Legislative Round-Up- April 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
2. Emergency $$/Weapons for Israel Back on the Agenda (& more!)
3. Letters
4. Hearings & Markups
5. Selected Media & Press releases/Statements

New from FMEP:


1. Bills & Resolutions

NOTE: In the wake of Iran’s retaliatory military action against Israel last weekend (retaliation for Israel’s earlier bombing of an Iranian diplomatic facility in Syria), House leadership replaced the planned schedule for this week (here) with a scheduled devoted almost 100% to anti-Iran and anti-Palestinian legislation (here). Also see: House changes legislative calendar to focus on Israel, Iran (Jewish News Syndicate 4/14/24); Congress moving swiftly on bipartisan action to punish Iran after revenge attack on Israel (PBS 4/18/24); Ocasio-Cortez Statement on House Republican Incompetence (Ocasio-Cortez, D-NY, 4/16/24); Legislative Outlook: Irresponsible Votes This Week on Iran Bills (NIAC) 4/15/24).

This section of the Round-Up covers all of that legislation, plus other fun stuff introduced in or moved on by Congress this week. All of that is in addition to a package of new legislation to provide emergency aid for Israel, Ukraine, etc — a package that includes a “sidecar” pulling together, among other things, a lot of of the anti-Iran and anti-Hamas/Hizballah legislation passed in the House (laid out below). See Section 2 of this Round-Up for discussion of the emergency funding package.

