Legislative Round-Up- December 1, 2023

Produced by the Foundation for Middle East Peace. Views and positions expressed here are those of the writer, and do not necessarily represent APN's views and policy positions.

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

NOTE: For the foreseeable future, given the scope and pace of current events & related noise and actions coming from the Hill, there will continue to be no comprehensive “On the Record” in the Round-Up (use google or check members’ websites to see what a specific members is saying) and an abbreviated/selective Media section. Likewise, I’ll continue to cover all letters I find, but in most cases I’m just giving links and maybe an excerpt (apologies to anyone who misses the analysis and occasional snark). Let us all hope that the time will soon return when the horror-show of events on the ground ends and the Round-Up can return to systematically reporting on the full gamut of “normal” Middle East-related grandstanding on and from the Hill.



1. Bills, Resolutions & letters

Standing with Israel, Hating Hamas, Conflating Criticism of Israel/Zionism with Antisemitism

  • (INVOKE IHRA DEFINITION; ANTI-ZIONISM & SUPPORT FOR PALESTINIANS = ANTISEMITISM!) H. Res. 894: Introduced 11/28/23 by Kustoff (R-TN) and Miller (R-OH), “Strongly condemning and denouncing the drastic rise of antisemitism in the United States and around the world.” Referred to the Committees on the Judiciary and on Foreign Affairs. Excerpts: “Whereas the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s working definition of antisemitism is widely accepted and serves as a critical tool to help individuals comprehend and identify the various manifestations of antisemitism” and Whereas the slogan ‘From the River to the Sea’, which is a rallying cry for the eradication of the State of Israel and the Jewish people, has been used by anti-Israel protesters in the United States and globally” and from the resolve clauses, the House “clearly and firmly states that anti-Zionism is antisemitism.Also see: press release – Kustoff, Miller Introduce Resolution to Condemn Antisemitism in the United States and Abroad
  • (CONDEMN HAMAS, DEMAND RELEASE OF HOSTAGES!) H. Res. 793: Introduced 10/17/23 by Stevens (D-MI) and 196 cosponsors, “Calling on Hamas to immediately release hostages taken during October 2023 attack on Israel.” 11/28/23, passed by the House under suspension of the rules by a vote of 414-0. Also see: House floor grandstanding around this resolution.
  • (ASSERTING PALESTINIAN RIGHTS = ANTISEMITISM) H. Res. 888 (text): Introduced 11/21/23 by Lawler (R-NY) and having 27 cosponsors (25 Republicans plus Moskowitz, D-FL and Gottheimer, D-NY), “Reaffirming the State of Israel’s right to exist.” Notably, includes resolve clause that the House “recognizes that denying Israel’s right to exist is a form of antisemitism.Passed by the House 11/28/23 under suspension of the rules by a vote of 412 – 1, 1 Present. To get a sense of the real purpose of this resolution (i.e., attacking solidarity with and support for Palestinian rights as antisemitism), check out the grandstanding around the resolution on the House floor.
  • (DON’T MAKE AMERICANS EVACUATED FROM ISRAEL REPAY COSTS TO US GOVT) HR 6511 (bill text): Introduced 11/29/23 by Wilson (D-FL) and Gimenez (R-FL), To prohibit the United States from soliciting or accepting funds from United States citizens or lawful permanent residents of the United States as a condition of their repatriation from Israel and other nations during the period of evacuation, as a result of the Hamas terrorist attacks, and for other purposes,” aka, the “Justifiable Use of Money for Peace Act,” aka, the “JUMP Act.” Referred to the House Committee on Foreign Affairs Also see: Wilson press release – Wilson, Gimenez Introduce JUMP Act to Waive Repayment Requirements for Americans Evacuated from Israel

Dude, Not Cool to Be Openly Racist Against Palestinians

Iran & Iran/Hamas/Israel

(FREEZE IRANIAN $$ IN PRISONER EXCHANGE DEAL) HR 5961: Introduced 10/16/23 by McCaul (R-TX) and having 34 cosponsors (all Republicans), “To freeze certain Iranian funds involved in the 2023 hostage deal between the United States and Iran, and for other purposes,” aka the “No Funds for Iranian Terrorism Act.” On 11/29/23, the House passed H. Res. 891, providing for floor consideration of HR 5961 (and a couple of other bills), by a vote of 212 – 205, 1 Present. On 11/30/23, the House subsequently passed HR 5961 by a vote of 307 – 119, 1 Present. Prior to that final vote, during floor consideration/grandstanding around the bill (here) the House considered a number of amendments (adopting all but one), below. Also see: House Dems sabotage Biden’s Iran diplomacy (Responsible Statecraft 12/1/23)

