Legislative Round-Up- March 8, 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
2. Letters
3. Hearings & Markups
4. Selected Media & Press releases/Statements

New episodes of FMEP’s Occupied Thoughts podcast:

1. Bills & Resolutions


Targeting Free Speech/Protest

  • S. 3894 (text): Introduced 3/7/24 by Cotton (R-AR), “A bill to prohibit the granting or renewing of security clearances to a person who has expressed support for a foreign terrorist organization, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, or any affiliate of such Corps, including Hamas and Hezbollah, and for other purposes,” aka, the “‘No Clearances for Terrorist Sympathizers Act of 2024.”  Referred to the Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs. Also see Cotton press release – excerpt: “Senator Tom Cotton (R-Arkansas) today introduced two bills in response to the U.S. airman who self-immolated outside the Israeli embassy in Washington, D.C. on February 25. ‘The mission of our service members is to defend America, and anyone who supports Hamas or any other terrorist group should not receive a security clearance. Likewise, no active-duty members of the military should be allowed to participate in demonstrations that aim to undermine the security of America and our allies,’ said Senator Cotton.
  • S. 3890 (text): Introduced 3/7/24 by Cotton (R-AR),A bill to prohibit certain off-post demonstrations,” aka, the “Prohibiting Certain Off Post Protests Act.” Referred to the Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs. Also see Cotton press release – excerpt: “Senator Tom Cotton (R-Arkansas) today introduced two bills in response to the U.S. airman who self-immolated outside the Israeli embassy in Washington, D.C. on February 25. ‘The mission of our service members is to defend America, and anyone who supports Hamas or any other terrorist group should not receive a security clearance. Likewise, no active-duty members of the military should be allowed to participate in demonstrations that aim to undermine the security of America and our allies,’ said Senator Cotton.
  • S. 3887 (text): Introduced 3/6/24 by Cotton (R-IN), the “Stop Pro-Terrorist Riots Now Act.” Referred to the Committee on the Judiciary.  Per Cotton’s press release, this legislation “would increase the punishments for rioting and provide mandatory sentences for anyone committing violence as part of a riot. Senator Cotton introduced the bill in response to the increasing number of anti-Semitic “protests”—often violent—by pro-Hamas leftists since Hamas’s October 7 terrorist attack on Israel.” As noted in ICNL’s invaluable US Protest Law Tracker, this bill: “Would significantly increase the penalties for federal ‘riot’ and ‘incitement to riot’ offenses if they involve property damage or injury. The bill would create a new, mandatory one-year prison sentence for anyone who commits ‘an act of violence’ or aids someone else in doing so, while participating in, organizing, ‘inciting,’ ‘promoting,’ or ‘encouraging’ a ‘riot.’ The maximum penalty would jump to 10, instead of 5, years in prison. Federal law defines ‘act of violence’ broadly to include using force against property—or just attempting or threatening to use such force. Under the bill, someone who knocked over a trash can, or merely threatened to do so, while cheering on an unruly protest, could face 10 years in prison.”

Defending Free Speech/Protest (kind of, maybe)

  • S. 3883: Introduced 3/6/24 by Casey (D-PA) and 6 bipartisan cosponsors, “A bill to appropriate funds for the Office for Civil Rights of the Department of Education.” Referred to the Committee on Appropriations. Casey’s press release states: “Amidst a notable increase in reported incidents of antisemitism, anti-Muslim, and anti-Arab actions in schools across the Nation, the bill would give OCR the capacity to meet the moment and ensure students are free from harassment and discrimination.” This is laudable framing. The proof of intent, of course, would be in the implementation – and given some of the cosponsors of this, there is strong reason to suspect that its real purpose is to beef of policing of critics/criticism of Israel on campuses.
  • HR 7540 (text): Introduced 3/5/24 by Greene (R-GA), “To amend title 18, United States Code, to provide protections for nonviolent political protesters, and for other purposes,” aka, the “Matthew Lawrence Perna Act of 2024.” Referred to the Committee on the Judiciary, and the Committee on Intelligence (Permanent Select). NOTE: Greene’s motivation for this bill is the case of Matthew Perna, a convicted January 6th rioter (he pleaded guilty to a list of charges) who committed suicide while awaiting sentencing. For the “January 6th-was-a-righteous-event-and-the-people-involved-were-innocent-patriots-and-law-enforcement-efforts-targeting-them-ar-unjust-and-evil” crowd, Perna has become a symbol and a hero. Her questionable motivations notwithstanding, HR 7540 would legislate significant legal protections for Americans engaged in acts of political protest. Also see Greene’s press release – Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene Introduces the Matthew Lawrence Perna Act of 2024. NOTE: an earlier version of this bill (HR 9583) was introduced in 2022 by Gohmert (R-AZ) and Green (R-GA) [and went nowhere].