(A) Anti-Palestinian/Anti-Free Speech

  • TARGETING NGOs THAT SUPPORT PALESTINIAN RIGHTS) HR 6408 / S. 1436: Introduced in the House 11/14/23 by Kustoff (R-TN) and having 7 cosponsors (bipartisan), D-IL), “To amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to terminate the tax-exempt status of terrorist supporting organizations.” Introduced in the Senate 4/17/24 by Cornyn (R-TX) and King (I-ME) — see Cornyn press release. HR 6408 was passed by the House 4/15/24 under suspension of the rules by a vote of 383 – 11 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). Given this reality, and based on (a) the discussion in the House Ways and Means Committee on 11/30/23, and (b) the substitute text adopted by that committee, it is evident that HR 6408 (and now S. 1436) is aimed at legislating broad Executive authority to suspend normal due process (carried out by the Justice Department, according to clear rules), so as to permit the Secretary of the Treasure to strip US groups of their non-profit status in a peremptory manner, with virtually no limitations, accountability, or meaningful 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)’s engaged in Palestine rights activism, if enacted into law it could be used against 501(c)(3)’s working on any issue or for an objective disfavored by the Administration in power. For more details see: the 12/1/23 edition of the Round-Up; analysis from Charity & Security Network – Charity & Security Network Opposes Legislation that Targets Charities; press release – Kustoff Bill to Revoke Tax-Exempt Status to Nonprofits Supporting Terrorists Passes House. And for folks who doubt that the (initial) target of this bill is Palestine rights activism see the 11/15/23 hearing of the House Ways & Means Committee at which this bill was first discussed. From that hearing, note the following:
    • Chairman Smith (R-MO) 11/15/23: “…this committee has jurisdiction over the tax code and must address two related issues that have been laid bare in the aftermath of October 7th. First, tax exempt charities operating in the United States are providing support encouragement and potential financing to Hamas and Hamas-Affiliated groups. This concern is not theoretical. In the early 2000s the US government identified and shut down the Holy Land Foundation in the United States. That foundation funneled $12.4 million from Americans to Hamas. Shockingly, a 501c3 entity called ‘American Muslims for Palestine’ and its related c4 have been sued in federal court for operating as an alter ego of the Holy Land Foundation. The two groups have many of the same leaders and may be continuing the same efforts to support Hamas. Second, the eruption of hatred towards Jewish students on college campuses after the October 7 attack has been disturbing to watch. But the organization around it is not some organic movement. It has been carefully built over years in part by American Muslims for Palestine. They helped build, shape, and train a group called Students for Justice in Palestine or SJP. Many SJP events have involved pro-Hamas slogans and have led to intimidation, harassment, and violence against Jewish students…”
    • ADL head Jonathan Greenblatt at that same hearing: “…urge governmental authorities– the FBI and the IRS — to look at and conduct a thorough review of these organizations like AMP and SJP that you’ve heard about today
    • FDD’s Jonathan Schanzer: “…I think there should be number one investigations into nonprofits that could be supporting terrorism and we’ve talked about a few of them today…” and again: “if you’re referring to the activities of some of these extremist groups and how we can stop them, look: I think part of it is about perhaps reforming the tax code, not giving 501c3 breaks to organizations that we know are embracing hate speech, and targeting specific sectors of American society that should be beyond the pale.
    • Rep Schweikert (R-AZ), in response to Greenblatt urging the committee to go after DAFs: “You will be happy to know, the chairman and a couple of our members here who actually sit on Intelligence — we’ve had side conversations on charitable giving, pre-tax monies, those things and how we make sure it’s doing good in the world and not ultimately financing evil.
  • (TARGETING PALESTINIAN ACTIVISM & FREE SPEECH) H. Res. 883: Introduced 11/21/23 by D’Esposito (R-NY) and having 20 cosponsors (2 Democrats), ” Expressing the sense of the House of Representatives that the slogan, ‘from the river to the sea, Palestine will be free’ is antisemitic and its use must be condemned.” Also see: X-thread from Prem Thakker (the Intercept) noting that the son of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Yair Netanyahu, has posted as the bio line on his X account: “from the river to the sea, this flag [followed by pic of an Israeli flag] is all you’ll see!” and noting the original platform of Netanyahu’s Likud party included: “…between the Sea and the Jordan [river] there will only be Israeli sovereignty.Passed by the House 4/15/24 under suspension of the rules by a vote of  377-44-1.
    • Also see: Forty-four House members vote against resolution declaring ‘river to the sea’ slogan antisemitic (Jewish Insider 4/16/24); Rep. Watson Coleman Statement on Partisan GOP Stunt to Exploit Mid-East Crisis; X-thread from AAI’s Jim Zogby: “Israel occupies everything from the Jordan to the Mediterranean. They’re committing genocide in Gaza, seizing land & terrorizing West Bank Palestinians, & subjecting its Arab citizens to discrimination. So when we say “from the river to the sea…” we mean stop this oppression 1/5 For Congress to condemn the expression saying it’s antisemitic, is racist & insulting to Israel’s victims. It says Palestinians have no rights & should not speak out. It’s like telling the black community in the Jim Crow south that it’s anti-white to sing “We shall be free” 2/5 Some deliberately misinterpreted the expression saying it means genocide & makes them uncomfortable. It never meant that. But you know what makes Arabs uncomfortable? Genocide, apartheid, occupation, & LIKUD’s platform claiming Israeli sovereignty from the river to the sea. 3/5 Congress just allowed heavy-handed pro-Israel groups to pressure them to define the terms of debate by silencing critics of Israeli policies. Meanwhile ignoring behaviors & expressions that truly are antisemitic like “Jews will not replace us” a favorite of the neo-Nazis. 4/5 This is an abuse of Congressional power & dangerous infringement of free speech. Looking at the Congressional docket, this is only the beginning of a massive effort to silence critics of Israeli policies. It’s the New McCarthism & will only make civil discourse more difficult 5/5“. Also see: Congress passes resolution declaring ‘From the River to the Sea’ antisemitic (Jewish News Syndicate 4/19/24)
  • US MUST TREAT SETTLEMENTS AS PART OF ISRAEL – & NOT DOING SO IS ANTI-ISRAEL,ANTISEMITIC BDS) HR 5179: Introduced 8/8/23 by Tenney (R-NY), “To require the maintenance of the country of origin markings for imported goods produced in the West Bank or Gaza, and for other purposes,” aka, the “Anti-BDS Labeling Act.” Referred to the House Committee on Ways and Means. Reminder: As has always been the case in this battle over how to label the place-of-origin of settlement products, this argument behind HR 5179 boils down to: (1) if people know that a product was produced in a settlement, some will likely choose NOT to buy the product, in a decision that reflects their personal opposition to Israeli occupation/settlements; (2) such an action by an individual consumer, as an expression of their own deeply-held values, is a form of BDS and as such is antisemitic, anti-Israel; (3) the U.S. government, as part of its support for its ally Israel, must implement policies that in effect establish special place-of-origin rules for Israel [i.e., hold Israel to a different standard than the rest of the world] (4) These Israel-specific rules-of-origin must ensure that U.S. consumers who might want to make an informed decision with respect to purchasing or not purchasing settlement products are prevented from doing so — in this case, by depriving consumers of accurate place-of-origin data; and (5) Failure to implement/enact policies that in effect prevent US consumers making informed decisions with respect to whether or not they wish to purchase settlements products is antisemitic, anti-Israel, and a form of BDS. HR 5179 was marked up by and reported out of the House Ways & Means Committee 4/17/24 by a vote of 25-17 (paving the way for it to be brought to the House floor for a vote). Also see Tenney press release on committee passage of HR 5179 – “For years, the anti-Semitic BDS movement has sought to cripple the Israeli economy and arbitrarily discriminate against goods made in Israeli-controlled areas of Judea and Samaria…Ways and Means Republicans reinforced existing U.S. policy that prevents federal funds from being used to support the BDS movement. By passing this bill out of Committee, we reiterate our support for our greatest ally in the Middle East and the lone beacon of freedom and democracy, Israel.”