  • H. Amdt. 814, offered by Cherfilus-McCormick (D-FL), “to add a Sense of Congress that the Iranian regime should receive no additional funds but that basic humanitarian assistance for the people of Iran is important.” Agreed to by voice vote.
  • H. Amdt. 815, offered by Gottheimer (D-NJ), to correct the number of hostages being held by Hamas. Agreed to by voice vote.
  • H. Amdt. 813, offered by Fitzpatrick (R-A),  “to add findings that condemn Hamas and Iran-backed terror groups for using ‘human shields’ and that only the unconditional surrender of Hamas and other Iran-backed terror groups will save innocent civilian lives. Agreed to by recorded vote: 412 – 11, 1 Present
  • H. Amdt. 816, offered by Ogles (R-TN), to require a 45-day waiting period between Presidential certification and removal of sanctions to provide an opportunity for congressional oversight.”  Agreed to by voice vote.
  • H. Amdt. 817, offered by Ogles (R-TN), to express a Sense of Congress that all US allies in the Middle East should publicly and unequivocally condemn the antisemitism displayed by Iranian-backed terror groups, including Hamas.”  Agreed to by recorded vote: 422 – 1, 1 Present
  • H. Amdt. 818, offered by Ogles (R-TN), “to prohibit the use of federal funds to make any funds (as such term is defined in section 2339C(e)(1) of title 18, United States Code) available to Iran.” Agreed to by recorded vote: 241 – 181, 1 Present
  • H. Amdt. 819, offered by Ogles (R-TN), “to express a Sense of Congress that Qatar should condemn Hamas, turn over Hamas leadership to US and Israeli custody, and pledge never to facilitate the transfer of covered Iranian funds to Iran.”  Agreed to by voice vote.
  •  H. Amdt. 820, offered by Ogles (R-TN), “to express the sense of Congress that the Houthis continue to benefit from the administration’s ‘failure to unequivocally condemn it.’ Agreed to by recorded vote: 226 – 199, 1 Present
  • H. Amdt. 821, offered by Pfluger (R-TX), “to prohibit the president from exercising the waiver authority described in section 1245(d)(5) of the 2012 NDAA and sections 1244(i) and 1247(f) of the Iran Freedom and Counter-Proliferation Act of 2012. Agreed to by recorded vote: 231 – 198, 1 Present
  • H. Amdt. 822, offered by Porter (D-CA), “to require the president to report to Congress on its policy related to human rights, nuclear proliferation, the ballistic missile program, and regional terrorism in Iran. Agreed to by recorded vote: 399 – 28, 1 Present
  • H. Amdt. 823, offered by Porter (D-CA), “to require the Treasury and State secretaries to report on Iranian internet censorship and applicable U.S. licensing requirements.”  Agreed to by voice vote.
  • H. Amdt. 824, offered by Jackson (D-IL), “An amendment numbered 12 printed in Part C of House Report 118-280 to sunset the measure after five years.”  Failed by recorded vote: 194 – 236, 1 Present

Targeting US NGOs

(TARGETING US NON-PROFITS THAT SUPPORT PALESTINIAN RIGHTS) HR 6408: Introduced 11/14/23 by Kustoff (R-TN) and Schneider (D-IL), “To amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to terminate the tax-exempt status of terrorist supporting organizations.” On 11/30/23, the House Ways & Means Committee marked up (video), amended (with an amendment in the nature of a substitute) and passed HR 6408 by a vote of 41-0.