The Bible Says ALL the land belongs to Israel – so the US should too!

  • HR 7552 (text): Introduced 3/5/24 by Tenney (R-NY) and 2 cosponsors, the “RECOGNIZING Judea and Samaria Act,” aka, “To prohibit the use of materials that use the term ‘West Bank’, and for other purposes. Referred to the Committee on Foreign Affairs. NOTE: As covered in last week’s Round-Up, Tenney (prematurely) issued a press release 2/29/24 announcing the introduction of this bill. Per her press release, Tenney stated: “The Israeli people have an undeniable and indisputable historical and legal claim over Judea and Samaria, and at this critical moment in history, the United States must reaffirm this…The misguided decision by the Biden administration to revoke the Pompeo Doctrine undermines our greatest ally in the Middle East. The RECOGNIZING Judea and Samaria Act requires all U.S. legal documents to use the rightful term ‘Judea and Samaria’ to refer to this territory instead of the ‘West Bank.’ This bill reaffirms Israel’s rightful claim to its territory. I remain committed to defending the integrity of the Jewish state and fully supporting Israel’s sovereignty over Judea and Samaria.” [Stay tuned for legislation requiring the US documents to refer to other areas of the Middle East by their biblical names…] Also worth noting: HR 7552, in substance, is yet another “Israel-from-the-river-to-the-sea” bill.  As a reminder, on 11/7/24, the House passed H. Res. 845, censuring Rep. Tlaib (D-MI) for daring to utter that phrase (but accompanying the word “Palestine” rather than “Israel.” But don’t hold your breath for a resolution of censure on this one…

Targeting UNRWA (and entire UN system/intl orgs)

  • S. 3874: Introduced 3/5/24 by Rubio (R-FL and Rosen (D-NV), “A bill to impose sanctions with respect to foreign support for terrorist organizations in Gaza and the West Bank, and for other purposes,” aka the “Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad International Terrorism Support Prevention Act.” NOTE: this bill was introduced in 2021 as the “the Palestinian International Terrorism Support Prevention Act” – S. 1904/HR 261(attracting 24 and 57 cosponsors, respectively, and going nowhere); and in its current form in 2023 as S. 1647/HR 340 (the Senate version attracting 11 cosponsors and going nowhere; the House version passing 11/1/23). Referred (for the 3rd time) to the Committee on Foreign Relations. Also see — Rubio press release 3/5/24; also see prior Rubio press releases – 2023, 2021. Also see: Rubio, Rosen push House-passed Hamas sanctions bill in the Senate (Jewish Insider 3/5/24)

Targeting Saudi Arabia


2. Letters

Concern for Palestinians in Gaza/Ceasefire/Etc.

Support for Israel’s War on Gaza

Targeting UNRWA/Intl Orgs

Targeting Iran


3. Hearings & Markups

March 7, 2024: The House Energy and Commerce Committee held a hearing entitled, “Legislation to Protect American Data and National Security from Foreign Adversaries” (video). Chair Rodgers (R-WA)’s opening statement is here. The focus of the hearing was approving two pieces of legislation targeting Chinese control over popular apps like TikTok — HR 7521, the Protecting Americans from Foreign Adversary Controlled Applications Act and HR 7520the Protecting Americans’ Data from Foreign Adversaries Act of 2024. Notably, on 3/6/24 the Jewish Federations of North America (JFNA) sent a letter to House Energy and Commerce Committee (h/t to Jewish Insider for flagging) urging the Committee to approve HR 7521, arguing that “Our community understands that social media is a major driver of the rise in antisemitism, and that TikTok is the worst offender by far…” The letter closes: “There is no one answer to the rise in antisemitism, but Congress must act when it can – and HR 7521 is a very important step that Congress can take today. A vote for HR 7521 is a vote against antisemitism.” The committee approved HR 7521 unanimously.

March 7, 2024: The House Foreign Affairs Committee’s Subcommittee on Western Hemisphere held a hearing entitled, “The Agents of Antisemitism in Latin America” (video).  The sole witness was State Department Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Antisemitism Deborah Lipstadt (statement).

