (among other things), “As Iran violates its commitments and refuses to comply with the IAEA, your business-as-usual approach to resolving the situation is tantamount to an endorsement of the Iranian regime’s activities. Further, your failure to pursue a censure of Iran, likely in conjunction with ongoing nuclear negotiations with Iran that you continue to conceal from Congress, is simply unconscionable.” The letter requests answers to a list of questions, including demands for documents, related to the Biden Administration’s Iran policy. Also see: Sen. Cramer, Colleagues Demand Answers for Violations of Iran’s Nuclear Program


3. Hearings & Markups

October 28, 2023: The House Foreign Affairs Committee will hold a hearing entitled, “Friend and Ally: U.S. Support for Israel After Hamas’ Barbaric Attack.”  The sole announced witness is Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs Barbara Leaf.

October 25, 2023: The Senate Foreign Relations Committee will hold a business meeting to consider the nomination of Jack Lew as the new U.S. ambassador to Israel.

October 25, 2023: The House Financial Services Committee’s Subcommittee on National Security, Illicit Finance, and International Financial Institutions will hold a hearing entitled, “How America and Its Allies Can Stop Hamas, Hezbollah, and Iran from Evading Sanctions nd Financing Terror.” Schediled witnesses are: Richard Goldberg, FDD; Gabriel Noronha (JINSA),  Jason Brodsky (UANI) and Adam Zarazinski (INCA Digital). The hearing will also deal with a number of pieces of legislation related to Iran, Hamas, and Hezbollah:

  • HR 5921, “No U.S. Financing for Iran Act of 2023”, introduced 10/11/23
  • HR 5923, “Iran-China Energy Sanctions Act of 2023”, introduced 10/11/23
  • HR____, “Holding Iranian Leaders Accountable Act” [PDF]
  • H.R.___, “Iran Counterterrorism Act of 2023” [PDF]
  • H.R.___, “End Financing to Hamas Act of 2023” [PDF]
  • H.R.___, “Freezing-HAMAS Act” [PDF]
  • H.R.___, “Revoke Iranian Funding Act of 2023” [PDF]
  • H.R.___, “Iran Sanctions Accountability Act of 2023” [PDF]

October 19, 2023: The House Foreign Affairs Committee held a markup of various measures related to Iran and the Palestinians listed below. Video is here. For a report on the hearing, see: House Committee advances strongly bipartisan Hamas, Iran legislation, but not without an explosive argument – A House Foreign Affairs Committee meeting that approved bipartisan legislation relating to Iran and Hamas also devolved into a bitter partisan disagreement about the Palestinian people. Measures marked-up were:

  • HR 5826, “To require a report on sanctions under the Robert Levinson Hostage Recovery and Hostage-Taking Accountability Act, and for other purposes.”
  • HR 3774, “To impose additional sanctions with respect to the importation or facilitation of the importation of petroleum products from Iran, and for other purposes.
  • HR. 3266, “To require the Secretary of State to submit annual reports reviewing the curriculum used by the Palestinian Authority, and for other purposes.
  • H. Res. 559, “Declaring it is the policy of the United States that a nuclear Islamic Republic of Iran is not acceptable.”
  • HR 2973, “To require the Secretary of Defense to develop, in cooperation with allies and partners in the Middle East, an integrated maritime domain awareness and interdiction capability, and for other purposes.” See: House Committee Advances McMorris Rodgers Bill To Bolster Israeli Security as Hamas Wages War
  • HR 340, “To impose sanctions with respect to foreign support for terrorist organizations, including Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad.
  • H. Res. 599, “Urging the European Union to designate Hizballah in its entirety as a terrorist organization.”

October 19, 2023: The Senate Foreign Relations Committee held a hearing to consider various nominations include the nomination of Herro Mustapha to be the U.S. Ambassador to Egypt. Hearing video is here; Mustapha’s statement is here.