  • As noted in the 11/17/23 edition of the Round-Up, US charitable organizations (*like all other US entities*) are already barred by law from providing material support for terror and already face intense scrutiny (for example, see the landmark Holy Land Foundation case). With this in mind, one must ask: what’s the real purpose of HR 6408? Some observers seem to assume that it is merely about virtue signaling and grandstanding, but careful reading of the text of HR 6408 (and the text of the bill as amended this week in Committee) strongly suggests something much more serious. Based on discussion in the Committee on 11/30/23, and based on the substitute text adopted by the committee, it is now clear that this legislation is aimed at legislating broad Executive authority to strip US groups of their non-profit status, with virtually no limitations, accountability, or recourse. As such, this new legislation, if enacted into law, would  represent a powerful weapon to impose mass harm on the U.S. non-profit sector. And to be clear: while this legislation is being introduced/promoted as a means to target 501(c)(3) “Hamas-supporting charities,” if enacted into law it could be used against 501(c)(3)’s working on a wide range of issues disfavored by the Administration in power.
  • Also see: Congress seeks to end tax-exempt status for Hamas-supporting charities (Jewish News Syndicate 11/15/23)
  • Also see House Ways & Means Committee documents: Description of H.R. 6408; Description of the Amendment in the Nature of a Substitute to H.R. 6408 (Green Sheet)
  • Reminder: press release – Kustoff, Schneider Introduce Legislation to Revoke Tax-Exempt Status to Nonprofits Supporting Hamas.
  • Watch statements in support of the bill from Kustoff and Schneider during the committee mark-up (including Kustoff noting that HR 6408 has been endorsed by the Anti-Defamation League). Worth watching whole discussion to get a sense of how broadly Congress is leaning into demonizing the entire NGO sector and accusing it of widespread support for terrorism. Also see Schneider press release: Ways and Means Passes Bipartisan Legislation to Revoke Tax-Exempt Status to Nonprofits Supporting Hamas and Terrorist Organizations
  • Also see: Charity & Security Network Opposes Legislation that Targets Charities [“Charitable organizations, especially those who work in settings where designated terrorist groups operate, already undergo strict internal due diligence and risk mitigation measures and – thanks to misguided categorizations of nonprofits being labeled as ‘particularly vulnerable’ to terrorist financing abuse in rushed policy directives immediately following 9/11 – face extra scrutiny by the U.S. government, the financial sector, and all actors necessary to operate and conduct financial transactions in such complex settings. While these categorizations have since been revoked, the scrutiny remains the same. As the prohibition on material support to foreign terrorist organizations (FTOs) already exists, and is applicable to U.S. nonprofits, this proposed legislation is redundant and unnecessary. The potential harms far outweigh any potential “benefit” that its sponsors seek from the political parading or publicity that the bill produces. This legislation presents dangerous potential as a weapon to be used against civil society in the context of Gaza and beyond…Furthermore, this legislation contributes to the continued false narrative that nonprofit organizations (NPOs) are vehicles for abuse by terrorist organizations. In fact, the U.S. Department of Treasury itself and the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) have both publicly stated that NPOs historically face little to no risk of terrorist financing abuse. Officials in the U.S. government and Congress must recognize that this type of rhetoric and discourse, without proper evidence to substantiate claims of abuse, is damaging to the charitable sector as a whole, and undermines the diligent work done by experts in the field of NPO operations to ensure that aid goes only to innocent civilians caught living in areas where terrorist groups operate. As has been stated a number of times, ‘NPOs themselves have the most to lose’ if funding is redirected or does not end up in the hands of intended beneficiaries, and thus go to great precautionary lengths to prevent this.”]

Other stuff

(SANCTION ANSARALLAH) S. 3347: Introduced 11/27/23 by Cruz (R-TX) and 6 cosponsors (all Republicans), “to require the imposition of sanctions with respect to Ansarallah  and its officials, agents, or affiliates for acts of international terrorism.” Referred to the Committee on Foreign Relations. Cruz previously introduced this same bill in the last Congress (S. 3532, introduced 1/20/22). Also see: press release – Sen. Cruz Reintroduces Bill to Reimpose Terrorism Sanctions on Iran-Controlled Houthis