B. Keeping the Focus on Hamas

  • (HOLDING HAMAS ET AL ACCOUNTABLE FOR SEXUAL VIOLENCE) H. Res. 1147: Introduced 4/15/24 by Wasserman Schultz (D-FL) and 3 cosponsors (bipartisan), “Demanding that the international community hold accountable those who perpetrated acts of sexual violence and sexual torture during and after the attack on the State of Israel on October 7, 2023.” [The resolution doesn’t explain how the international community is actually supposed to locate/arrest/hold accountable anyone in Gaza in the context of an Israel’s ongoing war on Gaza and destruction of Gaza]. Referred to the House Committee on Foreign Affairs. 

C. Targeting Iran & Anyone Associated with Iran

  • (PERMANENT IRAN SANCTIONS) HR 3033: Introduced in the House 4/28/23 by Steel (R-CA) and 24 cosponsors (of which 8 are Democrats) [and in the Senate as S. 1390 5/2/23 by Scott (R-SC), Hassan (D-NH), Hagerty (R-TN) amd Rosen (D-NV)] “To repeal the sunset provision of the Iran Sanctions Act of 1996, and for other purposes,” aka, the “Solidify Iran Sanctions Act.Passed by the House 4/16/24 under suspension of the rules by a vote of 407-16.
  • (BLOCKING IRAN SANCTIONS WAIVERS) HR 4691: Introduced 7/17/23 by Self (R-TX) and 5 Republican cosponsors, “To provide for congressional review of actions to terminate or waive sanctions imposed with respect to Iran,” aka the Iran Sanctions Relief Review Act (ISRRA) of 2023.” Passed by the House 4/17/24 by a vote of 278 – 141 (1 Republican voting “no”).
  • (NEW IRAN SANCTIONS) HR 5826: Introduced 9/28/23 by Wilson (R-SC) and having 11 cosponsors (all Republicans plus Moskowitz, D-FL),  “To require a report on sanctions under the Robert Levinson Hostage Recovery and Hostage-Taking Accountability Act, and for other purposes,” aka, the “No Paydays to Hostage Takers Act. Passed by the House 4/16/24 under suspension of the rules by a vote of 391-34.
  • (NEW IRAN SANCTIONS) HR 5921: the No U.S. Financing for Iran Act of 2023.” Introduced 10/11/23 by Huizenga (R-MI) and currently having 30 cosponsors (all Republican), to “prohibit the Secretary of the Treasury from issuing any licenses authorizing a U.S. financial institution to engage in transactions for trade with Iran, other than food, medicine, or medical devices benefitting Iranian civilians. The legislation also requires the Secretary to oppose International Monetary Fund (IMF) assistance to Iran, and to ensure that IMF member companies do not exchange Special Drawing Rights held by Iran. H.R. 5921 further prohibits the Export-Import Bank from providing assistance involving the Iranian government, or an entity owned or controlled by the government.Passed by the House 4/15/24 under suspension of the rules by a vote of 294 – 105 (104 Democrats opposed). Also see: House Democrats split again over new Iran funding vote (Jewish Insider 4/16/24)
  • (NEW IRAN SANCTIONS) HR 5923: the “Iran-China Energy Sanctions Act of 2023.” Introduced 10/11/23 by Lawler (R-NY) and having 10 cosponsors (all Republicans plus Gottheimer, D-NY), to “expand secondary sanctions involving Iran to cover all transactions between Chinese financial institutions and sanctioned Iranian banks that transact for the purchase of petroleum and petroleum products. The bill would also require an annual determination as to whether Chinese financial institutions have engaged in sanctionable conduct.Passed by the House 4/15/24 under suspension of the rules by a vote of 383 – 11.
  • (NEW IRAN SANCTION) HR 5947: Introduced 10/12/23 by Pfluger (R-TX) and having 130 cosponsors (all Republicans), “To provide for the rescission of certain waivers and licenses relating to Iran, and for other purposes.” Also see: press release – Pfluger Leads 100+ Republicans in Blocking Iran from Accessing $6 Billion. Also see Pfluger X-post – “The Biden Administration’s ‘quiet understanding’ is not good enough. They must plainly reject any funds going to Iran. I just dropped a bill with 100+ lawmakers to block access. If the President refuses to permanently freeze the funds, Congress will.Passed by the House 4/17/24 by a vote of 259 – 160.
  • (IRAN SANCTIONS ENFORCEMENT) HR 6015: Introduced 10/20/23 by Leutkemeyer (R-MO) and no cosponsors, “To require the President to prevent the abuse of financial sanctions exemptions by Iran, and for other purposes,” aka, the “Iran Sanctions Accountability Act of 2023.” Discussed on the House floor 4/15/24, passed by the House 4/16/24 under suspension of the rules by a vote of 408-13.