October 18, 2023: The Senate Foreign Relations Committee held a contentious hearing to consider the nomination of Jacob Lew to be the U.S. Ambassador to Israel.  Also see: hearing video; Lew testimonyLew appears headed for party-line confirmation vote following Senate hearing (Jewish Insider 10/19/23)

POSTPONED October 18, 2023: The House Committee on Homeland Security was scheduled to hold a hearing entitled, An Examination of the Iranian Regime’s Threats to Homeland Security. Scheduled witnesses are: Nathan Sales (former Department of State), Masih Alinejad (Author and Activist), Robert Greenway (Heritage Foundation) and Thomas  Warrick (Atlantic Council). A new date has not yet been announced.


4. Selected Media & Press releases/statements

Risch: Plan for post-Hamas Gaza a ‘work in progress’ (Jewish Insider 10/19/23)

Jamaal Bowman’s Jewish allies counter efforts to unseat him over his stances on Israel (The Forward 10/19/23)

Pro-Israel progressives begin to crack down on growing far-left extremism toward Israel (Jewish Insider 10/19/23 – broadside attack on Jewish Voice for Peace and If Not Now)

Senate pledges to move quickly on Israel aid, will not wait for House (Jewish Insider 10/18/23)

‘Resolved to Act’: Congressional Leaders Promise Jewish Organizations Full Backing for Israel (Haaretz 10/18/23)

Eileen Filler-Corn announces campaign for open House seat in Northern Virginia [“The former Virginia House Speaker plans on centering the Democratic primary campaign on her stalwart support for Israel”] (Jewish Insider 10/18/23)

As Biden visits Israel, Republicans ramp up pressure on administration (Jewish Insider 10/18/23)

Member of Iranian Influence Network To Keep Security Clearance After Pentagon Review (Free Beacon 10/18/23, excerpt: “‘The Biden administration is compromised, but they continue to shamelessly defend allowing an Iranian spy to infiltrate and work at the Pentagon, likely allowing the regime access to highly sensitive information,’ [Senator] Ernst told the Free Beacon. ‘By continuing to brush this offense under the rug instead of taking this national security threat seriously by suspending Tabatabai’s security clearance, the Biden administration doubles down on its appeasement strategy that has already emboldened Iran and its terrorist proxies.'” – Bottom line: critics of the Biden Admin’s Iran policy demanded an review of Tabatabai’s security clearance, and got one, and are now outraged that it didn’t come to the conclusion they demanded)

Under indictment, Sen. Menendez won’t attend classified briefing on Israel (Washington Post 10/17/23)

Majority Leader Schumer Floor Remarks On President Biden’s Trip To Israel And The Importance Of Passing A Strong Aid Package For Israel As Soon As Possible (Schumer, D-NY), 10/17/23)

How Biden and Congress Can Work Together To Support Israel (Op-ed by Sen. Rubio, R-FL, in Real Clear Politics 10/17/23)

Senate Seeks Permanent Freeze on $6 Billion Ransom Payment to Iran (Free Beacon 10/17/23)

Most progressive Democrats tempering calls for Israeli restraint against Hamas [“But a week into Israel’s war against Hamas, Democrats’ factional differences on Israel policy show signs of reemerging”] (Jewish Insider 10/16/23)

Squad members face new vulnerability over anti-Israel activism [“Three left-wing Democratic lawmakers are facing renewed primary competition after equivocating over Hamas terrorism“] (Jewish Insider 10/17/23)

Anti-Israel Democrats Face Campaign Finance Woes and Primary Challenges (The Free Beacon 10/17/23)

House Republicans to subpoena suspended Iran envoy Robert Malley (New York Post 10/16/23)

Rep. Ritchie Torres: Democratic Socialists are ‘indoctrinating’ young Americans with anti-Israel hate in ‘moral monstrosity’ (New York Post 10/15/23)

Rep. Mast wears IDF uniform to counter Rep. Tlaib’s Palestinian flag [“‘Tlaib’s got her flag, I’ve got my uniform,’ the congressman said.”]  (Jewish News Sydnicate 10/13/23)

US House files censure motion against Rep. Tlaib (Jewish News Syndicate 10/13/22) [covered in last week’s Round-Up]

‘Sh-t thing to say’: Tempers flare among House Dems over the Israel war [“Accusations about insensitivity toward Muslims burst out into the open at a caucus meeting.] (Politico 10/11/23)