(REPORT ON HARM TO CIVILIANS BY FOREIGN GOVTS BACKED BY THE US) HR 6517 (bill text): Introduced 11/30/23 by Crow (D-CO) and Jacobs (D-CA), “To direct the Director of National Intelligence to submit to Congress annual reports on civilian casualties caused by certain operations of foreign governments, and for other purposes,” aka the “Civilian Harm Transparency in Partnerships Act.” Referred to the House Committee on Intelligence. Also see: press release –  Reps. Crow, Jacobs Introduce Bill to Increase Oversight of Civilian Casualties in Conflict Zones  Note: the bill would require reports to Congress on civilian casualties in operations  “(A) conducted by a foreign government; (B) involving the use of force; and (C) in which intelligence shared by an element of the intelligence community plays a significant role.” Reminder: C.I.A. Director Visits Israel and the Middle East Amid Israel-Hamas War (New York Times 11/5/23) – excerpt: “The United States is also looking to expand its intelligence sharing with Israel, providing information that could be useful about hostage locations or any follow-on attacks by Hamas. A U.S. official briefed on Mr. Burns’s trip said he planned to reinforce the American commitment to intelligence cooperation with partners in the region.” Also see: Is Washington Responsible for What Israel Does With American Weapons? (Foreign Affairs 11/17/23) – excerpt: “The United States is the biggest backer of the Israeli military, providing it with billions of dollars in military assistance every year. Because of this support and U.S. intelligence sharing, Israel’s brutal campaign in the Gaza Strip launched in response to Hamas’s unconscionable attack on Israeli civilians on October 7 raises serious legal and policy issues for the United States.”


2. Letters

Aid for Israel

  • 11/27/23: Schumer Dear Colleague On The Upcoming Work Period [letter text] – “One of the most important tasks we must finish is taking up and passing a funding bill to ensure we as well as our friends and partners in Ukraine, Israel, and the Indo-Pacific region have the necessary military capabilities to confront and deter our adversaries and competitors. It’s also critical that we provide humanitarian assistance for innocent Palestinian civilians who have nothing to do with Hamas. These national security priorities are interrelated and demand bipartisan Congressional action. That’s why I intend to bring the President’s national security supplemental package to the floor as soon as the week of December 4th.”

Targeting Hamas

Targeting UNRWA

  • 11/30/23: Waltz Urges UN Secretary-General to Investigate Possible Ties to Hostage Taking [letter text embedded in press release] – “I urge you in the strongest possible terms to investigate these allegations that UNRWA educational personnel were complicit in the hostage taking. If so, a fundamental change needs to be made at the UN and in UNRWA specifically.” ALSO SEE: UNRWA press release – Spreading unsubstantiated claims about UNRWA must immediately stop [“UNRWA has been following the traction of a post by an Israeli journalist on the social media platform X. The post claims that there is an alleged connection between an Israeli hostage held in Gaza and an UNRWA school teacher. The journalist did not provide more information on this claim.  UNRWA and other entities in the United Nations have asked the journalist to provide more information on what we consider to be a very serious allegation. Despite repeated demands, the journalist has not responded.  UNRWA requests that the journalist provides an immediate clarification of the claims, and that whoever may be able to assist us in determining the facts comes forward.  In the absence of credible information to support this claim, UNRWA requests that the journalist immediately deletes the post. Making serious allegations in the public domain, unsupported by any evidence or verifiable facts in support thereof may amount to misinformation. UNRWA reiterates that it takes all allegations of breach of UN principles extremely seriously and immediately investigates them. We are hence determined to find out whether the information in question is genuine or false. UNRWA is the largest humanitarian organization in the Gaza Strip and is currently hosting more than 1 million people in its shelters. Defamation attacks and the spread of misinformation about UNRWA -from any side- directly endanger the lifesaving operations of the Agency and its staff operating on the ground.  These harmful and presumably gratuitous acts must stop, immediately.”]

Conflating Support for Palestinians/criticism of Israel with Antisemitism/support for terrorism, & Targeting Free Speech and Education