  • (NEW IRAN SANCTIONS) HR 6245: the “Holding Iranian Leaders Accountable Act.” Introduced 11/6/23 by Hill (R-AR) and having 3 cosponsors (one Dem is Vargas, D-CA) to require the President “to report on the assets of certain Iranian government officials and terrorist leaders while also providing for the publication of those assets. This legislation further requires the Secretary of the Treasury to seek the closure of U.S. and foreign financial institution accounts connected with the assets.” Discussed on the House floor 4/15/24, passed by the House 4/16/24 under suspension of the rules by a vote of 419-4.
  • (RE-DESIGNATE ANSARALLAH AS AN FTO) HR 6046: Introduced 10/25/23 by Clyde (R-GA) and having 63 cosponsors (all Republican), “Standing Against Houthi Aggression Act” aka, “To designate Ansarallah as a foreign terrorist organization and impose certain sanctions on Ansarallah, and for other purposes.” NOTE: Congress does not have the legal authority to designate FTOs or to compel the Executive to do so (but hey, who care about legal technicalities, amirite?) Passed by the House 4/17/24 by a vote of 285-135.
  • (TO APPLY FOREIGN-DIRECT RULES TO IRAN) HR 6603: Introduced 12/5/23 by Moran (R-TX) and McCaul (R-TX), “To apply foreign-direct product rules to Iran,” aka, the “No Technology for Terror Act.” Passed by the House 4/16/24 under suspension of the rules by a vote of 406-19.
  • (EU: DESIGNATE IRGC AS TERRORIST ORG) H. Res. 288: Introduced 4/13/23 by Tenney (R-NY) and 58  bipartisan cosponsors, “Urging the European Union to expeditiously designate the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps as a terrorist organization under Common Position 931, and for other purposes,” aka, the “Encouraging the EU to DESIGNATE Resolution,” aka, the “Encouraging the European Union to Determine that the European Union Should Sanction the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps Now As a Terrorist Entity Resolution.” Passed by the House 4/16/24 under suspension of the rules by a vote of 411-14-6.
  • (CONDEMNING IRAN) H. Res. 1143: Introduced 4/15/24 by Kean (R-NJ) and 42 cosponsors (40 Republicans plus Moskowitz, D-FL), and Lieu, D-CA), “Condemning Iran’s unprecedented drone and missile attack on Israel.” Also see: Kean and Moskowitz Introduce Resolution Condemning Iran’s Drone and Missile Attack on Israel. Passed by the House 4/18/24 by a vote of 404-14. Also note statement from Jayapal (D-CA):…I voted no on this resolution because I am concerned that it further escalates the situation at exactly the time that we need to do the opposite. It does not mention the precipitating strike on the Iranian embassy by Israel that led to this attack. It ‘fully supports’ further offensive action by Israel and calls for continued arms sales to Israel. It makes no distinction between aid to Israel for defensive purposes—such as the Iron Dome funding or against threats from Hezbollah and Iran—versus aid to Israel for offensive strikes against innocent civilians in Gaza. While I continue to support defensive aid to Israel, I have been clear that I cannot support offensive military aid to Israel with no strings attached while the Netanyahu government continues to kill innocent civilians in Gaza — both through military action and the blocking of humanitarian aid leading to famine. This is a time to de-escalate the conflict, not promote retaliatory violence, and I appreciate President Biden’s leadership on this issue. It is also of the utmost importance to achieve an immediate ceasefire to end the killing of innocents, return the hostages, and create a path for peace and security in the region. That is where our focus must be in this moment.” Also see: Far left lawmakers, Massie vote against condemning Iranian attack on Israel (Jewish Insider 4/18/24)
  • (CONDEMNING IRAN) H. Res. 1148Introduced 4/15/24 by Weber (R-TX) and 142 cosponsors (bipartisan), “Condemning the Iranian regime’s terrorism, regional proxy war, internal suppression, and for other purposes.”  Referred to the House Committee on Foreign Affairs.
  • (TARGETING IRAN & THOSE DAMN HOUTHIS) HR 8001: Introduced 4/15/24 by Green R-TN) and 5 cosponsors (4 Republicans plus Moskowitz, D-FL), “To impose sanctions on the Houthis for attacks on international shipping, and for other purposes.” Referred to the Committees on Foreign Affairs and the Judiciary.


