Legislative Round-Up- January 19, 2024

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 & letters

(STATE DEPT MUST ANSWER IF ISRAEL IS VIOLATING HUMAN RIGHTS) S. Res. 504: Introduced 12/14/23, “A resolution requesting information on Israel’s human rights practices pursuant to section 502B(c) of the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961.” On 1/16/24, Sanders (I-VT) came to the Senate floor with a motion to discharge S. Res. 504 from the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and to bring the resolution to the Senate floor for debate and a vote. That motion failed, with the Senate voting to table it (i.e., to prevent any further action on the resolution) by a vote of 72-11. Floor consideration is here.

(CONDEMNING RAPE/SEXUAL VIOLENCE BY HAMAS) H. Res. 966: Introduced 1/16/24 by Frankel (D-FL) and 152 cosponsors (bipartisan), “Condemning rape and sexual violence committed by Hamas in its war against Israel.” Referred to the House Committee on Foreign Affairs. Also see: Reps. Frankel, Díaz-Balart, Manning, Kiggans Introduce Bipartisan Resolution to Condemn Rape and Sexual Violence Committed by Hamas; Nearly 150 lawmakers to introduce bipartisan resolution condemning Hamas sexual violence (Jewish Insider 1/16/24)

(DEPORT PEOPLE WHO SUPPORT PALESTINIAN RIGHTS) S. 3587 (bill text): Introduced 1/11/24 by Rubio (R-FL) Vance (R-0OH) and Lee (R-UT), the ” the Mandatory Removal Proceedings Act,” aka, “A bill to require the Secretary of Homeland Security to immediately initiate removal proceedings for aliens whose visas are revoked on security or related grounds.” Referred to the Committee on the Judiciary. NOTE: Rubio’s press release makes clear the target of this bill: “Flashback … Following the Hamas attack on October 7, 2023, Senator Rubio pushed to include a provision in the national defense bill to revoke visas and initiate deportation proceedings for any foreign national who has endorsed or espoused the terrorist activities of Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad, Hezbollah, or any other foreign terrorist organization.”

(USING CLAIMS OF ANTISEMITISM TO QUASH PALESTINE VOICES/SOLIDARITY ON US CAMPUSES) S. 3580: Introduced 1/11/24 (not covered previously in the Round-Up) by Cassidy (R-LA) and Fetterman (D-CA), the “Protecting Students on Campus Act of 2024.” Referred to the Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions. Also see: Bipartisan bill aims to fight antisemitism on campus by fortifying civil rights complaint system (CNN 1/11/24 — “A bipartisan Senate bill introduced Thursday could make it easier for students to file civil rights complaints over antisemitism and Islamophobia on college campuses and to hold those schools accountable for protecting students.”)

(TARGETING PALESTINIANS IN CONTINUING RESOLUTION) S. Amdt 1384 to HR 2872: On 1/18/24 the Senate passed its version of HR 2872, “Making further continuing appropriations for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2024, and for other purposes,” paving the way  for House passage and averting a government shutdown. As part of Senate consideration of the bill, it voted on S. Amdt. 1384, introduced by Paul (R-KY), to prohibit assistance “to Palestinian Authority and Other Governing Entities in the West Bank and Gaza” [note: aid to the Palestinians is already the most conditioned, restricted, limited, monitored, report on aid that the U.S. gives anywhere in the world]. Under this new legislation – which is very likely to show up again – all such aid would be permanently barred unless the President certifies (annually) that “(A) the Palestinian Authority, or other Palestinian governing entity in the West Bank and Gaza, has– (i) formally recognized the right of Israel to exist as a Jewish state; (ii) publicly recognized the state of Israel; (iii) renounced terrorism; (iv) purged all individuals with terrorist ties from security services; (v) terminated funding of anti-American and anti-Israel incitement; (vi) publicly renounced Hamas and the October 7, 2023, attacks perpetrated by Hamas on Israel; and (vii) honored previous diplomatic agreements; and (B) all hostages abducted on October 7, 2023, and held in territory governed by the Palestinian Authority or other Palestinian governing authority have been released.” The legislation also requires an extensive report on the “Human Rights Practices by the Palestinian Authority or Any Other Palestinian Governing Entity in the West Bank and Gaza” including “a list of international organizations that– (i) accept financial contributions from the United States Government; and (ii) provide assistance of any kind to the Palestinian Authority or any other Palestinian governing entity in the West Bank and Gaza.” Paul’s amendment failed by a party-line vote of 44-50 (with Manchin, D-WV, the sole Democrat voting in favor and 6 Republicans not voting). Also see: Paul floor statement on his amendment; Cardin (D-MD) floor statement opposing it.

(TARGETING ACADEMIA) HR 7033: Introduced 1/18/24 by Calvert (R-CA), “To amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to apply a 6 percent excise tax on large endowments of certain private colleges and universities, and for other purposes.” Referred to the House Committee on Ways and Means. NOTE: As of this writing there’s no bill text in the Congressional Record and Calvert hasn’t issued a press release, but this sure looks like a continuation of the campaign in Congress against universities — a campaign that is of course linked to and fueled by the weaponization of claims of antisemitism, with antisemitism in this context defined to mean criticism of Israel/Zionism and/or activism for Palestinian rights.


2. Letters

1/17/24: Committee Republicans Demand Answers After Reports of UNRWA Aid Ending Up in Hamas’ Hands [letter text]. Also see – House Republicans ask UNRWA chief for answers about aid theft (Jewish News Syndicate); House committee calls UNRWA chief to testify on alleged Hamas aid theft (Jewish Insider 1/19/24)

1/17/24: Rubio, Colleagues Urge Investigation Into Pro-Hamas, Anti-Veteran Vandals [letter text]


3. Hearings & Markups

January 18, 2024: The House Judiciary Committee held a markup of various measures including HR 6679, the “No Immigration Benefits for Hamas Terrorists Act.”  The Committee adopted by a vote of 24-0 an Amendment in the Nature of a Substitute to HR 6679 and voted to report the measure out of committee (meaning it can now be brought to the House floor for a vote if leadership wishes). Also see: markup video

January 18, 2024: The Senate Foreign Relations Committee held a closed (TS/SCI) meeting to receive a briefing from Secretary of State Blinken.


4. Selected Media & Press releases/statements

NBC News 1/18/24: Netanyahu’s opposition to Palestinian state could complicate Senate aid package [“‘That statement is not helpful,’ said Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., who is negotiating an immigration and foreign aid package with Republicans.“]
Responsible Statecraft 1/16/24: Congress forms caucus to aid Iranian ex-terror group [“Members are promising to advocate for the Mojahedin-e Khalq, a guerrilla organization facing new scrutiny from its Albanian hosts”]