  • 11/30/23: Capito, Colleagues Urge Biden Admin to Address Rising Rates of Antisemitism in K-12 Schools [letter text] – “...The rise in antisemitic incidents is a symptom of growing antisemitism among our nation’s young people who are a product of our K-12 education system. Less than half of Gen Z and millenials believe the U.S. publicly voice support of Israel compared with 63 percent of Gen X, 83 percent of baby boomers, and 86 percent of members of the Silent Generation. Over half of voters under the age of 35 do not support sending weapons and military equipment to Israel in response to the Hamas terrorist attacked [sic], compared with 77 percent of those 50 and over. A Generation Lab poll of two- and four-year college students found that 48 percent of college students who say they are aware of the October 7 attack do not blame that attack on Hamas. We must understand what role public K-12 schools are playing in furthering these sentiments…
  • 11/28/23: Rubio Demands Investigations Into Biden Staff Ceasefire Letter [letter text] –  “I write with regard to the more than 500 federal employees, both political appointees and civil servants, representing the Biden Administration who have signed an open letter demanding that the President ‘urgently demand a ceasefire.’ This letter follows previous attempts of the Democratic National Committee (DNC), which was recently surrounded and nearly broken into by violent protestors of similar beliefs, and staffers of political campaigns for former Democratic presidential nominees. Given the timeline with which the anonymous letter was sent and the known connections between administration staff and the president’s political allies, it is reasonable to suspect that these government employees could have coordinated the letter with partisan political actors and/or groups, such as the DNC, while on government time, using government resources. If this suspicion were to be true, it would constitute major violation of the Hatch Act, which places certain prohibitions on partisan political activities for federal employees while at work. As Acting Special Counsel, your office is charged with investigating Hatch Act violations and ensuring that partisan political activities do not interfere with the work of the federal government. Therefore, I urge you to investigate any potential Hatch Act violations by the signers of the administration staff’s letter and to ensure that no official government resources were used to coordinate this letter with domestic and/or foreign political actors or entities making similar demands.
  • 11/21/21: Wasserman Schultz, Fitzpatrick Lead Bipartisan Push for Appropriators to Fund Fight Against Antisemitism [letter text in press release] Excerpt – “We urge you to provide funding in excess of the President’s request for the Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights, which is on the front lines of the fight against antisemitism and plays a central role in enforcing Title VI protections for students and faculty. Education is a powerful tool for preventing hate from taking root, but these efforts cannot succeed in an environment where antisemitism is tolerated. We also strongly support funding for programs that provide America’s public schools with resources to teach K-12 students about historic and modern antisemitism, the Holocaust, and the positive contributions of Jewish Americans.” Also see: Bipartisan group of lawmakers pushes for funding to implement antisemitism strategy (Jewish Insider 11/21/23)

Defending Free Speech

  • 11/17/23: AOC, other progressives call on Columbia University to reinstate pro-Palestine groups (Cityandstateny.com) [letter text] – letter led by Bowman (D-NY), reading: “On behalf of the Columbia community and our constituents, we, as elected officials from New York, urge you to reverse your decision to suspend Jewish Voice for Peace (‘JVP’) and Students for Justice in Palestine (‘SJP’) as official student groups through the fall term.We were disturbed to read Mr. Rosberg’s statement from November 10, 2023, announcing that JVP and SJP had been suspended for ‘holding campus events’ that had not been approved by the University, particularly ‘an unauthorized event Thursday afternoon.’ We understand this ‘unauthorized event’ to be a reference to the peaceful student walk-out and art installation that occurred on the Low Steps of Columbia University, on November 9, 2023. As the Columbia Spectator described this event, it involved ‘hundreds of students’ engaging in a ‘silent gathering,’ followed by student speeches calling for a ceasefire that included remarks from a Palestinian refugee who had been shot in the leg by an Israeli soldier at the age of 15. The organizers were peacefully demonstrating for the basic human rights of Palestinians and should not be punished for their speech.We support the University’s stated desire to maintain an atmosphere that is safe and free of hate; however, suspending these student groups based on the pretext of ‘safety’ does the opposite. Unfairly implying that JVP and SJP protesters engaged in ‘threatening rhetoric and intimidation’ at the November 9th event—a suggestion refuted by multiple sources, including the Columbia Spectator—aligns with the dangerous narrative that those who express empathy for the lives and dignity of Palestinians, or who speak about the historical context of the Israeli occupation of Palestine, are antisemitic or inherently dangerous. This narrative has had harmful consequences at Columbia over the past few weeks: students have been doxxed, trucks have circled with their names as ‘Columbia’s Leading Anti-Semites,’ and some students who expressed solidarity with the Palestinians—or were merely affiliated with student groups who have expressed such viewpoints—have had offers of employment withdrawn by employers. We urge you to listen not only to us, but also to your own faculty. On October 30th, over one hundred members of Columbia’s faculty wrote you an open letter rightly warning against ‘unacceptable’ attempts ‘to chill otherwise protected speech on campus.’ They reminded you to uphold your vision of the institution ‘as a beacon for ‘fostering critical thinking and opening minds to different points of view.’’ As critical scholars, they urged you to leave room for ‘robust inquiry about the most challenging matters of our time,’ and specifically warned against attempts to unfairly label your students as violent, disruptive, or antisemitic for expressing empathy for the lives and dignity of Palestinians. Reflecting deep concerns from the Columbia community and our constituents, we urge you to reverse the suspension of the SJP and JVP groups.