2. Emergency $$/Weapons for Israel, Back on the Agenda! (and more!)

In the wake of Iran’s retaliatory attack on Israel last weekend, pressure massively increased on House Speaker Johnson (R-LA) to take action this week to pass emergency aid for Israel – something that would only be possible if it also included aid for Ukraine and other Biden Administration priorities (as reflected in legislation already passed by the Senate). At the same time, Johnson also faced continued pressure from Republican hardliners who threatened to challenge his speakership if he decides to bring Ukraine aid up for a vote. Stock between these competing pressures, Johnson ultimately decided on 4/17/24 advance emergency aid to Israel as part of a package of emergency legislation (4 separate bills), with the understanding that if Republican hardliners try to vote him out of leadership for doing so, House Democrats will vote to save him.  On 4/18/24, the House Rules Committee passed its rule governing floor consideration of the 4 emergency bills. On 4/19/24, the House voted to adopt that rule (in the from of H. Res. 1160) by a vote of 316-94, clearing the way for the package to be brought up for votes. It is expected that this package will be voted on — and passed — by the House over the weekend; Senate Majority Leader Schumer has reportedly told senators to stay in town over the weekend to vote on the package following House passage.

Israel/Middle East elements of that aid package are laid out below.

A) Massive Emergency Aid for Israel: The package of emergency legislation includes HR 8024,Making emergency supplemental appropriations to respond to the situation in Israel and for related expenses for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2024, and for other purposes,” aka, the Israel Security Supplemental Appropriations Act, 2024.” Also see the press release accompanying the bill, which opens with: “This section totals $26.38 billion to support Israel in its effort to defend itself against Iran and its proxies, and to reimburse U.S. military operations in response to recent attacks.” Key elements of the bill text (which largely match what was already passed by the Senate) are:

Funding/Weapons/Ammo for Israel [NOTE: the bill does not contain a single condition, restriction, special oversight, or reporting requirement with respect to any of this assistance/weapons/ammunition for Israel]

  • $4.4 Billion for “Operation and Maintenance, Defense-Wide,” “for provision to the government of Israel or to foreign countries that have provided support to Israel at the request of the United States
  • $801.4 million for ‘Procurement of Ammunition, Army’’,  “to respond to the situation in Israel
  • $5.2 billion for “Procurement, Defense-Wide’’, of which $4 billion is for Iron Dome and David’s Sling; $1.2 billion is for Iron Beam;
  • $198.6 million for “Defense Production Act Purchases’’
  • $2.44 billionfor transfer to military personnel accounts, operation and maintenance accounts, procurement accounts, research, development, test and evaluation accounts, and the Defense Working Capital Funds
  • $3.5 billion for “Foreign Military Financing Program’’, “for assistance for Israel and for related expenses” of which up to $769.3 million “may be available for the procurement in Israel of defense articles and defense services”
  • Up to $7.8 billion in emergency drawdowns in 2024 in defense articles from the stocks of the Department of Defense, defense services of the Department of Defense, and military education and training (limit raised for Israel in 2024 from the normal aggregate limit of $100 million)
  • Up to $400 million and $150 million another categories of emergency defense drawdowns (limit raised for Israel in 2024 from the normal limits in these categories of $200 million and $75 million, respectively)

Funding for Israel-Related Things

  • $150 million for ‘‘Diplomatic Programs’’, “to respond to the situation in Israel and areas and countries impacted by the situation in Israel” of which $100 million “shall be for Worldwide Security Protection, including to respond to the situation in Israel and areas impacted by the situation in Israel
  • $75 million for “International Narcotics Control and Law Enforcement’’, “for assistance for the Middle East, following consultation with the appropriate congressional committees, including to enhance law enforcement capabilities, counter terrorism, combat narcotics trafficking, and meet other critical partner requirements
  • $10 million for “Peacekeeping Operations’’, “including for a United States contribution to the Multinational Force and Observers mission in the Sinai to enhance force protection capabilities
  • Up to $50 million for the President to furnish “assistance to friendly countries and international organizations, on such terms and conditions as he may determine, for peacekeeping operations and other programs carried out in furtherance of the national security interests of the United States” (up from the normal limit of $25 million)