March 3, 2024: The Senate Foreign Relations Committee’s held a hearing to consider 5 Biden Administration nominations, including the nomination of Erik John Woodhouse to be Head of the Office of Sanctions Coordination. Check out the hearing (video) for members’ questions to Woodhouse regarding sanctions on Iran and others. Also note that in his opening statement, SFRC Chair Cardin (D-MD) stated: “Senator Risch and I are working on an agenda for a business meeting that we hope we will be able to notice very shortly. We’re working with several bipartisan bills that have been suggested by members of the Senate, including Senator Rubio and Hassan’s bipartisan bill – the SHIP Act, which follows up on the hearing we had in regards to Iran, and enforcing the sanctions against Iran through secondary sanctions. We hope that we’ll be able to bring that bill before our committee.”

March 6, 2024: The Senate Foreign Relations Committee held a hearing entitled, Global Food Security. Witnesses were USAID Assistant to the Administrator for Resilience, Environment, and Food Security Dina Esposito (testimony) and Department of State Special Envoy for Global Food Security Cary Fowler (testimony). Also see: hearing video. Notably, this hearing about “food security” for the most part totally ignored the MAN-MADE FAMINE in the Gaza Strip, imposed by Israel and supported/enabled by the U.S., that is literally killing people today and if not urgently stopped will lead to mass deaths. The exceptions: Sen. Van Hollen (D-MD), who raised concerns about the situation in the Gaza Strip starting at 59:28 in the hearing (see his exchange with the witnesses, below) and Kaine (D-VA), who asked about air drops at 1:12:17, in an exchange that highlighted the degree to which this is an extreme option of last resort.


Van Hollen: “I do want to focus on the situation in Gaza because according to all reports four out of five of the hungriest people in the world today live in Gaza, and this is clearly a man-made crisis. There was no real food insecurity in Gaza until the last four months. We also have recently passed the grim threshold where people are not just on the verge of starvation but over 15 kids have now died of starvation in Gaza. The UN’s humanitarian coordinator put out an update on February 21st of this year finding that decline in the population’s nutrition status is…happening at a globally unprecedented rate and that children in Gaza are being starved at the fastest rate that the world has ever seen, according to the humanitarian coordinator. I am very pleased to see both the president the vice president and the USAID administrator more recently make a forceful comments about the need for the Netanyahu government to allow more aid into Gaza. Twenty-five senators wrote to the president in early February laying out five specific specific steps that could be taken to do that — none of those steps have been implemented as of now. So Miss Esposito, if you could just make one thing really clear: the issue is not the lack of the US or the World Food Program making food available to go into Gaza – is that right? It’s not a question of not enough being made available that’s ready to go in, it’s a question of it getting in and getting to people in need. 

Esposito: “Thank you Senator. I want to start by saying upfront that my remit is on the development side and all of the programs we had in Gaza have been suspended of course because of the conflict. But I do know that we do have great concern about the imminence of a famine and that our team is really work working on getting um more food in, especially for women and children and that there is opportunity and available food to move in…

Van Hollen: “Dr Fowler you’re an expert on food security and nutrition and I’d like for you just to talk a little bit about the long-term impacts of of malnutrition and going without food for kids. UNICEF’s  Ted Chapon, who’s the deputy executive director for humanitarian action at UNICEF pointed out, and I quote, that…the international community has quote “been warning for weeks that the Gaza Strip is on the brink of a nutrition crisis. If the conflict doesn’t end now children’s nutrition will continue to plummet leading to preventable deaths or health issues which will affect the children of Gaza for the rest of their lives and have potential intergenerational consequences.” Do you agree that that can be a a consequence of kids being deprived of nutrition?
Fowler: “Yes, I do. As you know the UN has estimated that 90% of the population in Gaza continues to face acute food in security and this has an impact first and foremost on children and of course women as well. We know that early interventions for childhood nutrition pay benefits for the entire life of the of the person. On the flip side of that we know that long periods without sufficient food, without the necessary calories, micronutrients, macronutrients – this also can have lifelong consequences. I spoke earlier to this committee about the problem of stunting. So we believe that Israel must facilitate the delivery of assistance through crossings, improve the deconfliction procedures to ensure that that aid can move safely and securely, and that restrictions  that prevent the flow of lifesaving food into Gaza are not acceptable.”


4. Selected Media & Press releases/statements



Biden Admin Israel/Gaza Policies

Israel’s War on Gaza

Israel Aid

  • Notus 3/7/24: Why a Fight Over Process Could Derail Ukraine Aid [“Most members say they want to do
  • something that would get aid to Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan as quickly as possible. But they might get in their own way, as three separate proposals are currently being floated in the House, and lawmakers are jockeying over the best path forward.“]

Targeting Academia