Showing Some Degree of Concern for Palestinians

  • 11/21/23: Reps. Raskin, McGovern Urge Biden Administration to Protect Children of Israel, Gaza and the West Bank  [letter text] – “…we believe the deepening humanitarian disaster risks becoming a catastrophe that undermines the United States’ credibility in the region. We urge an immediate cessation of hostilities against targets with a civilian presence to facilitate the timely evacuation and protection of children and babies. Moreover, we need a thorough daily accounting of the condition of Palestinian and Israeli children and babies killed, wounded, and traumatized in this conflict. While every effort must be made to secure the release of the hostages, the efforts should also be made by the U.S. to immediate access of humanitarian organizations such as the International Red Cross and Red Crescent to Israeli children abducted by terrorists and still being held in Gaza. Such accountability should guide and help determine U.S. policies and strategies to prioritize the protection, care, and services for children who daily confront unspeakable dangers and loss in this conflict…
  • 11/20/23: Baldwin, Kaine, Van Hollen Lead Colleagues in Calling for Immediate Steps to Deliver Humanitarian Aid to Gaza and Protect Civilians [letter text] – “As you and your administration work with Israel and international partners to secure the release of hostages and respond to the terror attack on Israel, we join you in your urgent call for humanitarian assistance for Palestinian civilians in Gaza. We encourage you to work with international partners to achieve expeditious implementation of a plan for sustained humanitarian aid in Gaza. We hope you’ll join us in encouraging our ally Israel to take immediate steps to help provide critical humanitarian aid to the innocent civilians in Gaza, including re-opening the Kerem Shalom border crossing to allow life-saving water, food, and fuel to reach vulnerable civilians.


Tying other Agendas to Israel

  • 11/28/23: Comer letter [letter text] to Commerce Secretary, “We write to request information on the recent decision by U.S. Department of Commerce (Commerce) to cease issuing new export licenses related to certain firearms, firearm components, and ammunition for approximately 90 days…Specifically, the announced ‘pause’ applies to issuances of new licenses for any item related to four Export Control Classification Numbers (ECCNs) for to certain firearms, components, and ammunition destined for any non-governmental end user apart from those located in Ukraine, Israel, or those specified in regulations…


3. Hearings & Markups

12/6/23: The Senate Foreign Relations Committee will hold a hearing entitled, “Transnational Repression: Authoritarians Targeting Dissenters Abroad.” Scheduled witnesses are: Christo Grozev, Investigative Journalist, Co-Founder, Bellingcat Productions; Michael Abramowitz, Freedom House; and Caoilfhionn Gallagher KC, International Legal Counsel to Jimmy Lai.

12/5/23: The House Committee on Education and the Workforce will hold a hearing entitled, “Holding Campus Leaders Accountable and Confronting Antisemitism.” Scheduled witnesses (so far) will be: Claudine Gay, President, Harvard University;  Liz Magill, President, University of Pennsylvania; and Dr. Sally Kornbluth, President, Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Also see: House committee calls Harvard, UPenn, MIT presidents to answer for campus antisemitism (Jewish Insider 11/28/23) and Harvard, MIT and Penn presidents to testify before Congress on campus antisemitism (The Hill 11/28/23)


4. Selected Media & Press releases/statements

Israel/Palestine & Hill Politics

Israel/Palestine & US Elex


Israel Works the Hill

Targeting Free Speech & Support for Palestinians, Conflating Criticism of Israel w/ Antisemtism & Support for Terrorism


Aid to Israel – Incl Possible Conditions?