Humanitarian Aid

  • $5.655 billion for ‘International Disaster Assistance’’ “to address humanitarian needs, including the provision of emergency food and shelter, of vulnerable populations and communities” (none specifically earmarked for Palestinians)
  • $3.495 billion for “Migration and Refugee Assistance’’,  “to address humanitarian needs of vulnerable populations and communities” (none specifically earmarked for Palestinians)

Anti-Palestinian Provisos [NOTE: while there is not a single dollar in this bill specifically earmarked for Palestinian humanitarian aid, the bill includes extensive language putting limits/restrictions/conditions/oversight/reporting requirements with respect to any funds the Biden Administration might  nonetheless choose to use for Palestinian aid)

  • No $$ for UNRWA: “SEC . 308. None of the funds appropriated or otherwise made available by this Act and prior Acts making appropriations for the Department of State, foreign operations, and related programs may be made available for a contribution, grant, or other payment to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency, notwithstanding any other provision of law.
  • Restrictions/conditions/etc: Sec. 309 – lengthy (309a – 309h) oversight/conditions/limitations/reporting requirements applying to any funds that might be used for Palestinians.

Amendments in the House Rules Committee

HR 8024 was, unsurprisingly, the target of a long list of amendments (84), a very high percentage of which are focused on sticking it to the Palestinians (West Bank and Gaza), including by barring humanitarian aid, barring aid for Gaza, and targeting UNRWA. Others are focused on giving even more funds/weapons to Israel, removing even the minimal rules that apply to all such assistance, and more. Reading all the amendments, one is reminded, powerfully, that for many members of Congress, “pro-Israel” equates to deliberate cruelty to Palestinians. The Rule passed by the Rules Committee, and adopted by the House on 4/19/24, includes a “closed rule” on HR 8024, meaning that NO amendments will be considered on the House floor.

B) Targeting Iran et al, and also TikTok: The package of emergency aid bills includes a “sidecar” [aka, a grab-bag of bill containing various bits of legislation that are unrelated to the subject matter of the overall package, but that will now be carried through to passage by being included in this package], in the form of HR 8038,To authorize the President to impose certain sanctions with respect to Russia and Iran, and for other purposes”, aka, the “‘21st Century Peace through Strength Act.” Among other things, this bill includes slightly amended versions of pending legislation to ban TikTok if China doesn’t sell it stake in the app (HR 7520HR 7521). It also includes the following pieces of legislation related to Iran/Hamas/Hizballah etc:

  • HR 3774 / S. 1829: “A bill to impose sanctions with respect to persons engaged in the import of petroleum from the Islamic Republic of Iran, and for other purposes,” aka the “Stop Harboring Iranian Petroleum Act” (SHIP Act) (an AIPAC lobbying priority);
  • HR 3152: the “Fight and Combat Rampant Iranian Missile Exports Act ” aka the “Fight CRIME Act”), “To impose sanctions with respect to countries, individuals, and entities that engage in any effort to acquire, possess, develop, transport, transfer, or deploy Iranian missiles and related goods and technology, including materials and equipment, and for other purposes.”  (an AIPAC lobbying priority) – combined with provisions taken from HR 6089, the “Stop Iranian Drones Act”
  • HR 589 / S. 2626: “To impose sanctions on the Supreme Leader of Iran and the President of Iran and their respective offices for human rights abuses and support for terrorism,” aka, the “MAHSA Act.”
  • HR 340: “To impose sanctions with respect to foreign support for terrorist organizations, including Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad.” Note that this version of HR 340 (similar to the version originally introduced, though not identical language) includes language exempting “the conduct or facilitation of a transaction for the provision of agricultural commodities, food, medicine, medical devices, or humanitarian assistance, or for humanitarian purposes” and includes (limited) authority for the president to waive sanctions on the ground of “vital” U.S. national security interests.
  • HR 6603: “To apply foreign-direct product rules to Iran,” aka, the “No Technology for Terror Act.” (Passed by the House 4/16/24 under suspension of the rules by a vote of 406-19.)
  • HR 5917:  “To amend the Sanctioning the Use of Civilians as Defenseless Shields Act to modify and extend that Act, and for other purposes.” (Passed by the House 4/16/24 under suspension of the rules by a vote of 419-4.)
  • HR 4681:To provide for the imposition of sanctions with respect to illicit captagon trafficking,” aka, the “Illicit Captagon Trafficking Suppression Act.” (Passed by the House 4/16/24 under suspension of the rules by a vote of 410-13.)
  • HR 6322, the “End Financing to Hamas and State Sponsors of Terrorism Act
  •  HR 6245, the “Holding Iranian Leaders Accountable Act.
  • HR 5923, the “Iran-China Energy Sanctions Act of 2023.(Passed by the House 4/15/24 under suspension of the rules by a vote of 383 – 11.)

Statements & Media


3. Letters


4. Hearings & Markups

April 16, 2024: The Senate Foreign Relations Committee held a business meeting to consider a long list of State Department nominations, as well as to markup a number of bills, including:

April 17, 2024: The House Un-American Activities Committee — sorry, the House Education and Workforce Committee– held a kangaroo-court-style show trial–sorry, hearing–entitled, Columbia in Crisis: Columbia University’s Response to Antisemitism. Witnesses were: Dr. Nemat “Minouche” Shafik, President, Columbia University (statement); Professor David M. Schizer, Dean Emeritus and Harvey R. Miller Professor of Law and Economics, Columbia Law School (statement); Ms. Claire Shipman, Board of Trustees Co-Chair, Columbia University (statement); and Mr. David Greenwald, Board of Trustees Co-Chair, Columbia University (statement). All Americans should watch the video and see for themselves what went on.  I’ll just say: this committee has made clear its intent to attack/undermine what it sees as the scourge of “liberal” higher education, and has made clear that it weapon of choice in the service of this goal is “fighting antisemitism,” defined to mean targeting free speech/protest/ideas critical of Israel and/or Zionism. With that in mind, witnesses at this show trial (sorry, hearing) apparently thought they could avoid being publicly drawn and quartered by the Committee — the way their colleagues from other universities were in the previous show trial (sorry, hearing) — by pandering to and placating the Committee at every turn – a strategy that in practice only egged the committee on (and notably, hours after the hearing ended, Chairwoman Foxx (R-NC) issued a press release making clear that she is by no means done going after Columbia).  If you don’t have time or patience to watch the whole video, I’d suggest at a minimum checking out this exchange (starting at 1:27 in the video, transcript below), which embodies well the ideological tilt and tone of this farce of a trial (sorry, farce of a hearing). Likewise, it showcases the almost comical degree of pandering the witnesses engaged in — indeed, watching this show trial (sorry, hearing) as a whole, one is left with the impression that there was (literally) NOTHING the members of Congress could have asserted or suggested that would have produced a response from any of the witnesses that did not boil down to some of “you make an excellent point congressman” or “I agree completely congresswoman,” or even,  “I could not agree with the Committee more and I will happily set up the stockades myself in the center of campus, and invite you all to join me and a crowd of enraged bible-waving Americans, protected by New York City’s finest, as we all throw stones, over-ripe fruit and rotten eggs at our students and faculty“.

Allen (R-GA): ...are you familiar with Genesis 12:3?

Shafik: Probably not as well as you are Congressman.

Allen: Well, it’s pretty clear it was the Covenant that God made with Abraham, and that Covenant was real clear: if you bless Israel I will bless you, if you curse Israel I will curse you. And then in the New Testament it was confirmed that all nations would be blessed through you. So, you you do not know about that?

Shafik: I have heard that. Now that you’ve explained it, yes, I have heard that before.

Allen: It’s now familiar. Do you consider that a serious issue? I mean do you want Colombia University to be cursed by God of the Bible?

Shafik: Definitely not.

Allen: Okay, well that’s good. So here here here’s the deal. We got free freedom of speech in this country and freedom of religion. Yet we also have Moses, looking down on the entire body of Congress, who gave us the law which, uh–most of our laws were made and are supposed to be enforced, came from the original Law. And what we have today is a lawless land. We have lawless universities that are overrun by people who are threatening to kill other students, who are attacking other students and creating fear in this country. And we have a Constitution that that that requires us to treat other folks as we would like to be treated, which is also in the New Testament. I mean, maybe you should have a course and, you know, you don’t have to believe it, but you know the Bible is an incredible book. There’s a lot of history there and you don’t have to believe it, but you need to know what’s in there. Maybe you should have a course suggested for those who are having problems with all of this on the Bible and what’s in the Bible and kind of what well will happen if, you know, under the wrath of God? I mean we have above the American flag in our chamber “in God we trust” –  I mean what God is that–do you understand why we’re here? This is a serious issue. Would any of the other board [other [people on the panel] care to — what do you know about this issue and and and and and how do you feel about it? I mean what are your feelings on what young people are being indoctrinated by these professors to believe this stuff and they have no idea that they’re going to be cursed by God, the god of the Bible, and the god over our flag. What are your thoughts?

Shipman: Congressman,  my thoughts are that you are right that we have a moral crisis on our campus and I find –as I’ve said, you’re probably tired of hearing it–I find the behavior of some of our students, some of our faculty unacceptable. And I think we have a variety of tools to deal with it. We have to be able to have rules that make sense. We have to be able to enforce them because people learn from consequences. We have to have order. And then we need deep anti-Semitism training as we heard the congresswoman…This is essential. We must train people and what what this…

Allen: I’m just about out of time is and you need to know, also, education is important. Knowledge is important. But the beginning of wisdom is the fear of God.

Also see:

April 17, 2024: The House Foreign Affairs Committee’s Subcommittees on the Middle East, North Africa, and Central Asia and Europe held a hearing entitled, “The Despotic Duo: Russo-Iranian Cooperation and Threats to U.S. Interests. Witnesses–representing a spectrum of like-minded hardline pro-Israel organizations–were: Behnam Ben Taleblu (FDD – statement); Gabriel Noronha (JINSA – statement); and Dana L. Stroul (WINEP – statement). Also see: hearing video
Potential hearing alert (nothing on the schedule yet): New York Times 4/12/24 – 2 School Districts to Testify as Congress Expands Antisemitism Inquiry [“The leaders of public schools in New York City and Montgomery County, Md., will testify about how their districts are handling antisemitism before a congressional committee next month. It will be the first time that K-12 districts have taken center stage in the House hearings focused on how schools are responding to a wave of student protests since Hamas’s attacks against Israel on Oct. 7. At least one other district was also invited to attend the hearing on May 8, according to the New York City schools chancellor, David C. Banks, who will be testifying. A spokesman for the House Committee on Education and the Workforce confirmed that the two districts were asked to attend the hearing, but did not identify any others. The earlier congressional hearings helped trigger the resignations of the presidents of Harvard and the University of Pennsylvania. Columbia University’s president is appearing before a congressional committee next week. Now, representatives appear to be expanding their scope beyond higher education. The inquiry next month will offer a window into how the tensions on American college campuses are also stirring painful debates in public school communities…”]

4. Selected Media & Press releases/statements

Politics & Elex
Iran Retaliatory Attack Against Israel
Concern with Israel’s Actions in Gaza
  • Scott (D-VA) 4/12/24: “I remain supportive of Israel’s right to defend themselves and their efforts to defeat Hamas. However, as President Biden has repeatedly said, this must be done in accordance with international law, which includes minimizing civilian casualties to the greatest extent possible. I am disturbed by continued reports of heavy losses of Palestinian civilian lives in the ongoing Israel-Hamas war and the recent Israeli airstrike that killed seven World Central Kitchen aid workers last week. Prime Minister Netanyahu and the Israeli government cannot continue on their current course. I reiterate my support of President Biden’s calls for an immediate ceasefire and the release of all hostages. Hamas’ disregard for Palestinian civilian life does not absolve the Israeli government of their responsibilities. With so many Palestinians now forcibly displaced and facing acute and widespread food insecurity, there must be an immediate and lasting change. The attack on the World Central Kitchen humanitarian aid convoy underscores questions about whether Non-Governmental Organizations and international organizations are able to facilitate reliable aid safely. Soldiers from the Army’s 7th Transportation Brigade out of Joint Base Langley-Eustis, in my congressional district, have been deployed to assist with the construction of a floating pier outside of Gaza to facilitate the delivery of humanitarian aid. I am proud of the men and women in uniform undertaking this mission. The United States must be able to trust that Israel is doing everything they can to provide safety to aid workers and military personnel conducting humanitarian missions. This change of course will be critical as we work towards a future where Hamas is defeated and can no longer terrorize Israelis and Gazans. It will also bolster our efforts to ensuring a lasting peace in the region, a two-state solution, and the safety and dignity of the Israeli and Palestinian people.”
Targeting Palestinians, Protest, and Free Speech

Other stuff